LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Five miles of bus lanes opened along Wilshire Boulevard Wednesday as part of a transportation improvement project.
To help reduce travel congestion for commuters during rush hour, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Federal Transit Administration and city officials developed the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit (Wilshire BRT) project, which spans from Valenica Street near MacArthur Park to Centinela Avenue in West Los Angeles.READ MORE: Newport Beach, Long Beach And Other OC Communities Brace For Incoming High Tides And Potential Flooding
City officials explained Wilshire Boulevard has more transit riders, jobs, traffic and population than any other corridor in Southern California. Commuters are also known to travel by bus rather than by car.
“Enhanced bus service along Wilshire Boulevard will make a huge difference for the thousands of Angelinos who rely on public transit to travel throughout this busy corridor-to jobs downtown, school at UCLA, medical care at the VA Hospital in Westwood and other important destinations.” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan.
The first phase of the $31.5 million transportation improvement project offered 1.8 miles to commuters traveling between MacArthur Park and Western Avenue.
At 7 a.m., the second phase of peak hour bus lanes — from Western Avenue to San Vincente Boulevard, the western border of Beverly Hills to Comstock Avenue, Selby Avenue to Veteran Avenue and Bosnall Avenue to Federal Avenue — were introduced to commuters.
“In the car capital of the world, we’re working to ease traffic flow and cut air pollution by giving Angelenos multiple options for getting where they need to go,” Garcetti added.
According to Metro, buses operate every two minutes along Wilshire Boulevard during peak hours. Around 55,000 passengers board their buses daily, half of which are during rush hour commutes.READ MORE: Man Accused Of Impregnating 15-Year-Old Girl
Authorities clarified peak hours run from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
During these time frames, only transit buses are allowed to travel within the bus lanes.
“The bus has its own lane and is synched with traffic lights,” said Garcetti. “It will get there faster than a car leaving the same place at the same time.”
Drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks will receive a citation if they are found traveling with the bus lanes during peak hours.
Wilshire BRT also offers all-door boarding as a way to help decrease travel time, officials said. Commuters are able to validate their fare prior to boarding through any door of the bus.
The final phase will implement .9 miles of bus lanes, between Federal Avenue and Centinela Avenue, to commuters in West Los Angeles.MORE NEWS: 40 Cows Escape Meatpacking Plant In Pico Rivera; 1 Killed By Deputies After Charging Family
Authorities expect the 7.7 mile transit project to be completed in the Fall of 2015.