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Traffic Disruptions Leave Buses in the Cold

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, April 06, 2009, at 11:25AM
Immigration Rights March Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Buses turning from Flower intersection with buses continuing on 6th as traffic comes to a standstill on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon, traffic on 6th street came to a standstill as a march for immigration rights made its way west one block south on 7th. Looking down the blocks of stopped vehicles, one thing jumped out: the buses.

From Figueroa, one could see at least a dozen buses stuck in traffic in the three blocks between Flower and Olive. Metro's 16, 20, 51, 60, 66, and 96 were all represented, as was DASH's E route, diverted from 7th. The vehicles represented hundreds of passengers whose travel was being delayed.

Downtown's no stranger to traffic disruptions. Several dozen times a year, marches and special events close off streets for chunks of a day. Filming adds its own set of closures, and closing off one block can require a several block reroute for transit.

Transit's typically last on the priority list when it comes to closures. On a good day, Metro will find out about the closure a few days in advance and be able to post detour notices at stops pushed out of service.

Often times the drivers find out about their detours as they hit them. On Saturday, buses were turning on to Wilshire before arriving at a dead end. Only then did they get on the radio to receive their reroute instructions.

There is no magical solution that will allow street closures without major traffic impacts. 6th street is particularly prone to trouble, with its freeway ramps dumping traffic onto a relatively narrow street.

A major part of the solution is simply coordination. LADOT and Metro's transit operations need to be brought into traffic planning earlier in the process. Perhaps temporary bus lanes need to be established along detour streets. Perhaps more effort needs to be made to detour vehicle traffic farther away from closures.

There are smart traffic engineers at work in the city, and certainly they can propose some smart solutions if given the chance. Given current impacts, what harm is there in trying?

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