Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Orange Line: Honeymoon phase?

Daily News staffer Lisa Mascaro looks at the zeitgeist of the Orange Line, with Joel Kotkin offering the following:

The (Red Line) subway, Kotkin reminds, carries only a fraction of its projected ridership more than a decade after it opened.

"They go through an early honeymoon period where everyone takes it," Kotkin said about shiny-new commuter lines. "Try it in three months. When the Red Line started, there were all sorts of people in ties and jackets."

He thinks Orange Line supporters should see the busway for what it is - a cheap alternative to rail for transit-dependent people - and not fantasize that the Valley is a new center of world-class urbanity.

"We're not talking about sashaying on the Champs-Elysses," he said. "If people want to get all enthused about it, that's great. ... Cafes and dancing seals at every stop? That's not what you're going to get."

Forget the "dancing seals," but a lot could happen along the busway, both commercial and residential. And yes, your friends from Starbucks and Coffee Bean could be a part of it.

Kotkin doubts middle-class riders will trade their cars for buses in great numbers in the long run.

But he still thinks the Orange Line should be extended to crisscross the Valley and go out to Thousand Oaks - since busways are so much cheaper than rail lines. The Orange Line's original plans included similar north-south busways near Canoga Avenue and Van Nuys Boulevard.

Van Nuys Boulevard, especially, is primed for a busway. The street is WIDE because the famed Red Cars used to travel along tracks in the middle of the street. All MTA has to do is reclaim the median.

Now I know Zev Yaroslavsky is set on Canoga Avenue, but I think the second north-south busway should be on Reseda Boulevard.

On the Ventura Boulevard end, you would hit Tarzana and the Tarzana portion of Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center, then head by the park at Victory Boulevard (and the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, which is nowhere near Sherman Oaks, by the way), by a whole bunch of businesses, including the hub at Sherman Way and eventually up to California State University Northridge -- which is notoriously hard to reach by bus in a timely manner. After that, head up to the 118 Freeway.

Next candidate for an east-west line (besides Ventura Boulevard, which MUST be dealt with at some point) would be Nordhoff Street, which takes in Panorama City to the East, CSUN and the Northridge Mall farther West. Ideally it would head south where Nordhoff hits Corbin Avenue and eventually link to the Orange Line around Victory.


Ilene said...

Did I miss the dancing seals when we were in Paris? Crap.

I agree with you about Reseda instead of Canoga -- it's hell in a bucket to get to CSUN anyway but car, and then once you're there, well, it's still a pain in the ass.

Why oh why is everyone such a whiner about mass transit in L.A.? We've never had the level of convenience afforded to every other major city in the world. In London you wait ONE minute or so for the tube (and even that seems to be too long for Londoners). In Paris they walk 40 miles underground for connections and exit the trains while they're still moving, but still wear heels. Here a bus comes every 20 minutes if you're lucky, then you can wait at the connections for a lifetime, so no one takes it.

Finally lines are being linked to facilitate the use of public transportation alone (unless you live in the hills, in which case you're both rich, and screwed). (Stop paying for the guard at the gate and pay for a shuttle). There are rapid lines now. Give it time, people, give it time.

Jonny said...

A busway along Nordhoff to CSUN would get me to ditch my car...

Andrew said...

OK. We need to get a line on one of the wide streets and then build up the street VERTICALLY (with residential development above stores) so that there are enough people to patronize the lines that run up and down these boulevards.

moneyca said...

Great post with a lot of great points!