No, a subway station need not be the end of an affluent business district. In fact, it can be quite an asset. As Beverly Hills Councilman John Mirisch rightfully pointed out, parking in the Golden Triangle is a problem that the subway can help mitigate.

But while the subway will serve retail workers and help the transit dependent, the fact is that a properly built-out subway system will also attract white-collar and affluent riders. On a gridlocked route such as this, the subway will be much faster than the car. Riders can whiz under cars stuck in gridlock on the streets, traveling underground at speeds of 30 to 70 miles an hour.

Time is money. Beverly Hills residents could dine at Scarpetta or Bouchon Bistro for a pretheater meal before a relaxing ride downtown to the Music Center in half the time it takes to fight traffic in a car. Professionals commuting to downtown jobs will take the subway in droves. Many drivers who don’t think they’d take public transit actually will ride this new subway route when they see how it can cut their travel time compared with gridlock at its everyday worst.

The subway will be the single biggest improvement to quality of life for Beverly Hills residents and commuters in decades. And, I believe, it will be a significant benefit for businesses.

Retailers and restaurants should see more business; by making it easier to get here, professionals from Century City or downtown will be more likely to come to Beverly Hills for lunch meetings. Landlords will see increased leasing demand in the long term, as the subway will help attract high-end tenants who want to make commutes easier for workers.

I would even posit that Rodeo Drive merchants’ revenues will actually increase as tourists and SoCal residents can easily get to Rodeo Drive to spend their dollars. Less time in gridlock equals more time for shopping! Merchants and landlords should embrace the station as a way to gain an advantage over competing local shopping districts.

We simply cannot let well-intentioned, but I believe unneeded, fears about the subway sidetrack this station. As seen in cities from Washington to Paris to London, subway stations need not be the destroyers of luxury shopping communities. Stations bring enormous value to businesses, land owners, commuters and residents, and I believe we will come to greatly value ours here in Beverly Hills.

David C. Murphy is a Beverly Hills resident and is president of Angelenos Against Gridlock.

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