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Editorial: Want football fans to take transit? Build a people mover to the new Inglewood stadium

Over the next few years, Inglewood will open the new 70,000-seat SoFi stadium, home to the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers and a 6,000-seat performing arts venue. The stadium sits within the Hollywood Park development, which will also include 2,500 homes, a shopping center, a hotel, an office complex and a new studio for the NFL’s media operation.

Across the street, there’s the revitalized 17,500-seat Forum concert venue. And Clippers owner Steve Balmer wants to build an 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex a few blocks away. Most of those sites will also serve as venues for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

For the record:

1:22 PM, Mar. 19, 2020An earlier version of this editorial said the South Bay Cities Council of Governments voted to reallocate $195 million in Measure R sales tax revenue to the people mover. In fact, the group voted to reallocate $233 million to the project.

There will be a lot of people traveling to this corner of Inglewood. They can drive, but that will clog up the streets and surroundings freeways with traffic, pollute the air and spew planet-warming carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Or, ideally, they can get there on environmentally friendly, efficient public transit.

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The problem is that the planned sports and entertainment district is more than a mile from nearest station on the new Crenshaw/LAX light rail line, which will open later this year. That’s close but not close enough to be convenient. It’s the classic first-mile, last-mile dilemma of fixed-rail projects: The train can get riders near to their destination but not all the way. And without a good connection to finish the last mile of their trip, many would-be transit riders will simply choose to drive instead.

Inglewood wants to solve the last-mile problem in a big, ambitious way. The city plans to build the Inglewood Transit Connector, a $1-billion automated “people mover” between the Crenshaw Line station in downtown Inglewood and the new sports and entertainment district. The 1.6-mile elevated tram would be designed to accommodate crowds during games and concerts, but would also serve the commuters who would be living and working in the growing neighborhood.

By 2040, Inglewood expects that the number of people living within half a mile of the people mover stations will increase by 50%. The number of employees working in that area will more than double — from roughly 14,000 to 38,000.

It make sense to build the transit connections now, not just for the hundreds of thousands of people who will come to see the games and shows (helping Inglewood develop economically while keeping emissions to a minimum), but also to accommodate the residential growth in the neighborhood and ensure that those residents and workers have easy access to the region’s larger rail and bus network.

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At $1 billion, the people mover isn’t cheap. Earlier this month, the South Bay Cities Council of Governments voted to reallocate $233 million in Measure R sales tax revenue that had been slated for highway improvements to the people mover; that’s a win for public transit. Inglewood plans to use more than $200 million from city funds and developer impact fees on other projects in the area, and is hoping to raise more than $400 million in private investment. And the city is hoping to secure a $200-million grant from the state for projects that increase transit ridership and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Los Angeles grew into a metropolis by relying on cars and freeways, but the region cannot continue to prosper without a modern, efficient, interconnected transportation system. Los Angeles County voters have twice approved sales tax hikes to build out the area’s mass transportation system. But state aid is essential to help cities, like Inglewood, make the dream of a transit-friendly region a reality this decade.


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