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Metro projects huge ridership for West Hollywood train

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A northern extension of the Crenshaw Line could draw more riders than Boston’s Green Line—but will it take three decades to build?

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Metro is weighing options for a train that will extend the Crenshaw/LAX Line north to Hollywood, creating what agency officials predict will become one of the most ridden light rail lines in the nation.

A route for the northern portion of the project hasn’t yet been selected, but Metro staffers have narrowed down alternatives to five alignments that would link the soon-to-open train line to Hollywood and West Hollywood, linking up with the Purple and Red subway lines along the way.

Agency officials said Wednesday that each of the proposed routes would draw more than 75,000 daily riders, with two alignments serving more than 90,000 passengers per day.

Deputy project manager Alex Moosavi told reporters that the northern portion of the line, which would pass through some of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, could eventually see more per-mile boardings than Boston’s Green Line—the country’s oldest subway and its most heavily used light rail line.

But all those riders could have a long wait before they’ll be able to board the train’s northern leg.

Under a schedule attached to Measure M, the transit-funding sales tax measure that Los Angeles County voters approved in 2016, the upper portion of the line isn’t slated to begin construction until 2041.

Agency officials say they plan to begin environmental review of the project next year, which could help speed up that timeline. Meanwhile, elected leaders in West Hollywood are aggressively pursuing fundraising measures for the project, which Metro expects will cost between $3 billion and $4.7 billion to construct.

By early next year, the agency’s board of directors is likely to consider which of the five proposed project routes to move forward with. All five options would travel up Crenshaw Boulevard to the Mid-City area, at which point four of the routes would hook west along San Vicente Boulevard, eventually proceeding north through West Hollywood and linking up with the Hollywood and Highland subway station.

A fifth route would bypass West Hollywood and instead travel east to the Wilshire/Vermont Station in Koreatown, allowing riders to transfer to the Red or Purple lines at that point.

Estimated ride times for the four options running through West Hollywood range from 12.4 minutes to 19 minutes for the longest option, which would boomerang through the city, reaching as far west as the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, close to Robertson Boulevard, before continuing east along Santa Monica.

Metro will hold four upcoming community meetings, scheduled between March 21 and March 28, where residents can find out more about plans for the project.