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LA City Council debates bus-only lane on Wilshire Blvd.

File photo: A bus stop on Wilshire Boulevard near the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on January 30, 2004 in Beverly Hills.
File photo: A bus stop on Wilshire Boulevard near the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on January 30, 2004 in Beverly Hills.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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For years, transit advocates and officials have worked on a plan for a peak commuting-hour bus-only lane along Wilshire Boulevard. The Los Angeles City Council discussed yesterday Wednesday just how far that lane should run.

The bus-only lane originally proposed would run just shy of nine miles from MacArthur Park to Centinela Avenue in West L.A. But the cities of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are not participating, and a one-mile stretch of Wilshire in Westwood is also exempt.

That bugs City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. "Right now, with the splintered and fragmented Westside, it even makes it more congested in my district and it saves no time for bus riders or cars. It’s a disaster."

He wants a continuous bus-only lane from downtown to the ocean. But he knows it can’t happen without Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. So Rosendahl proposed studying an uninterrupted five–and-a-half-mile stretch that ends at San Vicente Boulevard.

"Who are gonna use this?" said City Councilman Richard Alarcon. "Working class folks who need to get down Wilshire Boulevard." Alarcon argued that L.A. should proceed with the original eight-plus-mile plan – and let the other two cities catch up.

"Stay the course," said Alarcon, "so that the people of Pico Union can go wash babies in West L.A."

The Federal Transit Administration has pledged $23 million to the original project. Alarcon worried that if the bus lane shrinks, so will that federal contribution – when the city needs all the money it can get.