YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

2 Metro Rapid Bus Lines to Make Their Debut on Sunday

A 21-mile Van Nuys Boulevard route and a 10-mile Florence Avenue link are added to the system, which is slated for completion in 2008.

June 26, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials climbed aboard a Metro Rapid bus Wednesday to promote two new bus routes that will begin operating Sunday along Van Nuys Boulevard and Florence Avenue.

The new routes -- approved last year -- are the fifth and sixth in the Metro Rapid system, which eventually will have 27 lines. The system, expected to be complete in 2008, will cost $101.8 million.

The distinctive red-and-white Rapid buses are fitted with electronic devices that extend green lights and reduce the length of red lights, saving riders time as they traverse crowded city corridors.

"Metro Rapid has consistently proven its value to our passengers as a quick, reliable and safe means of travel," said MTA Chief Executive Roger Snoble. "We think Metro Rapid makes sense and clearly our customers agree."

The 21.4-mile Van Nuys Metro Rapid line will operate along Van Nuys Boulevard between Foothill and Ventura boulevards, then continue through the Sepulveda Pass, connecting to the Wilshire/Whittier Metro Rapid bus line at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, officials said.

The 10.3-mile Florence Metro Rapid line will run on Florence Avenue from Garfield Avenue in the city of Bell Gardens to La Brea Avenue in Inglewood.

To speed their movement along city streets, Metro Rapid buses are fitted with a transponder that triggers data wires embedded in the pavement at regular intervals, officials said. Each time a bus passes over a data wire, information about its location and speed is sent to a controller box at the intersection.

If the bus is within 10 seconds of arriving at an intersection's signal, the controller box sends the data to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation computer in the basement of City Hall. The computer sends a message back to the controller box to lengthen a green light or shorten the red light, officials said. The entire process takes about one second.

"Metro Rapid's marriage of technology and common sense is producing travel times on congested streets in Los Angeles unheard of in bus systems in other major U.S. cities," said Wayne Tanda, general manager of the city's Department of Transportation. His agency developed the signal priority system used by the buses.

However, Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, a Sylmar-based consumer group, said Rapid bus lines make it more difficult for public transit users to get around the San Fernando Valley.

"Because of traffic and congestion, it often takes two or three light cycles to get a bus across an intersection, so the advantage is lost because buses can't go through cars," he said.

Reed also said he was concerned that disabled and elderly riders would have difficulty transferring between local and limited buses and Rapid buses because the bus stops are far apart.

"This is not a user-friendly concept," he said.

Even so, total ridership on the Wilshire/Whittier and Ventura Boulevard Rapid lines has increased by nearly 40% since the lines were launched in June 2000, with one-third of the increase coming from riders new to bus service, officials said.

Los Angeles Times Articles