Ballot measure: rail or bus rapid transit project on Van Nuys Boulevard

One in a series of posts that will look at projects and programs that would receive funding from the sales tax ballot measure that the Metro Board has approved to send to voters on Nov. 8. 

What is it? A project to build a potential rail line or bus rapid transit line on Van Nuys Boulevard between the Orange Line, San Fernando Road and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station. Van Nuys Boulevard is one of Metro’s busiest bus corridors. The formal name of the project is the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor; its web page is here.

What might the project be? The planning and environmental studies for this project are already underway. Among the project alternatives being studied:

•Bus rapid transit, in which the bus would have its own lane — either along the curb or in the middle of the street — on Van Nuys Boulevard between the Orange Line and San Fernando Road. Buses would run in mixed traffic on San Fernando Road.

•A low floor light rail train or tram that would operate in a dedicated median lane along Van Nuys Boulevard and could operate in mixed flow lanes along San Fernando Road.

•Light rail trains (the type of trains that run on the Blue, Expo, Gold and Green lines) with a potential underground section between Sherman Way and Parthenia Street.

Here are maps of the four transit alternatives:

How much funding from the ballot measure for this project? $810 million plus $520 million in funding from other sources (i.e. Prop A, Prop C, Measure R, state and federal, etc.).

When can I ride it? The target ground breaking date is 2021 with completion date scheduled for 2027-29, according to the draft spending plan for the ballot measure.

Will this project link to the planned Sepulveda Pass transit project? Metro is also planning a transit project that would span the Sepulveda Pass between the Orange Line and Purple Line subway in Westwood to be completed in the 2033-35 timeframe. A future phase of that project — also with funding from the ballot measure — would continue to LAX.

Metro’s ballot measure calls for a half-cent sales tax increase and an extension of the existing Measure R sales tax. Here’s a previous post about the revised spending plan for the ballot measure.

Please visit for more info and use the hashtag #metroplan when discussing on social media. The Metro Board approved sending the ballot measure to county voters at their June 23 meeting. 

Other posts about projects and programs to be funded by the potential ballot measure

Metro’s bold plan to transform transportation (an overview of the draft spending plan)

Other posts on ballot measure projects: 

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Purple Line Extension acceleration

Airport Metro Connector

High Desert Corridor

Gold Line extension to Claremont

105 freeway ExpressLanes

Light rail between Union Station and Artesia

Green Line extension to Torrance

Bus rapid transit on Vermont Avenue in L.A.


30 replies

  1. The Valley is due a rail line. It will either be the conversion of the Orange Line from a Busway to a Light Rail line or this project. I’m sure the Valley residents will voice their opinions on this propose project.

  2. I would say that light rail line on Van Nuys Blvd is definitely needed for the San Fernando Valley. We’re already pretty bored with the BRT lines in the valley.

  3. If this “East San Fernando Valley” project isn’t upgraded to insure that it will start, NO LATER than 2019, and be guaranteed to be part of the “Sepelvedas Pass” project, along with a guarantee that it will be light rail and NOTHING ELSE, I will be one of those voting “NO MORE TAXES” and thus against this measure. Van Nuys Blvd., along with the Sepelveda Pass has some of the worst traffic in the L.A. area. This is a disgrase, to all the citizens of L.A. that METRO wants to wait until 2021 to even start this project, let alone have it finished. Either METRO can upgrade this project, by guaranteeing all the above or I, for one, will join all those who are opposed to this tax increase.
    I have previously voted in favor of all of METRO’s tax increases, but this time we’re getting way too little for such a huge tax increase and METRO needs to step-up and find other sources of funding, like raising fares to cover the rate of inflation.
    In fact, I feel that the METRO fares should be tied to the rate of inflation. Additionally, METRO rail fares should be “distance based” like they are in most other cities.

    • The project is not shovel ready. Needs to go through environmental review and withstand any lawsuits from Valley businesses and then bid out the project and then select a contractor and then start construction. Even the Purple Line just started construction last year, which was about 7 years after the passage of Measure R, so this would be about 2 years less.

    • The Antelope Valley, Gateway Cities, South Bay and South San Gabriel Valley will be voting “No” right along with you in the San Fernando Valley. Why should we pay for a West Hollywood subway when we don’t even get decent Metrolink service ? Try getting home after a Dodger game ! The Metro Rail system is mostly useless to the majority of county residents who don’t live in the City of Los Angeles, so why should we pay more taxes for a system we can’t even use ? If WeHo wants a “Bar Shuttle,” let them pay to build their own streetcar !

    • Not to sound like a troll: But you rather not have the project at all instead of waiting an extra 2 years??

      Don’t get me wrong, Metro appears to be taking a wrong approach here, especially with these long timelines, but not voting for a measure is not the answer here either you know.

      Seriously though, what is up with the 5-10 year timelines on some of these projects??

      • They can’t build them any faster because they’re constrained by cash flow from the sales taxes. They aren’t asking for a $120 billion bond, they’re asking for $120 billion in sales taxes over the next 30 years. They aren’t asking for a bond because it’s unlikely they’d be able to get such an enormous amount of money underwritten, and they can’t pay for individual smaller projects with bonds — like the Sepulveda Pass, or Lincoln, or Vermont — because bonds have to pass with 66% of the countywide vote, and most of the county doesn’t need transit in the urban center.

        So a couple of desperately-needed urban projects are yoked to enormous exurban/rural transit corridors.

      • You mean 13 years minimum. The article says it could be completed by 2029. That’s 13 years. If you look at it realistically, there’s likely going to be at least a 2 year delay, which means 15 years.

  4. I’ve been following this project since 2011 and on its current proposed alignment from Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station to Van Nuys Orange Line station, there isn’t any opposition that I’m aware of for that segment, which is good news. The buses on Van Nuys Boulevard are patronized by majority transit-dependent riders and the community knows full well that rail transit is truly welcomed. However, there was opposition from the Keyes group of car dealerships when the original proposal went south of the Orange Line station, but that portion is now under the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project. I’m hoping that this will be light rail, with a continuation to Westwood/UCLA & LAX as light rail.

  5. If they want to build a regional transit system, LRT is the way to go. Ideally, we’d have HRT to connect to the future Purple Line in Westwood but that’s life I guess. They should also consider aerial alignments too. Street-running transit will have to deal with intersections and run at the same speed as the got-dang cars.

  6. The link at bottom to Gold Line Ext to Claremont doesn’t work.

    YORKMAN LOWE 510 601 9675

  7. Under Proposition R, this project was supposed to start construction in just a couple years. Now Metro wants to postpone the project for years with anticipated completion more than a DECADE away. That is a complete fail.

    A complete fail. I know that Steve’s job is varied, but it would not hurt to explain why there has been a delay applied to the project under this new ballot measure and why the EIR/EIS has also been delayed.

    The project has been in the EIR/EIS stage for the last YEAR AND HALF at least. At one point Metro stated that the EIR was to be released by early 2016 and ready for approval by the Metro Board by the summer of 2016; so where is it? My guess is that Metro is holding it (the EIR/EIS) hostage until funds are found for the project and if that is the case, is that really the best that Metro can do????

    As soon as the EIR is released, public comments are taken, and the final document can be approved by Metro, and this project would be “Shovel Ready”. Metro has spent years already with public meetings, alternative analysis, more comments, more reports, etc.. I know because I have been to these meetings over the years.

    I doubt that there will be any series lawsuits, or threats thereof, since the LRT option is very popular and problems have discussed. It’s also partly why there is now a tunnel under the densest part of the route.

    • Under Measure R, it was supposed to be a bus project. They could have done that in a few years. Rail is much more complicated and going to take many more years.

      • A lot of the Measure R projects were listed in the slate of projects, but if you read the fine print not enough funding was allocated to build the project. That is what happened here. Yes the Corridor was listed in the slate of projects, but only $170 million was provided, which is what lead Metro to say during outreach, “You can have BRT now or you can wait for Measure R2 if you want rail.

        I am curious which R2 projects are not being allocated enough money, but still listed in the slate of project.

    • Hi Vic V;

      This project was originally going to be a bus lane type project on a north-south Valley street to be determined. It was to receive about $170 million from Measure R. After the planning and environmental studies began, the public let it be known that they wanted this to be a potential rail project.

      Measure R does not supply enough funding for this to be rail and probably not enough for the biggest and best type of bus rapid transit. Enter the new ballot measure: it would supply enough funding for the pricier alternatives.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve,

        I understand that It may have been “envisaged” as a Bus route by Metro’s Planners, but Rail, specifically LRT, was in the original scope of Plans for this project. In fact a Portland style Tram was also in the original lists of alternatives and then it was removed………and then it was put back into the Alternatives analysis and is currently still an alternative per your post above. Mysterious how it’s removed and then Viola it’s back.

        Isn’t the reason that there was public outreach and a list of alternatives a way to ascertain and determine the best plan? LRT is, and I can’t emphasis this enough, was the loud and clear choice.

        Metro said that the EIR/EIS was supposed to be completed early this year but where is it? Has it been taken hostage by politics? Where is it hiding? The Metro web page and facebook page for this project has been scrubbed clean of when the EIR will be released. This is not something that the public didn’t notice or just ignores. It’s infuriating.



        Where does it say that had to be, or supposed to be, a bus route?

        Measure R envisaged a “Transportation Corridor” for a North/South Route east of the 405 Freeway. It didn’t state it had to be, must be, or will be a bus route or anything else.

  8. Please do not short change the Valley AGAIN. There are no NIMBY’s in the East Valley opposed to LRT, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

  9. This line must be linked with the planned Sepulveda Pass transit project or else it is useless. Since the Sepulveda Pass transit is planned to be a heavy rail subway, Van Nuys Boulevard should be a heavy rail as well to link them together. Yes Metro might think it is costly and not worth it to built as a heavy rail system right now, but noted that the Van Nuys transit could eventually linked with the California high speed rail in the future to Northern California as well as Las Vegas, so it is worth to built a heavy rail. Also people will be able to travel a direct trip from San Fernando Valley to West LA as well as LAX. Indeed, the traffic on 405 is terrible, the rail is needed to provide an alternate way to travel. The potential line could aerial of the northern part of Panorama City in order to lower the cost of construction. I would rather prefer Metro to increase the fee of travel and ExpressLanes fee in order to enhance the project budget.

    • It’s not useless. The corridor will carry a lot of people. Of course, it’s not designed to maximize transit resources, it’s designed to put the county balloting over 66%, that’s why it’s there.

    • “Since the Sepulveda Pass is planned to be Heavy Rail subway”

      Huh?? A preferred alternative has been decided already?? As far I know, the Sepulveda Pass is planned to be Light Rail or BRT (in addition to TM and No build).

      Honestly, this shouldn’t be Heavy Rail at all if you want both lines connected. It should stay as Light Rail subway at the most, and it will still be faster than the 405.

      With this being light rail, it can also continue south to Torrance and San Pedro via Harbor Subdivision as well, making that section cheaper to build. Perhaps one day even extend this line north to Santa Clarita, if the ridership really is there.

      While ridership on Van Nuys Blvd is high (yup, I have witnessed it before), it is not as high as Wilshire and Vermont, or perhaps even Santa Monica Blvd. so will placing Heavy Rail make sense here??

  10. RAIL, and straight across the Sepulveda Pass. Should have been done decades ago. I have no idea why so much ink has been spilled trying to do stupid things with buses — this is an incredibly obvious rail corridor. It should be light rail just like the Blue, Green, Expo, and Crenshaw lines, and it should connect to Expo at the south end after crossing Sepulveda Pass.

  11. What is the delay in breaking ground? This project was approved by measure R years ago . The last thing Valley residents on the east side need is a mother lame duck bus that will be dead on arrival. Metro should learn from the costly orange line mistake that it now needs to switch to RaIl.

    • Hi Magnolo;

      Measure R did not supply nearly enough money to build a rail line. If the project is to be a rail line, a lot more funding will be needed — thus the reason the project is included in the potential ballot measure.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  12. Have it cut west at Ventura Blvd and then South through the Sepulveda Pass and it’ll get my vote.

  13. SERIOUSLY 2029?! WHO THE HELL THINKS THATS ACCEPTABLE? 13 years? This is why nobody likes the government and nobody cares about voting for issues like this. It’s impossible to get anything done right. If I vote yes today, who knows where I will be in 13 years. Why would I authorize taxing myself more now, for something that will probably never happen, and if in the unlikely chance that it does get finished, it will be 7 years late (20 years from now) and will no longer have any importance to me.