Van Nuys Boulevard Rapidway community presentation now available

The Van Nuys Rapidway corridor travels over 10 miles between Ventura Blvd. and the 210 Freeway. Here is a closeup of how it will connect to existing and planned Metro transit lines. The full corridor is after the jump.

Metro planners and the city of Los Angeles hosted three community meetings last week to kick off a study that will identify options for improving transit service along the Van Nuys Boulevard corridor in the San Fernando Valley. For those who didn’t have a chance to attend, the presentation from those evenings is now available here [PDF].

The project is still very much in its early stages — the so-called “pre-scoping process” — in which the community and Metro planners determine what kind of project meets the needs of the community and the regional transportation system, given budgetary and other constraints. In other words: If you’re interested in getting involved in shaping this project, there’s still plenty of time to weigh in.

The Van Nuys corridor is one of four north-south corridors — Reseda, Sepulveda and Lankershim/San Fernando Boulevards are the others — identified to receive improved transit service. Thanks to Measure R, the county-wide half-cent sales tax, $68.5 million of local funding is already allocated for this project; Metro will likely pursue state and federal funding as well.

You only have to ride a Van Nuys bus at rush hour to appreciate the compelling need for transit improvements: the corridor is second only to the Metro Orange Line for boardings in the San Fernando Valley. To highlight a few more motivations for this project, here are four bullet points from the “Purpose and Need” section of the presentation:

  • Improve mobility in the eastern San Fernando Valley by introducing an improved north-south transit connection with existing east-west service.
  • Encourage [drivers to shift] to transit in the congested Van Nuys Boulevard Corridor, thereby reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improve transit access to jobs and discretionary trips within the corridor, thereby promoting economic growth.
  • Provide additional transit options in a largely transit dependent corridor where bus overcrowding is a frequent occurrence.

Metro staff will ultimately recommend one of five alternatives to the Metro Board of Directors: bus rapid transit, light rail, streetcar, transportation system management or a no-build alternative (pages 9-13 of the presentation address some of the pros and cons of each). Here’s a quickly summary of some of the distinguishing characteristics:

  • Bus rapid transit (BRT) has relatively cheap construction costs and can use existing Metro buses and maintenance facilities; however, more buses are required to move the same amount of people as a light rail.
  • Streetcars offer similar mobility benefits as BRT with roughly 40% more passengers per vehicle and often a smoother ride than BRT; however, streetcars cost more to build than BRT, cannot navigate around obstructions and would require a new maintenance facility.
  • Light rail trains have the greatest passenger capacity — up to 335 passengers per two car train set; however, LRT is typically the most expensive, depending on how it’s designed, and would require a new maintenance facility.
  • Transportation system management (TSM) would entail making smaller improvements to streets — i.e. intersection widenings and signal timing improvements — and increasing existing bus service.
  • And, “no build” represents transportation conditions along the corridor in 2035, if no project were built.

That said, the pros and cons of each choice depend largely on how the specific project is designed. For instance, buses traveling in their own right of way would likely be faster than streetcars or light rail running in streets mixed with other vehicles. That is: The specific vehicle technology doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the quality of the transit line.

Going forward, Metro project staff will further develop the five alternatives into more concrete options to be studied in greater detail. Those options will then feed into the formal environmental analysis process, which is projected to take somewhere between one and two years.

The Source will keep readers posted on any upcoming community events. In the meantime, feel free to check out the Van Nuys Boulevard Rapidways project website for more information. You can also chime in with a public comment:

  • Via email to
  • By phone call to 818.276.3233
  • And by standard mail to Walt Davis, Project Manager, One Gateway Plaza – MS 99-22-3, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Lastly, be sure to follow the Van Nuys Rapidway project’s twitter feed and check out its facebook page for frequent updates.


Click for a full-sized image.

16 replies

  1. If people stand up for what they want Metro will follow our wishes and now is the time to make sure officials know what we want in our neighborhoods.
    I believe Metro needs to build a light rail line down Van Nuys Blvd and build a subway tunnel from Ventura Blvd to UCLA or either route it over the Sepulveda pass. The LRT would run in about the middle of the valley and so many people would ride this train to the westside. Just imagine going from the valley to santa monica and venice beaches? Or eventually to LAX? I hope Metro doesn’t make the same mistake and build a Bus Rapid Transit Line. An LRT line will lead to a larger increase in transit and redevelopment of Van Nuys like NoHo. So many people would live along the line because of it’s convenience to the westside and Valley. This is also a chance to improve the heart of the valley. The last time I checked not a lot of redevelopment has followed the Orange Line.
    Also Metro would be smart to consider extending the red line subway, probably above ground up Lankershim or Vineland towards Metrolink and possibly near the Burbank Airport. Ridership would be huge as people take the train to Hollywood and or Burbank Airport from Hollywood and Koreatown. The train construction would also encourge new development in that area. Again if Metro constructs a BRT Line it’s inconvenient and less people will ride it because they have to transfer. As it is people have to off the orange line and walk across the street to the Red Line in NoHo. It seems like poor planning. Sorry but it does.
    Why does the San Gabriel Valley get the gold lines and the San Fernando Valley get stuck with Bus Rapid Lines? Does anyone have an answer?

  2. In terms of earthquake faults, the fault structure in the area is the same as it is through the Cahuenga pass that the red line runs under now, so I don’t think that will be an issue. Also, in terms of cost, well, it really should not be the bottom line, rather, the quality of said transit service should be. For a long time metro has always had cost as the bottom line for designing projects which has undermined what would be otherwise more effective transit lines today. Building transit to last for 100 plus years should not be done on the cheap. Investing in a single line that would serve half of western LA county is the most important transit investment LA can make (after the west side purple line). I don’t think metro would be wise to cheap out on a line that will parallel the busiest freeway in the US.

  3. What about a monorail system? That way columns could be planted in the middle of wide streets like VN Boulevard and the rail system wouldn’t interfere with other vehicles in that corridor.

  4. I like the idea of an LRT on Van Nuys Bl, with the north terminal at Sylmar Station (plenty of parking, bus transfers, perhaps room for a maintenance yard near there)

    I’m not so sure about routing it down the Sepulveda Pass, though. The Transit Coalition is advocating a straight-shot tunnel to Westwood, with a stop at UCLA:

    Would it cost more? Perhaps. And we don’t know all of the geotechnical details (earthquate faults, water table, etc) right now.

    But getting a Van Nuys route linked with Sepulveda (subway under Ventura Bl? surface?) then through the pass (longer route, most likely would be on a viaduct because of the grades) isn’t particularly cheap either.

  5. The ONE thing that has to happen with this corridor is combining it with the Sepulveda Pass project — creating a north/south corridor project between Sylmar, Sepulveda Pass, UCLA and LAX.

  6. This is exactly why I advocate distance fares so that Metro could start earning more fare box revenue to make up for budget shortfalls like these.

    I understand the argument about “well that’s going to hurt low income people.” But you can’t have everything, it’s only fair that longer rides start costing more than shorter rides.

    Besides, we already have a two tiered payment system where we have adult fares, child fares (student fares), and senior/disabled fares. If we have to move to distance based model, we can add a low income fare for those that qualify.

  7. Metro, please don’t repeat the mistake of the Orange Line! Don’t blow this opportunity with yet another mid-route en-masse transfer between transit technologies. This situation absolutely screams for a one seat ride from Metrolink to the Westside, on its own right of way. The Van Nuys Boulevard Rapidway must be integrated with the Sepulveda Pass project.

    Metro, do what it takes. Get creative. Sell 30 foot tall digital electronic billboard ad space up and down the right of way. Contract with UPS, who might be tired of their trucks sitting in traffic on the 405 or the 170. Plant mushroom farms underneath the elevated sections. Plant pomegranate trees over the tunneled sections. Install a premium seating section on the bus or train, with massage chairs and Direct TV.

    Please, please learn from your past mistakes! Thank you.

  8. The ten miles of Van Nuys Blvd, for upcoming improvements, has more transit riders per mile than the Gold Line or Orange Line. Based on the 21,000 transit transit riders per day mentioned in Metro literature, compared to September ridership stats.

    Does that mean only one technology will suffice? There can be several ways to accomplish the needs of fast and reliable service. The choice can be limited by the amount of money available and how much political will there is to make significant changes. There can be improvements to the stops, faster boarding, smoothness of travel, priority at intersections and roominess inside the vehicle for passenger movement. All of those can be improved by utilizing any of the technologies mentioned, whether that be bus, streetcar or light-rail. Even buses in mixed traffic can be significantly improved with faster loading by using off-board fair boxes or on-board payment at all three doors, more room around doors to increase movement, dedicated lanes, priority at intersections, etc.

  9. I’m looking at this project from afar (San Gabriel Valley) and I’m at the age where projects like this are in the “I should live so long” category, but the only sensible way to do it would be with light-rail technology like the Gold Line. If there’s concern about overhead-wire operation in the Sepulveda Tunnel, the cars could be fitted with third-rail shoes like the Boston MBTA Blue Line cars. The alternative would be to build it to Red line standards and have the cars for this rout equipped with pantographs for the Van Nuys Blvd. at-grade segment. The technology isn’t that important; what is important is a continous ride from Van Nuys to the Expo Line and maybe to LAX.

  10. This MUST be one project – part of the 405 subway. Valley to the Westside. And we must all speak up for it, no matter where we live or work. We have to start making choices that will benefit the entire region for the long term.

    Connect the future HSR station in Sylmar, to the Orange Line in Van Nuys, and head South, with connections to Purple, Expo, LAX, Green, and Blue.

    Then, rail from the 405 subway in Sherman Oaks, East to Universal-Glendale-Burbank-Pasadena.

    Just looking at that gap in the map above makes me shake my head and think “Green Line.”

  11. The public very much wants the Van Nuys Corridor, Sepulveda Corridor though the SFV and the Sepulveda Pass Corridor to at least the Expo Line (if not to the Crenshaw LAX/Aviation station) to be one project/study area (with phases) not three separate projects.

    How and when is Metro going to address this major planning issue?

  12. Mark, I’ve asked the same question, but I get no response. That gap on the map is screaming for attention. It says, “Connect us!” Can you here it, Metro? Uh, hello, Metro? Is this thing on? Crickets.

  13. I second what Mark is saying. I just submitted an official public comment to Metro, but I think that it’s crucial to combine the Van Nuys corridor with the 405 corridor, and possibly also the Sepulveda Blvd. north-south corridor, in order to leverage Measure R funds to construct a single-ride, high-capacity line from the Valley to the Westside.

  14. LRT is the best option in it’s own right of way of course (metro isn’t seriously considering running in mixed traffic is it?), with grade separation at least up to the Van Nuys Amtrak/Metrolink station, and with signal preemption on any street-running sections. Also, the north end of the line should connect to Sylmar Metrolink. I know that may be more difficult to route, but it would make more sense from a connection standpoint. But again, a joint study needs to be done. That is the most important factor to be considered and ultimately needs to be carried out. We need a single line because it WILL provide the highest benefit.

  15. Well, between Chandler and Parthenia, the road is still wide enough because of the former PE alignments. Why now just run a modified version of the old PE route.

    Van Nuys to Parthenia, west on Parthenia, north on Sepulveda, east on Brand into San Fernando and then surface to Sylmar Station. Southbound reverse route.

    Sylmar Station makes much more sense for a destination than Lakeview Terrace.

    Plus, most easements are still in place.