Who would have thought that one of the best Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
systems in the U.S. would be in its most crowded, congested, sprawling
city? Well check this out. It’s really fabulous.
In October 2005, the Los Angeles County Metro Authority
(or Metro) debuted a new 14-mile BRT system in the San Fernando Valley
using a former rail right-of-way. Unlike many "rapid" bus transit
systems in the U.S., the Orange Line is true BRT – it features a
dedicated roadway that cars may not enter, has a pre-board payment
system so buses load quickly and efficiently, and uses handsome,
articulated buses to transport passengers fast – sometimes at speeds approaching 55 mph! The roadway is landscaped so ornately you could almost call it a bus greenway.
But that’s not all. The corridor also boasts a world class bike and
pedestrian path which runs adjacent to the BRT route for nearly its
entire length, giving users numerous multi-modal options. Each station
has bike amenities, including bike lockers and racks, and all the buses
feature racks on the front that accommodate up to three bikes.
Perhaps the biggest problem is its soaring success: ridership numbers
have some calling for the BRT to be converted to rail, and Metro is
exploring ways to move more passengers, including buying longer buses.
Plus: expansion plans
are underway. Whatever way you slice it, this is truly a hit with
Angelenos. A formerly 81 minute trip now takes 44-52 minutes – over an
hour in round-trip savings – making a bona fide impact in the lives of