Metro Rapid Service Coming to Venice Boulevard

5_26_10_rapid.jpgRapid buses near Staples Center. Photo: LA Wad/Flickr

Amidst the excitement of Bikeside Speaks (covered in great
detail by Stephen Box here),
Bikerowave’s own City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl dropped a juicy bit of
information during his presentation.

Starting next month, the MTA will roll out its Metro Rapid
bus service on Venice Boulevard. Replacing the existing 333 limited stop service along Venice will be
(wait for it) a Rapid 733 line running from Centinela Ave. Downtown Santa Monica to Patsaouras Plaza
in Downtown Los Angeles (Thanks for clarifying, Jerard.) For those sitting at
their computers constantly hitting refresh on the Metro Rapid Updates Page,
you’ve already seen this news buried in a list of bullet points as “Venice
Blvd. (Metro Rapid Line 733, June 2010).”

With services set to begin on Sunday June 27th,
it is unclear why Metro has not been advertising this change more aggressively,
given that part of Rapid’s genesis was to increase the visibility of Metro
services. The only mention
on The Source
is a January notice of proposed services changes on fourteen

On a visceral level, adding Rapid service to Venice
Boulevard makes sense. Take a
quick glance at the Metro Rapid Service
(Wikipedia’s map is apparently more up-to-date than Metro’s
[huge PDF warning]
). You can
see a nice series of parallel routes running east-west along Wilshire, Santa
Monica, Olympic, Pico, and then a big jump further south to Rodeo
Rd./Vernon. Adding the 733 line
helps fill out the Rapid system, increasing access to one of Metro’s trademark
services and the destinations it serves.

However, those hoping for all the trappings of the initial
Rapid lines along Wilshire and Ventura shouldn’t hold their breath. According to Paul Backstrom, Deputy
Planning Director for Councilmember Rosendahl, at present there is no money to
build bus shelters, “next bus” displays, or other improvements along the route,
despite it being a “key
attribute” of the Rapid service

Asked if there were any plans to give buses dedicated lanes
on Venice Blvd. – like those about to be installed on Wilshire – Backstrom
expressed support for the idea, but added that nothing was in the works. If dedicated bus lanes were to be employed
going forward, Backstrom hopes that lessons could be learned from the Wilshire
experience, specifically to avoid the series of hang-ups that have slowed the
implementation process.

Further Reading: For an in-depth analysis of the Metro Rapid
system, check out Jarrett
Walker’s piece
over at Human Transit,
where he discusses how the service has changed (for better and worse) in its
transformation from a specialized service on two corridors to an expansive, if
more diluted, system of nearly 30 lines traversing over 440 miles.

  • Josh

    All trips end at Centinela? They should at least continue every 2nd or 3rd trip down into Venice proper.

  • @Josh: Seconded. There’s always a catch, right?

  • Eric B

    Not sure where Centinela came from. The Source link above says Santa Monica to Union Station, which is what the current 333 does. I can’t imagine they would reduce the functionality of their existing service. The local 33 does not go all the way to Union Station or Santa Monica.

    From The Source:
    Line 733- Downtown Los Angeles-Santa Monica via Venice Blvd. Rapid. Implement Metro Rapid bus service on Venice Blvd. from Patsaouras Transit Plaza to Santa Monica.

  • Carter Rubin

    Sorry if it wasn’t clear – I’m going off of what Rosendahl said himself at Bikeside Speaks re: Centinela. If I hear anything different I’ll make the appropriate changes. For what it’s worth, Venice Boulevard never actually goes through the City of Santa Monica, so I’m guessing that was more of a directional thing.

  • AndyDuncan

    I really hope they don’t ditch the 333 if they stop the 733 at Centinella. A more express express to downtown from Venice/South Santa Monica would be awesome.

  • Jerard Wright

    I sit on the Governance Council where we approved the Line 733 Rapid. The route is from Downtown LA Union Station to Santa Monica, there will be no short-lining at Centinela Avenue.

    In addition, this route will be operating with 60′ buses from the very beginning.

  • YAY!!! I am so relieved.

  • Great, but there should actually be a light rail going down here. There used to be one, and in fact that’s why Venice Blvd. is so damn wide west of Western Avenue (or is it Arlington? Something like that). Ah well, put that on the list for after 30/10 gets done.

  • Joseph E

    What will change immediately when 333 turns to 733? I understand that the buses will change to the articulated, 60-foot, red ones used on most Rapid routes. Will there be increased service on evenings or weekends? The 333 is already one of the better limited routes. Will any stops be eliminated or added compared to the 333? Will the 733 get signal priority, or does the 333 already have that?

  • @ JosephE

    If past experience is any guide, 733 will have fewer stops than 333 and will probably be about 10~15% faster end to end.

    333 does not have signal priority as the signal device is installed on the red buses only so 333 could not possibily have signal priority.

    I assume Metro will be reassigning 60ft red buses from existing fleet from other yards to the Venice yard? Or are these new buses? Anyone at Metro knows?

  • Ken Ruben

    Hi Everyone:

    I am a “regular” on the 33 and 333 and already knew about this (see Jerard’s comments already posted).

    Right now, the new 8100 class and the 9400 types (artics-NABI’s) are being used on the 333 (in some cases, the 8100’s are also being on the 333).

    I have been told that the 33 or 333 will extend to Union Station at the late night hours on an hourly schedule.

    Jerard or Dana can comment further on this (in fact, I should be seeing Jerard and Dana at a meeting in about two hours).


    “Ken” Ruben
    Culver City Resident

    For information purposes only:
    Director, Southern California Transit Advocates

  • Ken Ruben

    As a follow-up to my previous comments, it should be: the 33 or 733 will at late night hours, go all the way to Union Station (on the eastern end).

    —“Ken” Ruben—

  • Joseph E

    It looks like the 333 currently runs Santa Monica to Union Station all night long with hourly headways (PDF warning):

    Adding signal priority will be a significant improvement, even if that is the only big change. I believe that alone should improve speed by 10 to 15%, while also improving reliability.

  • I completely agree with Scott on a Venice train, only problem I can think of is that Culver City might throw a fit. Either that, or the project would get hit by another “grade crossings kill children” campaign.

  • Erik G.

    They will be installing those neat bus shelters on Venice just like they did on Wilshire and Ventura for the original Rapid 720 and 750, right? Right?

    Isn’t it funny how they never continued with that promised improvement.

  • I would love to see a modern streetcar down Venice.

  • In fact, put a streetcar in a transit-only lane on Venice Blivd. from the beach to La Cienega, then up to Santa Monica Blvd., then east to Sunset Junction, then down to Union Station.


    Another idea if the Purple Line only goes as far as Bundy, for two or three decades at least, is to have a streetcar down Wilshire to Santa Monica Beach, then head south down to Venice Beach.

    There are numerous transit corridors which may not ever see grade-separated rail in a century, but for which modern streetcars in transit-only lanes could be brought it fairly quickly.

  • Even better, for 1/1000th of the cost and way in advance of any kind of 30/10 schedule – do the transit-only lane and run buses on it!

  • I wouldn’t say “even better”.

    Bus only lanes by themselves are not an adequate substitute for our needed rail projects.

    But certainly any transit-only lane that has streetcars should also allow buses to run on it.

    And I certainly support a county wide network of transit-only lanes with or without streetcars running in them.

  • Lar.Keller

    I’ve been trying to find information about the 733 Rapid’s stops since my 333 Limited bus driver told me this morning about these imminent changes.

    The concept of a “Rapid” bus will likely mean that there will be fewer stops than even the 333 Limited bus offers. The reason I don’t drive and instead take the 333 Limited instead is precisely because it stops near my apartment and right in front of my office building (while the 33 route ceases before it gets to northern downtown).

    Metro needs to communicate what these stops will be soon! Otherwise, as the Metro driver pointed out to his passengers this morning, there will be people standing on Venice, waiting endlessly for the 333 as the 733 rolls by, not stopping to pick them up.

  • KH

    I too wish Metro would publicize this better. But Lar, here’s the actual 733 route map, so you can see whether it will make the stops you need.

  • @KH – In Metro’s defense, they had special fliers on their buses that showed the stops (this targets their riding constituency), posted multiple stories on their blog, published a news release, and had special advertising on their website. Plus, they had blogs such as these which covered the story in depth. Hopefully Metro did a good job of getting the news out in other languages too!

  • Ken Ruben

    Hi Everyone:

    Following up the various posts above including my own, I have not only the brochures mentioned above, but both the hard copy 733 and 33 timetables.

    I was able to get the new 33 timetables a few days in advance but didn’t get the 733 timetables until Saturday night on my last 333 ride returning from a day of railfan riding on Pacific Railroad Society’s METROLINK RAMBLE.

    I didn’t ride any 733 runs on Sunday, but yesterday, leaving from Culver City about 3:19 p.m. at Venice and Bagley (i.e. Main Street side), I got to the METROLINK ticket machines at Union Station about 4:08 p.m., to purchase a ticket to Fullerton to attend the monthly (train travel meeting) and my train was scheduled to depart at 4:20 p.m. which I did make.

    The ride up Main Street in downtown LA was relatively fast and efficient stopping only at 7th, Temple, and Alameda before heading into Patsouras.

    FYI and I welcome any additional comments.

    —“Ken” Ruben—

    P.S.: Sirinya Tritipeskul with her comments above is correct except IMHO, I think the hard copies especially for the 733 should have been available a few days sooner.

  • @Ken – I totally agree. I saw the handout on 6/20, but it only contained the map and not the time table.

  • Deb

    Does anyone know if the 733 stops at Vermont Ave?

  • Ken Ruben

    ALL buses on the 733 & 33 stop at Vermont.
    -“Ken” Ruben-

  • Julie D.

    If there’s no money for bus shelters and next bus signage, why not have those sponsored by billboard/ outdoor signage companies?
    If they can rent the sides of super-sized buildings, I’m sure they could spring for a few dozen bus shelters.

    I take my (wheelchair-bound) 90-year-old grandma by bus to doctor’s appt’s every month, and it would be a lot easier on her under a shelter, depending on the weather.


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