L.A. Breaks Ground on Orange Line Extension

Orange Line Canoga ExtensionBusway will head up Canoga Ave from current western terminus.

Los Angeles’ Orange Line busway will be extended north to Chatsworth by 2012, providing commuters further enhancements to an already popular transit alternative in the San Fernando Valley. The $215 million project will extend the bus rapid transit service from Canoga, near Warner Center, to a Metrolink commuter rail station four miles north in Chatsworth. At the other end of the existing line is the North Hollywood Metro station, where people can ride quickly downtown.

Ground breaking on the extension was held yesterday. The project will also include adjacent bike and pedestrian paths that will improve circulation for people not driving in this distinctively automobile-oriented section of the city.

The line will be built to standards that will allow future conversion to light rail operation if necessary. That’s good news because the Orange Line is already at capacity, having vastly overperformed initial ridership estimates; the road that carries the buses is worn out from overuse and buses are filled to a breaking point at rush hour. But the original 14-mile section of the line cost $324 million to build, significantly less than an equivalent rail line would have required.

The Canoga Extension is the first of many projects to be funded by the Measure R, which is a half-cent sales tax imposed on Los Angeles County citizens after the passage of a referendum last November. In addition to this corridor, additional bus-only lanes may be constructed along Reseda, Sepulveda, and Oxnard Avenues in San Fernando Valley, creating a veritable bus rapid transit network not found in any other American city. Those corridors have yet to be funded, however.

Image above: map of Orange Line with extension, from Metro

15 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • Patrick M

    Yonah, can we use tin-BRT for the Orange Line?

    As in, “this is NOT-Bus Rapid Transit?”

    If the same operational conditions hold today as Light Rail Now profiled in 2006, the Orange Line must slow to 10 mph to cross streets. This would never be the case with rail because LA Metro would have put up flashers and gates.

    http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_brt_2006-10a-3.htm

    Anyway, it would be great if we applied the same rigor to BRT verbal hype as gets applied to HSR. Frankly, the BRT hype is much worse in terms of what is promised and the service that is actually delivered.

  • Daniel Krause

    The Orange Line is a limited success because it has attracted more riders. I believe this success is due to increased legibiltiy of the system (i.e. better maps, obvious stations, marketing, etc). However, it is too slow, and if it the speed could be increased, it would also become an operational success, further increasing ridership gains. I am wondering if ithey could install flashers and gates at intersections. No need to upgrade first to LRT to do this.

  • I guess I need to update my KML file on Google Earth Keyhole..lol

  • NCarlson

    So what precisely is the plan to deal with the overcrowding I understand exists as thing stand? It seems somewhat unfortunate to be extending a line thats already over capacity with no plan to upgrade it…

  • Wad

    The plan is now to acquire custom-built 65- and 80-foot buses.

    Metro has to negotiate with the city of Los Angeles before it can increase the headway of the Orange Line, as LADOT would have to retool traffic signals.

    For all practical purposes, chances of converting the busway to rail are slim and none.

    On MetroRiderLA, I have posited my own solution to the crowding and transfer problems. I call it the Miami Option, and it involves routing north-south buses on the busway and getting passengers to wait for the buses they transfer to under the present service. The busway-local buses would be supplemented by an all-stops Orange Line, only with a service level of about 15 minutes.

  • According to your map, Yonah, this should really be called a branch rather than an extension. Will there be direct buses Chatsworth – North Hollywood at all hours, or will all go via Warner Center? If the latter, it might as well be two separate lines, as the Warner Center deviation imposes an unacceptable delay on through travel. If the former, then we’ll really have three lines, Chatsworth-WC, NH-WC, and Chatsworth-NH.

    As always, the number of lines or service patterns isn’t a measure of service quality, it’s a measure of service complexity. If we’ve turned one line into three, the downside of overall complexity weighs something against the clear benefit to the Chatsworth market.

  • Well finaly! There’s almost no way to commute around LA without a car and I’d like them to finaly do something about it. It’s better for the environment AND our wallets ;)

  • Interurbans

    This is a boondoggle and a waste of very limited transit money. If built it needs to be rail and behind other much more needed projects.

    The Orange Bus Line was a failure from the start. It could not begin to handle the required ridership. The busses are small and cramped inside though very heavy, rough riding and very difficult to handle a wheelchair. Capacity can not be increased do to blocking traffic of the cross streets. It now takes twice as long to make the trip that it would if it were a light rail line. It cost three times as much to carry a passenger on the Orange bus as it does on a LRT train. LRT trains use electricity and not require oil based imported fuels including CNG. The costs to service the busses and maintain the right of way is also higher than if it were a rail line. Now the MTA in their infinite wisdom wants to extend their bus line to Chatsworth at many millions of dollars. Again at a cost that is higher than if were a LRT line where the bridge over the Union Pacific would not be required but the line could run along the south side of the tracks until it reaches the Chatsworth Transit Center. The idea of throwing good money after bad for this ill conceived extension is bad. If there is such a need for this service why isn’t the Orange Bus Line running now on Canoga Ave to the MetroLink Chatsworth transit center? How much time will be saved by running the bus on the right of way instead on Canoga Ave? If after the Canoga Ave service proves to be necessary then maybe the Orange bus should be extended.

    Because the busses are full, cramped and uncomfortable, many people who would be riding an Orange Line LRT train are now driving. The Orange bus line is a failure, not the successes that it is touted to be.

    The Orange Bus Line needs to be upgraded to a LRT line or extend the Red Line to Canoga Park and Chatsworth at grade. Not one more cent should be spent on this bus line; it needs to be upgraded ASAP. There are many other rail projects that are in line and need to be ahead of the Orange bus line or upgrading it to rail. Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Denver are building new LRT lines around 30 million a mile including cars and maintenance finicalities we can do the same.

    The Red Line can run above ground and even have grade crossing as many heavy rail lines have across our country and around the world. If a LRT line, it should run from the Burbank MetroLink station to the Chatsworth MetroLink station.

  • Nathanael

    Dumb waste of money. Extensions on an overcrowded system don’t exactly gain riders — the system’s overcrowded!

    How’s that legal requirement to convert to light rail or repay lots of state money going?….

  • Spokker

    Hey Interurbans, spam your hatred for buses on more blogs, okay? Your thoughts on the Orange Line are so sacred that everybody on the Internet must read them!

    Of course the Orange Line should be LRT, but to call it a failure is ridiculous. That was a failure of politicians who made poor decisions that led to the Orange Line being what it is today.

  • Wad

    Woke up about 25 years too late, Tipsy?

  • AlexB

    I believe the orange line has its own right of way. If that is true, shouldn’t it be possible to just extend the red line along that same route, at grade, more or less?? If almost all orange line riders are transferring to the red line, why not, no?

  • Interurbans

    It is not a matter of hatred of busses. Busses are a very impotent way of moving people and they are the major form of transportation in LA and across the country. But they can not do the required job on the Orange bus line and in other so called BRT lies. Is there anything that I said that was not true? Have you ridden the Orange bus line or the Blue, Gold or Green LRT lines in LA? There is no comparison between the Orange Bus line and a LRT line. It is NOT just like LRT but cheaper.

    I call the Orange bus line a failure because it did not and can not do what it was intended to do. It is at saturation and can not be expanded and many people are driving because the Orange bus line can not do its job. Running busses on improved streets with signal preemption could do almost the same job as the busses on the former Rail Road right of way and saving (wasting) the money to pave the right of way.

    So what I am trying to say is that the MTA made a big mistake thanks to Zev and his friends in making the Orange line a bus line instead of a LRT line and they should NOT make the same mistake again by spending all of this much needed transit money on a boondoggle that few will ride,

  • Dylan

    I agree with Interurbans.

    The big problem is simply that the Orange Line should have been built as light rail in the first place. NIMBYs were complaining about a rail line because it would have created noise, which was dumb because now they have even louder buses instead. We, the taxpayers have to pay for the higher long-term operating costs of buses, and the riders have reduced quality of service compared to what a LRT could have provided.

    Everyone LOSES.

  • Frank Mastroly

    According to the FEIR report on the Los Angeles Metro website, Metro is planning to operate three separate routings:
    North Hollywood-Chatsworth (New)
    North Hollywood-Warner Center (Current)
    Chatsworth-Warner Center (New)

    The Orange Line may be a victim of its sucess as is the Ontario BRT. As for converting it to rail, the only feasible option is an elevated line, most likely an extension of the Red Line Subway. Otherwise, construction would adversely impact current operations. The former SP ROW is wide enough for support columns.

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