Orange Line (Los Angeles Metro)
Metro Orange Line
A Metro Liner with a bicycle rack at North Hollywood Station.
|Type||Bus rapid transit|
Warner Center Transit Hub or Chatsworth; Trips alternate between Chatsworth & Warner Center Transit Hub* After 7:30p.m., the line runs on a modified schedule that serves both western terminals.
|Stations||18 (with 2 Western Terminuses)|
|Daily ridership||24,765 (January 2014)|
|Opening||October 29, 2005|
|Character||At-grade, in exclusive right-of-way|
|Depot(s)||Division 8 (West Valley)|
|Rolling stock||North American Bus Industries 45 Compo Buses (Shuttle Only), 60-BRT & 1 65-BRT|
|Line length||18 mi (29.0 km)|
The Orange Line is one of two lines on the Metro Liner network in Los Angeles County, California. It operates between Chatsworth, Warner Center in the Woodland Hills (trips alternate between the two western terminals) and the North Hollywood Metro Station in the San Fernando Valley where it connects with the Metro Red Line on the Metro Rail system for Downtown Los Angeles. The other line in the Metro Liner network is the Metro Silver Line. In comparison to the Metro Silver Line, the Metro Orange Line runs in dedicated bus lanes. The 18 mi (29.0 km) line uses a dedicated, exclusive right-of-way with stations at approximately one mile intervals; tickets (via TAP cards) are purchased from ticket machines on the platforms before boarding to improve performance. The Metro Orange Line bicycle path runs alongside part of the route.
The line, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened on October 29, 2005 with a construction cost of $324 million. It is well used with 31,787 average weekday boardings in September 2012 with vehicles at times full to capacity.
The route follows part of the former Southern Pacific Railroad Burbank Branch Line which had provided a passenger rail service from 1904 to 1920 and was subsequently used by Pacific Electric streetcars (the 'Red Cars') from 1938 to 1952.
- 1 Service Description
- 2 History
- 3 Proposed developments
- 4 Incidents
- 5 Fleet
- 6 Environmental impact reports and cost benefits of alternatives
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Because of its many differences from a standard bus service, the authority has branded the transitway as part of the region's network of light and heavy rail lines. It appears on the Metro Rail System Map. Orange Line vehicles, called Metro Liners, are painted in the silver and gray color scheme of Metro Rail vehicles. Likewise, it is one of the authority's two bus lines that have been marketed with a color designation rather than its line number (901). The Orange Line is rarely referred to by its line number, but it sometimes appears on documents and destination signage.
The transitway's color name, the Orange Line, refers to the many citrus trees that once blanketed the San Fernando Valley. The name was adopted in January 2004 by the Board of Directors. In the planning stages the transitway was known as the San Fernando Valley East-West Transitway, and later the Metro Rapidway.
Hours of operation
Metro Orange Line buses run between approximately 3:45am and 1:00am daily. First and last bus times are as follows:
To/From North Hollywood
- Eastbound to North Hollywood Station
- First Bus: 3:41am (from Warner Center)
- First Bus: 3:53am (from Chatsworth)
- Last Bus: 11:46pm (from Chatsworth, via Warner Center)
- Westbound to Chatsworth Station (alternating trips during the day)
- First Bus: 4:32am
- Last Bus: 7:23am
- Westbound to Warner Center Transit Hub (alternating trips during the day)
- First Bus: 4:50am
- Last Bus: 7:29am
- Westbound to both Warner Center and Chatsworth
- First Bus: 7:36pm
- Last Bus: 12:55am (operates later Friday and Saturday nights; see next paragraph)
Since the Orange Line service operates to meet the final Metro Red Line trains at North Hollywood, there is nearly 24 hour "owl" service on this route on Friday and Saturday nights (Saturday and Sunday morning), with the last bus departing Chatsworth via Warner Center at 1:46am, returning from North Hollywood at 2:55am.
Stations on the Orange Line listed in order from East to West, many of which have large, free Park and Ride lots some with 'paid reserved parking' (where spaces are reserved until a certain time of day for commuters displaying a parking permit purchased from LACMTA after that time, typically 11AM, the spaces become available to all commuters). The large parking lot at the North Hollywood Station fills by early mornings by inward-bound Red Line users and outward-bound Orange Line users.
|Stations||Connections||City/ Neighborhood||Parking||Date Opened|
||Metro Red Line
Metro Local: 152, 154, 156, 162, 183, 224, 353, 656
LADOT Commuter Express: 549
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 757
|North Hollywood||951 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|Laurel Canyon||Metro Local: 156, 230, 656||Valley Village||None||October 29, 2005|
|Valley College||Metro Local: 156, 167, 656
LADOT Commuter Express: 549
LADOT DASH: Van Nuys/Studio City
|Valley Glen||None||October 29, 2005|
|Woodman||Metro Local:154, 158||Valley Glen||None||October 29, 2005|
|Van Nuys||Metro Local:154, 156, 233, 237, 656
Metro Rapid: 761
LADOT DASH: Van Nuys/Studio City
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 793, 798
|Van Nuys||776 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|Sepulveda||Metro Local: 234
Metro Rapid: 734
|Van Nuys||1,205 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|Woodley||Metro Local:164, 237||Van Nuys||None||October 29, 2005|
|Balboa||Metro Local: 164, 236, 237
LADOT Commuter Express: 573, 574
|Lake Balboa||270 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|Reseda||Metro Rapid: 741
Metro Local: 240
|Tarzana||522 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|Tampa||Metro Local: 242||Tarzana||n/a||October 29, 2005|
|Pierce College||Metro Local: 164, 243||Winnetka||373 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
|De Soto||Metro Local: 164, 244
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 796
|Winnetka||n/a||October 29, 2005|
|Canoga||Metro Local:164, 165
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 796
|Canoga Park||612 Spaces||December 27, 2006|
|Warner Center||Metro Local: 150, 161, 164, 245, 645
Metro Rapid: 750
LADOT Commuter Express: 422
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 791, 796
Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority: Conejo Connection
|Woodland Hills||n/a||October 29, 2005|
|Sherman Way||Metro Local: 162, 163
||Canoga Park||Park & Ride Lot||June 30, 2012|
|Roscoe||Metro Local: 152, 353
||Canoga Park||n/a||June 30, 2012|
|Nordhoff||Metro Local: 166, 364
LADOT DASH Northridge
|Chatsworth||n/a||June 30, 2012|
|Chatsworth||Metro Local: 158, 166, 167, 244, 245, 364
LADOT Commuter Express: 419
Simi Valley Transit: C
Santa Clarita Transit: 791
Metrolink Ventura County Line
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
|Chatsworth||Parking Expanded||June 30, 2012|
Maximum recorded average weekday boardings were 27,987 during September 2008. when coaches often departed the North Hollywood station already at capacity. Usage has fallen during the recession with average weekday boarding running at 20,593 in July 2009 and 21,902 in July 2010.
Monthly boardings rose from 548,111 boardings in June 2006 to 652,875 in June 2007 and then 679,578 in June 2008, a 24% increase in two years, less than the 47% increase seen on the new Gold Line during the period but much higher than the modest increases experienced on established lines during the same period. Studies suggest that most riders use the Orange Line as an extension to the Red Line subway service and predict that development of capacity on the Orange line would generate additional traffic on the subway.
During the first few months of operations on the Orange Line, there were collisions with cars at level crossings about once a week. There were several injuries but no fatalities and in each case the driver of the other vehicle was determined to be at fault. The LACMTA has noted that the Orange Line had about the same accident rate as other bus lines in the city on a per-mile basis, and has stated more recently that the line's accident rate is "less than half" of the MTA's entire fleet of buses. The Blue Line also had a significant number of collisions in its early years and currently has the highest fatality rate in North America.
After two collisions in November 2005 and one car driver was critically injured the MTA issued a "slow order" for every driver of every Orange Line bus; until further notice, all buses had to slow down to 10 mi/h (16 km/h) while going through every intersection along the transitway, as opposed to the 25–30 mi/h (40–50 km/h) speed limit originally put on line intersections. MTA officials pledged that they would review any and all ideas to improve safety on the line and report back to the public in a timely manner. They also installed white strobe lights on the sides of the buses to improve visibility.
In December 2005, MTA called for the installation of red-light cameras at many of the Orange Line's intersections. As of May 2006, installation is still continuing, and the cameras are supposed to be operational by August 2006.[dated info]
Some residents protested aspects of the Orange Line, saying that the buses should have been painted orange to be more noticeable (instead of the silver scheme they currently have). Others have concerns that the transitway does not employ railroad crossing-style arms or lights (or grade separations) to prevent motorists from crossing that roadway while a bus approaches, relying instead on traffic lights and warning signs.
There is concern that the Orange Line will soon reach its engineered capacity, and has exceeded its designed capacity during peak periods During peak hours, the signaling system is designed to balance the Orange Line buses with vehicle cross traffic. Adding more buses requires platooning, or bunching, which is the running of convoys of two or more buses together, similar to what rail achieves in having multiple cars per vehicle. Greater signal prioritization is also an option, and comes at the cost of decreasing cross street travel times and capacity. Another alternative requires the changing of state law or the granting of a Caltrans exemption from state law and the purchasing of 80-foot-long (24 m) buses. The maximum capacity of bus rapid transit lines and light rail lines is theoretically similar, but North American transit operators have little experience operating high-capacity bus rapid transit systems.
The right of way
The majority of the Orange Line is built on part of the former Southern Pacific Railroad Burbank Branch Line right-of-way. The line had passenger rail service from 1904 to 1920, with stations at several locations including North Hollywood and Van Nuys. It had Pacific Electric Red Car service from North Hollywood to Van Nuys again from 1938 to 1952.
Planning, legal wrangling and financing
The right-of-way was purchased by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (later merged into the current Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in 1991 along with several other railroad rights-of-way across the Southland for future use in transportation projects. Transit planners had seen an extension of the Metro Red Line subway as the most natural option as the line ends at the North Hollywood station, the current terminus of the "Chandler" right-of-way now in use by the Orange Line - and a subway extension would provide for an efficient "one seat" transit experience.
However, with the MTA's decline in revenue from sales taxes due to a recession, the subway's high cost of construction (in the billions of dollars), and Federal funds even more difficult to secure, a subway extension seemed financially out of the question at a time when other planned rail lines such as the Eastside subway extension and the current Gold Line section from Union Station to Pasadena (later revived, but not as originally planned) were being permanently cancelled and cut from the proposed system.
At the time, then-L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan had suggested some type of "trench" construction in which to lay the rails to save money and extend the subway trains to Warner Center: "Some way to get it out of the ground," Riordan said, referring to a trench's much lower cost to construct compared to deep-burrow tunnel boring machines (TBM), and to address the objections of residents for any elevated line. However, local community groups fiercely opposed such alternatives and, in fact, any rail construction that was not completely underground.
Objections cited included noise and perceived danger to a large Orthodox Jewish community which the right-of-way bisects. Because Shabbat prohibits driving or using electricity from sundown Friday through Saturday, those travelling to synagogue are compelled to walk and, while not backed by any studies, claim to be exposed to greater potential danger by crossing rails on foot, especially at night. Groups were organized and funded by the community to kill anything but a subway.
Prior to his 1993 conviction and prison sentence for accepting bribes, California state Senator Alan Robbins introduced a piece of legislation which prohibited the use of the corridor for any form of rail transit other than a "deep bore subway located at least 25 feet below ground." The California Legislature passed it as law in 1991.
In response, supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky promoted and Los Angeles County passed Proposition A in 1998, which prohibited Metro from using its county sales tax funding to build subways anywhere in the county.
With subway and light rail now legally prohibited, but with growing political pressure to use the right-of-way for "something," the only available, legal option to make use of the transit corridor was to build a busway - which was also strongly opposed by neighborhood groups who vowed to fight it.
$44.8 million of Proposition 108 money, (the Passenger Rail and Clean Air Bond Act of 1990) was used for the purchase of the right-of-way. But because this voter-approved bond specifically states that this money is to be used only for rail infrastructure and operation, the California Transportation Commission is entitled to repayment of said funds in current dollars unless the Orange Line is converted to rail within ten years of completion of the busway. This repayment deadline would be 2015.
Construction began in September, 2002. During construction the contractor experienced several delays: a dead body found tucked in a barrel along the alignment, and toxic soil had to be removed.
In July 2004, an appeal by a local citizens' group known as 'C.O.S.T. (Citizens Organized for Smart Transit)' was successful in convincing the California Court of Appeal to order a temporary halt to construction. They claimed a network of Rapid Lines should have been studied as a possible alternative to the Metro Orange Line. The legal maneuver was unsuccessful in killing the project, but costs to taxpayers for the 30-day shutdown were $70,000 per day ($2.1 million total) to hold workers and equipment while the matter was resolved.
The line opened on October 29, 2005. Construction had cost $324 million ($23 million per mile).
After opening, the line was busier than anticipated. Ridership grew rapidly, exceeding predictions, and the Orange Line now operates at full capacity during part of the day. An extension of the line to Chatsworth began construction on June 23, 2009.
On December 12, 2006, Metro closed the transitway between Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood and Fulton Avenue in Valley Glen (at the Valley College station) to repave the transitway surface that Metro says is showing signs of wear. The closure was expected to last approximately two weeks to rebuild the busway's crumbling pavement. Buses were to be detoured onto surface streets during the closure. No similar problems have occurred with the track on Metro's rail lines, which cannot be detoured.
In January 2007, Metro began testing a new, longer 65-foot (20 m) bus on the Orange Line for a test during the summer as a way of expanding capacity on the line. The agency had to receive a special waiver from Caltrans to operate the bus for testing purposes, since current state law only allows the operation of buses 60 feet (18 m) or shorter. 65-foot (20 m) buses have a seating capacity of 66 passengers and can accommodate 100 passengers. Officials have also looked into possibly using 80-foot (24 m) buses for future expansion.
From early October to mid December 2008, Metro again repaved portions of the transitway to repair wear on some segments of asphalt and upgrade the pavement to accommodate future traffic growth.
On June 23, 2009 construction began on a four-mile (6 km) extension from Canoga northward to the Metrolink station in Chatsworth. The LACMTA board approved the plan on September 28, 2006, and it was completed in 2012 at a cost of $215 million. This continues to follow the Burbank Branch railroad right-of-way. Revenue service opened on June 30, 2012.
When the Chatsworth extension of the Metro Orange Line opened on June 30, 2012, several NABI 45 foot Compo buses were assigned for the Metro Orange Line weekday peak period shuttle between Chatsworth station and Warner Center. The 45 foot compo buses are only assigned to run on the shuttle trips. These buses are painted in the Metro Local scheme. Additionally, these buses are similar to the buses used in the Metro Silver Line in terms of length and interior design (expect Silver Line buses are painted in a distinctive silver color scheme branding the Metro Silver Line).
Operationally, there are four different service patterns to the line. From start of service to approximately 7 p.m., seven days a week, service splits such that every other bus leaving North Hollywood serves Warner Center, and every other bus leaving North Hollywood serves Chatsworth. After 7 p.m., all buses travel to Chatsworth via Warner Center. During weekday peak hours, there is special shuttle service between Warner Center and Chatsworth. At all other times middays and weekends, passengers must transfer at Canoga Station, although since these are transfers within one "line" they are free.
Bob Hope Airport expansion
Another possible extension of the Orange Line proposed by transit advocates, including members of The Transit Coalition, is an extension from North Hollywood station to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, which would approximately go north on Vineland Avenue and east on Vanowen Street to the airport, to connect with the Metrolink station.
Another extension recently proposed is from the North Hollywood Station along Chandler Boulevard that would connect to the Burbank Downtown Metrolink Station. The 3.9 mile long arrangement would provide increased access to commuter rail as well as transit access to the pedestrian-friendly entertainment and retail district of Downtown Burbank at the proposed new terminus. Proponents of this expansion also argue that the extended line could eventually serve as the beginning of a San Fernando Valley / Orange Line to Pasadena / Gold Line connection.
As of October 2011, both the Bob Hope Airport and Downtown Burbank extension options are being studied, in addition to other potential BRT routes in Los Angeles County. The existing right-of-way east of North Hollywood Station is currently rail banked as a bike path.
Conversion to light rail
When purchased in 1991, the MTA originally considered the route for use as either light rail or a Red Line extension, and both of these ideas have been floated repeatedly by critics (see below). A rail route would allow longer vehicles, higher speed limits, and greater frequency.
Critics point out the possibility of converting the Orange Line to a light rail system. The conversion would be relatively cheap – former mayor Richard Riordan described it as the "least expensive rail alternative" of the lines under consideration. However, there are significant legal and political challenges. Metro is currently prohibited by law from converting the Orange Line to any form of rail other than a deep-bore subway. Due to a 1998 proposition, Metro also cannot spend the sales tax revenue from previously passed propositions, but can use revenue from subsequent tax increase propositions such as Measure R funds (conversion of Orange Line to rail is not included in any Measure R projects, but does include the "subway to the sea" along Wilshire Boulevard and other subway proposals) and other sources of revenue on deep-bore subways.
Many people have criticized the LACMTA for removing railroad tracks that were already in place for a significant length of the Orange Line's route, tracks which could have been revitalized and used as part of a true light rail system. This, however, is highly unlikely as in past light rail construction all existing rail is removed and new ballast and new rail with modern innovations such as continuous welds and concrete ties are laid in place that provide for faster, smoother and safer rides, and new tracks are placed a few feet from their original position to accommodate double-tracks and island platforms.
In October 2013, Los Angeles City 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge introduced a motion to support the repeal of Public Utilities Code section 130265 (1991's SB 211, or Robbins Bill) and support of any legislative and/or administrative action by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) which would prioritize the development of rail-based transit. The motion was passed by the City Council on October 29, 2013 and approved by the Mayor on November 6, 2013.
On October 27, 2005, two days before the line's official opening, a motorist driving with a suspended license ran a red light and collided with an eastbound bus at Vesper Avenue. There were no injuries.
During November 2005 there were two collision-caused injuries. In the first, a fare inspector on the bus was taken to a hospital for minor injuries after a 65-year-old female driver had an illegal right turn against a red light and struck an Orange Line bus near the crossing at Corbin Avenue in Reseda. In the second, one person was seriously injured and 14 others hospitalized after an elderly motorist apparently ran a red light while using a mobile phone. After the second accident, the MTA instructed all buses to slow down at intersections and installed white strobe lights on the sides of the buses to improve visibility. They said that they would review any and all ideas to improve safety on the line.
In October 2006, a delivery truck hit the side of a bus. One person was seriously injured and 16 received minor injuries.
The large buses, which have been dubbed "Metro Liners" by the LACMTA, are twenty feet longer than the standard forty-foot bus, and carry up to 57 passengers, which is about 50% more passengers. (A prototype 65 foot bus is also used for the Orange Line.) The buses are articulated in the center due to this longer length. They have three doors for faster boarding and alighting. Vehicles have no fareboxes because the Metro Orange Line operates on a proof-of-payment system, like the Metro Rail network.
Environmental impact reports and cost benefits of alternatives
On October 22, 2004, Metro issued a Revised Final Environmental Impact Report (RFEIR) that concluded that the Metro Orange Line was superior to each of three Rapid Bus Alternatives studied in the revised report. The RFEIR studied:
- Three East-West Rapid Bus Routes Alternative (Sherman Way, Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard)
- Five East-West Rapid Bus Routes Alternative (Sherman Way, Victory Boulevard, Oxnard Street, Burbank Boulevard, and Chandler Boulevard)
- Rapid Bus Network Alternative (as submitted by Citizens Organized for Smart Transit, this network of nine Rapid Bus routes would consist of three east-west routes and six north-south routes)
The revised FEIR examined the environmental impacts, costs and benefits of each Rapid Bus alternative and concluded:
- The Metro Orange Line would attract substantially more new riders than any Rapid Bus alternatives.
- The Metro Orange Line would result in the greatest system-wide travel time savings.
- The Metro Orange Line would maintain the most consistent travel time, which would not be compromised over time as the result of increasing traffic congestion.
- The Rapid Bus alternatives would all have lower capital costs than the Metro Orange Line because of their minimal construction requirements. However, because the Rapid Bus alternatives would attract fewer new riders than the Metro Orange Line, the Rapid Bus alternatives exhibit poor cost-effectiveness measured on a per-new-rider basis.
- The exclusive transitway operation of the Metro Orange Line has distinct land use benefits that would encourage transit-oriented development at/around stations and is consistent with adopted local planning documents.
- Operating costs for the Rapid Bus Network Alternative would be up to $10 million more each year than the cost to operate the Metro Orange Line.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LACMTA Orange Line.|
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- LA Metro: Orange Line map and stations - route map and station addresses and features
- LA Metro: Orange Line Timetable - schedules
- LA Metro: Orange Line Extension - 4 miles (6.4 km) extension under construction from Canoga Station north to Chatsworth Metrolink Station (2012).
- Orange Line history
- LA Metro: official (countywide) website - operator of the Orange Line
- Light Rail Now: "A Bus by Any Other Name Is Still ... a Train ? " - by The Light Rail Now project.
- Streetfilms: L.A.’s Orange Line: Bus Rapid Transit - and bike path ! - video introduction