Metro considers adding bus rapid transit line connecting NoHo to Pasadena

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, is looking to create an easier way for public-transit users to get from the middle of the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Valley by implementing a bus rapid-transit system.

However, residents told transportation officials during a community meeting at the Buena Vista Branch Library in Burbank Thursday night that the proposed project may be unnecessary, and that improving on existing services should be their priority.

The proposed bus project would start from the North Hollywood Metro station and work its way to Pasadena, either by traveling on surface streets or taking the 134 Freeway, said Scott Hartwell, project manager for Metro.

Hartwell described bus rapid transit as “light rail on rubber tires,” in which the bus would use a mixture of dedicated travel lanes, streets and freeways, as well as have fewer stops to get riders to their destinations quickly.

Metro currently operates several bus rapid-transit routes, including the Metro Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley.

The agency’s preferred street route would be about 18 miles long, in which buses would travel south on Lankershim Boulevard, east on Riverside Drive, north on Olive Avenue, east on Glenoaks Boulevard, south on Brand Boulevard, east on Broadway and continue onto Colorado Boulevard until reaching Pasadena City College.

As an alternative, the preferred freeway route would have the bus traveling on the 134 Freeway, make a quick detour in Burbank at Olive and hop back onto the freeway at Buena Vista Street before ending in Old Pasadena.

“This is really the first bite of the apple for community input to really help us through this,” Hartwell said. “There will be plenty more opportunities for public input along the way. We want to get this thing right.”

There are some alternative routes that Metro officials have identified for both the street-based and freeway-based routes.

Instead of taking the 134 Freeway from the North Hollywood, Hartwell said the bus could go north toward Hollywood Burbank Airport and use the 5 Freeway before connecting to the 134.

However, many residents were concerned about an alternative street route that would have the bus travel down Chandler Boulevard, which is already being used as a bikeway.

Hartwell said Chandler was considered in the project because a portion of the street is a Metro right-of-way.

He added, however, that he and his colleagues have heard loud and clear from the community that using Chandler is not an option.

Burbank resident Paul Dyson, who was member of the city’s Transportation Commission for several years, said some of Metro’s proposals, especially the freeway route, are similar to existing bus routes and would be redundant.

Dyson added that the Metro 501 bus route, which currently offers rides from the North Hollywood station to Pasadena, has low ridership, which makes him question how successful the proposed rapid-transit line would be.

“There is no existing railroad right-of-way that they can use, so the only alternatives are to use existing streets, and that makes it either slow or it’s going to be disruptive to the existing traffic,” he said. “It’s a real dilemma.”

Dyson continued, “I don’t think it’s even worth it. Metro should focus their resources and make existing routes better.”

Twitter: @acocarpio