The Los Angeles Metro Board voted Thursday to extend the trial period for a Bus Rapid Transit route that links North Hollywood and Pasadena.
The 501 express bus, which started service in March after the Gold Line extension to Azusa opened, aims to bridge the gap between the Orange Line rapid bus in Chatsworth, the Red Line subway in North Hollywood and the Gold Line in Pasadena.
According to Metro, Bus Rapid Transit is a high quality bus service that provides faster, more reliable and convenient service through the use use of dedicated bus lanes, branded vehicles and stations, high-frequency lines with intelligent transportation systems and possible off-board fare collection, with boarding through all doors.
The Pasadena to North Hollywood Corridor would be a 16-mile corridor connecting the cities of Pasadena, Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank. Currently, there are approximately 700,000 daily auto trips through this area, according to Metro. The new Bus Rapid Transit lines would reduce passenger travel times, and improve connections between specific locations.
However, the 501 express bus hasn’t been doing well in terms of ridership despite being set in a high-traffic area.
According to Bart Reed, a member of the Metro Transit Coalition, the biggest problem with the bus is the lack of service during early mornings and late nights, times when people who work in the service industry are typically in need of transit.
Ridership on the line has reached nearly 1,100 boardings each weekday, 650 fewer than the target officials had planned for.
“The 501 runs on a banker’s schedule,” said Reed to KPCC. “You’re not working with the people that use buses.”
Officials told KPCC they will study the option of adding early and late bus rides and may lower the price of the service from $2.50 to $1.75 as an introductory offer.
Thinking in the future, Metro is also currently exploring an Orange/Red Line to Gold Bus Rapid Transit connector which would be open in 2022 at an initial cost of $267 million. The line would be potentially converted to either light or heavy rail in 2067, depending on ridership demand.