Metro staff recommends testing Flower Street bus lane for five more months

A Metro staff report shows the Flower Street bus lane in downtown Los Angeles decreased bus travel times by up to 20 percent and helped keep buses on schedule.

Metro staff are planning to continue the bus lane for another five months to test the lane under regular conditions. The lane has proved popular with riders, many of whom said it speeded up trips.

The Blue Line is fully reopening on November 2, so Metro won’t be running as many extra bus shuttles although some express bus service between downtown Long Beach and downtown L.A. will continue (please see this post). It’s a good chance for Metro to see how the bus lane continues to perform.

Below are some slides from a staff presentation:

Two other nuggets of interestingness from the staff report:

•Around 1,300 customers and over 100 bus operators were surveyed last month. Both customers and bus operators overwhelmingly reported greater perceived travel time savings than actual, meaning public perception was positive.

  1. About one-thirds of customers perceived the bus only lane saving up to five minutes in their travel time.
  2. Approximately one-thirds of customers indicated travel time savings over five minutes.
  3. Three quarters of customers surveyed believed the bus only lane improved reliability. Nearly identical results were received from bus operators.

•Metro also learned some lessons. For example, Metro found that running 80 buses an hour — which we did at the height of the Blue and Expo Line closures this summer — saturated the bus lane and slowed things down. We also found that bus stop locations need to be strategically located to keep bus and car traffic (cars can use the lane for right-hand turns) from backing up.

Bus lanes are few and far between in our region. Metro’s Vision 2028 Plan — our strategic plan for the next decade — calls for more bus lanes as a way to speed up transit and make it more appealing.

What do you think riders? What were your experiences with the bus lane?

12 replies

  1. Thank you for implementing this pilot. I imagine the time savings will be even greater if Metro shades and physically separates the bus lane. It should also receive signal priority to other autos, though not to light rail trains. I hope Metro finds a way to speed trains and buses through the Adams/Flower intersection and, for buses, onto the toll lanes. Right now it’s challenging trying to merge over multiple lanes and cross the train tracks within two blocks or so.

  2. The saturation issue can partly be overcome by running longer buses on the routes. Any chance at getting super capacity buses on the express bus from LBC to DTLA? Since there is a long stretch with limited stops, double deckers might be the thing for the route.

  3. Personally, I think bus only lanes is the way to go. I feel we need more streets in the city with these type of lanes. It is a shame that Metro keeps running in to opposition from drivers and businesses were street parking is eliminated. With more bus only lanes, the travel time would be speeded up and perhaps more people would start using the bus again.

  4. Screw drivers! The only way to incentivize using public transit is by making it more inconvenient for drivers. Get out and walk!

  5. How about we get creative and just a little ambitious? Put street-level tracks in the bus lanes, loop the track through the parking lots between 7th and 8th so trains can turn around, and connect it to the tracks at Washington and Flower. Then trench or tunnel the current tracks so that there is no street-running north of Washington at least. Six months for the street-level tracks and three years for the 1/2 mile trench/tunnel. Forget the “28 by 2028” projects, most of which don’t even go near an event center or have any connection to the Olympics. Spend money on the one project that will actually service Olympic venues and visitors. As it stands now that whole section of track on Flower is an unmitigated disaster.

  6. How about a permanent bus lane along the Flower street similar to the Figueroa Street. In the long term, Metro should have fully grade separated rail along the Flower street shared by both blue and expo line. Also please continue to run Articulated buses on 910/950 even when the blue line reopens, and should make it a permanent change by converting small amount of Articulated buses (10-15) to the Silver Line bus fleet so they can run throughout the day.

  7. Dedicated bus lanes are great advertising for how the bus can save you time. Let’s do more of them. Don’t want to sit in traffic in your car? Take that bus. Or that one. Or that one. Or that one. Boy, they’re just flying by, aren’t they?