MTA Panel Rejects Bid to Add Subways

Times Staff Writer

An MTA committee rejected a motion Wednesday to study ways of getting subway construction in Los Angeles back on track, punting the controversial proposal back to the transit agency’s full board next week.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Mayor James K. Hahn, both Metropolitan Transportation Authority directors, voted in favor of the motion, but they were outvoted by three others on the planning committee. The plan’s sponsor, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the Wilshire corridor, one of the densest urban cores in the nation, pledged to bring the matter to the MTA board Feb. 24.

The Red Line subway, which runs along the Wilshire Corridor from downtown to Western Avenue, must be extended all the way to the beach in Santa Monica, he said. “The quality of life is being eroded not just for the communities along [that route], but for the people who use transit.”

His plan would urge the MTA to adopt a countywide policy to determine appropriate locations for underground rail. It would also look at ways to overturn the congressional prohibition on using federal funds on subways in areas that have methane gas problems, such as the Fairfax district. It also would study the effects of overturning a ban on spending local tax dollars on subway expansion.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, an MTA director, voiced strong opposition, saying expanding subways would benefit “a handful of vested interests.” Instead of tunneling, Antonovich advocated what he said were more cost-efficient alternatives, such as above-ground light-rail lines.


Committee Chairwoman Beatrice Proo and MTA board Chairman Frank Roberts also voted no.

Among the speakers in favor of LaBonge’s plan was Maria Rychlicki, a spokeswoman for Beverly Hills, a city that previously opposed the subway in its territory.

“We urge you to add an extension of the Red Line to West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles,” Rychlicki said.