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