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Opinion

Readers React: Reducing traffic on the Westside is great — just don’t charge drivers to do it

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Heavy traffic congestion moves slowly during morning rush hour along Wilshire Boulevard, one of the Westside’s busiest corridors, west of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles on March 27.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The L.A. Times article about the study on congestion pricing on the Westside ends by citing London as an example of how congestion pricing works when implemented. The article fails to include comparisons of the transportation alternatives in London and Los Angeles.

Here are some comparisons of the trip times in cars versus transit between various points in Los Angeles and the Westside. To get from Torrance to UCLA, Google Maps estimates that driving takes 44 minutes; Metro’s website estimates a travel time of 1 hour, 54 minutes on transit. From Downey to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Westwood, Google Maps says driving takes 51 minutes, whereas Metro says transit gets you there in 1 hour, 48 minutes.

In these examples, transit takes about twice as long as driving. Congestion pricing in West L.A. would encourage drivers to add an additional two hours of travel time per day to their round-trip commutes.

It is dishonest to compare cities like London with Los Angeles. Until there is a reliable and efficient alternative to jumping in your car in L.A., congestion will persist.

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Jim Medina, Long Beach

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To the editor: Once again, the decades-old failure of Los Angeles to plan adequately for phenomenal growth may result in another hardship for residents.

Never mind L.A.’s inability to place traffic officers at all the key intersections that need them or to properly resurface its streets. There has been an epic failure to recognize the single most important and onerous cause of rush hour traffic on the Westside — the series of east-west bottlenecks caused by the 405 Freeway.

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Before penalizing residents, Metro should consider adding more over- or underpasses across the 405. These would allow local drivers to navigate their neighborhoods more easily and leave the larger arteries for through traffic.

Peter Rutenberg, Marina del Rey

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To the editor: Instead of charging drivers to travel on public streets paid for with tax money, maybe our decision makers should consider if our streets can handle more development when they approve new projects.

We have limited resources in the form of scarce water, electricity and road capacity. If we keep adding development, we will clearly reach the limits of these resources, making life miserable for everyone.

Perhaps we ought to acknowledge that there is not room for everyone who wants to live and work in Southern California.

Susan Skinner, Newport Beach

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To the editor: While I like the idea of doing something about gridlock on the Westside, I bristle at the proposal to sell lane access. We are already a nation of haves and have-nots, and the chasm is widening.

Another way congested cities move traffic along is with one-way streets. These free up lanes for buses, bicycles and carpools. And while it is true that drivers have to go around the block sometimes to get to their destinations, sophisticated urban dwellers can handle it.

Before giving our streets to the haves, we should explore one-way streets to move traffic along.

Andrew Tilles, Studio City

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