Why not put BRT stops on the Freeway?

Placing transit stations on freeways is a terrible idea. Freeways are loud, remote from destinations, disconnected from transfers to local bus service, and sites of dangerously high levels of pollution. Los Angeles already has examples of what it looks like to place transit stations on freeways and the result is hostile for transit riders.

Metro has already analyzed locating the North Hollywood-Pasadena BRT line along the 134 Freeway and determined that to do so would bypass central Eagle Rock and require transit users to make long, time consuming transfers between the 134 Freeway and central Eagle Rock. It is for this reason that the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce noted in 2016, “Having the BRT alignment run along the 134 freeway would totally cut off service to Eagle Rock and would do a major disservice to our community.”

Metro analysis supports the reality that freeway-running BRT is less useful and attractive to Angelenos, calculating that a freeway-running alignment would result in 27.8% lower daily ridership for the BRT line relative to a street-running alignment that serves Eagle Rock on Colorado Boulevard.

More info on what BRT on the 134 would mean:

Is Running BRT on the Freeway Faster Than Running it on the Street?

No. While the freeway option may be faster in end-to-end service for Pasadena to North Hollywood residents trying to bypass Eagle Rock, this metric overlooks the community of Eagle Rock. With a freeway option, it would take longer for Eagle Rock residents to reach North Hollywood, Burbank, North Glendale, or Pasadena.

Let’s say somebody walks to Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard from their home 5 minutes away. Then they wait only couple minutes for a Metro 180/181 because they timed their arrival perfectly. Once they are on the bus, it then takes an estimated 8 minutes to travel to the intersection of Harvey Drive and Wilson Avenue which is in the vicinity of the nearest BRT stop if the line runs on the 134 freeway. The rider has just spent 15 minutes, including a walk and a transfer just to get to a bus stop. Now, unless the transfer is timed perfectly, there’s a good chance the rider will need to wait at least 3 to 5 minutes to actually hop on the BRT. Suddenly it has taken almost 20 minutes simply to get on the actual BRT line under ideal circumstances with minimal waiting. With one poorly timed transfer or if the first bus is late or too early, a rider could easily spend 30 minutes just getting to the Harvey stop with the freeway alignment. Don’t be fooled into thinking the freeway option is better for Eagle Rock!

How Many Stops in Eagle Rock Would the Freeway Option Provide?

None. The closest stop would be at the intersection of Broadway and Harvey Drive in the City of Glendale, over a quarter of a mile from the Eagle Rock Plaza. Metro confirms on page 20 (ES-12) of its Alternatives Analysis that a freeway-running alignment for BRT, “Does not serve the Eagle Rock community.” This project is being funded with our tax dollars and our community deserves to be served!

Metro’s proposed freeway alignment would completely skip over Eagle Rock!
(Page 21 of Metro’s Alternatives Analysis)

If the Freeway is Faster in “End-to-End” Service, Why isn’t it Superior to a Street-Running Route?

In the Alternatives Analysis, Metro states that the end-to-end travel time of running the BRT along the freeway is 43 minutes during peak hours and 41 minutes during mid-day traffic. Meanwhile, the street running alternative is a consistent 65 minutes end-to-end throughout the day. However:

  1. Most trips along the route would not be end-to-end trips. A trip is more likely to be from Eagle Rock to Burbank or Glendale than Pasadena to North Hollywood.
  2. End-to-end travel times are irrelevant for Eagle Rock stakeholders since the proposed freeway route had zero stops in 90041 
  3.  If Eagle Rockers try to travel along the Noho-Pasadena route with the freeway option, it would require Eagle Rockers make at least one transfer; if that transfer is missed, they  could end up waiting 20 minutes or more for the next local bus. This makes the freeway option not only more time-consuming, but less reliable for Eagle Rock stakeholders.

Isn’t there a Proposal From a Local Group to Run the BRT on the Freeway with Stops at Harvey (within City of Glendale) and at North Figueroa Street/Colorado Boulevard?

There is a proposal from a group called “Eagle Rock 411” to put the BRT on the 134 freeway and bypass direct service to Eagle Rock. This proposal is bad for Eagle Rock bus riders because:

  1. It adds an unnecessary transfer for anyone wanting to travel to or from the majority of Eagle Rock. 
  2. Eagle Rock 411 claims the freeway is faster. However, the Eagle Rock 411 group uses a time estimate that was developed without a stop at North Figueroa Street/Colorado Boulevard in mind. According to Google Maps, servicing a stop at Figueroa a stop would add 4-6 minutes to exit the 134 Freeway at Figueroa and get back on by looping around to reach an on-ramp to get back on the freeway, plus time for an additional station stop. Even though end-to-end travel times are not relevant for Eagle Rock stakeholders aiming to get to and from destinations, the result of adding this stop could mean raising Metro’s estimate for end-to-end travel time to 47- 51 minutes. While we challenge the goal of speeding North Hollywood and Pasadena stakeholders past our community’s businesses, the reality is that Eagle Rock 411’s proposal is not significantly more competitive in end-to-end travel times relative to 56 minutes as estimated for Metro’s Hybrid alignment scheme. When viewed from the perspective of Eagle Rock stakeholders making trips to adjacent cities, it is difficult to justify a freeway-running alignment being faster, and such a claim is not backed by any objective analysis prepared by Metro.
  3. Eagle Rock 411 states they support running the BRT on the freeway because there is an existing parking lot near the Eagle Rock Recreation Center that can be used as a commuter parking lot. However, if someone parks there, they would need to walk a quarter of a mile to get to a bus stop at Colorado Boulevard/North Figueroa Street. If someone lives near Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue, are we supposed to believe they are more likely to take transit if it requires driving to Eagle Rock Park, parking in a commuter lot and walk 5-8 minutes to get to a bus stop at Colorado Boulevard/Figueroa? If a park-and-ride trip does not offer a significantly quicker route due to a long walk between parking and getting on transit, the reality is that most people will just continue driving rather than parking remotely.