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Metro tries out express route from North Hollywood to Pasadena

The half dozen people who boarded bus No. 4024 at around 10:20 a.m. Tuesday in North Hollywood were treated to a “new bus smell” and a new bus route, which was advertised on a wrapper ad on the outside of the vehicle: the 501.

Also called the “NoHo to Pasadena Express,” service on the route started this week and will operate seven days a week at high frequency, connecting the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley during a $1.2-million, 180-day trial run, after which it will be evaluated and could be modified or discontinued.

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In October, Metro approved the trial run of the express route, which will link the North Hollywood Red and Orange Line station to the Memorial Park and Del Mar Gold Line stations in Pasadena, stopping along the way in Burbank and Glendale, where passengers will be able to transfer to the BurbankBus or Glendale Beeline.

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With numerous connections at both ends and along the route, it’s been touted as the “missing link” in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s transit network. It is “oft-requested” by riders and transit activists, according to a recent post on the Metro blog called “The Source.”

County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, a Metro board member, called it “the next step” in a regional approach to multimodal transportation.

Service runs weekdays from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. and weekends from 6:30 am until 9 p.m. — every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes during off-peak times and weekends — and travels mostly on the carpool lanes on the Ventura (134) Freeway.

It exits the freeway to make two Burbank stops, one at Hollywood Way and Olive Avenue, near Warner Bros., and another at Alameda Avenue and Buena Vista Street, near Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Walt Disney Studios.

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The route also includes stops in Glendale at Goode Avenue and Brand Boulevard (westbound) and Sanchez Drive and Brand (eastbound).

Travel time is roughly 50 minutes end-to-end during peak traffic times, according to a Metro statement. The line is expected to carry at least 1,750 riders daily.

Regular fare is $2.50. Passengers transferring from other Metro bus or train lines will have to pay an additional 75 cents; passengers can transfer to other Metro buses or trains for free with a TAP card.

In addition to connecting to Red, Orange and Gold lines, riders of the 501 can transfer to a BurbankBus at Buena Vista and Alameda for trips to downtown Burbank, as well as, during peak hours, Glendale Beeline buses near Goode Avenue for trips to the Glendale Galleria or Americana at Brand.

Passengers can transfer to a BurbankBus that travels to the Bob Hope Airport every 15 or 20 minutes from a neighboring bay at North Hollywood for $1 or free with EZ Pass.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who is on the Metro board of directors and pushed for the service, said in a statement this week that the route, if successful, “could provide the justification we need to consider even greater transit investments in this corridor.”

He encouraged cross-valley commuters to try the route and see “how it can make their transit experience better than ever before,” he said.

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“By design, this express bus was created specifically to solve the problem that vexes our multimodal transit riders,” Najarian said. “It connects bus, light-rail, commuter-rail and airport travelers via Bob Hope Airport.”

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Chad Garland, chad.garland@latimes.com

Twitter: @chadgarland

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