Hollywood – Highland Park Bus

In a city with an established transit system based on an efficient grid design, it’s not often that you come across logical bus routes that don’t already exist. In Los Angeles, they usually relate to jurisdictional boundaries that have ceased to be relevant to most people’s lives: for example, the lack of continuous bus routes on Olympic and Pico between downtown LA and the Westside, or between the Valley and the Westside via Sepulveda Pass.

However, two such potential routes recently popped up in discussions on a better connection between Silver Lake and Los Feliz. The (neighborhood transportation committees) suggested LA Curbed on Dash routes, operated by the City of LA’s DOT, creating a U-shaped route running along Vermont, Fountain, and Hyperion, ending near Griffith Park Blvd.

This route will likely underperform, like the Dash routes it is proposed to replace, because of basic geometry: almost no one wants to travel in a U-shaped path. In fact, the current underperformance of neighborhood Dash routes, in turn, may be due to similar route geometry. Local circulator routes are generally a dubious bet, especially outside of central business districts. An existing LACMTA circulator route here, the 175, gets only 600 riders per day.

If the intent is truly to improve connections to Los Feliz and Silver Lake, there are two options that would improve both connections within the neighborhoods and connections to the rest of the city, increasing mobility and opportunity for transit users. First, let’s have a look at service in the area today.


Something in Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park area should jump out at us right away: a significant weakness in the east-west grid. This may be due to leftover historical influence of transit orientation towards downtown LA, or the underlying weakness of the east-west street grid, but whatever the reason, there is an opportunity to strengthen the bus grid, and provide a direct connection between major activity centers around Hollywood and east side neighborhoods like Glassell Park and Highland Park.

The less ambitious route would start at Fountain & Western, run east to Fountain & Hyperion, follow Hyperion to Atwater Village, and end at Brand & San Fernando in Glendale. Since this would a totally new route, there’s no need to follow outdated stop spacing practices, and we can set stops at every quarter to half mile to improve speeds. A westward extension all the way to La Cienega would be nice, but that would depend on a contentious plan to build the missing block of Fountain. Maybe it would be more feasible if it were restricted to buses only?

Hollywood – Atwater Village route in Scribble Maps

A more ambitious route would follow the above from Fountain & Western to Hyperion & Rowena, and then follow Rowena, Glendale, Fletcher, Eagle Rock, and York to Highland Park. The Highland Park end of the route would be tricky, because of the need to provide a transfer to the Gold Line and the absence of an ideally located station for that purpose. Avenue 54 is a logical cutoff from York to Figueroa, but leaves you 4 blocks south of the Highland Park Gold Line station, while taking York right to Figueroa leaves you 3 blocks north. Taking York and Mission to the Gold Line station in South Pasadena would make the route useless for transfers between the Gold Line to the south and the new bus route to the west.

Hollywood – Highland Park route in Scribble Maps

Because of topography, the street grid in this area isn’t great for east-west movements. This results in a longer route with more turns than we’d like, but it’s probably about the best we can do. This route would provide an alternative this route would be competitive with taking the Gold Line to LA Union Station and transferring to the Red Line, and would serve intermediate destinations not served by rail transit or existing east-west bus. While it certainly wouldn’t be one of LA Metro’s top performing routes, it should connect strong enough destinations to generate decent ridership, and is worth taking a look at.

8 thoughts on “Hollywood – Highland Park Bus

  1. keaswaran

    Why continue on Fountain to Western? I assume that’s just because this is meant as a replacement for the 175? If not, it seems better to turn north on Vermont to Sunset and then loop back. And in general, Fountain doesn’t seem like a street that needs its own bus line – both Sunset and Santa Monica have good bus service, and Fountain is supposed to be a bicycle-friendly street (it was my main route east and west while I was living in town). I suppose the fact that it’s sharrows rather than a lane at least means less leap-frogging. (I assume the line about filling in the missing block of Fountain was a joke – there’s a school there.)

    1. letsgola Post author

      Sorry for the long delay in response… Vermont/Sunset or Western/Sunset might indeed be a better terminus. And yes, that was a joke about Fountain… mostly 😉

  2. walkeaglerock

    Definitely agree that there needs to be better transit access between Los Feliz/Silver Lake and NELA. The LA River, Metrolink rail, and local topography likely explain the poor east-west transit between NELA and the neighborhoods west of it.

  3. Mehmet

    Nice. I’d just say instead of Fountain, originate the line at Hollywood and Vine, so people can connect directly to the 212, 217, Red Line, etc. Stay on Hollywood to pick up the major transfer point of Hollywood/Western, roll through the Von’s District, aka Little Five Points, aka the Vista Theater Intersection of Doom, then through the Akbar/Del Taco Intersection of Doom. Turn off Sunset north onto Hyperion at the Junction and you can pick up the 704/4 too without a big dip. After Atwater, like you said, you could either go up to Glendale, take Eagle Rock to Occidental and Colorado, or take York to Highland Park.

    1. letsgola Post author

      That’d work pretty well too, and Hollywood is a bigger destination than Fountain. On the other hand, Hollywood already has pretty solid service… so following Sunset to Sunset/Western would be yet another option.

      (Intersection of Doom… that’s awesome!)

  4. Luke Klipp

    Happy to see this post. I’m the chairman of the Los Feliz NC Transportation Committee that is looking at this and came up with the suggestion, mostly for conversational purposes.

    Just to clarify, yes the “U”-shaped route would be not so great for those interested in going a straight line, but have you looked at the *current* Los Feliz DASH route? LOL. That route actually looks more like a double-ended lasso. The intention behind the suggested routing was to have a consistent transit link into Griffith Park and the Observatory on one end, the Hyperion shops and community on the other, the Metro 780, 181/182, 2/302, 204/206/754, and Red Line in the middle, and the Los Feliz Vermont Ave shops as well. The current line isn’t worth the $0.50 to ride it unless you’re incapacitated. For those folks, I’m glad we have the service. It just doesn’t do anything to give people a real alternative to hopping in their cars to get groceries, get the kids home from school, or take a trip up into the park.

    You raise some good points. I would just say, though, that the “U”-shape actually isn’t a bad way to go, if you’ve read Jarrett Walker and seen his write-up of SF’s Muni system, many lines of which have a similar “U”-shaped routing. In the LFNC’s suggested routing, you would have eastern Los Feliz/Silverlake, which currently have zero transit service (not including an almost non-existent 175 line), being connected directly to the major Metro lines available in central Los Feliz/Silverlake. It would need to be frequent service to be useful, but that’s another question.

    The other issue is that DASH generally won’t run regular service where Metro already does. Oh, and there’s no $$ for a new line, so any changes should try and stay within the confines of what can be funded. That, of course, tends to prohibit just about any changes altogether.

    1. letsgola Post author

      Luke, thanks for reading, and apologies for taking so long to respond. I haven’t had a chance to dig it out but my recollection of Walker on SF was that he used some Muni routes as examples of straight routes making up part of the grid. I agree that the current Dash routes are not useful to many people (loops? noooo).

      And as you note, the funding and jurisdictional issues are big challenges unto themselves…

      1. Luke Klipp

        Thanks for the reply! Appreciate the thoughtful post and the opportunity to say a few words.

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