A staff report to the Metro Board's Operations Committee unveils four corridors where the agency could implement a pilot bus-only lane before the end of 2019 (note: a scheduled presentation to the committee was unexpectedly withdrawn).
The shortlist, which was pared down from 25 candidates, was determined based on criteria that include current severity of delay, corridor ridership, and constructability. The four candidate corridors are:
Van Nuys Boulevard
With 17,420 daily boardings, Van Nuys Boulevard is the busiest north-south corridor in the San Fernando Valley. Metro is considering bus-only lanes on a 7.2-mile stretch of Van Nuys between Burbank Boulevard and San Fernando Road, which would result in a potential time savings of 3.6 minutes per passenger trip.
Metro is already planning a $1.3-billion light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard, which would run 9.2 miles between Sylmar and the Van Nuys Orange Line Station. Construction of that project is anticipated to begin as early as 2021.
However, the inclusion of Van Nuys Boulevard came as a surprise to L.A. City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and Nury Martinez, who represent the neighborhoods surrounding the corridor. In a motion introduced earlier this week in the City Council, Rodriguez and Martinez argue that "exploring this pilot project sends a conflicting message" to the community, as the bus lanes would need to be removed upon construction of the forthcoming light rail line. Bus rapid transit had previously been considered as an option for the Van Nuys corridor, until sufficient funding for a light rail line was secured through the passage of Measure M in 2016.
Both Councilmember’s write that "it is completely unacceptable," that their offices were not consulted by Metro or the Los Angeles Mayor's office in the decision to include Van Nuys Boulevard amongst the candidate corridors, pointing to potential impacts through the removal of vehicle travel and parking lanes. Instead of a bus lane, Rodriguez and Martinez argue in favor of using any uncommitted funds to accelerate construction of the light rail line, which is currently on pace to break ground in 2021.
Florence Avenue, one of the busiest east-west corridors in south Los Angeles County, sees 13,490 daily boardings. Metro is considering bus-only lanes on two segments of Florence - the first of which would span 4.1 miles between West Avenue in Inglewood and Central Avenue in South Los Angeles, and the second of which would run four miles between Eastern Avenue in Bell Gardens and Lestorford Avenue in Downey. Potential time savings amount to 4.1 minutes per rider.
Olympic Boulevard, which sees 9,109 daily boardings, cuts east-to-west through Central Los Angeles. The proposed segment of bus-only lanes would span 8.8 miles between Century Park East and Flower Street, linking Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles. The lanes would save an estimated 4.4 minutes of travel time per trip.
The existing Wilshire Boulevard peak-hour bus lanes notably exclude the portion of the street which travels through Beverly Hills.
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Metro's proposed bus-only lanes for MLK Boulevard would span approximately 3.3 miles between Broadway and Crenshaw Boulevard, a segment which closely parallels the Expo Line. Bus-only lanes would serve 3,204 daily passengers, and yield 1.7 minutes in time savings per trip.
Moving forward, Metro intends to engage in community outreach along each of the four corridors, before returning to the Board of Directors for further guidance. A selection of a pilot corridor and design elements has not occurred at this point in time.