Bus Los Angeles

Los Angeles Integrates Service on Two Busways, with Plans to Implement Congestion Pricing

» New Silver Line will stretch between El Monte and Artesia Transit Center in just 56 minutes, providing relief for drivers attempting to avoid pricing in HOT lanes.

The implementation of widespread tolling in the United States would cause significant problems as a consequence of increased inequities resulting from the decreased mobility of lower-income car-dependent individuals, who would have trouble paying road charges. There are several ways to combat this issue, starting with providing better transit before new tolls are implemented on roads upon which commuters have come to rely.

Los Angeles is planning to do just that with its new Silver Line bus rapid transit service, which it will open to the public this Sunday. Running 26 miles between El Monte and Artesia Transit Center, the service was created as an integral element of a congestion pricing demonstration program and sponsored by a $210 million grant from the federal government. The new line integrates bus services that formerly operated exclusively along either the El Monte or  Harbor Transitway, in coordination with the implementation of tolls along the parallel I-10 and I-110, though those fees won’t be charged until December 2010.

The decision by L.A. Metro to improve transit a full year before pricing the equivalent roadways will allow commuters enough time to prepare a transition to transit and serves as a model for other cities hoping to raise funds and decrease congestion through the insertion of tolls.

Though Los Angeles is plotting a massive expansion of its rail system over the next few decades, its first foray into rapid transit in the modern era came with the opening of the El Monte Busway between Union Station and El Monte in 1974. This corridor allowed buses to speed from the city’s eastern outskirts into the center city and was one of the first examples of bus rapid transit service in the world. Today, the corridor also serves high-occupancy vehicles and carries 100 buses of various stripes during the peak hour and a total of 18,000 mass transit users a day. In 1996, Los Angeles paid for the construction of the Harbor Transitway running 11 miles south from downtown on I-110 — that line also carries a number of bus services, though it has fewer overall passengers than its El Monte equivalent.

As the map below demonstrates, current services along the two busways are not integrated. While both serve downtown, they do so in separate corridors and there are no through buses from El Monte to Artesia Transit Center. Downtown, stations for the El Monte lines are distributed on virtually every block and those for the Harbor Transitway hardly make it into the heart of the business district. More importantly, perhaps, the services along the lines are not branded in unity but instead as a panoply of MetroExpress lines. At the end of each corridor, buses continue on to destinations like Cal Poly Pomona and Palos Verdes Estates.

This makes the service difficult to understand for irregular and new riders. Even though both transitways are included on the primary Metro map along with the rail lines, the non-transitway alignments of their routes are not shown, making it effectively impossible to understand where the buses go once they’ve existed the busways on either end.

Existing Transitway Service along L.A. Busways

Planners at Metro saw a great opportunity in integrating services between the two busways, but had hesitated to do so for years because of limited funds for new transit investments. The original plan was to connect the two corridors with a limited access busway through downtown; the Harbor Transitway was designed with ramps to make such a line possible, but it has never been a priority for the region’s decision makers.

With the federal congestion grant, Metro finally found adequate motivation to put together a new service that uses both of the transitways. The Silver Line will be able to make the 26-mile commute between El Monte and Artesia in 56 minutes. If Metro brands the service appropriately, it could act as an interim version of the planned rail-based Regional Connector, moving people from south L.A. to El Monte without a transfer.

The line could be far easier to understand than existing transit services by dramatically improving the legibility of the two busways by demonstrating their connectivity to downtown destinations and by showing the interconnectivity between the two lines. In addition, instead of the dual corridors and large number of stops currently used by Harbor and El Monte services, the Silver Line will have a limited number of well-marked stations every few blocks.

Instead of continuing on to further destinations at the end of each transitway, buses will simply stop there, requiring customers to transfer to local buses that replace the former express lines along the routes for the final segment of the journey. To some degree, this will inconvenience users, since they will be forced to transfer at El Monte or Artesia to other buses; but the sacrifice is worth it, since the Silver Line means better connections and faster speeds.

Metro has effectively created a rapid transit route out of a series of disjointed express bus services — a feat that probably should have occurred a decade ago considering when the Harbor Transitway opened. Nonetheless, the Silver Line’s opening is good news and expands the perception of Los Angeles’ transit offerings at a minimal cost. By marketing the corridor as a highly intelligible rapid line, Metro will likely increase ridership and expand the number of people using the service as an integral connection in the overall transit network.

Silver Line Service

In the short term, the Silver Line will be handicapped by the fact that it must run along the street downtown between the two transitways. But by December of 2010, the relevant streets will benefit from transit signal priority, potentially speeding the already pretty quick service. Unlike many bus rapid transit lines, this one actually deserves the “rapid” designation. The service will open using existing 40-foot buses, but by next year it will benefit from new, specially labeled 45-foot buses meant to imitate the design of the successful Orange Line busway in San Fernando Valley. Those new acquisitions, paid for with the federal grant money, will allow higher frequencies, though customers will already get roughly 10-minute headways throughout the day along the line.

The ExpressLanes project, Metro’s congestion relief program, will convert HOV lanes along both transitways to HOT lanes, allowing single-occupancy cars to move along reserved lanes as long as drivers pay the toll. Metro will adjust pricing dynamically to ensure that lanes do not overflow — a situation that occurred the last time (in 2000) that Metro was asked to open the El Monte busway to more drivers, slowing down bus service dramatically.

The Silver Line may be confused with Foothill Transit’s Silver Streak, which operates between downtown and Montclair along the El Monte transitway. One hopes that Metro does a good enough job in differentiating its vehicles that commuters don’t confuse the two similar services.

39 replies on “Los Angeles Integrates Service on Two Busways, with Plans to Implement Congestion Pricing”

BRT shouldn’t be branded with official “colors”. It’s a lesser form of transit than light or heavy rail. People aren’t stupid. They know this and it only makes Metro ridiculous to pretend that BRT is as good as LRT.

The Orange Line could be upgraded to light rail fairly quickly and the Silver Line could be upgraded to light-rail once the Regional Connector is built.

I fail to understand why people are so against BRT. Why is it always BRT vs. LRT/Rail? It is a fact that BRT is cheaper than rail, and it is also a fact that rail on a dedicated ROW is faster, could attract more riders, and could provide a smoother ride. It is also a fact that BRT is better than local buses, and there are many examples where BRT and rapid buses have increased the number of riders.

It would be nice if we had the $$$ to build rail to everywhere. It would also be nice if I won the lottery.

The branding makes people more aware of the option. It’s a marketing strategy that can only result in higher usage.

I don’t know if the Silver Line should be upgraded to light rail. Other buses use, or could use, those transitways you know.

System maps are for infrequent users. If I were trying to get around L.A. via transit, I’d sure like to see a fairly fast frequent service be it bus or rail indicated on such a map. In fact, I’d say there’s a much better case for including services like the silver line on system maps than there is for including commuter rail.

Also, I don’t really see what Dan Wentzel is griping about. The service is fast by transit standards (averaging 27.8 MPH), frequent and mostly separated from traffic. Aside from not being a magic choo-choo it seems pretty good to me and I’d be quite happy if something like that existed along my commute and would find it far superior to the very nice rail line that only covers the last 4 miles of my 12 mile commute

Alon, is this cheaper cost per rider derived from the fact that the Blue line goes through a more transit dependent area? Or are the cost saving simply a mater of the technology chosen? Would the Orange line be cheaper if was LRT and the Blue Line were BRT?

“It is a fact that BRT is cheaper than rail, and it is also a fact that rail on a dedicated ROW is faster, could attract more riders, and could provide a smoother ride.”


A “smoother” rider? Smoother than what?

Most people believe that riding on a trail is a “smoother” ride than being jostled around riding in a bus on asphalt.

And cheaper in what way? Cheaper in construction, but not necessarily operating costs.

I dare you to go to any neighborhood and Los Angeles County and tell them that you’re only getting a busway while other neighborhoods will get light rail and see how they react.

People aren’t stupid. They know the difference between riding a bus and riding a train and the difference in quality of those two rides. BRT is not as quality as LRT no matter how it is dressed up to look rail-like.

They are not the same and should not get the same “branding”.

If this works for you, Winston, go for it. Just don’t expect the majority of transit riders to be happy with you.

who are all of these “low-income, car-dependent” people with long, freeway commutes? Where do they come from and where are they going? Sorry, coming from a part of the country where most expressways (and every bridge) have been tolled for 50+ years I’m not feeling much sympathy for people who, won’t actually have to pay a toll, just won’t be able to drive in the left lane.

Look at the difference in how the Gold Line extension and the Silver Line were rolled out.

The Gold Line light rail extension opening was a major event with big media coverage. The Silver Line rebranded bus service went online in the middle of the night complete absent of any hoopla.

All those high-minded arguments for how buses can never replace rail go out the window when we’re talking about connecting an airport to transit in a majority-black area, though, right, Alon and Dan?

@Andy K: given how crowded the orange line is, given that it runs on a dedicated ROW, and given that the stations and supporting infrastructure are built to “LRT spec” whatever that means, then yes, I would imagine the relatively low cost difference between the Orange Line busway and a theoretical Orange Line LRT would have pushed the cost/rider in favor of LRT.

LRT simply wasn’t an option on that route due to the cities banning at-grade or above-grade rail.

The problem with the “BRT vs LRT” debate is that there’s no good definition of what BRT actually is. Sometimes it’s a dedicated guideway, sometimes it’s just an express bus. I think the spectrum of BRT fills a gap between busses and LRT, but I think when you start talking about dedicated guideways and purpose-built stations, you might as well lay track and take advantage of the “rail bias”.

That said, I think there’s also a good argument to be made that implementing lightweight BRT of the express-bus variety, watching it get overloaded, and then replacing it with fully-grade separated light or heavy metro is a quicker route to full metro than building LRT and then not having the money or support to rip it out and replace it later on down the line.

“Look at the difference in how the Gold Line extension and the Silver Line were rolled out.
The Gold Line light rail extension opening was a major event with big media coverage. The Silver Line rebranded bus service went online in the middle of the night complete absent of any hoopla.”

To be fair, the gold line involved a new route serving new destinations with new stations while this is just a change in service plan: “instead of stopping the busses downtown, they’ll now continue to long beach” is a much smaller change than “We’re bringing a new mode of transit to an area it hasn’t gone to before”.

I am interested to see how convenient the service will be for the folks that need to transfer to continue their trip. Notwithstanding the obviously improvements to legibility, I think it is premature to concluded this will improve regular riders’ lives until we know how well the transfers are pulled off. It could actually be much worse if things aren’t cooridinated well.

I wonder why they can’t just make two separate lines (two colors) that use the BRT lanes from Artesia to El Monte. Then these branches could continue on to serve different destinations beyond the BRT lanes. Though reliability might be reduced some (not much of a factor if frequency is high), it seems to me the great advantage of BRT over LRT is the ability for the buses to cruz at high speed while in the BRT lanes and then to continue on to various destinations beyond the BRT lanes. That said, if MTA can have connecting buses predictably waiting when people get off the BRT line at each end, and quickly continue on their way, my concerns would go away. Unfortunately, I don’t see transfers managed well for the most part.

J.D.: I think you’re confusing two issues – service to LAX, and service to Crenshaw. The LAX service will do very little, because it will require everyone to transfer between 2 and 3 times, which air travelers are not going to do.

A better idea would be to run an LAUS-LAX line as an S-Bahn, making intermediate stops in the neighborhood it runs through, including Inglewood and the southern reaches of Crenshaw. But don’t expect this kind of planning from LA. This is the airport where I had to walk outdoors between terminals when I connected from Singapore to Las Vegas, flying on the same airline alliance. And the transit agency in question is one that’s more interested in building light rail to the exurbs than in a functional transit network.

The Crenshaw line is meh, but that’s because LA insists on running it only to the Expo Line. If it served Wilshire, it would be slightly better. If it went north along Western to serve Burbank Station and south to serve San Pedro or Torrance, it would be much better. Then it would even feed HSR, and function as a primary north-south transit axis.

But again, don’t expect this kind of planning from LA.

“But again, don’t expect this kind of planning from LA.”

Their planning is constrained by the political realities of the region. There is a much better plan out there. You could draft a much better plan. So could I. But it wouldn’t fly with the San Gabriel Valley and other parts of LA County, and unfortunately their support is apparently important.

If I was King of All Transit the Foothill Extension would be last in line for funding or construction. I would imprison anyone who thinks light rail on that corridor is a good idea.

Also the BRT vs. LRT debate is kind of retarded. Buses and rail both have their place and anyone who devotes their life to buses over rail or rail over buses should be shot out of a cannon and into the sun.

A couple of things “on the ground”.

This “new” line is really replacing about 10 lines with a single busway service. For busway-only riders, it won’t mean a change. For the riders continuing along the local segment, it means a forced transfer and a degradation of service. For local riders of the express buses who avoid the freeway portion, it might mean more reliable service.

The other problem is that the Harbor Transitway repels riders. It cost $1 billion and carries around 4,000 riders a day. The parallel Blue Line, 3 miles to the east, cost about $800 million and carries 70,000.

The Silver Line won’t make the service any more attractive, especially since there is very little through-ridership from one busway to the other to warrant a single line.

Creating a connection with the El Monte Busway has been a plan to increase ridership on the Harbor Transitway for years.

“For now, the MTA has slashed fares from $3.35 to $2.25 for the
longest trip, and has offered weeks of free rides. Officials have
talked about adding more bus service and creating a connection with
the El Monte Busway. So far, nothing has helped, and there are no
plans to redesign the freeway stations.”

The Harbor Transitway itself is death. Somehow the designers of the El Monte Busway were able to make it work.

Spokker wrote:

The Harbor Transitway itself is death. Somehow the designers of the El Monte Busway were able to make it work.

Except for the part about missing the western San Gabriel Valley.

The problem, though, was not the highway designers but the cities themselves, who were opposed to station stops.

The busway had spots to build some form of station, even a slow fish-tail configuration like at the Harbor Transitway/Green Line junction*. The toll lanes have now ended this possibility.

*-For non-L.A. readers, this Harbor Freeway connection may be hard to envision. Here, you have an island station. Of course, buses have doors on the right only. So, here, the buses must make three complete stops in order to serve the wrong side of traffic: One approaching the island, one at the island, and one leaving the island.

Why in the Sam Hell are they charging more than the baseline $1.25 for the Silver Line? It seems to me that that is a major deterrent. Why can’t they just keep it simple? And why is nobody talking about this issue?

Sure it is an “express bus” but if you look at a map it is ridiculous that the Blue Line, which is longer than either the Harbor Transitway or El Monte Busway, is only $1.25 and is a train and the busway is $2.30

They need to have an asterisk next to the Silver Line or something.

Kudos to you for highlighting the benefits of capital investment in busways and to Metro for planning for them.

One thing, though, I would like to quibble with. I think, often, planners are valuing a simple solution that can fit neatly on a rail transit map. As a bus commuter, I think its important to recognize the different set of positive and negative characteristics that busses provide.

Busses should not have routes that conform to a simple rail transit map because it takes away the benefits that bus transit provides. Although limiting the route to the busway makes it easier to conceptualize for a transit map reader, it takes away from the service that busses can provide due to their smaller size. They can provide a large geographic area with a one seat ride that has a stop a few blocks from their house. It also removes the social value (although I know it sounds strange) of having the same riders on the same commute every weekday. From my experience, these riders are immeasurably more civil to each other and the driver than your typical transit rider.

The value of making a busway simple to conceptualize is limited. Given that the vast majority of busway riders are regular riders (commuters and others), they can make the investment to figure out a busway with more numerous routes running through it. The proliferation of electronic medium to help riders navigate transit (i.e. google) and handheld electronics also helps with this.

In short, I advise that transit planners treat busses as busses and make sure they recognize the benefits and detriments of busways.

Alon, Dan:

Actually, I was talking about AirBART from Coliseum to Oakland airport. Almost everyone who would otherwise swear up and down on a stack of bibles to testify to the inadequacy of bus compared to rail seems to think, for whatever reason, that a solution that they themselves have deemed inadequate is a preferable course of action for a flagging airport in a minority region.

Ah, that… well, that rail service sucks because it doesn’t actually serve the neighborhood. It’s also unusually high-cost, about $150 million per km whereas $20-30 million/km is normal for light rail, and is projected to have embarrassingly low ridership.

Frank –

It costs more than train ride because it cost more to operate… but look at it from the other side, the new fare is actually about $1.15 cheaper than before when 4xx buses with zone charges run on the busway. AND the new fare structure includes stops in final destinations in Downtown LA. Whereas someone going to USC (Fig/Exposition) or Coliseum would have to transfer at Union Station for local buses, he or she can now ride directly to the final destination.

Also, I think the whole argument that this will inconvenient existing 4xx bus riders is a bit of a red herring. El Monte Transit Center is a huge bus terminal with many lines feeding into a hub. 490 and 484 just happened to be 2 lines that continue on from El Monte to Downtown LA. There are 20 to 25 other lines that do not. For riders transferring from those other 20 or so bus lines, this is a great service improvement. Yes, 490/484 riders will suffer a bit from having to transfer where they didn’t need to before but they have other options. The Foothill Transit Silver Streak for example, still offers similar one-ride service from Pomona to Downtown LA via El Monte Transit Center.

The bottom line is this: this simplifies the bus system and will encourage occasional users to try the service. It’s a branding gimmick… yes, but a fairly good one.

Actually, the Silver Line was supposed to charge the regular $1.25 fare, but Foothill Transit screamed bloody murder because it would put the $2.50 Silver Streak out of business. One of the MTA Board members, John Fasana, is also on the Foothill Transit board, and from watching MTA board meetings it’s clear his allegiance lies with Foothill and getting stuff for the San Gabriel Valley more than the region as a whole. Therefore, the $2.45 (up to $3.00 in the next fare increase) base fare.

The real confusing thing is, however, you will still have buses on both transitways with the old zone fare structure. For instance, it is currently $1.85 to go from I-105 station to Downtown. With the Silver Line, that is $2.45, but if you happen to board a Line 445 bus, serving the same destination points, it is $1.85. Same for the Cal State LA to Downtown rider, where they can ride Line 485, 487, or 489 for $1.25, but if they happen to ride Line 910, it’s $2.45. It is going to be chaos that first week.

Look at the headways of the Silver Line schedule.

This isn’t even rapid transit; this is a service clinging to life.

Metro “right-sized” this service by offering token hourly weekend service along the Harbor Transitway.

Because that’s just what it takes to attract riders. Give them the level of service that puts the line on the chopping block every shake-up.

At this point, we ought to just plug the entrances and dismantle the station platforms. The upside is that it would be a shovel-ready project.

Wad –
Thanks for that point; here’s the timetable for those who are interested:

The service is rapid, it just isn’t frequent on the Harbor Transitway side of things during middays or weekends.

On the Silver Line, the Harbor Transitway gets considerably less service than the El Monte side of the equation, reflecting difference in use levels. That said, the improvements of legibility and use offered by the implementation of the Silver Line should make improved ridership possible over time, and may provoke Metro to ultimately increase service there.

This is similar to what Ride-On, in the Washington DC suburbs, did when it created its Route 100 from Germantown to the Red Line terminus at Shady Grove. The route goes almost entirely on interstates, and uses HOV lanes in one direction. Here’s the timetable.

Formerly, several routes circulated through various parts of Germantown and then went onto the interstate. Now they terminate at the Germantown transit center where riders transfer to the 100. This route has 5-minute peak headways, and off-peak there are timed transfers.

Ridership has grown greatly since the 100 was established. The success of this route, even though nearly all riders are making two transfers, deserves analysis. I haven’t ridden it, but I’ve spent several morning rush hours observing the riders getting off while leafleting at Shady Grove.

I think you have to move beyond the traditional “choice rider versus transit dependent” analysis to understand the success of this route. I don’t think this service attracts the upper end of the income spectrum, as Ride-On routes that directly feed the Red Line do. (Ride-On has a measurable ridership with family incomes above $150k.) At the same, the bulk of the riders appear to be distinctly middle-class.

Ridership is driven primarily by cost rather than convenience, but at the same time the service is sufficiently convenient that it attracts a ridership that could afford to drive if it had to. Parking at Shady Grove costs $4.75, while the round-trip bus fare with rail transfer is $1.50. Public parking in Bethesda is $5.70 for nine hours, and in downtown D.C. parking is typically around $10, versus rail plus bus fares of $8.40 and $10.50, but those trips are long enough that gas costs are significant and the Red Line offers large time savings.

What the lessons of this are for the Los Angeles busways, I leave for those more familiar with L.A. to discuss.

I think it’s smart that they include the silver line in the Metro map, because it is a much faster and more efficient form of transit. For those, like many others have mentioned, don’t use Metro, it allows for them to identify the Silver line and choose it over local, bus lines.

In Miami, Miami-Dade Transit does the same thing, and they label the South Miami-Dade BRT line as part of the Metro system here as well. Same goes for the Miami Metromover.

Yonah Freemark wrote:

That said, the improvements of legibility and use offered by the implementation of the Silver Line should make improved ridership possible over time, and may provoke Metro to ultimately increase service there.

I don’t think that dog will hunt.

Legibility is the least of the Harbor Transitway’s problems.

The Harbor Transitway was a born loser.

The Harbor Transitway opened in 1996 as a double-decker HOV and Transitway from the USC area to Artesia Boulevard. Buses have always been using the freeway, though, and there were shoulder stops before the Transitway opened.

Despite the major operational improvements with the Transitway — and as you said, the buses are f-a-a-a-s-t — demand has always been stagnant along the Harbor Transitway. It never attracted much new ridership on top of who had been using the buses before 1996.

Worse, the Harbor Freeway is flanked by high-frequency service along Broadway (which also has a Rapid service) and Figueroa Street. So it’s not running through a transit wasteland.

In fact, it runs through the heart of poor, predominantly African American South Los Angeles. There should be high ridership, just as there is on Broadway, Figueroa, Vermont Avenue and Avalon Boulevard (two other nearby streets).

One thing that has always depressed ridership is the charging of the express step-up fare. When L.A. had a broad freeway express bus network, the policy had been to charge zone fares for every four miles of non-stop travel.

Metro carried the express policy over, ostensibly because the buses ran on a freeway. However, with station stops, the buses now make stops every 1.5 to 2 miles. They should have been treated as locals. Metro even tried for a year a fare amnesty in which the expresses were treated as locals. Even that failed to attract riders.

The Blue Line was almost always treated as a local fare, despite a very fast speed and a 23-mile journey between L.A. and Long Beach. The Blue Line runs 3 miles east of the Harbor Transitway and serves the same communities. It is the busiest single light rail line in the U.S.

So you have a couple of factors working against the Harbor Transitway, despite offering a faster service.

You still have the high fares. You have a competing Rapid bus that, while running on surface streets, improves upon the design flaws of the Transitway by serving busy intersections like Vernon and Florence avenues that the freeway buses skip.

Perhaps the flaw that cannot ever be corrected is how the design of the station breeds a dangerous atmosphere. You have stations whose entrances are in dark freeway underpasses.

This is a view of the Manchester Transitway entrance, taken from Google Maps Street View:

This is Slauson Avenue:

Do these look enticing? Well, from here its a winding walk up the stairs or a long elevator ride to await a bus on an isolated platform. There is no view from the street, and cars are moving far too fast to pay attention to the waiting bus passengers.

Freeways are headache-inducingly noisy, so there’s a perfunctory effort to mitigate sound through glass bricks. This further blocks out the view from the surrounding traffic.

The Harbor Transitway replicates the dangerous-by-design elements of housing projects that made the areas breeding grounds for crime.

This is the last thing that’s needed for some of the highest-crime neighborhoods in the U.S.

The “Silver Line” isn’t a really new idea anyway. MTA has been pushing it in one form or another since 1994, if not earlier.

ITA with Wad above, re: unattractiveness of the stations along the Harbor Freeway. I got off at Slauson Station a few years ago, and I felt like I had to double check the elevator before I got in there. It just didn’t feel safe.

On the other hand, if it were a rail service, it would likely attract good ridership. The issue is that the stations at Slauson, Manchester, and Rosecrans are not center island stations, but sandwiched right between buses on the left and carpool traffic on the right – at least the freeway Green Line stations (which do get decent usage) are center island stations. I suspect the buses got decent ridership when they stopped at the freeway ramps, since those are stops on the right side of the freeway. After all, the Silver Streak stops at Azusa and Puente on I-10 do just fine.

Wad, you are spouting racist claptrap. You owe us an apology.

The stations on Manchester and Slauson are not in “some of the highest-crime neighborhoods in the U.S.” The crime rates for those residential neighborhoods are actually quite low compared to some other regions.

And your camera is not as good a lens as a human eyeball. There are very-bright lights shining in those long underpasses 24/7.

What is the crime rate there? Why don’t you call 77th Street Division, or the LACo Sheriff transit bureau and ask. They will tell you the truth: very low.

Those stations are, indeed, full of people with dark skin. Scary indeed for out of towners who are going to tell us what that their fears are the reality.

Well, I hope this works to get ridership up on the Harbor Busway.

If it doesn’t, perhaps the correct thing to do will be to rip out the Harbor Busway and replace it with something else. As a highway median, it seems like a very unpleasant place to have stations, but it’s a nice direct route for an express train…

Nathaanel wrote:

As a highway median, it seems like a very unpleasant place to have stations, but it’s a nice direct route for an express train…

…that would bypass a poor, dark-skinned and transit-dependent neighborhood?

We in L.A. just shook ourselves loose from a consent decree a few years ago. We don’t want to do anything that would make another one warranted.

If there is a suitable place for a rail line, it would be anything parallel to the 110 freeway, not on it. Vermont Avenue has 57,000 daily bus boardings. A train, such as a subway extension south of Wilshire Boulevard, would serve the corridor most in need of a high-capacity transit service.

Wad: what is the most important north-south corridor south of Wilshire? I know the bus ridership numbers say Vermont, but looking at some of the intersections on Google Maps, Vermont seems less busy than Crenshaw and Western.

Vermont is the second-busiest bus corridor in Los Angeles County, only behind Wilshire and Whittier boulevards (18, 20, 720 and 920).

Western Avenue is also busy with ridership of about 38,000 boardings.

Crenshaw Boulevard has about 22,000 boardings.

All figures are local and Rapid boardings combined.

The heavy boardings are primarily conduit, rather than destination trips. The presence of Rapids indicates heavy transfer activity.

Vermont and Western have slightly busier traffic north of the 10 freeway; Crenshaw’s heaviest activity is south of the 10 freeway. Ridership falls off south of Manchester Boulevard on Vermont and Western; as half the trips are short lines ending there.

Vermont has a few major attractions along the line: Exposition Park and USC, the Red/Purple Line junction, Los Angeles City College and the hospitals at Sunset Boulevard. Vermont also has several K-12 schools along the line.

Western Avenue generally has strip malls and gas stations at major intersections, and it’s generally a street with heavy transfer activity.

Crenshaw, with the lowest ridership of the three streets, has a thriving commercial district between the Exposition right-of-way and Leimert Park. A major bus transfer center is at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This commercial strip is richer in destination traffic than Vermont or Western.

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