Orange Line (Los Angeles Metro)
|Metro Orange Line|
Metro Liner at North Hollywood Station
|Type||Bus rapid transit|
Chatsworth / Warner Center
|Daily ridership||22,469 (July 2016)|
|Opened||October 29, 2005|
|Character||At-grade exclusive right-of-way|
|Depot(s)||Division 8 (West Valley)|
|Rolling stock||NABI 60-BRT & 45C-LFW (shuttle)|
|Line length||18 mi (29.0 km)|
The Orange Line is a bus rapid transit line in the Metro Busway network in Los Angeles County, California. It operates between Chatsworth or Warner Center (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 Busway network is the Metro Silver Line. The 18-mile (29 km) Orange Line uses a dedicated, exclusive right-of-way with stations located 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. Unlike the Silver Line, which has a street-running sections within downtown Los Angeles and San Pedro, the Chatsworth branch of the Orange Line runs in a dedicated right-of-way for its entire length. The Warner Center branch includes several blocks of street running in the Warner Center area.
The line, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), opened on October 29, 2005, with a construction cost of $324 million. The route follows part of the Southern Pacific Railroad's former Burbank Branch Line which provided passenger rail service from 1904 to 1920; it was subsequently used by Pacific Electric streetcars 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 Metro's "Metro Rail & Busway" 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. In the planning stages the transitway was known as the San Fernando Valley East-West Transitway, and later the Metro Rapidway.
Metro Orange Line buses operate daily between 3:45am and 1:00am. 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: 7:23pm
- Westbound to Warner Center Transit Hub (alternating trips during the day)
- First Bus: 4:50am
- Last Bus: 7:29pm
- Westbound to both Warner Center and Chatsworth
- First Bus: 7:36pm
- Last Bus: 12:55am
Since the Orange Line service operates to meet the final Metro Red Line trains at North Hollywood, there is nearly 24-hour "owl service" Friday and Saturday nights, with the last bus departing Chatsworth via Warner Center at 1:46am, returning from North Hollywood at 2:55am.
|Stations||Connections||City/ Neighborhood||Parking||Date Opened|
|North Hollywood||North Hollywood||951 Spaces||October 29, 2005|
||Van Nuys||776 Spaces|
||Lake Balboa||270 Spaces|
||Canoga Park||612 Spaces||December 27, 2006|
||Woodland Hills||October 29, 2005|
||Canoga Park||207 Spaces||June 30, 2012|
Maximum recorded average weekday boardings were 31,904 during September 2013. While usage initially fell during the Great Recession with average weekday boarding running at 22,669 in 2010, it has since rebounded, averaging 28,263 weekday boardings so far in 2015.
Collisions with automobiles occurred weekly during the first several months of operations. Metro 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 that the line's accident rate is "less than half" of Metro'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.
In December 2005, Metro called for the installation of red-light cameras at most intersections.
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 train. 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 majority of the Orange Line is built on part of the former Southern Pacific Railroad Burbank Branch railbed. 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. The railbed was purchased by the predecessor to Metro in 1991 along with several other railroad rights-of-way for future use in transportation projects. Transit planners envisioned an extension of the Metro Red Line subway as the most natural option because the purchased right-of-way begins at North Hollywood station.
However, with a decline in operating revenue, the subway's high cost of construction, and Federal funds difficult to secure, a subway extension project seemed financially out of the question at a time when other planned rail lines were already being cancelled, such as the Eastside subway extension and the Gold Line section from Union Station to Pasadena (later revived).
Then-L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan 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 line 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 the line 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 during what was called "the days of LA anti-rail zealotry". Governor Jerry Brown eventually repealed the Robbins Laws (via State Assembly Bill 577 [AB 577]) on July 8, 2014, permitting the corridor to be used for railroad purposes.
Busway option proposal
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 legally prohibited, but with growing political pressure to use the former railbed for "something," the only available, legal option to make use of the transit corridor was to build a busway—which was also immediately opposed by neighborhood groups, however a restriction on busways was never included in the already-passed Robbins law—allowing it to move forward
$44.8 million of Proposition 108 money, (the Passenger Rail and Clean Air Bond Act of 1990) was used for the purchase of the roadbed. Since the voter-approved bond specifically stated that the money was 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 a railway 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, claiming a network of Rapid Lines should have been studied as a possible alternative to the Metro Orange Line. The legal maneuver was unsuccessful in terminating 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 lawsuit was eventually thrown out of court by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe who also ordered C.O.S.T. members to pay $37,415.81 to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for document-preparation work related to the case.
The line opened on October 29, 2005, at a final cost of $324 million ($23 million per mile).
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.
In January 2007, Metro began testing a longer 65-foot (20 m) bus to increase capacity. 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.
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. Metro's 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 abandoned SP Burbank Branch roadbed. 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 (except 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.
In January 2017, Metro proposed changes to the line which, after being vetted by the San Fernando Valley Service Council, would begin in December 2017. These include the elimination of the Warner Center station, due to its lack of use after the abandonment of the adjacent Westfield Promenade, to be replaced by a Warner Center circulator shuttle that would connect to the Canoga Station; and a short line that would only go between the Reseda and North Hollywood stations (ridership decreases sharply between Reseda and Chatsworth). 
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 abandoned roadbed east of North Hollywood Station was converted into the Chandler Bikeway rail trail.
Conversion to light rail
When purchased in 1991, Metro originally considered the route for use as either light rail or a Red Line extension: both ideas have been discussed repeatedly by train advocates. A railroad route would allow longer vehicles and higher operating speeds. The conversion back to a railroad would be relatively inexpensive: former mayor Richard Riordan described it as the "least expensive rail alternative" of the lines under consideration. However, there are several legal and political challenges. Until 2014, Metro was prohibited by law from converting the Orange Line to any form of rail other than a 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 subways.
Metro has been criticized 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. 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 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.
In April 2015, a report prepared for Metro estimated that conversion of the Orange Line to light rail would take two to three years and cost between $1.2 and $1.7 billion. This price would include not only the upgraded infrastructure but the vehicles to run on it. Improvements to the busway to improve capacity, including more and larger buses and grade separation at busy intersections, could be implemented for $230 to $350 million. The report noted that if not upgraded in some way in the near future, the Orange Line would soon reach capacity at rush hours.
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, Metro 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 Metro, 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 and 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.
- "Metro Ridership interactive tool". LA County Metro.
- "Facts At A Glance". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
- "Orange line timetable" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
- "Orange Line - Map and Station Locations" (pdf). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
- "New Canoga Station, Park & Ride Lot Opens on Western Terminus of Metro Orange Line". Metro.net December 27, 2006.
- "Similar bumpy roads for transit in L.A., Houston - Crashes raised safety concerns for light rail here and California's Bus Rapid Transit".
- Liu, Caitlin. "Six Hurt in Latest Orange Line Crash". Los Angeles Times.December 8, 2005.
- LA Times – Orange Line bus crash hurts 17
- Wells, John V (July 18, 2000). "Train Whistle at Rail Grade Crossings". Congressional Testimony.
- Liu, Caitlin and Amanda Covarrubias. "Orange Line Model Beset by Crashes". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 2005.
- Liu, Caitlin. "Orange Line Buses May Get Strobe Light Signals". Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2005.
- Liu, Caitlin. "After Crashes, Red-Light Cameras to Be Installed at 12 Orange Line Crossings" Los Angeles Times. Dec 15, 2005. B1.
- "Busway so popular, it's nearing capacity" (PDF).
- "Bus System Design Features That Significantly Improve Service Quality And Cost Efficiency".[broken link]
- "Burbank Branch History, by Bruce Petty, Los Angeles River Railroads, retrieved December 5, 2010
- "Is a Busway the Valley Way?; The region's Orange Line is ready to roll but some wonder if it will do much to curtail traffic.", by Amanda Covarrubias, The Los Angeles Times, page A1, October 18, 2005
- "Hahn Tiptoes in Front of Buses, Is Flattened.", by Steve Lopez, The Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2001
- "U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals USA Vs Jackson No.94-10095 D.C. No. CR.-93-00118-EJG Opinion", by FLOYD R. GIBSON , GOODWIN, and HUG, Circuit Judges, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, April 12, 1995
- Broverman, Neal (February 4, 2014). "State Could be About to Repeal Ban on Light Rail in the Valley". LA Curbed. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
- "Legal arguments against the busway".
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- Rong-Gong Lin (2007-08-25). "MTA super-sizes bus service". Los Angeles Times.
- Guccione, Jean. "MTA to Run Orange Line Busway to Chatsworth". Los Angeles Times. September 29, 2006. B1.
- extension diagram
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- Sotero, Dave (October 18, 2011). "Orange Line Bridges: Are they strong enough for light rail?". The Source. Metro. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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- "Legal Arguments Against the Busway". San Fernando Valley Transit Insider. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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- Liu, Caitlin. "Car Hits Bus on Transitway Test Run, Raising Concerns for Safety", Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2005.
- "Car Collides With Orange Line Bus". ABC7. November 2, 2005. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
- "Busway Safety Controls Boosted 10 MPH Speed Ordered Entering Intersections.".
...in the aftermath of Wednesday's collision that sent 15 people to the hospital, one with a severe injury. The collision, one of two Wednesday, was caused by a 78-year-old motorist who ran a red light, possibly while talking on a cell phone.
- Silverstein, Stuart (October 24, 2006). "Orange Line bus crash hurts 17". Los Angeles Times.
A crowded Orange Line bus collided with a delivery truck in the east San Fernando Valley on Monday afternoon, leaving one person seriously hurt and 16 others apparently with minor injuries, authorities said.
- "Revised Environmental Report for Metro Orange Line Corridor Released; Study Examines Rapid Bus Alternative" (Press release). Metro. October 22, 2004.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LACMTA Orange Line.|
- 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.