A Chance to Look Behind the Curtain of the Division 6 Bus Facility

Division 6 circa 1958. Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/metrolibraryarchive/3199652254/in/set-72157616670736136##Metro Transportation Library and Archive/Flickr##

My bus fan contacts have tipped me off that Friday some Metro buses that have been retired will be on display for inspection at Metro’s Division 6 in Venice from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  This is a rare chance to enter a Metro bus yard and take a look-see, albeit ostensibly to inspect buses that are up for sale.

The actual sale will be Saturday morning, 9 a.m. at the auction houses’ Gardena facility.  The Metro buses will be sold in absentia.

Division 6 has been a transportation facility since 1901, when it was originally a carhouse and powerhouse serving the Red Car fleet. In 1951 a bus yard replaced the carhouse. Given its limited size and ongoing pressure from the surrounding residential neighborhood Metro has several times explored replacing it. The most extensive effort started in 2003 when the Metro Board approved a landswap where Division 6 would be developed in return for the developer providing Metro with a new larger bus yard in an industrial area on the westside.

Some of the local histories of Division 6 are in this draft environmental document and a 2005 certification of the final environmental document by the Metro Board. Shortly after the environmental documents were adopted the deal imploded. NIMBY opposition to both the new yard and to the scale of the proposed development in Venice killed the deal. The swap subsequently was even mentioned in the media as possibly being an element of the scandal that brought down Union bigshot and former L.A. Council member Martin Ludlow (no charges about the yard and Ludlow were ever filed). BTW, the Councilman who helped kill the deal by pandering to Venice NIMBYs? Bill Rosendahl. And so the neighbors in Venice killed the development but ended up still having Division 6 in their midst.

Recently I’d again heard rumors Division 6 might be closed soon. It has no Compressed Natural Gas fueling capacity so its fleet has to be fueled off-site for reasons why this is so are outlined in a 2009 staff report. But now I am hearing Metro CEO Art Leahy has said publically despite the challenging logistics that it will continue to be active. I imagine Leahy would agree with the reasons for doing so laid out in a 1997 analysis of the cost-effectiveness of Division 6 which in a nutshell says it is all about location, location, location.

I’d appreciate anyone who has a chance to attend the bus inspection session Friday to share their impressions in the comments section.

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