Guest Opinion: Metro CEO Phillip Washington | Metro’s North Hollywood-Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Project Will Better Connect Communities

Published : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | 12:26 PM

The North Hollywood to Pasadena corridor connects the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys and is home to approximately 800,000 people and 400,000 jobs. This area includes major job centers, bedroom communities and many colleges and cultural opportunities.

But there’s one big thing lacking: a great transit connection for those traveling between the Valleys. Metro has exactly one bus line traveling between Old Pasadena and North Hollywood, but it mostly sticks to the 134 freeway and misses many neighborhoods and destinations along the way.

This is why Metro is working to build a bus rapid transit (BRT) line to serve North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock and Pasadena. BRT is a type of bus line that is faster, more frequent and more reliable by using features that could include traffic signal prioritization, all-door boarding, upgraded bus stations and dedicated bus lanes.

While we have received a lot of community support for the project, we’ve also heard questions from some residents and business owners in the project area. One big concern involves the possibility of dedicated bus lanes along Colorado Boulevard or on other streets.

Let’s be clear: we haven’t determined where we will recommend bus lanes along the route. Any street that is a candidate for possible dedicated bus lanes will take several factors into consideration: adequate street space, traffic, median amenities, parking — and if so how can these potential effects be mitigated? Any recommendation to include bus lanes would be accompanied by ways to minimize potential negative effects.

All that said, we think there’s a great case to be made for dedicated bus lanes in general. A single bus can carry more than 60 people, while taking up a lot less room than cars carrying the same number of people. Bus lanes can often be accompanied by other upgraded mobility options, such as safer bicycle lanes. On streets where multiple bus lines currently operate, the bus lanes can be shared by all of them, and emergency vehicles can use the lanes to respond quickly to calls.

There has been a lot of discussion, in particular, about the Colorado Boulevard segment through Eagle Rock. While our staff seriously considered a freeway alternative along the 134, it was ultimately not recommended because — no surprise here — it would be hard to reach in many places, especially in Eagle Rock. A freeway route would also miss downtown Burbank and many key destinations in Glendale. And this: riders have told us that our existing freeway stations are noisy and unpleasant.

We have also heard concerns about the line leading to more development. Metro does not oversee zoning and land use – that power lies with each respective city and comes with several checks and balances giving citizens the ability to help shape such decisions. Outside of 16 acres Metro owns surrounding North Hollywood Station, Metro owns no property along this corridor and has no plans to develop any real estate.

Many decisions have yet to be made about this project, including the final route, the location of specific bus stations and where there might be dedicated bus lanes. Those decisions will be made later by the Metro Board of Directors with more opportunities for community feedback at each step along the way.

We still need your input on this project. We’ve extended the scoping period through Aug. 15 to allow more time to weigh in on what this project should look like. For information about how to comment, visit our project page at https://metro.net/nohopasbrt.

The project has $267 million in funding from the voter-approved Measure M sales tax and via state gas tax and vehicle fees. That’s a good chunk of money and we very much want to build a transit service that will better serve existing riders and give new riders a new affordable, reliable and faster way to get around. And we look forward to your help in making this project a success.

 

 

 

 

 

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