Orange Line turns four

Officials arrive for Orange Line opening day, 2005

Officials arrive for Orange Line opening day, 2005

It’s hard to believe but a scant four years ago today on Oct. 29, 2005 — the Metro Orange Line dedicated busway opened with banners, music, a cast of politicians and cute school kids at the Burbank Station in Van Nuys. The debut linked the Metro Red Line subway in North Hollywood to Woodland Hills, giving people an alternative to sitting on the chronically-jammed 101 freeway.

The $330-million Metro Orange Line was a hit from day one, both with customers and other transit agencies across the country. Inspired by the busway system in Curitiba, Brazil, It went on to exceed ridership projections practically from opening day (although, granted, ridership projections were strangely low). And at last count, at least four other cities in the U.S. have built similar dedicated busways, although the Metro Orange Line remains the longest at-grade bus rapid transit system in the country at 14 miles. Here’s a link to the Federal Transit Administration’s web page on busways, which many regions are embracing as an upgrade to regular bus service and a less expensive alternative to light rail.

An extension connecting the Orange Line with the Metrolink Station in Chatsworth is now under construction and is slated for opening in 2012 . That is three years ahead of the original opening date — a move made posible after voters last year approved the Measure R sales tax increase that is funding the project.