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The Illustrated Problem of the Contra-flow Lane

By Eric Richardson
Published: Saturday, May 21, 2005, at 03:26PM
Ambulance in the Contra-Flow Lane Eric Richardson [Flickr]

One of the priorities of DLANC's Transportation & Public Works Committee has for quite a while been to get LADOT and the MTA to get rid of the contra-flow bus lane on Spring St. While the street's main lanes of traffic run south, this one bus lane runs north and sees quite heavy traffic. Today, as I was walking back from lunch, I observed a situation that clearly illustrates why this is a problem.

Contra-flow Lane For a reason I didn't take the time to find out (there were lights involved, so they were reacting to some sort of call), an ambulance and a fire department car parked in the contra-flow lane just north of 6th St sometime around 1pm. You can see the two of them in the first photo. This second photo shows the resulting backup of buses now unable to go north on Spring. In just a few minutes five buses had backed up on the 600 block. These buses all now had to turn right onto 6th St., go north a block on Main, then return to Spring via 5th. People waiting for a bus on the 500 block would have to figure out what was up and move themselves to somewhere the buses could reach.

Contra-flow Lane You can also see a second problem here. The lead bus in line wasn't moving (again for a reason I don't know), leaving the other buses stuck. In this picture you can see the back buses going around, heading north in a southbound lane. They had no other choice, since there's only the one lane going north.

To me it makes far more sense for the MTA and LADOT to use Spring and Main as paired streets, running southbound buses on Spring and northbound ones on Main. It seems like things may be moving that direction, but the wheels of change turn very slowly in transportation circles.

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