Four refined concepts have been released for the Metro project that will build a fast, high-capacity transit line between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside through the Sepulveda Pass. Three of the four are heavy rail — i.e. the type of trains used on Metro’s Red/Purple Line subway — and the other concept is a monorail.
The refined concepts are part of an ongoing Feasibility Study for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, which has nearly $10 billion in overall funding from Metro’s Measure R and M sales tax measures and other sources.
Metro has a separate Measure R and M project that will build a light rail line between the Orange Line’s Van Nuys Station and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station via Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road. That project is named the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor and has already been approved by the agency’s Board of Directors and is due to begin construction in 2022.
A planning challenge for the Sepulveda Project has been figuring out whether it will be best to extend the Van Nuys light rail line to the Westside to allow a one-seat ride or use a different type of train and build a good, easy transfer between the two lines.
Metro staff determined that light rail doesn’t offer as much future capacity for the Sepulveda Line as heavy rail or monorail. Why? Light rail has shorter trains and smaller rail cars. Therefore, staff are proposing to eliminate that concept from further study.
Modeling by Metro shows that the Sepulveda rail project would also greatly increase ridership on the Van Nuys-to-Sylmar/San Fernando light rail line because it provides a reliable way for passengers to reach the Sepulveda line.
Ridership, in fact, would exceed capacity on the southern part of that light rail line, the reason that the remaining four concepts for the Sepulveda project go to the Van Nuys Metrolink Station. The idea is to intercept the ridership demand on the Van Nuys line before light rail trains get too crowded.
The monorail concept wouldn’t need as much tunneling (which is expensive) as the three heavy rail concepts, but a monorail would be slower and has lower ridership estimates than the other concepts.