Originally posted at 1:14 p.m. July 17, 2014. Edited with new details.
Ideas for public transit projects in the San Fernando Valley -- including converting the Orange Line bus into light rail and linking the Red Line subway with Bob Hope Airport -- will be explored under a motion to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors next week.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian and Mayor Eric Garcetti are among the co-authors of the motion, which calls for studies into ways of improving the Orange Line busway.
Among the ideas are traffic-signal prioritization, building overpasses or underpasses along the route and most notably, the conversion of the line into light rail.
Potential conversion to light rail became an option just last week, with the signing of state legislation rescinding a ban on studying light rail projects in the southeast San Fernando Valley.
Krekorian said there is "pent-up demand" among the 2 million residents in the Valley to improve transit options there, and the motion would "get the ball rolling to ensure the San Fernando Valley's transit needs are not ignored."
"Certainly when it comes to rail, almost every place else in the region has gotten more attention that we've seen in the Valley," Krekorian said.
The bill that prohibited studying rail projects in the Valley grew out of concerns by residents there that the light rail would divide up the community, according to Krekorian.
He added Orthodox Jews in the area also were worried that on the Sabbath, when they could not drive, the rail line would make it difficult to get from place to place on foot.
"I think now, those concerns have really subsided as most people have seen how well the Orange Line has worked," he said.
The motion also calls for a study of projects for a "San Fernando/San Gabriel Valley High Capacity Transit Corridor" that would take a broad look at how public transit in the valleys could be enhanced and better linked. Ideas include bringing the Gold Line to the San Bernardino County line and extending the Orange/Red lines from the North Hollywood Station to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
The authors of the motion argue that with the Orange Line, which opened in 2005, experiencing "tremendous success, with ridership approaching 30,000 a day," the time has come to improve the line.
The motion adds that "while the Orange Line serves an important role in connecting riders across the Valley to transit, there is a need to look at the possibility of expanding and connecting our network to Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock and Pasadena in order to have a continuous link between the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys."
The motion comes as officials around the region are gearing up to pitch projects for inclusion in Metro's long-range plan, which could be up for another round of funding through a potential 2016 ballot measure. The measure could call for an update of the voter-approved Measure R half-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, or it could come in the form of another type of tax measure.
--City News Service