Metro Planning Committee OKs Light Rail Recommendation For Van Nuys Corridor

Today Metro's planning committee approved a preferred alternative that would run light rail in the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard. Rendering via Metro
Today Metro's planning committee approved a preferred alternative that would run light rail in the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard. Rendering via Metro

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This afternoon, the Metro board Planning and Programming Committee approved the staff recommendation for light rail for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project.

The recommended alternative is a 9.2-mile, 14-station light rail line that would run at grade in the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard and in the rail right-of-way along San Fernando Road. The southern terminus would be at the Metro Orange Line Van Nuys Station. The northern terminus would be at the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station.

ESFVmap

An earlier staff-recommended light rail alternative included a 2.5-mile subway tunnel at the southern end of the line. The approved recommendation modified that, eliminating the tunnel and running the entire line at grade.

Public comment was uniformly in support of the light rail recommendation, including supportive testimony from numerous organizations including representatives from the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA), the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, Sierra Club, the city of San Fernando, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST), and L.A. City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and Nury Martinez.

The recommended plan resolves an early controversy that saw business owners opposing one of the sites proposed for the line’s maintenance yard. Option A would have been located at the intersection of Van Nuys Boulevard and the Orange Line, but the approved staff recommendation is option B, which locates the future maintenance yard at Van Nuys Boulevard and Keswick Street, just southwest of the Van Nuys Metrolink Station.

If approved by the full board next week, environmental studies would get underway this year. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021, with the line opening in 2027.

  • Richard

    Way to many stations. This is supposed to be rapid transit.

    I’d be happier if they cut 2-4 of the stations out, and got the average speed over 20mph.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    One car accident and the entire line is stopped.

  • Eric4335533

    Stops are every half-mile to mile – very reasonable.

    What it needs is signal priority so it won’t get stopped at traffic lights.

    If you want rapid transit – lobby your politicians to improve Metrolink service.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Does this light rail selection have any implications for whether and how this line will connect to any line through the Sepulveda Pass? It seems natural for this project to interline with that one, and it’s not obvious to me whether the benefits of heavy rail through the pass and west side would change the calculation on whether it’s worth tunneling or elevating this route, or whether the costs of tunneling or elevating this route would make it worth the capacity restrictions of light rail through the pass and west side.

  • Kyle Jonathan Chang
  • johnsmart

    whine.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    It’s true though. There needs to be some grade separation or some really effective collision deterrence/avoidance. But even then, a car collision blocking the intersection could cause a problem. It’s something to keep in mind. I just hope they build more than enough crossovers so midday maintenance doesn’t give us 15+ minute headways.

  • LazyReader

    Opening in 2027. Or we can have buses and move people…..now, not in 2021, 2025 or 2027 or 2030 which is probably when this’ll be really finished and 50% over budget as most tend to be. Virtually every light rail project in the country has come anywhere over 50-150% over it’s original budget.

  • John Altounji

    Either we get an underground metro line or a suspended one; but removing part of Van Nuys surface street makes no sense; it will increase the traffic jam by narrowing the road and altering the traffic lights for the crossing people and cars.

  • Joe Commuter

    This will kill existing bike lanes on Van Nuys boulevard, including the buffered and protected portion?

  • QuestionQue

    Buses only move as fast as the car congested streets unless they have their own lane. Building a bus only lane would also take years. While light rail would move more passengers and more quickly than now a bus would do neither.

  • LazyReader

    Light rail always has delays and cost overruns. 2027, it’s already been pushed back to 2028, and cost 1.3 billion dollars. That’s just projected costs. Light rail always overshoots it’s initial price by 50-150%. Rail advocates don’t like to admit it, but buses can carry more people and to more places, for far less money, than light rail. Three-car light-rail trains that run in streets can hold up to 450 people, more than any bus. But most light-rail lines can only run about 20 trains per hour, whereas a single bus stop can serve 42 buses per hour. By staggering bus stops, a single street can serve more than 160 buses per hour. With 40 seats and room for about 20 people standing (if allowed), standard buses operating on city streets can move more than 10,000 people per hour, compared with 9,000 people on light-rail trains. Double-decker buses in use in Las Vegas and other cities can move up to 18,000 people per hour, far more than any light-rail line. San Diego built America’s first modern light-rail line in 1981, spent less than $10 million per mile (17 million in today’s money). This seemed affordable when compared with heavy rail (subways and elevated), which then cost more than $100 million per mile and today typically cost well over
    $200 million per mile. Since 1981, light-rail costs have exploded: the least expensive light-rail line now under construction, in Salt Lake City, costs more than $50 million per mile, and the average is well over $100 million per mile. There is no way to justify these costs when buses are so much less expensive. The willingness of many transit advocates to support such
    wasteful and expensive lines reveals they really don’t care about
    transportation. Rail manufacturers and contractors just want to
    make money. Urban planners use rail as an excuse to redevelop
    neighborhoods to higher densities. The NAACP sued Los Angeles for massive cuts to bus services in black neighborhoods namely due to money was diverted to pay for the Gold Line. Cuts to bus service disproportionately effect low-income residents and communities of color and deal with them of course by building transit which will gentrify their neighborhood which was probably their goal all along

  • chairs missing

    Grade separation just doesn’t pencil out given the current density and land use… plenty of streets run parallel to pickup the slack.

  • QuestionQue

    Light rail is expensive to construct but to provide the same service with bus takes 4 times the vehicles and 4 times the drivers. Driver salaries are a major cost and parking and maintaining a new fleet of buses is expensive.

    I rode buses for two hours a day for 9 years. Many times I had to stand and it is exhausting with all the stops and starts of a bus on city streets. Loading all passengers through the one front door meant that the bus did not keep up with traffic and the average speed averages 15 mph. Now I ride light rail and loading through the 6 wide doors takes seconds. Travelling the same distance takes half the time. The train also stays cooler that a bus which tends to get uncomfortably warmer toward the rear. Those who care only for the cost of transportation of those they consider lower class than themselves and not the comfort of the passengers prefer a bus over light rail.

  • James Harris

    Well said I completely agree. It seems like most people who prefer buses over light rail have never had to use public trans. in their life

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