Public comment begins today on Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report for light rail project between Van Nuys and San Fernando

The first Measure M rail project scheduled to be built is the East San Fernando Valley Transit Project — a 9.2-mile light rail between the G Line (Orange) and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station in the San Fernando Valley.

Metro today released the Final Environmental Statement/Report for the project and will accept public comment starting today, October 2, through Tuesday, November 17. The 720-page document with appendices is here.

Metro will also hold two virtual community meetings October 14 (English) and 26 (Spanish) for community members and others to ask questions about the final report during the public comment period. Metro also has a new virtual platform that offers a ton of useful information about the project.

Following the public review period, the Metro Board will consider the FEIS/R as soon as their November/December round of meetings.

The completion of the FEIS/R a big step toward preparing the project for construction, which is scheduled to begin in 2022 with a target opening year of 2028. The project could be built in phases depending on available funding.

The new train would serve the busy Van Nuys Boulevard corridor, which is the seventh busiest in the entire Metro system and a key north-south corridor through the heart of the San Fernando Valley.

For those new to the project, some quick history: significant funding for the line comes from two sales taxes approved by Los Angeles County voters — Measure R in 2008 and Measure M in 2016. After initial studies, the route was selected by the Metro Board in  2018, after which work on the FEIS/R began.

As for the project, the light rail line would run at street level for 9.2 miles between the Van Nuys G Line (Orange) station and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station following both Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road. There will be 14 stations with traffic signals to be prioritized for the train. A new rail maintenance yard would be built in Van Nuys.

End-to-end light rail trips would take 30 minutes compared to bus trips that take at least 48 minutes today (the end-to-end bus trip requires a transfer). The East San Fernando Valley rail line will also offer easy transfers to Metro’s popular G Line, Metrolink, Amtrak and numerous east-west bus lines in the Valley.

The southern part of the East San Fernando line would also provide transfers to the future Sepulveda Transit Corridor that would run between Van Nuys, the Westside and, eventually, the LAX area. That project is currently in the planning phase.

This is also a project very much about providing quality transit to a population that needs it. Eighteen percent of the households near the line have incomes below poverty level and 35 percent are transit dependent. The area is more than 70 percent Latino.

Once the Metro Board approves of the FEIS/R, the Federal Transit Administration would then certify the report. Preliminary engineering has been underway on the project since 2019. The next steps would be the bidding process to hire a contractor to build  the line and to begin property acquisitions and utility relocation. Those steps are scheduled to begin in 2021.

The two public meetings will be held:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 4:30–6:30 p.m. (in English, with Armenian interpretation available by request).

Zoom link: Passcode: 867267
Or join by telephone: US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 Webinar/Meeting ID: 998 7865 2421
(Press # when asked for Participant’s ID) Passcode: 867267

Monday, October 26, 2020, 6–8pm (in Spanish)

Zoom link:
Passcode: 605402
By telephone: US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 Webinar/Meeting ID: 994 5650 0748 (Press # when asked for Participant’s ID) Passcode: 605402

19 replies

  1. The fact that there is currently no bus line servicing the whole route is a bad sign. Either a) there is no significant demand for end-to-end travel along the chosen route, which bodes poorly on ridership for the light rail line or b) there is such demand but Metro’s bus planners are not meeting this need, which shows incompetence.

  2. The FEIR on page 2-44 table 2-1 lists the LPA as having end-to-end travel time of 26 minutes, not 30 minutes. Could you clarify?

    • Hi Josh,

      Good eyes! You’re right, we should have been consistent between the document and some of our other materials. Travel times are an estimation and, in the case of this project, we believe the ride will be closer to 30 minutes. Traffic signal priority will be important and if it works well, will help.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Let’s call this what it really is – a streetcar. The majority of the route will have speeds 35 miles and under.

    For it to be considered light rail, about 3-4 stops should be eliminated or combined.

    • When I think streetcar, I think of something that spends most of its time in mixed traffic. I don’t think this has any mixed traffic running.

  4. On page 34, the document states

    ES.3.2.6 Parking Loss and Travel Lane Loss
    Parking Loss
    With implementation of the LPA, all curbside parking would be prohibited along Van Nuys Boulevard.

    There has been no push back on this? The Locally Preferred Alternative really is to not have parking?

  5. There’s discussion of breaking it into two or more segments, with the Van Nuys Boulevard section opening first as an initial operating segement, to save money. Does that mean that only the IOS will open in 2027? Is it “Van Nuys Boulevard section opens first, the rest opens at a date TBD when we get more money” or do you just stage construction so that it’s possible to open the IOS first but the rest opens soon thereafter?

  6. I am really disapointed this did not get combined with the Sepulveda line for a 1 seat ride between the Valley and the West Side.

  7. I think that building it at street level is a mistake. If the train has to compete with automobiles for signal priority then it’s no better than a rapid bus. What we are basically paying for is a very expensive metro rapid. Metro has repeatedly build light rail that offers nothing in commute time. It’s still faster to simply drive. The Expo Line had allot of potential and Metro botched that opportunity. It takes 20 min longer to commute the length of the trip compared to driving. Spare me budget constraints, take longer to build it I don’t care just build it right the first time. The Orange line is another botched attempt with most agreeing it should have been a light rail. I think I speak for most when I say I would have been willing to wait a little longer if it meant building light rail the first time. I mean we waited that long whats a couple years more? This build now ask questions later approach is getting expensive. Now at some point the valley will have to brace itself for a major disruption to convert the orange to rail. Stop it metro! Build faster or don’t build at all because no one is going to bother using a service that’s worse than driving.

    • Unfortunately I have to agree with this. Perhaps the station placement was thought about pre-Expo failure, or not but it isn’t an excuse and quite frankly I’m also just about had it with Metro’s persistence on station placement.

      Steve, exactly what was the agency thinking putting 14 stations on a 9 mile route? That is more than 1 station per mile. I can already tell this train won’t ever be able to reach 55MPH because of this even if it was allowed to.

      While I can see people complaining about this line being built at-grade, the reality is it’s the Stations being so close to one another that will slow this rail line down, regardless if it was fully grade separated. There is literally no need for Woodman, Arleta and Paxton stations to be built here. The cost savings for those stations could have gone to at least one extra mile of grade Separation.

      Steve, you know at-grade built isn’t the only problem on the Expo Line. It’s the fact that USC has 3 stops and Westwood has 2 stops that is a contributing factor to its failure, especially when only 1 was more than enough.

      Until Express Trains become a reality, Station consolidation and placement is just a critical as grade Separation, remember that Metro. With the Expo Line and now this, it’s twice you’ve essentially botched projects before a track was even laid on the ground.

      Metro complained about 183rd station on the Santa Ana corridor being “too close to the Artesia terminal,” yet somehow this got a Pass?

  8. If the entire length of the route is street running, then it should be a low floor LRT line. The Kinkisharyo P3010 235 order was just completed so a new order will have to be placed for a low floor design. I would suggest the redesigned Siemens S700. If not, another Kinkisharyo order for a low floor variant of the P3010. Theoretically, it would be called the P3010A2, P3010-1, C3010 “curbside,” S3010 “street boarding” or the L3010 “low floor.”

    • Hi Christian;

      We are going with high-floor light rail cars to be consistent with the rest of our system.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • So I am assuming that more P3010s from Kinkisharyo will be purchased, bring the total of the existing rolling stock from 235 to about 289 or more?

  9. The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Light Rail Project will be the biggest development to happen in the San Fernando Valley ever since the B Line (Red) was extended to North Hollywood. I’m glad despite with the COVID-19 uncertainties, this project will happen. Van Nuys Boulevard is the perfect corridor as there’s a high demand of transit-dependent riders. This will be the Valley’s backbone connecting two civic centers, Metrolink lines, multiple bus lines, future & current BRT & HRT projects.

    • Actually, now is the best time for transit enhancements like Rail construction and Bus Only Lanes to actually occur, so I’m just overall glad that at the very least transit projects, both still on paper and under construction are seeing progress.

  10. Finally Metro might be catching up to the Pacific Electric rail route serving the northern S.F. Valley. While they’re at it, now is the time to change the Orange Line buses to light rail so they all interconnect. The Orange Line rail could run east and west in a trench which would allow north-south vehicular traffic to cross the rail line without any interference, and would allow the trains to move at a faster speed throughout that part of the route.

    • Well they’re planning to elevate the G/Orange Line from Van Nuys to Sepulveda already. I do hope that this really improves speed along the line. We’re already switching to electric buses, I’m against another costly project to switch to LRT. We just need level boarding so we’re stepping a couple feet to get into the bus.

    • Hi Daniel;

      We are aiming for 2027 completion, but as with all our projects we need to allow time for testing, so the goal is revenue operations in 2028.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source