Metro Is Looking for Transit Options for Van Nuys Boulevard: Let’s Help Them Out

What's the best transit option for Van Nuys Boulevard

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Yesterday, the Daily News reported on a series of public meetings (including ones tonight and tomorrow) designed to solicit feedback on what rapid transit option makes the most sense for the densest and most congested portion of Van Nuys Boulevard.  $68.5 million has been set aside for this project from Measure R and Metro hopes it can be up and running by 2018.

But for now, we don’t even know what “it” is.  The Metro team has four very basic concepts for a 10.25-mile long project on Van Nuys Boulevard between the 210 Freeway and Ventura Boulevard: a “no-build” option of “street improvements,” a “Portland-style” Streetcar, an “Orange-Line” style rapid bus or “Expo Line” style light rail.  The project area is almost a mile wide, so they have room for completely separated transit ways, and maybe even enough for bike paths as well.

Any of the proposed alternatives, except the “no-build,” is going to require additional funding from somewhere.  The 14 mile original Orange Line cost $325 million and Phase 1 of the Expo Line is estimated to cost $930 million.

The Daily News also touches on a proposal by the Transit Coalition to run rail between the Valley and the Westside.  Their 25-mile proposal would start at the Metrolink Station and Mission College area in Sylmar and run all the way to the Expo Line in West Los Angeles.  Naturally, such a line would cost quite a bit more than $68.5 million, but as Reed tells the Daily News, “It’s all about vision.”

In an effort to help Streetsblog readers have their say on this project, I’ve set up the above poll.  We’ll send the results to Metro’s team as well as any comments that you write below.  It’s early in the process and you never know what suggestions might stick.

  • Connor Gilliland

    It’s really simple. If we want the Sepulveda pass project to be combined with the Van Nuys corridor project, we certainly want rail, preferably grade separated rail, because we do NOT want a BRT to be the backbone line that connects the valley to the west side and beyond. And, because of the need to connect them, having a BRT on Van Nuys but then a rail line through the Sepulveda pass would require a transfer and result in a fragmented line when we could have a single ride that would maximize ridership. It’s a straight shot from Pacoima to the expo line. Lets take advantage of it and not be short sighted. This issue does not need to be this complicated.

  • Dennis Hindman

    There already are multiple routes running on part of the Orange Line route at the Warner Center station. Passengers did not seem too confused about that when I have used the Orange Line there.

    The Orange Line was designed for buses to turn into it and out of it. The buses currently exit the busway onto Canoga Ave to finish the route, and they can also enter it in either direction on Canoga Ave. I have entered the busway from the north hundreds of times by bike, using the left turn lane designed for entrance into the busway. That can also be done on a lot of other streets, such as Van Nuys Blvd, which a engineer also pointed that out to me at the last community outreach meeting
    held on Wednesday . The buses maintenance yard is north of the Orange Line and they regularly are brought in and out of service on surface streets. There have been more than one occasion when the buses have had to be diverted onto the street at several different intersections due to obstructions such as construction. They have even been brought onto the freeway to get back to the maintenance facility after passengers have spilt something or thrown up. 

    One driver said that he took the bus off the Orange Line to get a cup of coffee one time and he parked it in the street.

  • Dennis Hindman

    There are also going to be two different Orange Line routes when the extension is completed next year. One route will go to the Warner Center and the other will head north to Chatsworth.

  • Dennis Hindman

    “Fact: That was for a grade-separated line. Surface rail on an existing street would be closer to $40 million/mile, similar to the cost of the Expo Line on Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica.”

    The existing Orange Line has three bridges that you seem to imply, by your cost estimate per mile, would not have needed to be built for a light-rail line.

    The Orange Line extension will have two bridges built. One of which will transverse a river. I told a Orange Line driver a few months ago that they were building a dirt ramp so that the bus could leap the river like something in a Wile coyote cartoon. We both laughed, but it looks like you may believe, based on your low cost per mile estimate, that a light-rail train would not need a bridge and could actually leap across the river and connect to the track on the other side.

    “Fact: Orange Line buses are stuffed to capacity at peak already.”

    I rode the Orange Line at about 5:30 PM, starting across from the Red Line subway station, in order to get to the Metro Van Nuys Blvd corridor outreach meeting on Wednesday. There was only a handful of people who did not have a seat and that was probably due to the driver starting late as people were starting to come across the street from the Red Line subway station for the following bus departure. This was the bus that is scheduled in between drop offs from the Red Line station, which is typically not crowded. It’s essentially scheduled to handle the passengers from the Red Line subway who could not get on the first bus. The passenger load lessens as the bus gets west of Van Nuys Blvd.

    “Orange Line buses often “platoon” two together at peak already.”

    I have seen platooning happen several times after 11 PM at night when buses are scheduled 20 minutes apart. That is simply one bus driver catching up to another. This is much more likely to happen during peak hours as the buses are scheduled four minutes apart and the second bus has a lighter passenger load.  A Metro manager at the Metro outreach meeting, for the Van Nuys Blvd corridor improvement, told me that Metro is considering implementing a platooning schedule on the Orange Line in the future to get two buses through the existing signal timing. That would make it less disruptive to cross traffic, compared to having buses come through the intersections four minutes apart in each direction.

    “Fact: Line 902 tried to emulate that, but ridership was low; it’s a proven failure.”

    The 902 was never on the Orange Line busway, it ran on Burbank Blvd.

    One of the attractions of the Orange Line is it’s frequent and long continous service. The 902 Line only ran at peak hours and it was boarded across the street from the Orange Line at the bus terminal next to the Red Line subway station. This made it much less attractive to use compared to the Orange Line.

    My suggestion is instead of Orange Line buses starting at four minute intervals, at the North Hollywood station, have two buses start at the same time and the first bus would take passengers directly to Van Nuys Blvd, then head up Van Nuys Blvd. This would more evenly distribute the load between the two buses as passengers would not simply try to cram into the fist bus they see as happens now. The Orange Line passenger load starts falling after Van Nuys Blvd heading west.

    Let’s see, a passenger standing on the Orange Line platform at the North Hollywood station, that wants to go up Van Nuys Blvd, will have a immediate choice between a bus that takes them directly to Van Nuys Blvd and eliminates a transfer, or they can choose to take the bus that makes all the stops and requires them to get out and walk at least 75 feet to wait for another bus to head north on Van Nuys Blvd. Nay, your right, that would not be appealing at all for people, why “it’s a proven failure”, even before it’s been tried.

    This would also help releave crowding for transit riders on Van Nuys Blvd north of the Orange Line. There is much less demand south of the Orange Line, on Van Nuys Blvd, as that area is a much wealthier area and is much less transit dependent.

    So in conclusion, this would help relieve crowding on the Orange Line and Van Nuys Blvd buses without potentially adding much to the overall operating cost.

    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to making up their own facts: while someone who doesn’t live in the Valley (LAofAnaheim), or who lives at the edge of the Red Line at Unbiversal and has along-standing ideological opposition to rail (Hindman), may recommend BRT for the rest of us, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good recommendation.”

    I voted for High Speed rail, or maybe I was hallucinating as your simple pigeonholing of me implies. 

    Your so called facts are mostly just your opinions.

    Here’s a link to an article on the blog Human Transit that goes over some of the preconceived biases of people for rail over bus transportation.

  • Van Nuys Blvd. was DESIGNED to have a light rail median. Ever hear of the Red Cars? Up until the 1950s there was a Red Car that went up and down Van Nuys Blvd and turned at Parthenia, and another one that went along Chandler and turned up Van Nuys…oh, my my, what do we have now? The Orange Line busway running partially along the old Red Car right-of-way. And yeah, I do miss the 902 bus: I was still going to Valley College when it was running, and it saved my butt more than a few times.

  • guest

    I don’t think there’s no need for light-rail, Bus Rapid Transit, nor a street-car in Van Nuys Blvd, it’s fine the way it is.

    If anything, the SFV should be split from City of Los Angeles so this way Metro, LAUSD and anything from City LA services can be removed so this way SFB can have their own service, own transit system and own school district.