Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART) is a proposal for an aerial rapid transit gondola system that could connect Los Angeles Union Station and Dodger Stadium. LA ART offers the capacity to move approximately 5,500 people per hour per direction using a quiet, safe, environmentally friendly, and proven zero-emission technology.
Dodger Stadium is one of the region’s most visited venues; however, there are no permanent transit connections to the venue. Currently, the Dodger Stadium Express buses provide a connection between Union Station and Dodger Stadium on game days only. With LA ART’s ability to overcome grade and elevation issues, while providing safe, environmentally-friendly, and high-capacity transit connectivity, the LA ART plan proposes to link the Dodger Stadium property to the region’s rapidly growing regional transit system at Union Station.
The LA ART proposal reduces congestion in the neighborhoods surrounding Dodger Stadium and on the 110 freeway. By connecting to Union Station, LA ART can tie the Stadium into the region’s public transit system, including the commuter rail operated by Metrolink as well as key connections operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), including the Red, Gold, and Purple lines, as well as numerous bus lines. With these connections, the LA ART proposal can increase mobility options with beneficial contributions to the economy and the environment. Metro’s Regional Connector system with connections to Metro’s Blue and Expo lines, currently under construction, is forecasted to begin operations in 2022, further increasing ridership at Metro’s Union Station hub.
The LA ART project was proposed by Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC (ARTT), an entity created by McCourt Global in 2018 when the unsolicited proposal was submitted to Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI). After approving ARTT’s proposal for further review, Metro agreed to act as the lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental impact report for ARTT’s proposed aerial rapid transit gondola system that can connect Union Station to Dodger Stadium. Metro and ARTT are working together to further consider the details for an innovative mobility partnership for the LA ART project, and ARTT has reconfirmed its financial support for all costs of the CEQA process including reimbursement of Metro expenses.
The project has also been made possible by cooperation in the planning process between ARTT, established by McCourt Global, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who encourage Dodger fans to take transit to the ballpark, recognizing that ARTT is fully responsible for LA ART’s financing.
Metro will issue the Notice of Preparation for the environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act on October 1, 2020.
Numerous opportunities will be made available for the community and local stakeholders to make their voices heard. Currently, comments are requested until November 16, 2020, and Metro will host a virtual scoping meeting on October 22, 2020, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., in addition to a virtual open house available throughout the scoping period at LAARTvirtualopenhouse.org. To be notified of any upcoming public meetings, please visit metro.net/aerialrapidtransit.
Metro is commencing the CEQA process with the Notice of Preparation this fall, and its environmental review process, as well as final station and route selection, is proposed for 2021. The financing plan will also be further developed at that time, and right of way and other transportation approvals can be processed in 2022. If all approvals are obtained, and a feasible financing plan is realized, detailed construction plans and financing would then move into implementation. With an estimated two year construction period, if construction begins by 2025, the LA ART system could be in operation in time for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Dodgers encourage transit growth wholeheartedly, and have welcomed the prospect of LA ART to provide an innovative proposal to increase transit options for fans to access Dodger Stadium. LA ART offers the opportunity to reduce traffic on neighborhood streets and enhance the fan experience at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers have worked with Metro for over a decade on the very successful Metro Dodger Express bus service from Union Station and encourage fans to take transit to the ballpark. Recognizing that LA ART is fully responsible for the project’s financing, the Dodgers will enthusiastically share this sustainable and clean energy transit opportunity so it is well understood by Dodger fans.
The proposed fares are planned to cost less than parking at Dodger Stadium for those attending games. A priority goal is for this project to provide an affordable and accessible alternative for game-day transportation to and from Dodger Stadium. LA ART’s goals also include working with Metro to identify affordable fare opportunities on non-game days to encourage community and park access.
LA ART stations are proposed to be located near Union Station and near Dodger Stadium. The proposed route would primarily be over public right-of-way and travel generally from Union Station along Alameda Street, Spring Street, over the Los Angeles State Historic Park, Bishops Road, and over SR-110 to Dodger Stadium. As part of the environmental review process with Metro, two potential alternatives for providing transit service adjacent to the Los Angeles State Historic Park are being considered (the Spring Street Alignment and Broadway Alignment).
In the Spring Street Alternative, near the intersection of Spring Street and Ann Street, the aerial gondola route would head northwest with a Park Station on Spring Street and fly over the Los Angeles State Historic Park, as shown in the figure below.
In the Broadway Alternative, the aerial gondola system would fly over the Los Angeles State Historic Park near the Metro L Line (Gold) right-of-way, providing local transit service with an intermediate station at the intersection of North Broadway and Bishops Road, as shown in the figure below.
Metro’s environmental review process will include careful review of the proposed locations of stations and towers.
The LA ART aerial gondola system would include cables, passenger stations, towers, and gondola cabins. In an aerial transit system, cabins are suspended above grade by cables strung between stations and towers.
LA ART is proposing a Tricable Detachable Gondola (3S) system (the most advanced technology currently available), utilizing high-capacity cabins to efficiently transport passengers. 3S systems use three steel cables to support and move cabins. Two stationary cables provide stabilizing support, while a third cable continuously circulates the cabins.
In its construction phase, LA ART has agreed to honor Metro’s construction policies, including prevailing wage, local and minority business outreach, and other equity goals.
Though specific vendor selection has not yet been made, the two leading vendors in the world are Doppelmayr USA, Inc. and Leitner-Poma of America, Inc. Doppelmayer USA, Inc. manufactured, among other systems, the California Trail Gondola at the Oakland Zoo. Leitner-Poma of America, Inc. manufactured, among other systems, the aerial tramway system for Roosevelt Island Tramway, which connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The LA ART’s stations and towers are being designed by RIOS, a world renowned, Los Angeles-based architecture firm. ARTT has enlisted experienced advisors to assist with feasibility analysis, design, and implementation of the LA ART.
LA ART proposes to serve all Dodger home games and events at Dodger Stadium, and is also anticipated to operate daily to serve community members, park visitors, and tourists. The proposed route can provide visitor experience in and of itself, offering panoramic views of Los Angeles, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and iconic Dodger Stadium.
LA ART also has the potential to increase transit access to Los Angeles State Historic Park, the Los Angeles River, and Elysian Park, as well as for neighborhoods including Chinatown, Mission Junction, Cathedral High School, and Solano Canyon.
The ride is proposed as just over 1 mile, with a short and enjoyable travel time between Union Station to Dodger Stadium of about seven minutes. Riders would be able to reserve timed tickets in advance of their desired travel time.
Each of the cabins is expected to accommodate 30 to 40 passengers. LA ART would have the flexibility to operate at varying speeds and capacity depending on ridership. When many riders are expected, such as before and after Dodger games, LA ART’s cabins can run frequently, and the system could carry up to approximately 5,500 people per hour per direction.
Yes, each station and individual ART cabin are proposed to be ADA accessible. The cabins allow for sitting or standing and can accommodate wheelchairs, baby strollers, and bicycles.
LA ART is proposed as a zero-emission rapid transit line. By replacing vehicle trips, LA ART would have a positive environmental impact in terms of reduced vehicles, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved air quality.
LA ART’s goals include increasing the percentage of Dodger game attendees who travel on public transit to Union Station and then connect to the aerial gondola for a unique experience connecting to Dodger Stadium, thereby attracting new riders to the Metro system. Additional air quality benefits can be obtained for the whole region by increasing public transit ridership.
Recognizing Metro’s equity goals and policy of improving transit access to underserved communities and to parks, LA ART also has the potential to improve air quality and increase transit access for such communities and for state and City parks. LA ART’s environmental benefits would relieve an area currently overburdened by pollution and designated as disadvantaged by CalEPA’s CalEnviroScreen.
LA ART can increase connectivity to the Los Angeles State Historic Park by providing visitors with increased transit options to the Park and Park events. Public benefits being considered for LASHP include support for a pedestrian bridge between North Broadway and the Park, which will provide access for walkers and bicyclists who cannot access the Park now from Broadway. Under the Spring Street Alternative, in addition to the pedestrian bridge at North Broadway, additional public benefits being considered include the potential to support other Park amenities such as tree planting. LA ART can also provide unique views of the Park, including its historic Roundhouse, together with opportunities for visitors to learn more about the Park including the history of transportation.
LA ART would be built to meet all applicable structural and seismic requirements. The system is designed with multiple redundant features to ensure the safety and security of riders. During the review process with Metro, safety issues will be carefully reviewed and operational plans will be prepared to ensure safety and security. Both Metro at Union Station and the Dodgers at the Dodger Stadium property have extensive security policies and systems that would be designed to incorporate LA ART at the time that operations begin.
Construction and operation of LA ART would not occur until after the pandemic has been defeated or under successful control. We expect that fans would be back attending games at Dodger Stadium well before LA ART goes into operation. We anticipate timed reservations for game day ridership, which will reduce queuing, and stations are above ground and open air. If social distancing is still beneficial, however, cabins can be subdivided into separate compartments such that riders can self-select into their own “pods.” The manufacturers are already developing cleaning protocols to frequently sanitize each cabin, because the operators of systems in use around the world are adapting to address COVID-19.
After Metro’s approval of the environmental requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act, the environmental impact report will provide necessary environmental information for approvals from the City of Los Angeles and State of California. LA ART will at all times maintain compliance with state regulations for aerial gondola safety.
Forms of aerial transit technology have been available and utilized for the last 100 years. Modern applications have seen the evolution of aerial transit technology as a feasible mode of urban rapid transit. There are a number of aerial transit systems operating throughout the world and dozens currently being studied in the United States.
Aerial transit systems in urban areas include the London system, which was built for the 2012 Summer Olympics. This system is 0.6 miles long and has a capacity of 2,500 people per hour per direction. In 2016, the Mexicable opened as Mexico City’s first commuter aerial rapid transit system to connect hillside neighborhoods with the city’s urban core. The system is three miles long with seven stops, accommodating a daily ridership of around 29,000 passengers.
Other commuter aerial rapid transit systems in the United States include the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which was the first commuter aerial rapid transit system in North America when it opened in 1976. It spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and moves more than 2.5 million commuters annually. The Portland Aerial Tram is an aerial tramway in Portland, Oregon, carrying close to 1.5 million commuters between the city’s South Waterfront district and the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus. Both systems tie into the larger municipal public transit networks, much as LA ART is proposed to connect to Metro’s regional transit system.
Closer to Los Angeles, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway spans approximately 2.5 miles and an approximate 6,000-foot elevation change up Chino Canyon, with a rotating tram cabin that takes visitors to and from the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway opened in 1963, but was authorized originally in 1945 when state legislation established the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, which operates the tram.