Route and final study for NoHo to Pasadena bus rapid transit project approved by Metro Board

UPDATE, APRIL 29: The Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved the route and final study at their meeting on April 28. Metro will continue to work with stakeholders and cities to address issues raised. The original Source post with project details is below — it was first posted on April 13.

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The original Source post:

One of the missing links in our transit system has been a good connection between the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys that hits key destinations and is easy accessed by neighborhoods.

There is good news on this front. The route and the final environmental study for a new 19-mile rapid bus line between North Hollywood and Pasadena will be considered by the Metro Board of Directors this month (project homepage is here). The project is known formally as the North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project and has $317 million in funding from Measure M — the sales tax approved by L.A. County voters in 2016 — and State Bill 1.

Approval of the route and the study are a big step toward getting the project built. Once action is taken by the Board, Metro can begin securing construction permits from cities along the route and move the project into its final design phase. The goal is to open the project in 2024.

A map of the proposed route is above. The project includes approximately 11.3 miles of dedicated bus lanes and would run mostly on local streets between the B (Red) Line station in NoHo and Pasadena City College. Key stations are located in the Burbank Media District, downtown Burbank, downtown Glendale, the Eagle Rock business corridor along Colorado Boulevard and Old Pasadena — where there is a connection to the L (Gold) Line.

Unlike Metro’s existing 501 Bus that runs much of its route on the 134 freeway, this new line would travel mostly in neighborhoods and be easier for riders to reach. With the project, travel times would drop 30 to 40 percent over existing bus service in the corridor. For example, from downtown Glendale it would only take 30 minutes to travel to PCC — 18 minutes faster than trips today.

To be clear: this is a challenging project (see below for more about two segments in particular). Metro currently runs two bus rapid transit lines — i.e. bus lines designed to be quicker — but they both mostly have their own right-of-way. The G (Orange) Line in the San Fernando Valley runs on its own busway built atop an old rail line, whereas the J (Silver) Line between El Monte and San Pedro mostly uses the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways.

This project is our first bus rapid transit line that would use mostly local streets. That’s why Metro has been working with local cities and residents to determine where bus lanes are appropriate — and how to minimize traffic and parking impacts.

The detailed map below shows the different segments of the route, while the charts explain the differences between the segments.

The graphics below show the difference between the different configurations.

Curb-running bus lanes are adjacent to the curb, which eliminates parking or restricts parking to time periods when the bus lane is not operational.

Side-running bus lanes dedicate the right travel lane to buses and are separated from the curb by bike lanes, parking lanes or both, and may allow for private vehicles to make right turns from the curb lane at intersections to reduce conflicts with buses.

Center-running bus lanes usually provide two lanes (one for each direction of travel) and may be separated from adjacent traffic by short raised curbs or pavement markings.

In median-running segments, the bus runs in dedicated lanes next to a median (i.e., the left – most lane in the direction of travel). Stations can be placed within the median (for buses with left side doors).

Mixed-flow allows buses to transition from one busway configuration to another, or where traffic, operational or geometric constraints make a dedicated lane impractical.

In particular, there are two parts of the route that have provoked the most public debate.

The first is a 1.3-mile segment along Olive Avenue in Burbank. In this segment, the road would be reconfigured. The number of general traffic lanes would be reduced from two to one in each direction to accommodate a side-running bus lane. The top renderings shows what Olive looks like now and the bottom rendering after the project is built:

Other key points about this segment:

•Olive would not be widened for the project.

•All 299 of the existing parking spaces will be preserved on Olive between Buena Vista and Lake.

•Cars can use the bus lane for right turns and to access driveways and the parking lane.

•Sidewalks will remain as they are.

•Traffic studies show that travel times on Olive for motorists would be that some car traffic would use other major streets instead of Olive. However, the same studies show that very few cars would divert to neighborhood streets — because those streets don’t save time.

Another segment that has seen a robust public discussion is the segment on Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Linda Rosa Avenue near the SR-134 slip ramps.

In this segment, Colorado would be reduced from two to one general traffic lane in each direction. The bus lanes would be next to the medians in the center of the road — and those medians would be preserved and expanded.

The top rendering shows what Colorado Boulevard looks like now and the bottom shows what it would look like with the one travel lane option:

Some key points about this segment:

•About 198 of the existing 319 parking spaces on Colorado Boulevard would be preserved. The existing 763 spaces on side streets would also remain.

•Most left-turn lanes at traffic signals would remain — and two additional traffic signals would be added for left turns at Eagle Vista Drive and Hermosa Avenue. Some left turn lanes would be lengthened to accommodate more vehicles. A few left-turns at smaller intersections would be eliminated for safety reasons.

•Metro’s Business Solutions Center would be used to help small businesses in Eagle Rock during construction of the project.

•Traffic analysis shows there would be additional congestion on both ends of this segment — where the two general traffic lanes merge into one lane. However, Metro’s studies also found that about 20 percent of the traffic on Colorado would divert to the 134 and/or 2 freeways, resulting in a reduction in the overall number of vehicles on Colorado.

•Studies also showed few vehicles would divert to neighborhood streets. The reason: these streets are slower and less direct than staying on Colorado, even with the reduction of travel lanes.

•Emergency vehicles would be allowed to use the bus lanes, which could result in quicker response times.

The item will be heard at the Planning and Programming Committee meeting on Wednesday, April 20, starting at 10:30 a.m. — listen/watch the livestream here. The full Metro Board is scheduled to hear this item on Thursday, April 28, starting at 10:00 a.m. — listen/watch here.

Here are a few other other renderings of the project:

Categories: Projects

20 replies

    • There’s not enough density to justify the billions of dollars for that to happen, especially when Metrolink covers Santa Clarita. Bringing the Red line to Burbank Airport (with a transfer to Metrolink) might accomplish that objective in addition to connecting to HSR.

    • I think Metrolink is trying to expand service to be something like half-hourly between there and Union Station. That’s coming a lot faster than any tunneling or el’s.

  1. Again the MTA armatures are at it again failing to learn from their past and current mistakes. One of the greatest shortfalls that were created with the RAPID project was a different color bus and the restriction that only a RED bus could be used on a Rapid assignment and a Orange bus could only be used on a local assignment. This lead to cancelled assignments although there were serviceable buses in the Division Yards but the wrong color. Now the MTA wishes to purchase buses with left side doors to accommodate their bus stations design instead of building stations to conform with the standard design of buses. This GREAT NEXT EXPERIMENT is doomed for failure when all that is available in the yard are standard buses with no left side door.

    • I agree with you, on the type and color of buses, to be used. The reason, I think, that the MTA will be purchasing buses with doors on the Left hand side is that is what the community wants. It may be necessary for the “Center Running” portons as that, again, is what the community wants. I don’t have to agree, but, if that’s what they want, who are we to argue?

    • The silver line would have benefitted from buses with doors on the left. Some of the buses that go on one way streets in downtown would benefit,

      But to your point. This is something they would have to go big on for it to work.

      • Idk what best practices are for different fleet vehicles- but if other cities can pull this off then maybe we should follow their lead. I mean San Bernardino has left-side doors and level boarding BRT– Metro can’t aspire to what San Bernardino has? I really do hope Metro goes for left-side doors though.

        • Yeah, but that means they’ll have to be Articulated buses unlike these crap 40 Footers Metro is trying to push. And while Articulated buses would definitely something to celebrate, I’m wondering how much extra time all those wide turns into the 2 lane streets will add.

    • Well yeah. It is literally all residential and no one in that area wants it. Going down Chandler would mean bypassing both the Airport and the Media District where the ridership is and the bus service on Hollywood Way to connect to both is despicable, and it’s also proven that people probably won’t use the Station if it means having to transfer to a potential non-existent bus service. The only real benefit of Chandler is a straight line to Downtown Burbank which would mean a lot of time savings, but it’s not worth a fight with the residents in the area just yet. Ask again when this thing is ready for rail conversion in a few decades.

      Believe when we say, not using the Chandler ROW is probably the best thing that can happen to this BRT Line.

  2. Hey, can I please be pointed to where in the DEIR explains exactly why Metro is refusing to add a stop on Central Ave/Americana, literally in the middle of both the Galleria and the Americana. This is what makes the most sense yet people will have to walk to broadway or Colorado/Brand to catch this bus.

    That straight up makes no sense.

  3. What a mess of a project. A long, wandering route that is trying to do too much. Should have been extensions of the Orange Line heading east (preferably) once it is converted to light rail. Ridership will not be worth the cost and effort in my opinion.

  4. It would be ideal if the Orange Line went farther East. The “wandering route”, as you call it, is bacause that’s what the MAJORITY of people, in each area, want. Additionally, it has to be done within what funds are available to the MTA, for this project. It would be “ideal” if this route were rail, but that would take BILLIONS of dollars and many more years of delays.

  5. So if umm, this BRT Line is getting Left-Side doors, then Im going to assume so is the Vermont BRT right. Cause that is one corridor (until the subway is built), the could definitely benefit from such buses south of Gage.

  6. Now the Burbank city council and accociated NIMBYs are fighting against dedicated bus lanes on Olive… with all the pushback against the one thing that can make BRT what it even is, this line will be a disaster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gendale also ended up pulling the same shenanigans somewhere in the city limits. We just need a better, more unified network approach than this ad-hoc neighborhood by neighborhood piecemeal way of designing, building, and operating transit lines. What a joke. I hope at the very least, Metro will make the 501 express into an actual limited stop freeway route for quick trips between the valley and glendale / pasadena areas, since this new BRT is going to be more locally focused (which is understandable) but very slow comparatively.

  7. I really wish the eastern terminus were extended to Sierra Madre Villa. Lamanda Park has a core business district that formed around a Pacific Electric line and a Santa Fe Railway station but is woefully underserved by transit today, and it shows in the many businesses that have blocked off the old entrances facing Colorado in favor of parking lots behind.

  8. to extension of redline from disneyland via on west santa ana branch to 6 flags magic mountian

    • You can pay the trillion or so dollars that’ll take to build, right?

    • LOL!! Look, taking a single train from Six Flags to Disneyland would be awesome but that WON’T be happening within the next 20-30 years, I can guarantee you that much. Plus, you want it as a Subway line? Not gonna happen