That Rapid Bus Line From North Hollywood To Pasadena Is Officially Happening
After several years of study, community outreach, delays, refinements — and yes, some fighting — L.A. County transit officials approved a bus line through a highly traveled corridor linking the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
The North Hollywood-to-Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Corridor project will serve multiple communities as it crosses through four cities (L.A., Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena) and connect the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
The goal of Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, is to create speedier, more reliable bus service by taking buses out of car traffic. To do that, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking to turn some lanes used by cars into bus-only lanes.
The route will run roughly 19 miles with 22 stops, starting at Metro’s B/G (Red/Orange) Line Station in North Hollywood to the west and ending at Pasadena City College to the east. BRT functions more like “light rail on wheels,” with enhanced stations and prioritization at intersections.
Unlike the G (Orange) Line, which runs exclusively on a dedicated busway, this bus line — which Metro officials have often called “a challenging project” — would require a complex mix of different configurations as it runs through four cities and multiple communities.
Metro’s board voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the plan.
“This is in many ways a lifesaver for our communities, for the working members that go to the high employment centers both along the route and who are able to connect beyond,” board member and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian said before the vote. “Hopefully [it’s] something that can be held out as a sample for everyone else who's interested in moving with a BRT program.”
Where Will The Route Go?
The route is complex, which is hard to tell from just the map.
It features a variety of lane configurations, which means bus lanes sometimes run next to curbs, or are buffered by parking and bike lanes, or in the center of a roadway, or in normal traffic like most do now.
Here’s our attempt at a basic breakdown of the final route, west to east:
- The route begins at Metro’s North Hollywood Station in normal traffic lanes, then becomes a short side-running segment along Chandler Boulevard
- South on Vineland Avenue, the configuration has center-running lanes to Lankershim Boulevard
- Lankershim to the 134 onramp (where it joins regular freeway traffic), taking the bus into Burbank and exiting at Pass Avenue
- The bus would head south briefly in mixed-flow traffic, then turn northeast on Olive Avenue and switch to a side-running configuration
- East on Alameda Avenue for a station stop, then north on Buena Vista Street before getting back on Olive Avenue and continuing northeast to downtown Burbank in a side-running configuration (amended from earlier curb-running plan)
- Southeast on Glenoaks Boulevard, initially in mixed-flow before transitioning to a median-running configuration
- South on Central Avenue in side-running configuration into downtown Glendale
- East along Broadway in side-running configuration
- Broadway enters Eagle Rock neighborhood and merges into Colorado Boulevard
- The Colorado stretch starts as a side-running configuration, then transitions into a center-running configuration at Eagle Rock Boulevard
- Continue east on Colorado, then take the 134 onramp at Linda Rosa Avenue
- Bus takes the 134 into Pasadena, exits at Fair Oaks Boulevard and heads south in mixed-flow traffic
- East on Walnut Avenue, then south on Raymond Avenue, with a stop near the L (Gold) Line station at Memorial Park
- Continue south to Colorado Boulevard
- East on Colorado to Pasadena City College, where the route ends at Hill Avenue
Metro officials estimate travel times will drop 30-40% over existing bus service through the corridor.
“For example, from downtown Glendale it would only take 30 minutes to travel to PCC (Pasadena City College) — 18 minutes faster than trips today,” officials wrote on Metro’s site.
Options In Eagle Rock
Much of the contention around this project has been centered on how it would change Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock.
Some residents there wanted the bus line to run on the 134 Freeway, bypassing the heart of the community. Metro staff studied that option, but ultimately decided against it, saying it would serve fewer riders and miss vital connections.
Metro staff studied two options for how the bus line could look on Colorado and today recommended Option 2, which would convert a normal travel lane in both directions to bus-only, but preserve some street parking, bike lanes and medians many residents say they want.
Here's a simulation of how Option 2 would look. This is eastbound toward Eagle Rock Boulevard — where the lane reductions kick in — over to Townsend Ave. The route continues to Linda Rosa Ave., then hops on the 134 to Pasadena. pic.twitter.com/uHQjKeIqWe— Ryan Fonseca (@RyFons) April 28, 2022
Residents Weigh In
A mix of supporters and opponents spoke up during public comment at Thursday's board meeting, with the majority of callers focused on Eagle Rock. Dozens voiced their excitement for the plan, saying it will make the neighborhood more equitable and help reduce congestion by creating a reliable alternative to driving.
“I want to get out of my car, reduce my carbon footprint, reduce gridlock by taking my own vehicle off the road,” one caller said. “This project will drastically improve transit quality by reducing travel time, allowing me and thousands of others to take our thousands of cars off the road every day.”
Other residents who called in do not want street space traditionally allotted for cars to be taken away, calling it "lunacy" and asking that the project be tabled for further study. Some said they’re concerned about how drivers will react.
One caller asked: “who's going to be accountable when some angry driver leaves Colorado Boulevard and zooms down our streets and kills or maims one of our neighbors?” (As far as we know, traffic laws don’t go away when a bus lane goes in.)
L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de León, who represents Eagle Rock, also voiced his support, telling Metro’s board the project represents “a golden opportunity… that allows us to sustain our local businesses, sustain the small-town feel that Eagle Rockers value, improve transit services for working-class commuters and improved environmental aesthetics of the corridor.”
The councilmember, who is running for mayor, also called on Metro to establish a fund to help local businesses along that route “that will unquestionably be impacted by construction.” Metro board chair and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis earlier said the agency will explore ways to provide that assistance.
After hearing about 90 minutes of public comment, Metro’s board approved the project as recommended by planning staff — meaning the car travel lanes are set to be reduced on Colorado Boulevard.
The agency can start securing construction permits and launch the final design phase. Metro aims to open the bus line in 2024.
The project is slated to receive $317 million in funding through Measure M, the half-cent sales tax measure L.A. County voters approved in 2016.