Valleys stronger together: NoHo-Pasadena express bus hits the road Tuesday



Metro Board Members and other officials broke out the big scissors this morning at the Pasadena Del Mar Station for the new NoHo-Pasadena Express. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Metro Board Members and other officials broke out the big scissors this morning at the Pasadena Del Mar Station for the new NoHo-Pasadena Express. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

In the run-up to the opening of the Gold Line extension to Azusa on March 5, there’s another important new transit service debuting: an express Metro bus connecting Pasadena, Glendale, the Burbank Media District and the North Hollywood Red Line and Orange Line stations. The new bus service will be called the NoHo-Pasadena Express, or the 501.

Service begins tomorrow — Tuesday, March 1. This is the kind of frequent all-day and weekend transit connection between the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys that has been missing and oft-requested by riders and transit activists. (The Metro news release is here).

The bus will primarily use the 134 freeway. The regular fare will be $2.50, the standard fare Metro charges for express bus service that uses freeways. If transferring from another Metro bus or train, you’ll have to pay an additional 75 cents (all fares are listed on the timetable below). Trips between NoHo and Del Mar Station in Pasadena are expected to take 34 to 50 minutes depending on the time of day and direction of travel.

In addition to connecting to the Orange Line, Red Line and Gold Line, the NoHo-Pasadena Express will also offer transfers to a number of other bus, including those run by Metro, the BurbankBus, Foothill Transit, the Glendale Beeline, the Pasadena Transit and Santa Clarita Transit. Here are links to connections:


Glendale Beeline

Foothill Transit

Pasadena Transit

Santa Clarita Transit

The NoHo-Pasadena Express timetable is below; if you would like it as one pdf document, click here. Even though we’re eight days away from the bus running, I wanted to post this again as a reminder of the new service and to give everyone time to ask any pertinent questions in the comments section. The original plan was to begin service the same day as the Gold Line extension but Metro wanted to make sure this important new service wasn’t overshadowed by the new train, so the bus will begin rolling a few days earlier.




34 replies

  1. This connects across what’s been one of the worst service gaps in Metro. Without this, if you were flying and going to Pasadena, LAX was more convenient by transit, even though it’s much farther away than Burbank airport. That should no longer be the case.

  2. Saw more reports today that this bus is not making all the stops enroute. When might it be corrected?

    • I guess they may have already corrected this. I will be catching the 501 in about an hour from Glendale to Pasadena, so hopefully it’s the bus I’ll catch, and not an uber or Lyft.

  3. The line should consider using local if the traffic is awful on 134 during rush hours, especially between Glendale & NoHollywood. Alternative route would be Riverside Dr, Alameda Ave, Glenoaks Blvd, and Colorado Blvd as needed. It is always better to avoid getting struck on the freeway.

  4. It’ll be great if they are able to expand it to Pasadena City College.

  5. Okay, not sure if anyone will bother reading this but here is a ride report:

    First off, I have to get this out and I have to yell it out there: TELL YOUR DRIVER NOT TO SKIP THE GLENDALE STOPS!! SERIOUSLY!!! It’s happened 2 of 3 times I’ve use this bus so far.

    Now. . .

    Ride #1 – Day 1 at 5:10pm heading west from Pasadena. A total of 6 people got on the bus and 2 of them actually showed up. Got to Glendale at 5:25pm but the driver was going to bypass the stop had a stop not been requested.

    Ride #2 – 7:35pm at Glendale heading east to Pasadena. Bus was supposed to arrived and guest what!?!? Driver decides to stay on the freeway instead of getting off to picking us up. Had to wait an extra 25 min when luckily the following bus actually made a stop in Glendale. There was about 4 people on at this time.

    Ride #3 – Day 2 at 10:20am from NoHo to Pasadena – there was only a total of 4 of us throughout the ride. 1 person got off at Burbank and guess what!?!? The driver completely bypassed the Glendale stop as well.

    One other observation that I think may need to pointed out, if the purpose of this bus revolves around the use of Carpool Lanes, then forget it. Outside of peak hours, there is no reason to use them and this bus gets off the freeway often enough where it’ll be extra time to get back out to exit. Maybe having a reverse-peak commute is giving me a different perspective of this Line, but while I definitely enjoyed the rides minus the fact that it’s not making stops in Glendale, its implementation is definitely bad. This bus need to have a stop at Brand/Broadway and Broadway/Glendale so those in Eagle Rock can have an option to use this bus via Transfer.

    • We received similar complaints via Twitter — not sure if that was you or a different rider. Not that it matters. We let the folks know in bus operations and they’re working to resolve these issues and get the kinks worked out ASAP. Thank you for your patience and for giving the new bus a try. Hopefully things will improve quickly and you’ll have smoother rides in the future.


      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi,

      Thank you for the feedback! Staff is aware of issues and is working to smooth out operations, and we’ll pass this along to them as well.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  6. I agree with others about the cost. I have other options like the commuter express 549 and will continue to use them instead. Metro might have done better with a red bus, rapid line if it truly wants to attract ridership.

  7. If these time tables are for real, then this is great progress. I think the key with all future transit development is to make trips competitive with auto travel times. This is still slower than me taking my car from HOME to FINAL DESTINATION but it’s getting much closer. I honestly still feel the only way to truly beat auto times is a largely grade-separated network, with maximum of 2 transfers for any trip.

    I also think this concept of express lines (4 stops or less) that shoot people across the grid should be expanded, because the speed and efficiency of this is attractive to people that aren’t dependent on mass transit.

    • It beats most Metro bus lines in the area, which are hourly. Metro should provide this service pattern on all of its frequent routes – 30 minute service until 9 pm rather than 15 during midday, and hourly after 7.

  8. I was really excited about the 501 until I found out about the cost. Unless I need to get somewhere in an emergency midday, or during the weekend, I’d still continue to use Commuter Express to get between Glendale and Burbank. During peak hours, Commuter Express will take me from downtown Glendale (I only have to walk about 12 blocks to get to the stop) to Olive and Hollywood Way in Burbank where I work in a straight shot for simply the cost of my base EZ Pass. I’d consider being a regular on the 501 instead except it costs me every trip in the 501 fare structure. I wish you the best of luck, and hope I’m the minority not the majority in terms of cost effectiveness and ridership.

    • It doesn’t have to go to Burbank Airport. Burbank Bus runs a bus between North Hollywood station and the airport that links directly to this 501 bus at the North Hollywood bus terminal. In fact, I think the two buses will actually be next to each other in the terminal for easy transfer. Metro should make a bigger deal out of this.

      LADOT 549 only runs 10 trips a day in each direction. That’s it. Essentially no service at all between 8am and 4pm. That’s a commuter bus with limited focus (and funding).

      Metro’s 501 will be a regional service that actually links its major transit lines (Orange/Red/Gold) to each other enhancing the use and convenience of both while closing a big gap on the service map.

      Hopefully we’ll see this become a permanent service and it will be very successful.

      • Unfortunately this bus doesn’t have the coverage or stops of the 549. I’ll still be using the 549 since after all the extra transfers/walking/bike to the bus stops, it won’t save me any time.

  9. I hope I’m wrong, but as someone who lives and works within a few miles of either end of this bus I don’t think this is going to be useful to me over using the existing 549 commuter express except for the weekends/off times… and even then, I think with the number of miles I have to trek on either end, with poor/no safe bike lanes, I will just default to the Red & Gold lines. Hopefully someone will be keeping their ears open to learn why this bus doesn’t work for people.

    Here’s some reasons this won’t work for people like me:
    – I try to avoid biking/walking to NoHo at all costs. The commute from below the 134 to above it is not safe and lacking proper infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians including bike lanes that are not properly protected (ppl constantly driving in them), cars moving at very high speeds trying to get on/off freeway, sidewalks that are missing/disappear on streets like Vineland.
    – Next closest stop is 4 miles away. I can bike here, but I have seen no documentation on what kind of bike racks these buses will have. There are 549 bus stops way closer to my home.
    – I could use a bus/train to get to this bus stop, but this will also result in a more expensive ride than the 549 ($2.50 w/ no transfers needed)
    – Bus stop in Pasadena leaves me at least a mile from my work. Again, this is more time to get to my destination without safe bike infrastructure or additional cost.

    So no, I won’t use a bus that would cost me more than twice my current commute cost with all the additional transfers, likely won’t save me any time (even when compared to Red Line + Gold Line) or will include needing to transport myself 5+ miles either way.

    • I seriously don’t even think this route is for those while are commuting from NoHo – Pasadena or Vice Versa.

      Rather, this is for those whose destination or origin is either Glendale or Burbank. Why?? Because right now it’s rather stupid that one would have to either wait for a bus that operates on an hourly frequency and zig-zags its way from NoHo to Glendale, and skipping both the airport and media district. Or taking the Red Line to Hollywood then catching a Rapid bus that currently operates at a 20-30 min frequently midday to get to Glendale, making it an hour with both current options.

      So no, this route may not be for you, but many people who commute to Glendale or Burbank from either end, or just simply want a midday option, this will be useful.

  10. Where at North Hollywood station can we get this bus? I do not see any signs posted as of yet.

  11. Yeah, a stop in Eagle Rock would be really helpful. It’s pretty difficult to get from ER to the valley. Usually I have to bus it to hollywood and then get on the red line from there. A bus from ER to Noho station would be a game changer

  12. Adding a stop in Eagle Rock will only slow the line down that area on Harvey is always congested. Let’s just add more traffic to us locals right. Of course nobody is completely happy.

    • Not only is it congested, but the way the commuter express 549 currently gets off going West bound and the ridiculous circle the buses have to make to stop at the park and ride and then get back onto the freeway sucks up so much time even if there weren’t any cars on the road (and often there’s no one even getting on/off the bus there)

  13. I’m sure the timetable will be adjusted to be more accurate once service begins and Metro gets a closer look at the data.

    • It’s based on carpool lane access. Unfortunately the carpool lane is in the middle and you really can’t have the bus move back and forth too much. I suppose you could build a Harbor Transitway style bus/carpool/toll lane with stations at Media District, Downtown Glendale, and Adventist Hospital but that would cost billions and does not conform to the SFV’s plans to convert the Orange Line to rail.

  14. NO STOP IN EAGLE ROCK? I understand that it does not have the jobs that Glendale or Pasadena have but many of the residents of Eagle Rock have jobs in both Glendale and Pasadena. The infrastructure is already there! We got the LADOT park and ride and buss stops on Harvey. I can literally see the buss on the 134 from my home on Colorado but I cant get on it unless I travel to Glendale or Pasadena which are actually my most likely destinations?!? If you improve this you could cut 180/181/780 lines and save some $.

  15. I understand that we want to make the line fast but not having a stop in Eagle Rock is detrimental. While Eagle Rock is not an employment center like Pasadena and Glendale a lot of Eagle rock residents work both in Glendale and Pasadena. The commuter express has stops at the Harvey drive park and ride using those would be best. I can literally see the bus on the 134 from my home on Colorado but I cant get on it !?! unless i wait for a bus on Colorado travel 15+ minutes to Pasadena or Glendale and hope to catch it on time. ADD the Eagle Rock stop!!!!!!!

    • Not really. As someone who uses the 134 whenever I decide to drive to work (I work in both Glendale and Pasadena), the traffic is actually smooth. Though I will admit I have a reverse-peak commute.

      The pipe dream however, begins to occur when an accident occurs. Never expected such a smooth flowing freeway to have a 14 mile backup just because someone decided to merge without signaling.

      • As someone who drives with the heavy traffic every day, Pas-Glen & Glen-Pas, it clearly backs up in the exact same locations every single day.

  16. With the Park-N-Ride lot at Harvey Ave. in Glendale, it seems like it would have been easy (and somewhat useful) to add a stop there.