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Metro mulling routes for rapid bus between North Hollywood and Pasadena

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The transit line would connect the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys

North Hollywood Metro stop
The bus would run from Pasadena to the North Hollywood Metro station (above).
Dan Reed | Flickr creative commons

Metro continues to plan for a new rapid bus line that would connect Pasadena to the San Fernando Valley, providing a new option for commuters along that often overlooked corridor.

The agency is holding four community meetings over the next two weeks to discuss possible routes for the project, which will add 16 to 18 miles of dedicated bus lanes between the North Hollywood Metro station and an eastern terminus somewhere in Pasadena.

According to Metro, commuters traveling along the 134 freeway and the surrounding surface streets which connect the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys undertake more than 700,000 trips daily, suggesting there’s plenty of demand for convenient transit in that area.

In 2016, Metro launched an express bus between Pasadena and North Hollywood, though ridership in its early months was lower than the agency had anticipated.

Similar to the Orange and Silver lines, the new rapid bus route would travel in bus-only lanes, making it less subject to traffic-related delays during peak commuter hours. Metro projects it will cost $267 million to build, with most of the money coming from the Measure M sales tax initiative.

What’s not clear yet is whether the bus will primarily travel along surface streets or freeways. A technical study released last year found that trips along the freeway option would be up to 28 minutes faster, but would also serve fewer riders.

The freeway option studied by Metro includes nine stations, and bypasses nearly all of Eagle Rock. A route focused on Colorado Boulevard and other streets would have 23 total stops, in North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock, and Pasadena. Metro projects this option would serve about 6,357 riders daily, as opposed to 4,655 for the freeway-focused route.

However the agency chooses to align the new bus route, it’s expected to open between 2022 and 2024. The project is one of 28 that Metro aims to finish in time for the 2028 Olympics.