LACMTA Bus Ridership – San Fernando Valley Edition – February 2015

We’ve been looking at LA Metro rail ridership and Westside bus ridership for a while; now, let’s expand our coverage to look at some of the main routes in the San Fernando Valley. For north-south corridors, we’ll take San Fernando, Van Nuys, Sepulveda, and Reseda; for east-west, Ventura, Sherman, Roscoe, and Nordhoff.

The Valley is frequently thought of as suburban, but like much of LA, “suburban” includes some major business nodes (Warner Center, Sherman Oaks, Universal City, & Burbank). There are urban residential densities of over 25,000 per square mile in the apartment neighborhoods like Van Nuys, North Hollywood, and Panorama City, the latter of which has several census blocks with densities over 50,000 per square mile. Like the Westside, the expansion of apartments & condos in the Valley is almost totally stymied by zoning constraints. The selected corridors exclusively serve the Valley, with the exception of Sepulveda (connecting to the Westside) and San Fernando (connecting to downtown LA).

Because some of the Metro bus routes serving the Valley operate on more than one of these corridors, there’s a little bit more sausage-making involved in generating the ridership numbers. Route 150, operating on Ventura, branched onto Reseda in the west Valley; the Reseda portion has been rebranded as Route 240 but ridership data is only reported for Route 150. The routes on Van Nuys Blvd, 233 and 761, formerly continued south through Sepulveda Pass to Westwood; however, that function was recently reassigned to the Sepulveda routes, 234 and 734. At the same time, Route 761 was combined with the Reseda Rapid, Route 741, to form Route 744, a U-shaped route following Reseda, Ventura, and Van Nuys. Ridership has been apportioned from routes to corridors based on boardings at each stop, as provided by commenter Calwatch on previous posts. Ridership through Sepulveda Pass is assigned to the Sepulveda Corridor. Almost all Route 233 ridership remains assigned to Van Nuys, but just over 25% of former Route 761 is assigned to Sepulveda.

Here’s the raw data. As always, highlighted cells represent top 10 ridership months since January 2009. All routes put up their best months in the 2009-2010 period; this may be due to the recession reducing car ownership.


Here are the 12-month rolling averages for weekdays. Van Nuys stands out as the clear winner among Valley bus routes. Van Nuys checks in with ridership in the low 20,000s, not much below the Orange Line’s ridership in the high 20,000s. One might wonder how ordinary bus routes on Van Nuys could have nearly as much ridership as the Orange Line BRT, which is supposedly near capacity; the answer, of course, is that the Orange Line isn’t anywhere near capacity.


While these numbers aren’t shabby, they’re nowhere the Westside routes we looked at, with Wilshire, Vermont, Western, and Santa Monica well exceeding Van Nuys. After Van Nuys, most routes cluster together in the 10,000-15,000 boardings per day range, reflecting the distributed nature of density in the Valley. Reseda and Nordhoff are the lowest, likely because the west Valley and north Valley have lower densities and these routes are the furthest west and furthest north of those examined. These routes offer untapped possibility, though – Cal State Northridge is located at their intersection, with a student population of over 38,000, comparable to UCLA’s 42,000. UCLA has been able to reduce faculty driving alone mode share to 51% and students to 25% despite not yet having rail service.

Saturday and Sunday 12-month rolling averages largely reflect weekday trends, as shown below.

valley-Sa-20150418 valley-Su-20150418

6 thoughts on “LACMTA Bus Ridership – San Fernando Valley Edition – February 2015

  1. Jason

    I’ve always been intrigued and baffled by split in coverage from municipal buses and county (Metro) buses in the city. It was one of the bigger barriers to me switching over to transit initially. Is there any precedent for municipal / county consolidation? Seems like you could have a more efficient & cohesive system in the SFV, and elsewhere, if you didn’t have DASH, commuter express, Burbank Bus, & Glendale Bee-line all covering the area with different fares, payment options, and operation hours. It’s a big mental barrier to entry for people I talk to about public transportation.

    That being said I’ve become a big convert to the Commuter Express. Cheaper than Metro fare, faster, and an overall more pleasant ride. I am able to be productive (laptop) in a way that isn’t really possible on the red line. An option like that with a Leap-style (semi) on-demand app could lure a lot of people out of their car.

    1. calwatch

      The municipal operators pre-1980 are enshrined in State law and can’t be changed without passing a law through the legislature, which will not happen since suburban constituents vote and want their local control. LADOT Commuter Express routes are old RTD buses which were terminated when the countywide carrier, the Rapid Transit District, canceled the service because they thought it was unproductive.

      Foothill Transit formed for the same reason – the eastern San Gabriel Valley was getting decimated by RTD service cuts, and county supervisor Pete Schabarum believed that, by contracting out service, they could get more for their money – and they have. When you compare the marginal lines that Foothill Transit operates in the San Gabriel Valley and their average passengers per hour, about half that of Metro service in the San Fernando Valley, you can argue that the SGV made the right choice to contract out. “Efficient and cohesive service” means that marginal outer suburb services, like the 168 on Lassen, get cancelled even though they may get 30 passengers an hour. As far as the post-1980 carriers (Burbank, Glendale, et al) that is Proposition A sales tax money, which can only be used on transit or transit improvements, not on roads. So many cities spend their money on these facilities. Others spend them on parking structures for transit, Metrolink station maintenance and security, bus shelters, or senior dial a ride.

  2. calwatch

    For Metro reporting purposes the 150 and 240 are considered one line. Other anomalies in the data: Line 9 is the Dodger Stadium Express and limited and local lines are grouped under the parent local line. The following lines are grouped together: 10 and 48, 14 and 37, 35 and 38, 51, 52, and 352, 78, 79, and 378, 84 and 68 (until they were disconnected recently with 28 re-extending to Eagle Rock), 90 and 91, 150 and 240, 163 and 162, 180 and 181, 190 and 194, 211 and 215, 236 and 237, 243 and 242, 245 and 244, 267 and 264, 487 and 489, and 687 and 686.

  3. Pingback: LACMTA Bus Ridership Update – San Fernando Valley May 2015 | Let's Go LA

  4. Pingback: LACMTA Valley Bus Ridership Update – January 2016 Edition | Let's Go LA

  5. Pingback: LACMTA Valley Bus Ridership – September 2016 | Let's Go LA

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