The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Thursday, March 24, 2017, that they have been given the go-ahead to develop and construct a dedicated busway to run between Pasadena and North Hollywood. This bus-only track is projected to cost up to $48 million to complete, but it would be the first transit line to connect the San Gabriel Valley with the San Fernando Valley. The route would run through the same corridor that currently sees an average of over 700,00 drivers on a daily basis.
The MTA has two different plans they are currently considering for this new mass transit bus route. The first would route the busway along major streets in Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena. The second would create a busway that would primarily be running in the middle of the 5 and 134 freeways. No matter which of these routes is finally chosen, they will start/end at MTA’s Gold Line Stations located at Del Mar and Memorial Park in Pasadena with the Orange and Red Line subway lines that start/end at the North Hollywood Station. There would also be a separate stub-line running to the Hollywood/North Burbank Airport.
The Street Route
The main street route would create an 18-mile stretch running down Colorado Blvd, Green, and Union Streets in Pasadena and Eagle Rock, Brand and Glenoaks Blvd, and Central Ave in Glendale, and Lankershim Blvd and Olive Ave running through Burbank and North Hollywood. There are alternative roads included in this option, including Alameda, Chandler, and Magnolia Blvd. The only issue here is that any route that includes Colorado Blvd in Pasadena must be able to be moved during the Rose Bowl Parade.
According to the MTA, the street option includes an 80 percent right-of-way for the buses. This means they would not have to stop for cross-car traffic and traffic lights. This new line is expected to carry approximately 18,000 passengers by 2035 with an expected cost of somewhere between $274 and $448 million. Research shows that by creating a dedicated bus route running through all three cities would eventually carry more passengers than the freeway system, which by this time would only be carrying approximately 13,000 passengers.
Using the street option would allow the bus system to connect The Paseo, Old Pasadena, Pasadena City College, and South Lake Ave with Walt Disney, Warner Bros, DreamWorks, and Burbank studios, all of which are located in Burbank and Glendale. It would also connect with the America at Brand shopping mall.
The Final Vote
On Thursday, the LA MTA board voted unanimously (12-0) to accept the findings reported in a technical study conducted for this bus rapid transit project. They also voted to conduct an environmental impact study for the corridor and both of the options. When asked why the decision had been made to pursue a dedicated busway similar to the Orange Line BRT currently operating in the San Fernando Valley rather than putting in a fixed light-rail system, Metro Director and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian had this to say, ” A BRT (bus rapid transit) is the most efficient way to get passengers around and also the quickest way” to get a new transit line completed.
The current problem is that of the over 700,000 daily trips running between Pasadena and the Burbank/Glendale/North Hollywood areas, 98 percent are completed in single-occupancy vehicles, while only 2 percent use some form of mass transit. This led to the concept of providing a bus service that could compete with motor vehicles and reduce the amount of traffic on our roads.