How often do we hear residents say, after looking at old photos of the neighborhood, “They really ought to bring back streetcars to Eagle Rock!”
Yes, we do have bus lines, but they tend to be slow and get stuck in traffic caused by too many cars on the road. Unlike the buses of today, the streetcars we fondly look back upon operated in a dedicated right-of-way. In other words, by having their own lanes, the trolleys of yester-year were separated from car traffic and were less likely to get stuck in traffic. So while our yearning for rail stems partially from nostalgia, it also comes from an understanding that public transit works best when it has quality dedicated infrastructure.
But surely the idea of restoring a system of dedicated transit lanes and correcting one of the greatest mistakes in Los Angeles transportation is nothing more than a dream, right? Wrong!
In November 2016, Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of Measure M, a half cent sales tax to help expand and improve public transit countywide. Among the projects included in the Measure M plan is a Bus Rapid Transit line connecting the Red Line subway in North Hollywood to the Gold Line light rail in Pasadena. Not only will this line go through Eagle Rock, the first public meeting about this project will take place 5pm-6:30pm this Wednesday, January 25, at Metro HQ’s Henry Huntington Conference Room (3rd Floor). If necessary environmental review and documentation proceed as planned, the project could break ground as soon as 2020.
Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT for short, typically borrows elements from both rail service and regular bus service. It takes this pragmatic approach to reduce costs while providing an attractive rail-like service. Some local examples include the Metro Orange Line (which operates completely in a dedicated right-of-way) and the Metro Silver Line (which operates in a dedicated right-of-way where there is space but also has portions operating in mixed traffic lanes– sort of like the old trolley lines).
So will the collective dream of so many Eagle Rockers to restore quality transit to the neighborhood soon come true? Well, it’s not that simple, unfortunately. A specific route for the BRT-line has yet to be determined and while all potential routes will certainly go through Eagle Rock, some routes being considered actually will not serve the neighborhood at all. How is this possible?
Metro is very seriously considering (and some speculation say favoring) a route that would have the BRT-line run along the 134 Freeway through Eagle Rock. Due to the lack of access points to the freeway through the neighborhood, a route operating along the 134 would not features any stops in Eagle Rock and squash any hope of bringing back what we once had decades ago. An alternative to the 134 routing would be to have the service run along Colorado Boulevard. A Colorado Boulevard route, by contrast, could provide at least a couple stops in the neighborhood and enhance our access to public transit.
Have you ever wanted to go to Pasadena for dinner without the hassle of parking? Or catch a flight at the Burbank Airport without coordinating with someone to drop you off (or pick you up when you return)? Maybe you just want to go to the Eagle Rock Plaza without needing to wait 20 minutes for the local 180 bus. Such trips, and many more, will be made vastly more convenient and possible if Metro’s proposed BRT-line operates along Colorado Boulevard. The long-term vision for this BRT-line, by the way, is to eventually upgrade it to light rail!
We urge our readers and neighbors to attend this Wednesday’s meeting to voice their support for a route that operates on Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock. The specifics will be hammered out eventually, but it is critical to attend this meeting to keep a Colorado Boulevard option on the table. Find the details here:
- Date: January 25, 2017
- Time: 5pm-6:30pm (it’s ok to show up late if going directly from work)
- Location: Metro HQ Henry Huntington Conference Room (3rd Floor), One Gateway Plaza. (This is located in the tall building at Union Station.)
If you are unable to attend this meeting but would nonetheless like to voice your support, consider sending this sample email:
To: email@example.com, ButlerM@metro.net, DeLozaGutierrezL@metro.net, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
BCC (optional): email@example.com
Subject: I Support a Street Route for Proposed NoHo – Pasadena BRT line.
I understand Metro is considering a BRT line to connect North Hollywood and Pasadena. I support any route that would serve the Eagle Rock community by operating the BRT along Colorado Boulevard. I oppose a route that would operate the line along the 134 Freeway through Eagle Rock because it would effectively eliminate any practical way of Eagle Rock residents to conveniently access this new public transit resource.
This is not the first time Metro has faced the challenge of deciding between a street route or freeway route. In 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti was asked in reference to the Gold Line Eastside Extension, whether he supported a street alignment along Washington Boulevard or a parallel freeway alignment. Garcetti responded “The ridership is stronger [along the street route].” I believe that a Colorado Boulevard route will likely produce higher ridership and offer greater potential long-term than operating BRT along the 134 Freeway.
Eagle Rock resident
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This article doens’t frame the choice correctly.
Going down Colorado is an option, but to work would require it’s own lane, large stations and signal priority. That means losing space on Colorado blvd and making crossing Colorado more difficult. Taking away the median in some places, parking in others, and a reduction in left turns lanes would be necessary. While Colorado is certainly wide enough to make do with a bus taking up that space, I am not sure everyone in the community would want that.
If the BRT did end up on HOT lanes in the middle of the 134, it could still have stops that served Northern Eagle Rock. A foot bridge over the east bound section of the 134 would put passengers less than a half mile walk from Colorado blvd. Another bridge could connect Eagle Rock Hillside Park directly to Eagle Rock.
I certainly hope that Eagle Rock chooses to make the sacrifices along Colorado to allow for a BRT to run quickly between Pasadena and Burbank with stops right along main street. If not I think a highway option works decently well. The worst option would be running across Colorado in mixed traffic, stopping at every red light and without offboard payment. Then it’s just a very expensive bus.
You raise valid points but convincing residents north of Colorado Blvd (generally more affluent, conservative) that their quiet streets with ample on-street parking should be home to a new foot bridge to access transit in the 134 is also a tough sell. Surely people would complain about “attracting wrong element”, loss of street parking due to transit riders, and making their once sleepy streets more busy.
At some point though, the community needs to put it’s needs ahead of individual property owners.
You can alleviate the parking problem by building no parking at the stop there, and building a large lot at a stop near route 2(in the cloverleaf armpit). Buy up 1-2 properties for a station near Eagle Rock Blvd or Townsend Ave and make a residential parking zone around those stations. The stations then become walk up/kiss and ride only.
As for the ‘wrong element’ There is already a bus nearby. Undesirables can get there if they like already. I guess they will fight it any which way.
Cost is going to be a huge issue. Metro has very little money allocated to this in the near term. Expecting too much in the way of separation or mitigation will likely shelve the problems for decades if not forever.
Not saying it’s not possible, but raising what would be actual concerns (not defending them). And now, what at first seemed easier (running down center of freeway), seems like it involves just as much work and money to make successful.
On the surface people might see the 134 option as a “no loss” option but the details make it messy and a freeway IMO is such an unnatural place for transit it needs to be propped up by all these other factors. Running transit on a main street seems more natural but no doubt will occupy a larger proportion of the street space, which makes that first bite tough to swallow for many.
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I would also like to point out that whatever route is chosen will be the forerunner for it’s potential conversion to light rail later down the road. The below grade Colorado option is my favorite, imagine taking that train from Eagle Rock to new stops at the Glendale Galleria, the Zoo, Warner Brothers, Toluca Lake Village! Don’t look at it like now, look at it in the future.
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