North San Fernando Valley Bus Rapid Transit Showdown this Thursday at Metro

Metro is planning new Bus Rapid Transit for the North San Fernando Valley
Metro is planning new Bus Rapid Transit for the North San Fernando Valley

This week’s full Metro board meeting will feature a decision on the planned North San Fernando Valley Bus Rapid Transit project. The controversial item was postponed from the June board meeting.

The North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project is a planned Bus Rapid Transit line extending ~18 miles from North Hollywood to Chatsworth. The project has drawn the ire of some NIMBY residents who spout xenophobic slurs at the project’s community meetings and make misleading and exaggerated claims about it resulting in automatic mass up-zoning. These “Save the San Fernando Valley” NIMBYs are opposing the project’s planned Nordhoff Street bus-only lanes which they claim would “flood” their neighborhood streets “with traffic and parked cars.”

The BRT project (staff report) is the on agenda for this Thursday’s Metro board meeting.

The board is slated to receive the project Alternatives Analysis Report which sets up alternatives for full environmental review. The board is also expected to authorize “additional study with an update on refinements to the Proposed Project and the environmental review.” While there is a lot still to decide, those “refinements” could represent a concession to Valley NIMBYs pushing to get the project off of Nordhoff. The further studies also delay completing environmental studies and getting the project built and in service.

Metro’s analysis recommended a BRT route. Though some details of the routing were still being refined, Metro’s selected BRT alignment is on Nordhoff, between the Orange Line and Sepulveda Boulevard.

Metro's planned North San Fernando Valley BRT - in green
Metro’s planned North San Fernando Valley BRT – in green

Metro is now recommending further study on placing more of the BRT on Roscoe Boulevard. Metro’s planned alignment (above) already included a portion of Roscoe east of Van Nuys Boulevard. One of the alignments called out for further study is the Lindley Avene route (below) which would be on Roscoe, east of Cal State Northridge (CSUN). This was one of the seven main alternatives studied in Metro’s Alternatives Analysis.

NSFVBRTRoscoeLindleymap
North Valley BRT alignment on Lindley and Roscoe – via Metro

It is not clear if the Nordhoff-Lindley-Roscoe alignment under consideration will satisfy anti-BRT folks.

Metro’s analysis (page 39) found the Lindley route had slightly lower projected ridership (26,516 daily boardings) than the selected alternative (depending on final configuration the selected route would have 27,461 to 28,652 daily boardings). The Lindley route does make the CSUN connection without resorting to a slow circuitous alignment. What is potentially disconcerting is that the staff report states that “additional route options using Roscoe Blvd may also be considered so long as a connection to CSUN is provided.” Adding some kind of dog-leg routing to keep off of Nordhoff would likely result in ineffective BRT.

The final alignment will not be decided at this week’s Metro board meeting. Metro will continue its additional studies and its formal environmental review.

Nimbys take the bus to oppose bus improvements - screenshot from savesfv.com
NIMBYs take the bus to oppose bus improvements – screenshot from savesfv.com

Anti-BRT L.A. City Councilmember John Lee is providing buses to bring BRT opponents to the Metro board meeting. There is some irony in this, in that when folks – even bus-haters – need to transport a lot of people efficiently, they use a bus. (They’re also urging people to park on local neighborhood streets – something that NIMBYs frequently complain about.)

When the NSFV BRT item was heard in committee in June, anti-BRT attendees heckled pro-BRT speakers as well as Metro staff and board. exhibiting the kind of disruptive behavior that, in the past, has resulted in security removing people from Metro meetings.

BRT supporters are also taking a bus to Metro on Thursday.

State Senator Bob Hertzberg led the push for the BRT project to be funded in Measure M. Hertzberg is encouraging supporters to sign on to a pro-BRT petition, and to board a bus that will take supporters from CSUN to Metro.

A coalition of fifteen environmental, student, and business groups has also weighed in in support of the project. Their letter states that “BRT in the North San Fernando Valley can provide viable alternatives to vehicle travel along high-frequency routes to major job centers and would support our state, city, and regional efforts to reduce criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sparks may fly at Thursday’s 10 a.m. Meeting board meeting, though it is unlikely to be the final word on the North San Fernando Valley BRT’s alignment and features.

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