Ridership estimates basically show that the bigger the project, the more riders it will gain. A subway that goes down Wilshire and stops at UCLA (Alt 1) will have 72,200 trips a day. By adding one more stop West of the 405 (Alt 2) it adds another 8,000 trips to the extension. Pushing further West to "the sea" (Alt 3) would mean a total of 105,000 trips a day. By adding a West Hollywood spur (Alt 5), trips would increase to 120,000, but adding a West Hollywood spur to a system that only stops after the 405 (Alt 4) lowers trips significantly to 93,000 a day, which indicates that "to the sea" portion makes a difference.
But more trips do not necessarily compute to a better project when it comes to federal funding, which partially emphasizes cost effectiveness. The three Wilshire-only Alternatives are all close to falling within federal guidelines while the two West Hollywood ones could threaten the funding.
That funding is especially important because Metro's long range plan sets aside $4.2 billion, which part of it assumes money from the federal "New Starts" grant program.
Two of the alternatives -- Wilshire to UCLA or just West of the 405 -- cost below $4.2 billion, while taking Wilshire to the Sea or adding a West Hollywood spur shoots the prices up between $5.7 and $8.4 billion.
The voter-approved Measure R sales tax will also help fund the project, which if was a Wilshire-only subway to UCLA, would open in phases...