Bus service may ease I-5 worries

As road construction continues on the Golden State (5) Freeway, expanded bus service closing the “transit gap” between the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena could ease traffic impacts in the region, local officials say.

The proposed expansion of bus service would connect the Metro Red and Orange Line station in North Hollywood to the Gold Line station at Lake Avenue in Pasadena, with a stop at the Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board last week approved a motion directing the Metro Chief Executive Officer to explore establishment of the bus service as a way to mitigate I-5 construction impacts.

Officials at a Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority commission meeting Monday called it a “very positive development.”

“We very much look forward to working with Metro on implementing this new service,” said Mark Hardyment, director of the airfield’s transportation, noise and environmental programs.

Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, who represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada and the northern cities of Los Angeles County on the Metro Board, proposed the motion, which calls for startup of the bus service in February.

“This is truly something to address the regional transportation needs along this corridor,” Najarian said in an interview Tuesday. “It will improve the quality of life for those that commute ... and free up capacity on our roadways.”

The measure comes a little over a month after Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard urged the board to include the a “pilot express bus service” connecting the cities of Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank in a package of mitigations then being considered.

“Pasadena sees such service as offering significant transit benefit to riders in this region,” Bogaard wrote in a letter to Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chairman Eric Garcetti.

The mitigation package was approved, but did not include plans or funding for the bus service. Najarian said his latest measure directs Metro CEO Arthur Leahy to review funding options for the bus service expansion, he said.

“The first, most important step is the funding,” he said, noting that the service could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate.

Najarian said the bus service would be “just a Band-Aid ... an interim step to creating the connectivity” until something like the Orange Bus Rapid Transit Line can be established connecting the stations.

The motion directs Leahy to report back to the board on the proposed route at its January meeting.

“This motion is [for] a regular service until we can get a BRT up and running,” Najarian said. “This is truly something to address the regional transportation needs along this corridor.”

Steve Madison, airport authority president and a Pasadena City Councilman, called the establishment of the bus service “a team effort,” and said he had also talked to Leahy about the issue last month.

“We’re deeply grateful to Metro, the board, the staff, obviously ... board member Najarian,” Madison said.