Tag Archives: bus

LACMTA Valley Bus Ridership – September 2016

Here’s our fourth update on ridership on some of the main bus routes in the San Fernando Valley. As a reminder, for north-south corridors, we have San Fernando, Van Nuys, Sepulveda, and Reseda; for east-west, Ventura, Sherman, Roscoe, and Nordhoff.

For more detail on the sausage-making involved in converting routes that cover multiple corridors to a number for a single arterial road, see the first post.

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.

valley-raw-201609

Here are the 12-month rolling averages for weekdays.

valley-wk-201609

Saturday and Sunday 12-month rolling averages largely reflect weekday trends, as shown below. The previously noted uptick in Reseda ridership on weekends has reversed.

valley-sa-201609valley-su-201609

As discussed previously, the configuration of rapid routes on Van Nuys was changed in late 2014. Route 761, a rapid that went from Van Nuys in the Valley through Sepulveda Pass to UCLA in Westwood, was eliminated. At the same time, Route 734, the Sepulveda rapid, was extended from its previous terminus in Sherman Oaks through Sepulveda Pass to Westwood. Rapid service on Van Nuys was replaced with Route 744, a U-shaped route on Van Nuys, Ventura, and Reseda. An express rapid service, Route 788, serving the northern part of Van Nuys and connecting to the Orange Line, then running express on the 405 to Westwood, was also created.

LACMTAmap-2012LACMTAmap-2016

Here is the breakdown of weekday ridership on Van Nuys and Sepulveda by local and rapid on each corridor, and total local and total rapid on the two corridors combined.

valley-vns-201609

Since a longer time has passed, we can now also start to look at the 12-month rolling averages.

valley-vns-12mo-201609

The rapid route shuffle seems to have not had much impact on overall ridership trends. Weekday local ridership had already begun to trend down when the shuffle took place.

In contrast, it seems possible that weekend ridership has suffered. While Route 761 ran on weekends, Route 734 never has, and this was not changed when 761 was eliminated. Route 744 runs on weekends, but Route 788 does not; thus on weekends there is now no rapid service from the Valley to the Westside.

valley-vns-sa-201609

Again, we are speculating, but it appears that with the elimination of 761, riders who couldn’t cancel their trips and had no other option to get from the Valley to the Westside shifted to the Sepulveda local route, 234, producing a sudden jump in ridership. The increase in local ridership was smaller than the drop in rapid ridership, so overall ridership has trended down. However, the background trend has been a decline in ridership, so while possible, it is cannot be said with any certainty that the rapid route shuffle caused a decline.

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.

MetroMap

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.