Metro trying vendor marketplace at Westlake/MacArthur Park station

FILE PHOTO: Alvarado Street across from MacArthur Park is frequently bustling with street vendors.
FILE PHOTO: Alvarado Street across from MacArthur Park is frequently bustling with street vendors.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC

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Local officials have announced the launch of a new community market for local street vendors at the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro stop. 

At most Metro stations, if you need to find a quick bite, a cheap T-shirt or maybe a used bike part, you’re out of luck. But not at the always buzzing Westlake/MacArthur Park station where street vendors abound, most without permits.

A new pilot program will officially allow 68 of them, on a rotating basis, to occupy space on the Metro stop’s plaza.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the program will increase accessibility and safety at the station and eliminate vendors who don't have permits.

Lisa Schweitzer, a University of Southern California urban planning professor, hopes to see Metro encourage more commercial activity at all of its stations.

"Transit locations are the perfect spot for something like a cafe or even pharmacies and other kinds of necessaries," Schweitzer said. "Because if we really want people to get rid of their cars or leave their cars at home, they have to do their shopping somewhere."

Transit riders in systems around the world are accustomed to buying food and shopping in subway stations. For example, in Tokyo, many stops are anchored by department stores and lined with little shops and food concessions.

In Los Angeles, only Union Station leases space to restaurants, a recent development that Schweitzer said took a surprisingly long time.

The Macarthur Park street market will run as a year-long pilot program and could be expanded if it is successful.

Earlier this year Metro opened a pedestrian bridge to connect its 7th and Metro subway station with the downtown shopping center, the Bloc — the first direct link to a retail location in the system.