Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Will the Orange Line work?

The L.A. Times' Amanda Covarrubias weighs in with the following think piece on the Orange line:

There's the hopeful:

"This is going to … join us again to greater metropolitan Los Angeles," said Van Nuys resident Andrew Hurvitz, noting that the opening of the busway comes three years after the Valley tried to secede from Los Angeles. "It's going to de-isolate the Valley.

"I feel like we're at a turning point," he added. "We are finally becoming less of a cliche than we were before. We're a dense, urban city and must live differently than we did in the 1950s. We can't [all] live in a single-family house with a three-car garage anymore."

The skeptical:

But the Orange Line "doesn't go anywhere you would want it to go," said Joel Kotkin, a Valley Village resident and Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "It's a tour of the industrial bowels of the Valley. And there's no place to stop to get a cup of coffee."

Kotkin and others believe the Orange Line, like most bus lines in the city, will fill a need for low-income workers and students. But, he adds, it won't do much to unclog the 101 — or even nearby surface streets, such as Ventura, Victory and Van Nuys boulevards.

"I think it might be a great thing for a teenager in Valley Village who's got a job three days a week at Nordstrom" in Woodland Hills, he said. "For a woman cleaning house in Chandler Estates and living in Reseda, for that person, it works."

L.A. Observed's Kevin Roderick:

"You won't notice it on the 101 Freeway. It won't be those kinds of numbers," said Kevin Roderick, author of "The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb."

Low expectations:

MTA officials ... calculate that the line will have 5,000 to 7,000 riders a day in its first year, low even by Los Angeles mass transit standards. They hope daily ridership will grow to as much as 25,000 in 15 years.

Future plans:

MTA officials point out that the busway could be converted to light rail if it became wildly popular.

And of course ... people who live in the Chandler Estates area and own not one, but TWO adjacent houses. The kind of people who throw stacks of $100 bills in the fireplace when they need a little heat ... not your typical L.A. bus rider, and they're not happy:

Mitch and Tess Ramin live in a small, one-story house on nearby Chandler Boulevard with their baby daughter and are renovating a larger home next door that they plan to move into. Their tree-lined neighborhood in Sherman Oaks resembles that of "The Brady Bunch," the classic family sitcom set in the Valley. (The "Brady Bunch" house is in Studio City about two miles from the Orange Line's eastern terminus.)

The Ramins question whether the busway belongs there.

The real estate investor and his wife are concerned that the bus corridor that runs behind their backyards will cause noise and crime, pointing out that a transient has already moved into the landscaped easement between the sound wall and their back fence.

MTA officials "don't care as much as we do because they don't live here," Tess Ramin said. "We moved here because of the backyard, to get away from the noise of the traffic…. Now there's no escape."

What's more, during test runs this month to introduce bus drivers to the new vehicles and the route, the Ramins said they noticed that drivers were honking their horns as they drove through the blind intersection at Ethel Avenue just up the street.

Do you know the way to San Jose Downtown L.A.:

West Hills resident Dan Blake, an economics professor at Cal State Northridge and director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center, said he's looking forward to using it to get to Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday nights. It costs about $6 to park downtown but only $3 for a Metro day pass to ride any bus, subway or light rail train in a 24-hour period.

"It really does connect," he said. "From one end of the busway, you can go to Long Beach and look at the aquarium."


Scott said...

I can't even begin to recount how many times I've heard that whiniest of whines: "But it doesn't go anywhere you want to go!"

Yeah. Maybe nowhere YOU want to go, you Volvo-driving jerk. And where's that place you want to stop for coffee? Starbucks, right? For your five dollar latte? PUH. LEESE.

I hate to invoke a cliche, but "if you build it, they will come." Eventually, the areas surrounding the Orange will NO LONGER be an "industrial wasteland." New developement will come into play. Old buildings will be gone, new buildings in their place. Adaptive re-use, guy. Look it up. And this guy is a professor? What a short-sighted twit.

Scott said...

Excuse me, I misread. The guy is not a professor. He is a "senior fellow" at some think tank, a title which anyone can bestow upon themselves. Figures.

Nancy said...

The Orange Line is nothing more than just another bus line. It still drives slowly. It still stops at red lights. It still serves only those who do not own cars. It doesn't save the guy who drives from Woodland Hills to North Hollywood much time. Sure, the 101 can get really congested at times, but street traffic goes just as as fast as two buses stuck together. This is a band aid solution. Light rail or a subway would have worked much better

Allan said...

Orange line could be very good but
the biggest problem for valley transit is NOT BEING ADDRESSED. There has to be free parking for riders who own cars. They claim 3000 spots, but they are not readily located by drivers. They blew it BIGTIME in North Hollywood.
No parking spaces by 8 am typically. They need at least 10,000 free parking spaces. Then the Orange Line will serve as the
parking shuttle for all the people
who would otherwise use the RED LINE...but don't now due to lack of parking. I drive in from Ventura
County to take the RED LINE to
downtown or Hollywood about 6 times per month. Lots of people woulduse the RED LINE if the
ORANGE line delivered them from
thousands of free parking spots.
You could put hundreds of thousands
in the Sepulveda basin, so 10,000
there, should be easy. Without the REDLINE needing to be fed, the ORANGE LINE would be a doondoggle!