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.