BRU and broad coalition of allies win major breakthrough on Wilshire Bus Lanes at Los Angeles City Council
by Sunyoung Yang on Wednesday, June 15, 2011
After six years of campaigning, the BRU scored a major environmental victory today: the Wilshire Boulevard Bus-Only Lanes won resounding approval from the LA City Council and cleared the last major political hurdle for it to become reality. This marks a break from decades of auto-centered policy and moves LA a step closer to becoming a 21st century sustainable metropolis. We're hopeful that this breakthrough will open doors for more bus-only lanes and other policies throughout the region that prioritize transit, biking, and pedestrians over automobiles.
We'd like to thank the leadership of City Council members Bernard Parks, Richard Alarcon, Ed Reyes, Tony Cardenas, and Jose Huizar, all of whom spoke strongly in support of the 8.7 mile version of the project. They made it clear that 80,000 bus riders - domestic workers, janitors, restaurant workers, veterans, students, disabled and elderly - should be the City's first consideration in this decision, prioritized over the narrow traffic and parking concerns of wealthy and politically well-connected homeowners from the West Side.
A motion to approve the complete 8.7 mile project with no exemptions fell one vote short of the required 8-vote majority (7 in favor, 5 against, and 3 councilmembers absent). A resounding majority (11-1) made the practical decision to formally approve the truncated 7.7 mile version of the project backed last month by the MTA Board - but in a twist proposed by Alarcon, the motion also indicated the 8.7 mile option was the Council's clear preference and urged the MTA to reconsider its endorsement of the shorter option. In order for project to move forward, the Council and MTA must agree on the same alternative for the project; some Councilors expressed concern that disagreeing with the MTA could delay the process and risk missing the $23.3 million federal fund application deadline.
This is a huge victory not just for bus riders, but for the broad coalition we built in support of this project, which included veterans advocates, environmentalists, bicyclists, and community leaders from neighborhoods across the City. With their support, we thoroughly defeated Councilman Bill Rosendahl's worst-case scenario 5.4 mile version of the project.
We'd like to thank all the allies who contributed to this fight today and in the recent push to get to the finish line:
Green LA, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air, Public Counsel, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, ACUSLA - Associacion de Comunidades Unidas del Sur de Los Angeles, HOLA - Hispanos Organizados en Los Angeles, CLEAN Carwash Campaign, SEIU United Service Workers West, UDLA - Unification of Disabled Latin Americans, Accíon Westlake, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770, Southern California Transit Advocates, Transit Coalition, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Restaurant Opportunities Center-Los Angeles, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Wilshire Business Improvement District, UCLA Bicycle Coalition, Safe Route to Schools, Southern California Streets Initiative, Westlake MacArthur Park Neighborhood Council, and the over 150 small businesses and community residents/busriders of Pico Union, Koreatown, Mid-City, South LA, and even the Westside who've sent letters and come to testify over the last 6 years of this project.