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.
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. 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.
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.
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.