Yaroslavsky motion pushes for creation of San Fernando Valley-Westwood Express bus

We posted last month about proposed route changes for buses in the San Fernando Valley. One of the proposals is for the creation of a new 588 bus that would operate at peak hours that would run between Westwood and Nordhoff Street in North Hills, mostly along the 405 freeway and Van Nuys Boulevard. This new line still requires funding.

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky submitted a motion to the Metro Board today about the 588 bus; the motion was approved unanimously by the Board today and asks that staff continue the studies needed for the line and to report back to the Board in May. Here’s the text of the motion:

Motion by Director Yaroslavsky

Valley-Westside Express Bus

The San Fernando Valley and Westside are two of Los Angeles’ largest economic engines—places where millions live, shop, work and play. However, there is currently no express transit connection between the regions, which are separated by the Santa Monica Mountains.

This summer, the 405 Project is expected to complete construction and open High Occupancy Vehicle lanes that will create a new avenue for express bus service through the Sepulveda Pass.

Earlier this month, the San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central Local Service Councils held public hearings and made recommendations on proposed changes to bus service in their respective regions. Among the recommendations was the creation of Line 588, an express bus offering nonstop service through the Sepulveda Pass via the I-405 HOV lanes. The line would connect Westwood to the Orange Line and extend north along Van Nuys Boulevard to North Hills. When Phase 2 of Expo Line opens, it would extend south to meet it, providing a connection to Santa Monica, USC and downtown L.A. The proposed line received strong support from the public.

Line 588 promises an immediate solution for Metro patrons while plans for a more extensive future project through the Sepulveda Pass are being evaluated. Because funding has not yet been identified for the bus line, staff is not currently conducting the tests, studies and analyses that are needed to operate it. While efforts to fund the line continue, staff should make these preparations to ensure that Line 588 can begin serving the public as soon as possible.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Board direct staff to:

1.    Prepare studies, tests and analysis for launching Line 588, an express bus connecting the San Fernando Valley and the Westside via the I-405 HOV lanes; and

2.    Report back on the status and progress of the preparations at the May, 2014 full Board meeting.

17 replies

  1. But until we have money for rail, isn’t it better to do something in the interim that doesn’t require construction?

    I am the Metro San Fernando Valley Service Council Member who has pushed for Line 588’s creation. And I believe that we cannot let our passengers wait many more years for a rail line.

    We can do this NOW, and make things better in the interim.

    Preliminary work by Metro’s service planning staff indicated that Line 588 will cover the distance between Van Nuys Orange Line Station and Westwood in 35 minutes, compared to the present Line 761 service. That means passengers making a round-trip commute between the Valley and the Westside will get an hour of their lives back every day. That’s over 250 hours a year that they will not be spending on a bus just to get to and from work.

    And I refuse to make those passengers continue to spend that extra hour per day on their commute when I know we can get them there faster.

    That is why I proposed this originally and that is why I am thankful to my fellow Service Council Members in the San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central, and especially to Director Yaroslavsky for seeing the value in Line 588 and calling for this effort to fund its operation.

  2. Other than being extended to the Expo Line the 588 would duplicate service currently being provided by Line 761. I am not sure but I believe at one time the predecessor to Line 761 used to go to the airport at one time.

    • Line 588 will not “duplicate” Line 761 precisely. It will be a faster additional service during weekday rush hours.

      For starters, Line 588 will operate on Van Nuys Blvd. only as far south as the Orange Line, then will use the 405 freeway rather than Sepulveda Blvd. as Line 761 does.

      Also, there will be boarding restrictions to speed operation: Passengers will only be allowed to board Line 588 southbound if they are going to Westwood (no traveling between stops on Van Nuys Blvd.) and northbound Line 588 will only stop to discharge passengers that came from Westwood. Between those two changes, we expect to improve the travel time over Line 761 by 35 to 45 minutes, depending on which stop you use on Van Nuys.

      You are correct that prior to 2003 Line 561 did operate hourly service all the way to LAX. We gave that up as a concession to Culver CityBus for their creating Rapid 6 (no one knew it was going to take them so long to provide the replacement service). The Line 561 service south of Westwood was frequently off-schedule, though, due to high traffic congestion on the 405.

  3. Agreed trains would be better, but I think there is a lot of value in this as a bus route to start. The issue is that the bus will still need to wait quite a bit of time on the on-ramps before it actually gets onto the 405.

    • You would be right about the 405 on-ramps if we hadn’t already thought of that when we planned Line 588.

      If you look at the map from the service change public hearing, which Steve posted here on The Source in January, you’ll see that we are minimizing the wait time for the 405 on-ramps by using Victory Blvd. instead of Burbank Blvd. The short amount of time doubling back on Sepulveda Blvd. from Oxnard St. is far less than what the wait time would be if we used the “closer” on-ramp.

      Here’s a link to the Metro staff presentation from the public hearing:
      http://media.metro.net/board/Items/2014/02_february/20140205othersectorsfvitem3.pdf
      The map of Line 588 is on page 9.

  4. What about having a line dirrectly connect from csun to the westside and another dirrectly connect to the red line?

  5. Orange Line to Expo Line!? Please! And make it run late night as well. I miss my friends on the Westside. Also, it would be nice to have an alternative to the Orange Line/Red Line to downtown. Right now the Orange Line is always PACKED.

  6. We already have a fantastic peak hour bus service between Encino and Westwood called Commuter Express. I suggest that the Metro San Fernando Valley Service Council Member does more to support this service. I will continue to pay more (much more) to ride the comfortable Commuter Express buses, than have to switch over to the back-breaking, standing room only, Metro buses. The problem is that the decision makers never ride the Metro buses. Just spend one full day riding a Metro bus and you will also pay extra to ride a real Coach service. When are the decision makers going to understand that one hour in your comfortable car is preferable to a half hour on a Metro bus. There should be a warning sign on each Metro bus, “Do not ride if you have a back or neck injury, pregnant, etc,” like at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

  7. @Kymberleigh Richards

    If your relying on an estimate of 35 minutes, you should indicate if that is in “rush hour” or “non-rush hour” traffic. Someone in your position should be familiar with how bad rush hour traffic is and the necessity of clarity in stating estimated traffic times. Besides, if you believe that the bus will traverse that distance in that allotted time in rush hour traffic, you should be disqualified from your position.

    • The estimate came from our staff, who conducted a real-time test during afternoon rush-hour using a spare bus from our East Valley yard. They did use the existing southbound HOV lanes, but of course could not use them northbound. Their report — which was given to the entire Service Council and is noted in the minutes of the meeting at which they gave their report — was an actual travel time of 35 minutes between Van Nuys Orange Line Station and Wilshire/Westwood Blvds., using the routing shown in the public hearing document.

      If staff is wrong, they will be the ones held responsible for the error.

      I should be disqualified for believing our staff’s research? By that logic, no one would ever be able to hold office.

  8. Kymberleigh Richards

    From what you have stated it appears the proposed 588 line would not make any stops between the Orange Line and Westwood.. And unless the configuration of the new car pool lanes on the 405 have been made to accomdate with ease the entering and exiting of bus service said line will be subject to the same gridlock experienced by other motorists.

    • @ mike dunn:

      Our staff managed to do it during the test run at rush hour.
      LADOT manages to do it every day with their Commuter Express buses.
      I trust our Operations personnel to make it work.
      Why are you being such a naysayer instead of being glad we’re trying something now instead of just telling people to wait years for a rail line and put up with the slower Sepulveda Blvd. service?

  9. Save the right of way,

    The whole point is to use the new carpool lanes. Some if those lanes do not even yet exist.

  10. Kimberleigh Richards

    I don’t know what kind of experience you have in public transit but I had 30 years with the RTD/MTA as a Road Supervisor. While your promised a certain level of service by staff, my experience had been most of those making decisions had no practical experience. In fact statements were made to me from staff like, “if you had not moved the bus layover zone the DWP would not have dug their hole in the street at that location.” Or how about, ” If no buses pull out of the yard, there is no Service Delay on any line.”

    I hope the 588 line works but I doubt if the service can be provided with a 35 minute running time during rush hour.

  11. I feel that the line would be successful if it reached the California State University campus as well as serve the park n’ ride lot that is used in West Los Angeles by LADOT Commuter Express Line’s 431 especially if there is AM service from Westwood into the Valley.