Guide to the Metro Silver Line

A lot of people have been asking about the Metro Silver Line bus service that will be starting on December 13th. Well, Metro has released a bunch of new information including timetables, maps and a destination guide. We’re going to take a closer look at the information and figure out what the Silver Line is about.

Why the ‘Silver’ Line?

The Silver Line is a bus route, so why does it get a color name? Well, like the Orange Line Metro considers the Silver Line a bus rapid transit (BRT) route and has decided to give it a color and place it on the rapid transit map along with the Orange Line and all the rail lines. There are differences between the Orange Line and the Silver Line although they are both categorized as BRT. The Orange Line travels along an exclusive right-of-way for most of the journey while the Silver Line travels on freeway high occupancy lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways. Also, due to ridership the Orange Line uses larger articulated buses while the Silver Line will use normal buses.

What’s the purpose of the Silver Line?

The Silver Line consolidates a number of express buses that run along the El Monte Busway and Harbor Transitway in an attempt to simplify routing, schedules and fares. The lines being replaced by the Silver Line are 444, 446-447, 484 and 490. They’re not disappearing completely but are being renumbered and becoming local lines that connect to The Silver Line. Yes, that means for some riders of those lines, a transfer will now be necessary.

In the big picture, the Silver Line is a chance for Metro to take advantage of $210 million federal grant for their Congestion Reduction Demonstration Project (aka Express Lanes). The Express Lanes project is meant to increase traffic flow and provide more travel options on the 10 and 110 freeways. The grant will allow Metro to dramatically improve the Silver Line over the course of the next year. Plan include: increasing service frequency, improving stations, direct connection to Union Station’s Patsaouras Plaza, adding traffic signal priority in downtown Los Angeles for faster service and new fuel-efficient buses.

The Map

Here’s the map of the Silver Line with every stop on the route. Click the image for a larger version, or check out this PDF version. One thing to notice is that the Silver Line connects with every Metro rail line in the system.

The Schedule

The Silver Line’s timetables have been released and are available in PDF format.

It takes about 26 minutes to get to 7th Street Metro Center in Downtown from both the El Monte Station and the Artesia Transit Center. To go from end to end will take approximately 51 minutes.

During weekday morning rush hour northbound buses leave the Artesia Transit Center every 10 minutes. Southbound buses leave the El Monte Station every 5 minutes.

Midday most northbound buses run on a 30-minute schedule to Downtown, and every 15 minutes to El Monte. Southbound buses run every 15 minutes.

Afternoon rush hour has north and southbound buses running every 10 minutes.

The Fares

Historically, Metro routes that traverse the freeways are subject to zone fares, which means they cost a bit more than your standard service. This legacy continues, albeit simplified, with the Silver Line which costs a flat $2.45 to ride. Here’s a PDF document that summarizes the fare structure for the Silver Line.

Pass holders without a 2-zone stamp will have to pay an additional $1.20 to ride the Silver Line as will Metrolink riders. What’s interesting is that a Day Pass ($5) covers the entire base fare, so if you’re planning on transferring even once a Day Pass is the way to go on the Silver Line.

Personally, as a rider I find the zone fares confusing and as a monthly pass holder it’s unlikely I’m going to want to scrounge for change to pay the extra fare to ride the Silver Line.

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