A First Look at the Orange Line Extension from Canoga to Chatsworth

Chatsworth Station Under Construction. For more pictures from last week's tour, visit us our ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/29300710@N08/sets/72157629640245962/##Flickr Page##

Last week, I had the chance to tour the new Orange Line BRT extension from where the Orange Line currently ends in Canoga northward for four miles to the Metrolink Station in Chatsworth. Even as construction of some of the stations continues, test buses run along the route. Greg Spotts, with the Mayor’s Office, predicts that the line will open sometime next month, although you never know what problems can arise as testing continues.

The tour consisted of both a car trip up and down the roads parallel the route followed by a tour of the actual line on the bus. Adding a twist to the tour, Spotts and I joined a group of Brazilian journalists touring and reporting on American BRT in advance of a twenty kilometer (just over twelve miles) route opening in their country.

Below are some thoughts and media on my first impressions of the route as a rider. The below video is from my flip video pointing out the front of an Orange Line bus as we head from Chatsworth back to Canoga. The entire trip took about twelve minutes, although the bus driver told me that the transponders that will communicate with traffic signals were not completely synched at the time of our tour. You can hear the Brazilian news team in the background, and occasionally I’ll narrate some interesting occurences while the video rolls.

As for my impression of the line, if I didn’t know what to look for I might declare it near ready to open.  The trip was smooth and even though it was off-peak the bus kept pace with a cars’ congestion free trip on an adjacent road.  I sat most of the way to Chatsworth and stood on the way back to Canoga.  Some of the features that make Bus Rapid Transit more than just buses on a fixed guideway were still being worked out.  The bus arrival announcements weren’t operating and as mentioned above, the signal sync that gives priority to the buses at intersections wasn’t worked out.

For more first impressions in the form of a captioned photo essay, read on after the jump.

 

One of the parts of the tour that made me happiest was that we saw a handful of joggers and cyclists using the multi-use trail even though it wasn't officially "open." The wider right of way for the trail allows for a more consistant trail than the one planned for Expo. As a member of the Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee, I was jealous.
One of the questions that the Brazilian media team asked me was "how do you explain a project coming in early and under-budget." While the economic climate and lack of opposition have something to do with it, the project team headed by Hitesh Patel deserve credit to. One of their best ideas was designing the mammoth elevated overcrossing of Lassen St. and Metrolink railroad tracks before putting the project out to bid. Rather than have a consultant debate and work with Metrolink, Metro did. Metrolink controls that small part of the Orange Line right-of-way, and the whole project could have been stalled.
The first time I met Spotts at our December fundraiser, he excitedly told me that the Expo Phase I bike lanes were repaved. Whatever mistakes were made for on Expo Phase I weren't repeated here as the entire route adjacent to the BRT extension is already repaved. While cyclists and pedestrians won't have to fight for space on the street thanks to the wonderful mixed use trail. However, it's always nice when a project benefits all transportation system users in a tangible way.
Following L.A. Times architecture critic Chris Hawthorne's bashing of the station design for Expo, I went back through my pictures and found this excellent montage on the ground at the Chatsworth stop. ##http://thesource.metro.net/2012/05/04/just-installed-canoga-station-mosaic-artwork/##The Source## has a story on the art program last week.
The other things the Brazilians were interested in was the integration of the bicycle and pedestrian facilities with the busway. The trail stops short of the Chatsworth Station but the project team promises that the transition will be smooth. I guess we'll have to wait and see on that one. However, we did get to see the bike lockers installed at Chatswoth.
  • The architecture critic is Christopher (not Tim) Hawthorne.

  • “The trail stops short of the Chatsworth Station but the project team promises that the transition will be smooth.”

    Very interested how this is going to turn out.

  • Thanks Steve.  I fixed it.

  • my thoughts: dystopian. concrete jungle. unnecessarily-wide roadway. the feeling being on that bike path must be…whew. especially behind those massive iron curtain-like walls. sandwiched between that other multi-lane road and the bus highway. and i guess pedestrians are resigned to that opposite side of the street. are the trees coming? 

    in any case, thanks for the look.

    couple small typos: ‘consistent’ for ‘consistant’ and ‘too’ for ‘to’.

  • Great video and pics, nice to see some real reporting on this transit line.

    One if the big advantages of BRT is shown in the video…seamlessly switching to the opposing lane when needed to avoid construction.  If work is being done ona  rail line, service must be stopped.

    Were the reporters from Globo?

  • Anonymous

    It will be fun to take Metrolink out to Chatsworth for no reason and then transfer to the Orange Line to get back to civilization.

    Not sure how useful this extension will be. Hopefully people use it. At least it was inexpensive. 

  • Anonymous

    “Dystopian.” How dramatic. People live out there and live relatively good lives. 

  • Anonymous

    I see a lot of streets where one side of the intersection does not allow crossing for no immediately apparent reason. I’ve never been able to figure it out. 

  • Dennis Hindman

    Transit use is not very appealing for residents of the far west side of the valley, its much faster and easier to get around the far west end of the valley by car on surface streets. So, I would expect that Metro can easily handle the passenger load demand for decades.

    It will be interesting to see if LADOT makes the buses automatically stop for cross traffic on busy intersections such as Roscoe Blvd or Sherman Way. On the rest of the Orange Line route, the major cross street traffic has priority over the Orange Line buses. Having the bus line moving in mixed traffic on a major street contributes toward the Rapid buses on Ventura Blvd usually averaging a higher speed than the Orange Line buses.

    The bike path that will run next to the Orange Line extension is a big step up for cycling, since the higher average traffic speeds are frightening for most people who bicycle. West of White Oak Ave, the Orange Line bike path is the closest resemblance to a Dutch path–running parallel to a busy street–that Los Angeles has. Not only is the path running parallel to a busy street, there is a several feet wide buffer, which reduces traffic noise for the cyclist, making for a much more comfortable place to cycle. I had a young male car passenger yell at me once while I was riding on the Balboa Park bike path next to Victory Blvd and because of the several feet of buffer, I just slowly turned my head to see what he was yelling about. Even though it will be a lovely place to ride, I see the Orange Line extension cycle path mainly appealing to students and recreational users.

    I tried several times to cycle down Canoga Ave from Roscoe Blvd at night after getting off of work. Roscoe Blvd to Saticoy St was one of the worse condition streets I have experienced on a bike in the San Fernando Valley. The first time I road it, I yelled what country am I in? I spent a good portion of my time trying to dodge very irregular road conditions at a very slow pace. So, repaving this street should be a big step up for motorized vehicles.

  • Dennis Hindman

    In the video the multi use path looks about three quarters finished. South of Sherman Way there doesn’t seem to have been any further progress since I last visited this section a couple of months ago.

  • Dennis Hindman

    The existing Orange Line multi use path–going east-west–has about an even split of pedestrians and cyclists. The mixed use path that goes down the middle of Chandler Blvd, east of the North Hollywood subway stop, has much more pedestrians using it than cyclists. The city of Burbank’s section of the path is used overwhelmingly by groups of people strolling along, many of them walking their dogs.

  • Prohibiting pedestrian crossings on one side of the intersection is usually done to simplify the signal cycle and allow unrestricted left/right turns. No pesky pedestrians for those important car drivers to have to stop for.

  • Anonymous

    Better yet, take Surfliner and have a beer and an Amtrak Cholesterol Bomb enroute!

    Spokker: It provides an alternative for US101 commuters. Now they can take Metrolink/Surfliner to Chatsworth and get to their Warner Center Jobs. Also, there are quite a few connections (including the obvious Red Line) from the NoHo station.

  • Anonymous

    The (only) other advantage of BRT is not having to build an adjacent maintenance facility.

  • Guest

    this guy…

  •  It’s not bad as all. Much better than most bike lanes in the city. That one part behind the storage facility feels sketchy at times, but for the most part, I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

  • Also, Metrolink doesn’t run on weekends, so this is a cheap ($5 day pass) way to get from North Valley to Downtown and beyond. I live in Chatsworth and ride down to Canoga to pick up the Orange line fairly often. Already rode the new bike path before they put up the “closed” signs.

    But yeah, when I look at the mentality of most “rich” folks in the Valley, they just roll their eyes and claim it is a waste of money. But look at who rides the Orange line now: Kids, lower income, disabled. This is a needed gateway that provides needed mobility for many and it came in under budget.

  • Paul S

    With the new Orange Line Bike Path opening soon The Brown Canyon Bike Path that runs from the end of the Orange Line Bike Path at Lassen, east of the Chatsworth Metrolink Station, to Rinaldi is in despirate need of repaving.
    And if a path could be added from Rinaldi and De Soto to the start of the Brown Canyon Bike Path, this would be a contiues bike route around the north, east and south valley

  • calwatch

    With Metrolink to Chatsworth already at $8.50 and going up to $9.50 in the July fare increase this is a great way to get Downtown for just 20-30 minutes more than the train. $5 or $19. Unless you have the bucks to spend, the choice is easy, especially considering Metrolink’s lack of service outside of rush hour.

  • Anonymous

    calwatch you make a good point. 

    Personally, I want to specifically ride the train, then ride the bus so I make a loop. I don’t have to go back the way I came.When they build the Crenshaw Line, you’ll be able to do Expo to Crenshaw to Green Line to Blue Line (or Harbor Transit Way) and back to downtown, or the reverse.This is all for fun. I have no actual need to ride transit for work, school or recreation right. There’s nowhere I really want to go, I just like the feeling of travelling. I keep looking for a job near a train station, though, but you can’t choose where you work. 

  • “dystopian. concrete jungle. unnecessarily-wide roadway[s].”

    Not unlike the Valley as a whole!

  • Were you able to experience what the transition will be like from the existing Orange Line segment to the extension segment? Looking at the Go Metro map that just went live, it’s not clear how buses will travel between De Soto and Sherman. Will there be some sort of loop through the Warner Center area? And why do there appear to be two Canoga Stations connected with a line? The Blue Line’s turnaround in Long Beach seems to be fairly easy to understand on the Go Metro map, but the Orange Line’s seems a bit more perplexing.

  • Dennis Hindman

    The Orange Line extension from the Chatsworth station will stop at the new Canoga Ave station and then turn east to the final stop across from the Red Line subway in North Hollywood.

     During peak hours, there will be a suttle bus they will take passengers from the Chatsworth station, down Canoga Ave, to Warner Center. If the suttle bus is not running, then you would have to get off  the Orange Line bus at the new Canoga station and then walk a few feet over to the old Canoga station to wait for the next bus heading towards Warner Center.

  • Scotch1991

    I’m wondering if there will be adequate shade for the multi-use bike/pedestrian path from Chatsworth to Canoga station for the orange line??? The Sun can hit really hard for most of the year and as we all know skin cancer and premature aging are risks- Plus it might be too hot for most of the day. The use of”Sail Shades” would be a Fantastic solution, along with Trees that have a wide perimeter of shade. I’m hoping for moderate to lots of relief from the sun. What type of shading are planners looking at if that information is available?

  • I don’t get it. Aren’t these designs approved and made public?

  • I think it will be a while with the trees the way they are. I’d suggest a wide brim hat and long sleeves.