Here’s an excellent video on the Orange BRT in Los Angeles. It’s interesting to see rail-emulation features of the line: dedicated right-of-way, off-board payment, low-floors, etc. However, on my trip on the Orange Line I noticed that some sections of the line the bus went through normal traffic on normal city streets. I also learned in a bit of research that, somewhat ironically, a part of the line was built on an old railway right-of-way Los Angeles County owned. The tracks were removed.  The line saw about 26,600 per day riders last year and cost about $330 million to build in 2004.

16 Replies to “BRT in LA on Streetfilms”

  1. The Orange Line buses are low-floor aren’t they? From what I understand, one feature of the system was level boarding, but it’s rare that buses actually pull up level to the curb, and the height of the bus floor, and curb is different.

  2. I’ve checked out the Orange Line twice to see how they operate and compare to regular busses, enhanced busses and light rail. For a bus line, I am highly impressed, but it has reached its comfortable capacity. I’ve ridden it at North Hollywood where me and hundreds of transferring Red Line passengers attempted to board the bus. It quickly filled to capacity by US standard, I’m sure you can cram a bit more if people aren’t too concerned with personal space. The bus had to leave with several of us still waiting. By the time the next bus arrived, another wave of Red Line passengers swarmed the stop. The bus itself is nice looking and functional, but it is not super high-tech like the manufacturer or other so-called journalist would like the public to think. It is just a bus, with swoopy external moulding. Its low-floor as high as any other low-floors out there. It runs like a regular CNG articulated bus, and guided manually like any other bus, has a w/c ramp at the front door and kneels if needed. The running time is superb for a bus and the busway is nicely landscaped and pleasant to the eye. I rode, operated and supervised light rail in Sacramento and I have an intimate knowledge of bus vs train operations. The corridor itself would be better served by light rail with gate protection (better than traffic light only, even better if grade separated), and in Sacramento, we string up to four cars to make a single train that has a capacity to seat 256 people and up to 800 at crush load. That one train operator can carry the load of 6 articulated bus operators, and at that line capacity, makes the system less susceptible to bunching. I hope the slightly longer buses (by five feet) that will be added to the Orange Line fleet makes a difference, but I doubt it. With that said, the Orange Line is way better than the Boston’s slow as mollasses Silver Line, several magnitudes better than Sacramento’s pitiful “BRT” attempt, better than the Metro Rapids, but still easilly bested by a well designed LRT line. What makes the Orange Line a true blue rapid line is the fast running between stations thanks to the exclusive ROW, although it is slowed at the intersection due to no physical protection from cross traffic.

    1. I took it smack in the middle of the day, so it wasn’t very busy, it’s its scary to think that it’s leaving people behind.

  3. You might want to clarify that the Orange BRT sees 26,000 riders per day, not 26,000 riders last year…

      1. Not kind of weak, really weak. Our short streetcar line (also hooked to a subway) got 500,000 last year. Though many people seem to doubt that number.

  4. Still seems kind of foolish that they installed BRT on such a perfect (and former) rail right of way. After looking at all the empty parking lot pictures (google the orange line and read about it), I have to wonder how much better the line would be doing if it didn’t have the bus vs. rail effect. Why didn’t they use trolley buses? The pollution in LA almost requires any major transit infrastructure to be electric when feasible.

    And finally, asphalt pavement on a busway?! YUCK! Nothing beats concrete streets!

    1. The whole thing isn’t in the old rail-road right of way, just part of it. There’s a ton of in-traffic sections that would have cost a lot more to put rain in.

    2. Electricity in California is very expensive. It was probably cheaper to run them on CNG which is already really clean. They were not ready to spend that much money on electrical infrastructure. The buses are obviously not stored near the line overnight. They also cheaped out on using asphalt which by the way is also another problem on the Orange Line. I heard they already had to repave sections of the busway because of severe rutting of the pavement. Well DUH!

      If they were going to make it more rail-like they should’ve used guided buses. Less pavement needed, too.

  5. This was somewhat impressive but funny that they use it for buses and not rail. My favorite part was the fact they integrated a bike path with it. In the middle of the video I was thinking, “You know what they should do, they should parallel the route with a bike path.” Lo and behold…there it is.

    1. For a place that’s sort of flat for the most part and fairly eco-friendly it’s surprisingly hard to bike around LA. The more dedicated trails the better.

      1. The average cost of installing light rail in LA is about $100 million per mile, so you would have gotten about 3.3 miles of light rail for the cost of the Orange Line.

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