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’s proposal 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 SR-110. 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 B (Red), L (Gold), and D (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 A (Blue) and E (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 issued the Notice of Preparation for the environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act on October 1, 2020. During the Notice of Preparation scoping period, Metro hosted a virtual scoping meeting, and a virtual open house was available throughout the scoping period. The anticipated timeline for Metro release of the Draft EIR is fall 2021. There will be extensive opportunities for public comment during the EIR process, including two public meetings during the Draft EIR. Metro’s website is metro.net/aerialrapidtransit.
LA ART is also providing numerous opportunities for the community and local stakeholders to make their voices heard. To attend a June 2021 virtual LA ART Community Meeting register here.
Metro commenced the environmental review process in fall 2021. It is anticipated the Draft EIR will be released in fall 2021, with the Final EIR being completed in early 2022. Right of way and other transportation approvals are anticipated to be processed in 2022. Following completion of approvals and financing, 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.
A priority goal for this zero-emission project is to provide an event-day fare approach that encourages use of this alternative for game-day transportation from Dodger Stadium, in order to reduce traffic and improve air quality.
To ensure convenient access for event attendees during those pre- and post-event times, LA ART anticipates coordinating special fares for event attendees including time-window ticket reservations. LA ART would continue operations daily and provide first/last mile transit service connections to/from the Metro system in communities to the LA ART route.
On June 3, 2021, LA ART announced it has proposed to Metro the creation of a Community Access Program for local residents and businesses to use the LA ART system.
LA ART’s proposed Community Access Program would encourage daily use of this zero-emission project by local community members, in addition to the event-day periods when ridership will be prioritized for Stadium event attendees. During event-day periods, gondola system access may be bundled with a stadium access ticket and a time-window reservation. Outside of pre- and post-event times, local residents and employees of businesses within the LA ART vicinity would be able to utilize the aerial gondola using an individual Metro fare or their Metro system access pass at no additional cost. In addition to event-period service, LA ART would continue operations daily and provide first/last mile transit service connections to/from the Metro system in communities to the LA ART route.
LA ART is committed to continuing to work with LA Metro on the details of the Community Access Program to ensure affordable LA ART access and seamless transfers between LA ART and the Metro system on the same terms available to Metro riders.
On Thursday, May 20, 2021, Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART) announced its preferred route for the proposed urban gondola connecting Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium.
LA ART’s preferred route is the “Broadway Alignment,” which the community continues to show a strong preference for.
This route will feature an intermediate station located where Alameda Street merges into Spring Street near the southernmost entrance to the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The Chinatown/State Park Station offers a short walk to many Chinatown businesses as well as creating a safe, landscaped pedestrian connection to both Metro’s L Line (Gold) station and the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The station will also enhance transit access to the Los Angeles State Historic Park, Mission Junction and William Mead Homes. An overview of the proposed route, including station locations, is below:
LA ART includes three towers to support the ropeway, with a primary alignment above public right-of-way, as well as a non-passenger junction that allows for the route to turn up towards Dodger Stadium. The Alameda Tower is proposed to be located on City property on Alameda, at the Alameda Triangle between Alameda Street, North Main Street, and Alhambra Avenue. The Alpine Tower is proposed to be located within a City-owned parcel at the northeast corner of Alameda Street and Alpine Street, adjacent to the elevated Metro L Line (Gold). The Stadium Tower is proposed to be located on hillside private property north of Stadium Way between the Downtown Gate and SR-110. The junction would be located at the northern corner of the intersection of North Broadway and Bishops Road.
The LA ART aerial gondola system would include cables, passenger stations, towers, a non-passenger junction, and gondola cabins. In an aerial transit system, cabins are suspended above grade by cables strung between stations and towers/junctions.
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.
Recognizing that the aerial gondola must elevate its ropeway in order to carry the gondola cabins in the air, well above the street, the height of the towers, junction, and stations is important for the system’s functioning and safety. The Alameda Tower and the Alpine Tower are both proposed at 195 feet tall. The graphic below shows this height in relation to some nearby buildings and existing towers. The Stadium Tower is proposed as 179 feet tall. The non-passenger junction is approximately 84-feet tall.
The stations are lower to allow for passenger access. The stations’ proposed architectural design takes advantage of a simple barrel vault form to provide minimum enclosure needed to protect the ropeway equipment and provide shade and weather protection to passengers on the boarding platform. The Alameda Station, adjacent to Union Station, is proposed as approximately 78 feet to the top of the roof, and the Dodger Stadium Station is proposed as approximately 74 feet to the top of the roof. The Chinatown/State Park Station, designed to minimize LA ART’s Park footprint, has a passenger mezzanine and is proposed as approximately 98 feet to the top of the roof.
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 visitors to Los Angeles. 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. During event access periods, riders would be able to reserve timed tickets in advance of their desired travel time before and after Stadium events.
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. Additional public benefits being considered include additional concession and restroom facilities, as well as hardscape and landscape enhancements. 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.
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. Mexicable added a new line in 2021.
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, a long-standing tourism attraction for Southern California provides park access and a unique visitor experience. 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.