Want a Faster WeHo Commute? Go to Work Earlier!

West Hollywood Traffic[dropcap]T[/dropcap]raffic!

The rainbow flag, or the design of the latest apartment building, or who should or shouldn’t be running for West Hollywood City Council. That’s what dominates the conversation (at least on WEHOville) some days. But the issue that never goes away in our auto-obsessed city is the ubiquity of (other people’s) cars and the pain they cause us.

The solution to our traffic woes, if there is one, isn’t yet evident. The City Council declined last month to approve a proposal by John D’Amico to install Sheriff’s Department deputies at busy intersections on Santa Monica Boulevard to see if they could ease traffic flow, citing the high cost and uncertain results. The city’s Community Development Department is likely to return with other ideas.

But while we wait, data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) suggests there are ways to ease your own traffic woes besides working from home, riding a bicycle or (horror) taking the bus.

First some background. The ACS is an ongoing community-level survey of everything from ethnicity to household income to travel time to work in American cities. It asks different questions than those asked in the U.S. Census, which is conducted every ten years. The data is based on a survey sample, and it has a margin of error that suggests the figures might be off as much as ten percent in either direction.

One of the first things the ACS data makes clear is that if you want to spend less time driving, you should go to work earlier than 8 a.m. (or later than 10 a.m. if you can negotiate that with the boss). Half of the 19,340 of West Hollywood 34,000 residents who travel to work each day do so between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., with the busiest period between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. That’s when 6,205 local commuters are on our roads–a figure that doesn’t include those who are passing through from Hollywood to Beverly Hills.

If you head to work between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., there will likely be fewer than 2,000 commuters, about nine percent of the daily total, meaning your trip may be much faster.

While the time it takes you to drive or ride to work depends to a great extent on the distance you have to travel, an earlier commute might move you out of that 53 percent of WeHo residents whose commute takes from 30 to 90 or more minutes each day. As grim as that total sounds, only five percent travel for 90 minutes or more. Twenty percent have a half-hour commute. A lucky one percent travel from home to work, and back, in less than five minutes.

West Hollywood residents aren’t especially keen on public transportation, the use of which would obviously help curb traffic congestion.

The ACS data shows only six percent of the city’s working population uses the bus or city shuttle. That’s the same percentage as those who walk to work. Four percent carpool. Two percent bike or ride a motorcycle or take a taxi. And a whopping 71 percent drive a car by themselves.

MTA bus

There’s an interesting and unlikely correlation according to ACS data between the mode of transportation that we choose and our income. According to ACS, those who bicycle or drive a motorcycle or take a cab to work have an average income of $40,769 (maybe they’re all taking cabs?). Those who drive alone are the next most affluent commuting group, with an average income of $36,441. And those who take the bus make, on average, only $18,543.

People who work from home not only the avoid the hassle of traffic and save money on gas, they have an average income of $50,797. Breaking that down further, the ACS data show that less than one percent of residents earning more than $75,000 a year take the bus, while they make up 20 percent of the commuting population.

There’s also a correlation between mode of travel and race and ethnicity at all times of day (i.e. not just during a commute). The ACS data show that 68 percent of West Hollywood residents who identify as white say they drive alone while 37 percent have taken public transportation (some people do both). Among the city’s small Latino population, 73 percent take the bus while only 30 percent drive alone.

While the bus may be cheaper and more environmentally friendly, sadly it’s not the fastest way to get to work. The data show that average bus trip is 51 minutes while the average for a driver alone in his car is 30 minutes, although once again, the length of the trip is also a factor.

Page 2: Number of WeHo Commuters by Departure Times

Page 3: Travel Time to Work for WeHo Commuters

Page 4: How WeHo Residents Get to Work

  1. what a joke this piece is, and some of the comments are insipid.
    really, Stockholm?
    a trolley to no where. the trolley system, or lack there of, is a result of decisions and trends coming of age 60 years ago.
    business hours are 9-5, not 6:30am to whenever you think you should go home.
    charging people to drive their car into a town? there would and should be a revolution, and maybe then, some of you socialist nationals might actually come to understand a market economy. that would be the only economy that works and builds wealth and lives, and yes, dear god, companies that employ the latte’ drinking, prius driving complainers in west hollywood.
    and when the trolley is reinstalled on the magical medians along santa monica boulevard, just exactly where are all of these jobs people are going to?
    because west hollywood and los angeles are so business friendly, i’m sure they’ll want to relocate their offices to make it convenient for a car-less wondertown!
    show me a man or woman who never wants to grow beyond 1.9 square miles, and live out your most ambitious dreams, and I’ll show you a garden variety retail tweaker and loser who wants cradle to grave care.

    1. luca d – I’ll just add the point that socialism is generally defined as the government providing services to all citizens for free, which is exactly what we have right now with the roads. A system in which people have to pay for what they use (which is what I was proposing) is often referred to as capitalism or neo-liberalism.

  2. Yes, to SaveWeho and Brian….how creative to use the medians for either a trolley or monorail or some other PRT (personal rapid transit)….remember Nick Garzilli who ran for City Council, that was his platform. Sounds too futuristic? well, don’t look now but the future is NOW! Why our city chose to remove the reamining trolley tracks when they “beautified” SMB is beyond me….serious lack of planning if you ask me.

  3. Two of the main problems concerning the major traffic jam that hits Santa Monica Blvd is the area between La Cienega and Doheny. Traffic signals that treat minor side streets like major intersections, way more pedestrian traffic crossing the Blvd. (24 Hour Fitness & Starbucks for example) and unnecessary street blockages (between Ramada and Trader Joes) that force traffic onto Santa Monica Blvd. If that blockade was removed most people would use that street to get up to Holloway to get home (me). I avoid the Blvd as much as possible now…its ridiculously SLOW!

  4. The problem is that everyone who drives thinks only about how long it takes them, and not about all the hundreds (or even thousands) of other people that they’re inconveniencing by putting their car on the road. If you get in a car at any time when the road isn’t totally empty, you’re causing 2 seconds of delay to every single person behind you. And yet none of us thinks twice about it.

    And that’s because we give away the road space for free! (At least, we do to anyone who’s rich enough to own a car.) We charge people to ride the bus – why don’t we charge the people who actually cause traffic?

    They do this in Stockholm. If your car enters downtown during rush hour, they bill you the equivalent of $3. If you come in the middle of the day, it’s more like $2 or $1. The roads are free to use in the evening and very early morning. You don’t need to stop and pay a toll – they just scan your license plate and bill you once a month. If we did this, then the people who are causing traffic would pay for inconveniencing all their neighbors, while anyone who can change their trip time (or who can cross town on the 10 instead of on SMB) can avoid inconveniencing others and not have to worry about the charges.


  5. Agree with Brian above. Just 16 years ago city council elected to take out the trolley tracks in favor of a huge grass median that serves no purpose other than to be pretty. The problem with the busses? It’s not only the low numbers riding them…but they significantly cause back up with their stop-and-go and you get a line of cars behind it. The solution? Get the mass transit OFF the roads. If you don’t want a trolley…ever heard of a monorail? You have the grass median that is city-owned. Put a nice Disneyland Monorail down the center and you’ll have less backup on the roads and an innovated transit system. Seattle has monorail that work fantastic. Granted, it’s not a solution for long range drivers from West LA to Hollywood. But what it will do is relieve traffic congestion and make things a bit quicker on the streets. And I might add…put some pedestrian overpasses or underpasses in the heart of Weho. People crossing the street (not at a light) cause significant slowing and is life-threatening. I know we want our Weho to be a quaint little village with street crossings, etc. But those days are gone. It’s a major street (hello…its the old Route 66) so act like it.

  6. We used to have something running down that pretty center median called a trolley. The Pacific Electric cars took millions of people up and down SMB for decades. Now we have MTA buses using the same lanes as many more automobiles. Twice as many red lights and pedestrian walkways also slow the flow. So much for progress.

  7. You have hit the nail on the head its about Balance of traffic and travel times.

    If the bulk of our own residents are gone by 10-11 am where do the rest all come from and go?
    Do these stats suggest that all cars on SMB are residents and all travel the same direction?

    Now if we could add all the area, medical, beauty, design, professional, school, retail, entertainment, restaurant, bar, special event,and shopping trips we might have something.
    Census alone dose not really cover whats happening.

    I happen to work from home but still care about the area quality of life.

    I still at times have apt’s outside the city that I must drive to. It once took 45 minutes to get from Westbourne and SMB to Wilshire and SMB at 8:00 am. This isnt just about neighbors driving to and from work but the many 100’s if not 1000’s coming into and out of BH, Century City, and Weho alone. Do all three plan traffic together ? We know the answer to that.

    Could we have someone during the peak times at stop lights ask drivers in their cars where their going and where their from ? ( I think you might find that very few are residents )

    Take a moment in your day today when at a local establishment and ask the employees where they live and if they could afford to would they live here instead ? I know some that drive from OC and just yesterday was told by another that they bus in from lancaster. These are the people that really support the local economy and have said would love to live here. New development guidelines have priced them out of the area.

    Could we ask all the men and women coming from all over the city for cut,color, and make up on peak days like friday to rideshare or switch their apt ? We need and want that business if its hard for them to get here they wont come. Maybe we can even ask the all the Paparazzi taking photos to travel in one car ?

    Should we tell pavillions to not have $5 fridays but maybe Mondays and Wednesdays to balance the flow ? Im on my way there now !! Great deals !! Even though I dont need a whole strawberry shortcake.

    Do we ask all the interior designers to take their shopping elsewhere ? Well its happening most are moving out and way east into LA. sad considering this is the “Creative City”

    Do we only allow Star line and TMZ vans to travel on alternating days ?

    Do we make travel to and through West Hollywood Membership only so we can keep out the ones we dont want as some on the council might like ? Just like our development guidelines have set a goal for the “TYPE” of resident they want.

    Maybe we could ask those crossing the street at starbucks to cross in groups to speed traffic along.

    Development is ok as long as all things are considered and planned. No one item issue or question raised answers all the problems but Balance and working together along the blvd will.

    Even the exciting news about OWN moving into the lot is a good thing, that project at least is built near good N/S corridors. Cars dont even need to touch SMB to get in or out of the project they have options. Some of the new planned developments have no ingress and egress but on SMB

    Should other large projects be planned the same way ? If sprouts for eg. was one block east on a major corridor would it make more sense ? We can drive these ideas with a proper plan.

    Traffic and development planning should be done in such a way that its needed , supported, and well managed.

    All that said Great stats Thank you.

  8. What a crock. Maybe if Weho wasn’t so ridiculously overbuilt, under planned and driven by greed it would be possible to actually drive through it.

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