Metro Operations Committee Asks Metro to Study Flower Street Bus Lane, Possibly Make Permanent

Flower Street bus-only lane - via Investing in Place Twitter
Flower Street bus-only lane - via Investing in Place Twitter

At this morning’s meeting of the Metro board Operations, Safety, and Customer Experience Committee, several boardmembers praised the recently-opened Flower Street bus-only lanes and began to lay the groundwork for making them permanent.

New Blue's Flower Street southbound evening peak-hour bus-only lane
New Blue’s Flower Street southbound evening peak-hour bus-only lane

Metro and the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) installed the Flower Street bus lane to support added bus service during Metro’s “New Blue” temporary Blue Line closure for refurbishment. The lane opened at the end of May. It runs nearly two miles from 7th Street to just south of Adams Boulevard. It operates from 3-7 p.m. on weekdays. One key to the facility’s success is enforcement – driver restrictions are enforced by a team of eight LAPD motorcycle officers.

The committee received an update on the current phase of “New Blue,” which currently has closed portions of both the Blue and Expo Lines. Earlier reports had the Flower Street bus lane carrying 60 buses per hour; that number has been revised upward to 70 buses per hour. Metro staff reported that about 45 of those buses are regular service – operated by Metro and by municipal operators. About 25 per hour are temporary New Blue shuttle bus service.

Boardmembers Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker and Mike Bonin both offered praise for the success of the Flower Street bus lane. Dupont-Walker requested that staff document travel time savings bus riders experience in the lane. Bonin stated that bus lanes are “the direction we need to be going” and directed staff to report back in September with performance data that would make “the case for continuing this.”

Metro Westside/Central Service Council representative Alfonso Directo commented that that the Flower Street bus lane is a “testament to what works.” The Westside/Central Service Council approved a motion calling for the Flower Street bus lane pilot to be extended for at least the remainder of the current fiscal year – through June, 2020. The council motion calls for Metro to continue current enforcement levels, and to collect performance data to evaluate making the lane permanent.

Dedicated bus lane proposals are experiencing NIMBY backlashes in Eagle Rock, the North San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, and elsewhere. Metro is considering adding more bus lanes as it reorganizes bus service through its NextGen bus service study. A permanent Flower Street bus-only lane would not only serve to improve the lives of transit riders, but could also be a positive example supporting bus lane expansion.

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