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Transit Officials Hope Council Hops Aboard Lincoln Plan

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

September 12 -- With traffic crawling along Lincoln Boulevard, transit officials are urging the City Council to get on board Tuesday with a proposal to dedicate a bus-only lane on the congested corridor.

If approved, metered parking along many parts of street -- where City officials estimate traffic inches along during evening rush hour at six miles per hour -- would be restricted from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the east side of the street between the south city limit and Grant Street, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. between Pico Boulevard and the south city limit.

Although nearly two dozen business owners who work along the busy street have raised concerns during the an extensive community outreach, transit officials said they are working closely with them to make sure they bus lane doesn't drive away potential customers.

"Many of the concerns raised were about the loss of on-street parking and what effect that may have on their business," said Stephanie Negriff, who heads the City's transportation department.

"I think it's important for them to understand this will only operate in peak hours in one direction in the morning and afternoon, and that parking will remain available directly across the street," Negriff said.

With the Lincoln Boulevard acting as the main artery connecting Santa Monica to the Los Angeles Airport and the South Bay, the need for the bus lane remains great, transit officials said.

"A peak-hour exclusive lane for buses on Lincoln Boulevard will benefit transit users by reducing travel times by as much as 20 minutes on a one-way trip, allowing the Big Blue Bus to offer more frequent service and to attract more passengers at no additional cost," states a staff report supporting the move.

Motorists will hopefully see improvements, too, since the lane will separate the buses from other vehicles, officials said.

The proposal comes nearly three months after local transit officials unveiled a rapid service bus plan to and from the Los Angeles airport. Changes include making limited stops along Lincoln Boulevard, revamped buses and distinct bus stops for rapid riders.
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