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Eyes on the Street: New Bus Lanes on Sepulveda and Ventura Boulevards

6.5 miles of new bus lane on Sepulveda and Ventura Boulevard - the first bus-only lanes in the San Fernando Valley. More bus lanes and lane enforcement on the way

New 24/7 bus only lanes on Sepulveda Boulevard

This article supported by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney as part of a general sponsorship package. All opinions in the article are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of LABA. Click on the ad for more information.

Metro and the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) recently installed the San Fernando Valley's first on-street bus only lanes - on Sepulveda Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard.

Metro map of Sepulveda Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard bus lanes project

Metro's Sepulveda Bl (Line 234) Bus Lanes Project includes three stretches:

  • 4.5 miles of two-way 24/7 bus lanes on Sepulveda Boulevard from Weddington Street to Rayen Street
  • 0.9 miles of one-way 24/7 bus lane northbound on Sepulveda from Ventura Boulevard to Weddington Street
  • 0.9 miles of one-way peak-hour bus lanes westbound on Ventura Boulevard from Vesper Avenue to Sepulveda

The Sepulveda and Ventura bus lanes primarily speed up service on Metro line 234, which currently carries nearly 9,000 riders each weekday. The Sepulveda lanes also serve parts of Metro lines 154 and 155, plus LADOT's Panorama City/Van Nuys DASH bus.

The Sepulveda lanes repurpose one car lane into a bus-only lane. The project preserved pretty much all of the useful on-street parking on Sepulveda, but in one narrow stretch where the street crosses under railroad tracks (from Raymer Street to Lanark Street) it removed ~60 somewhat underutilized parking spaces.

New northbound Sepulveda Boulevard bus lane
Sepulveda bus lanes are 24/7 (note signage with no off-peak exception)
The new Sepulveda bus lanes include one short stretch of red pavement in this pocket at Victory Boulevard

Though the Ventura Boulevard bus lane segment may be but little, it is fierce. It's a mile-long trunk where several lines come together and overlap. The new Ventura bus lane is serving Metro Lines 234, 240 (~10,000 weekday riders), 761 Rapid (~7,000 weekday riders), and 155.

New westbound bus lane on Ventura Boulevard (photo taken on Saturday, when lane was not operating)
The westbound Ventura Boulevard bus lane (note signage) is in effect 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays. Photo taken last Saturday, when bus lane is not in effect, and serves as on-street parking.

Both lanes are labeled "BUS BIKE LANE" so cyclists can ride there, but, like La Brea Avenue, they're not a welcoming place to bike. The wording does make it clear to law enforcement that cyclists shouldn't be ticketed for riding there. This past weekend, Streetsblog observed more drivers using the Sepulveda lanes illegally than cyclists using them legally. (Drivers are allowed in the bus lane to make right turns, but many proceed straight.)

Cyclist using the Sepulveda Boulevard bus/bike lane

In a presentation last week, Metro announced that its recent NextGen Bus Speed and Reliability Program "has installed 40+ miles of Bus Priority Lanes" since 2019. This is not true. The 40+ new miles assertion was picked up by the L.A. Times in an editorial praising Metro's "bus-lane building boom."

When SBLA questioned the total (the 9 new projects are great, but only total roughly 18 new lane-miles), Metro clarified that the 40 miles "includes some bus lanes done prior to NextGen." Metro provided SBLA a list of the 40+ miles which included all pre-NextGen bus lanes, nine NextGen projects, and the newly completed tenth project (Sepulveda) which brings the total to ~48 lane-miles.

Metro's October 2023 map of bus lanes completed and in progress - via Metro presentation

The same Metro presentation claims that Metro has "55+ New Miles [of Bus Priority Lanes] In-Progress." If that is true, bus riders can anticipate lots more bus-priority miles coming online soon, including bus lanes planned on Florence Avenue, Roscoe Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, and Vermont Avenue. Also coming soon, on-bus cameras that will automatically ticket drivers parked in bus lanes.

Metro and LADOT's new bus lanes are great. Sepulveda, Ventura, and other recent bus-priority facilities are important projects that are improving the lives of Metro bus riders, and helping grow ridership, advance equity, and improve air quality. More please.

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