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Mayor Eric Garcetti proposes a monorail to ease traffic on 405 freeway

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A monorail has a small footprint and it would be safe in earthquakes, he says

Mayor Garcetti says a monorail may clear traffic in the Sepulveda Pass.
CL Photographs via Flickr Creative Commons

Solving the 405 traffic conundrum is a holy grail for transit planners. Whether it’s by light rail, underground tunnel, or just plain making roads wider, city officials want to clear the perpetual gridlock any way possible.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, LA’s mayor is throwing yet another transit option on the table, one familiar to many in Southern California—a monorail.

In a radio interview with KNX-1070, Mayor Eric Garcetti laid out his case for bringing a little bit of Disneyland to the Sepulveda Pass by building a monorail over the freeway to connect The Valley with the Westside. “With a small footprint, with electric motors, safety for both earthquakes and access, it could be on the table,” he said.

Garcetti threw some cold water on an above-ground rail option for the 405, saying trains couldn’t get up the steep Sepulveda Pass inclines. But, he said, a monorail could—and at speeds similar to conventional trains.

During the interview, Garcetti brought up new monorail technology developed by the Chinese automotive company BYD Motors. According to Garcetti, the BYD monorail system is both cheaper and better suited to endure potential earthquakes.

Walt Disney saw potential in monorails, installing one at Disneyland in 1959.
Los Angeles Public Library photo collection

BYD Motors seems poised to swoop in if monorail plans gain traction. The company is already headquartered in Downtown Los Angeles, a move facilitated by $1.6 million in federal funds provided the city. BYD has also built several electric buses for Metro, the agency that will determine the transit future of the Sepulveda Pass.

This is the second fun idea Garcetti has floated this spring to solve traffic woes. Last month, he suggested the city could build a gondola to the Hollywood Sign.