FTA gives Metro the green light to study transit alternatives for Van Nuys corridor

Van Nuys Corridor Map

Metro announced today that it has been selected to receive $2 million in Federal Transit Administration funding to begin two new transportation projects: an alternatives analysis for a premium transit service on Van Nuys Boulevard and work to improve the agency’s transit forecasting model. See the FTA’s announcement.

And here are the project descriptions.

This latest funding notice from the FTA injects new momentum into the agency’s Measure R program and is a win for the San Fernando Valley.

The Van Nuys Corridor is a main element in the East San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways Project, which seeks to provide better transit service on key corridors in the Valley.

For the Van Nuys Corridor project, the goal is to greatly improve mobility on Van Nuys Boulevard for about 10 miles between Ventura and Foothill Boulevards. Anyone who has ridden a bus down Van Nuys Boulevard in this area knows this street is primed for some sort of premium service.

The Van Nuys corridor consistently ranks as one of the top ten busiest bus corridors in Los Angeles County. In the Valley it is the busiest corridor. Total weekday boardings on Metro buses serving this boulevard even beat the Metro Orange Line and Ventura Metro Rapid in terms of daily ridership. (Metro has approximately 27,000 weekday boardings for buses running on Van Nuys compared to the Orange Line’s 23,500 and Ventura Rapid’s 5,500 boardings).

So what are the possible transit alternatives the Alternatives Analysis will study? Besides the obligatory No-Build and Transportation Systems Management alternatives, Metro will be looking at the following options:

  • Dedicated bus lanes
  • Light rail
  • Streetcars

Metro’s project planners say that any of the options short of doing nothing will impact parking along much of this portion of Van Nuys Boulevard. They also say that the study will have to evaluate ways in which the removal of parking to build the project can be mitigated, which could include — among others — off-site parking lots. The community input process should help vet these and other issues during the AA process.

The streetcar option is an intriguing prospect for Van Nuys Boulevard, creating a “Back to the Future” possibility.  While not technically streetcars, the last Pacific Electric Red Car traveling on Van Nuys was taken out of service in 1952.

Metro has released its Request for Proposals to conduct the AA work and could be ready by early 2013 to recommend a project to the Metro Board of Directors.

The work to improve Metro’s transit forecasting model will help improve the way other Measure R projects like the Westside Subway Extension and Crenshaw-LAX projects model their own travel demand.

25 replies

  1. Metro needs to understand that the San Fernando Valley doesn’t need dedicated busways. It needs light rail. If they were to go with light rail on Van Nuys they would see how much the service is needed in the Valley. I like John Kasitz “Third project”. It makes sense and trust me people will ride the rail. Lets hope Metro sees this and moves forward to build the rail. I live in Sylmar, near the Metrolink station, and everytime I go to Downtown LA I have to take the 224 to get to the Red Line Station in North Hollywwod. Its just horrible. We need rail connecting the Northeast and East San Fernando Valley to the rest of Los Angeles and busses aren’t going to cut it.

  2. Great news, here is my plan: Currently there are some sort of plans for the Sepuvleda Pass/Sepulveda Bl. corridor, and the Lankershim Bl./San Fernando Rd. Corridor. Scrap the Sepulveda Bl. and Lankershim Bl./San Fernando Rd., (mostly because all they will be are rapid bus lines which there was a line 724 just 2 years ago, it fails and line has been cancelled, and there currently is a rapid line Via Sepulveda Bl that is usually at a low passenger ridership.)
    Now the funds for those two projects can now be used for the Sepulveda Pass/Van Nuys Corridor.
    First project: A Metro X line (the blue express metro bus)that Starts at Westwood (Veteran/Wilshire) to Sunset/405 fwy.)than express to Van Nuys/101 fwy. than ends at Orange Line Van Nuys Station.
    Second Project: The Orange line/Red Line needs to have direct escalator/elevators to make the tranfer easy and quick (the crossing the street is sickening, unsafe, and time consuming).
    Third project: Build a Light Rail from Van Nuys Orange Line Station ending at Sylmar Station. on Van Nuys Bl. Use the Center median and/or use one of each north/south lanes making Van Nuys Bl. have two auto lanes each direction (instead of the currant three) to Parthenia St., ( same as the comment by JDRCRASHER )than proceed on the center median (currantly its weeds/bushes) on Parthenia to Sepulveda Bl., than proceed on Sepulveda Bl also using it center median, to Rinali Street (at Holy Cross Medical), than proceed on Rinaldi street, cross the 5 fwy., and goto Brand Bl (also has a center median), to San Fernando Rd./Truman Street, and finally ends at Sylmar Station. After this is completed than eleminate lines 734/902 service, and reduce lines 233/761 but keep there routes the same (Pacoima/Westwood).
    Final Project: Orange line extension to Burbank Airport, than to Burabank Station.

  3. Can you explain to me why you can’t just get rid of a lane on our freeways and build heavy rail on top of it?

    I mean you already have the existing infrastructure that can be used; the freeways themselves are already above and below grade. Think of freeway entries and exits as train stations.

    You don’t have to deal with years and years of new studies wasting taxpayer money, only to find out that material prices increased so much after conducting those studies.

  4. The connection to the red line would not have been an issue if the orange line had not been screwed up in the first place to begin with by being built as a non-prioritized bus. But by NOT building this line as light rail, it would screw up a very important connection in the future, the sepulveda pass corridor, which certainly needs to be rail, I don’t there is much question about that, (ridership attraction, capacity, electric power, smoother ride, connection to other lines, the list goes on.) This line ought to be presumed to connect to the sepulveda pass line, not doing so would be a foolish missed opportunity. We need to start looking at these things as true transit infrastructure, not just band-aid solutions. Don’t play the expense card because its going to have to happen sometime anyway…

  5. I think light rail would be better it would have been nice if the orange line was a light rail also.

  6. There are three big problems with building a light rail or street car down Van Nuys Blvd. One is that there is a state law that prohibits light rail in the San Fernando Vally. Light rail is also about three times more expensive and slower to build than a dedicated bus only lane and Metro has a limited amount of money for capital projects. To go light rail Metro will have to cut back on construction elsewhere which will concentrate resources on fewer projects.

    Lastly, if rail is built only for a north/south corridor, then all of the mass transit users who come to and from the Red Line will have to stand and wait to transfer to another line on Van Nuys Blvd. This is already a problem that occurs with the Orange Line and it’s a pity to see people run across the street to catch their transfer, or standing waiting. Rail will not improve this problem.

    A BRT line down the middle of Van Nuys Blvd would enable passengers to have one uninterrupted trip to or from the Red Line station in North Hollywood as the 902 line currently does. Those passengers would certainly not see a speed advantage from having to wait up to ten minutes during the day or up to 20 minutes at night to transfer to/from the rail line on Van Nuys Blvd. Anybody who uses the Orange Line can attest that mass transit riders that use the Red Line station are a big part of Van Nuys transit users as the Van Nuys and North Hollywood stops have the biggest amount of passengers for the Orange Line.

    The Orange Line running down the middle of Chandler Blvd is a good example of what a BRT line down Van Nuys Blvd would look like. One of the great advantages of having the BRT run down the middle of the street is the bus drivers peripherial vision for cross traffic and intersections is greatly improved. Most of the conflicts on the Orange Line is with the narrow two lanes it travels down with drivers having to slow due to their inability to see if there is any cross traffic approaching at intersections.

  7. Obviously, most of us would like to see a train of sorts.

    Lets hope that any such proposal looks to the long term, has adequate grade separation, and connects either to the Red Line, or runs through the Sepulveda Pass to Westwood and LAX.

    Let us not waste several billion more dollars on pathetic at-grade bus options, or non-connected routes.

    Remember, most things in the valley are intended to be Orange Line extensions, if we don’t stop them in their tracks … or lack thereof.

  8. “I would still like to see line 902 actually travel on the Orange Line from Van Nuys Blvd. eastward, if possible.”

    Yes, because the 902 line is not faster that the Orange Line from NoHo to Van Nuys Blvd as advertized.

    I support this project with light rail, specially since a lot of sections of Van Nuys Blvd are very wide to suppor the LRT to run down the middle.

  9. This is certainly good news. However it really does need to be rail as the capacity and density certainly warrants it. Also a bus is still a bus and choice riders are more likely to ride a train. This line should be grade separated or at the very least have full signal preemption in the at-grade sections if there must be. But the operating speed would still not be as high and speed is very important in a city like Los Angeles. We don’t want another orange line that stops at most lights slowing it down. Rail is more attractive, more energy efficient (electric vs. fuel), has higher capacity, and can spur more development than BRT. But it needs to be done right and NOT be at-grade for most of the line. This would help everybody in the area. This could also mitigate the parking issues at street level. Again, it may be more expensive now, but we are only going to find ourselves later on realizing the need for better design when the inevitable growth, pedestrians, and traffic keep increasing. Lets have some foresight metro. Were are trying to develop a better Los Angeles. Let’s make the most of it.

  10. Given that there is only $68.5 Million in measure R money for all four of the North-South East Valley corridors, where would the money come from for LRT? Obviously such a project might qualify for Federal money give, but wouldn’t we need to come up with more local money than measure R provides? Are the previous (1980 & 1990) sales tax hikes still a source for capital projects, or is that money already all spoken for? Also, if that money is available for new projects, can it be used for tunneling? (How did we pay for recent Gold Line extension, given that it did involve tunneling?)

  11. “Doesn’t a new BRT/rail line in and of itself mitigate the removal of parking spaces?”

    Moreover, the parking question has been removed from the CEQA Guidelines.

  12. The only issue with keeping this open for extending over Sepulveda Pass is that that route’s so busy it probably demands heavy rail instead of light rail.

  13. “They also say that the study will have to evaluate ways in which the removal of parking to build the project can be mitigated”

    Doesn’t a new BRT/rail line in and of itself mitigate the removal of parking spaces?

  14. Van Nuys Blvd. had PE cars down the middle between Sherman Way and Chandler Blvd. from I believe 1912 to 1952.

    I would still like to see line 902 actually travel on the Orange Line from Van Nuys Blvd. eastward, if possible.

    The funding for this would be through Measure R, but I believe it’s way down the list of priorities.

  15. A study of this project for BRT or LRT is great! I also give kudos to LACMTA for studying other corridors as well. But, where is the funding to pursue this project, and others? I support a transportation fee which is paid at the gas pump.

  16. A study of this project for BRT or LRT is great! I also give kudos to LACMTA for studying other corridors as well.

    But, where is the funding to pursue this project, and others?

    I support a transportation fee which is paid at the gas pump.

  17. Building it as light rail will also allow Metro to eventually extend it over the hills to Westwood and onwards to LAX. Measure R has partial funding for the “405” corridor… which should be considered as the southern extension of the Van Nuys corridor.

  18. This is great news for Metro riders on Van Nuys Boulevard. I can’t tell you how many times Metro Rapid 761 becomes crowded between Nordhoff Street and the Metro Orange Line busway (with half of the riders taking the Orange Line to the Red Line); 902 has alleviated that issue a bit. Nice to see 2 of 3 options as rail, the other as BRT on dedicated lanes – although I feel that (being second from Wilshire with a similar BRT project) that it would only be rush hour bus lanes. However, this project, which I hope would be rail, would be built in conjunction with the 405 corridor (which I hope would also be rail), or if it’s separate, then the transit centers be at either the Orange Line Sepulveda or Van Nuys station. Seeing this as a separate project and considering the demographics of the residents along Van Nuys north of the Orange Line, I’m hoping for little to no opposition like what happened to the Orange Line, that was originally planned as the extension of the Red Line, then LRT, then the NIMBYs compromised it to a busway (read the story on the Robbins Bill). It’s nice to see Metro recognizing the importance of Van Nuys over the 3 other N-S corridors (Reseda, Sepulveda, and Lankershim – none of which have weekend Rapid service either). JDCrasher, I realize the logic of following the line via the old PE route you mentioned, but Van Nuys/Nordoff CANNOT be missed; I know it as I always past that stop and it’s where the bulk of the ridership starts going south; plus Panorama City is the most densest part of the SFV, even more than NoHo, and ridership on the 761 reflects that. I’ll be monitoring this project closely and would advocate for the rail modality, although all options are great for the corridor.

  19. Rather than using Van Nuys the whole length of the route, it should go on Van Nuys, Parthenia and then Sepulveda so it can get to the Sylmar Metrolink station.

    There’s not really a whole lot of opportunity on Van Nuys past Parthenia.

  20. No matter what the solution is. Make sure to improve the location in the SFV valley.
    You can just build one fancy transit project and ignore the resot of the rest that is not serrved by rail/rapid transit/freq buses.

  21. awesome! I’ll be at the meetings and bring people. we need rail in this area not only for future extensions (hopefully down sherman way but also because of the density in the area. Parking, although needed for those choice riders, will not bring down ridership expectations in the corridor much because a lot of people that ride in this area are people that don’t have cars to begin with. WHEN light-rail is chosen, it will bring about investment, improve traffic, increase foot traffic all of which have potential in improving the economy in the area which in turn brings in more tax revenue for LA county. An improved economy leads to a better life for the residents in the area and (hopefully, crossing my fingers) less crime. 🙂 Van Nuys Blvd has beautiful historic strip malls. Lets make it just as attractive as it was intended.

  22. Building it as light rail will also allow Metro to eventually extend it over the hills to Westwood and onwards to LAX. Measure R has partial funding for the “405” corridor… which should be considered as the southern extension of the Van Nuys corridor.

  23. I think, a Light-Rail line will be the optimal solution, as it has the biggest advantages over the other two modes (BRT and Streetcars) in the following:
    1) Higher overall speeds
    2) Much higher capacity
    3) Priority in traffic, by requiring crossing gates and traffic lights signals.

    I truly hope Light-Rail will be chosen for the alternative.