Burbank says ‘no’ to la metro’s road diets for buses!!

Chatsworth - Northridge - panorama city - North Hollywood - Burbank - Glendale - eagle rock- Pasadena

LA Metro is proposing to remove traffic lanes on some of the busiest streets in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys to make way for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) ‘Bus Only Lanes’. Rather than decrease traffic and gridlock and improve our quality of life removing traffic lanes will destroy our communities.

Metro’s North Hollywood to Pasadena BRT Route runs through the heart of Burbank. The proposed route enters Burbank from the west on Riverside Drive. It then turns onto Alameda, heads north up Olive before turning south on Glenoaks and exciting Burbank on its way to Glendale and beyond. We have reached out to the city of Burbank asking for current and/or historical traffic volumes on these streets but the city has declined to provide them.

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LA Metro plans to road diet approximately 29 miles of the 36 mile route from Chatsworth to Pasadena

Everyone agrees, Los Angeles needs more mass transit options, but removing car lanes on our city’s busiest streets isn’t the way to do it.  When we voted to increase sales taxes in 2016, the 4th time LA’s voters have taxed themselves to fund mass transit (Prop C: 2013, Measure R:2008 and Prop A:1980), we were voting to provide funding for building and repairing LA’s transportation infrastructure in order to increase our mobility options and reduce traffic on our roads and freeways.  We were not voting for LA Metro to manufacture traffic, congestion and gridlock, to push commuters off our city’s busiest boulevards onto neighborhood streets and to destroy our business communities with the removal of car lanes!

Metro’s proposed ‘Road Diets’ for BRT will be a disaster for these communities if they are implemented.  Groups from Chatsworth to Pasadena are opposing these ‘Road Diets’ for Buses” for many reasons:

1)    It Will Create a Traffic Nightmare

Metro plans to remove lanes on some of our city’s busiest boulevards to make way for bus only lanes.  These ‘road diets’ violate design standards for lane removals established and adopted by both the Los Angeles DOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

These guidelines rule out a ‘road diet’ on roads in which traffic volume exceeds 20,000 cars per day and where hourly traffic volumes exceed 875 cars per hour.

The roads slated to lose lanes exceed these guidelines by as much as a factor of 4, and that’s based on data that’s now 7 years old!

2)    It’s Bad for Our Communities

In Playa del Rey in the summer of 2017 the LADOT performed a road diet which forced 40,000+ cars per day into one lane and the results were disastrous.  Accidents immediately spiked, local businesses lost customers in droves and commutes along the 2 mile stretch grew by 30 minutes. 

It was such a disaster that Mayor Garcetti stepped in 4 months after the installation and directed the LADOT to reverse it.  You can read all about that fiasco here:  www.KeepPDRMoving.com

Redirecting cars off the boulevard will redirect customers. Frustrated with the traffic they will find new places to get coffee, dine or take their dry cleaning.   This has happened in cities all across the nation, read about it here, here, here and here.

On Venice Blvd in Mar Vista 22 businesses have gone bankrupt or relocated off of the 0.8 mile stretch during the two year road diet.  In the previous 10 years just two businesses went under or relocated!  In fact there are now so many vacant store fronts on this 0.8 mile stretch of Venice Blvd that Mayor Garcetti is begging businesses to come back and set up shop again.  See this flyer being sent to local commercial real estate developers.

Manufacturing gridlock on our boulevards will only force frustrated commuters to seek alternative routes on our residential streets, which were never designed to handle commuter traffic.   When Venice Blvd, a 49,500 car per day road was ‘dieted’ from three lanes in each direction down to two thousands of cars fled the boulevard and used the adjoining neighborhood streets to avoid LADOT’s manufactured traffic jam.  This isn’t unique to Venice, this happens all over the country when a major boulevard is ‘dieted’.

3)    It Will Result In Decreased Mobility

During the peak hours of 6am to 7pm Metro says they will run a bus every 10 minutes, so a dedicated BRT lane will move, at most, 738 people per hour. And that’s assuming that Metro uses the largest bus in their fleet and every bus that runs is filled to max capacity (61 seated and 62 standing passengers). 

 Currently these car lanes move 3,600+ cars per hour at peak hours, that’s 1,800 cars per lane.  The numbers are clear, dedicated bus lanes won’t help move more people about our city while reducing traffic.  Rather taking away traffic lanes for the exclusive use of buses will force tens of thousands of people to sit idling in traffic, every day, staring at the empty lane next to them.

4)    It’s Bad for the Environment

Metro claims that a dedicated BRT will combat climate change by taking cars off the road, yet their own best case analysis predicts that 6,357 of current car commuters will make the switch to the BRT, that’s less than 1% of the commuters who travel this corridor daily. (North Hollywood to Pasadena BRT Corridor Technical Study, page 81)

To make this switch happen Metro’s ‘road diets’ will bring the remaining 98% of cars traveling this corridor every day to a crawl.  The increased emissions which will result from slowing down hundreds of thousands of commuters every day will not be offset by the ~7,000 drivers who are now taking the bus. Never mind the assumption that Metro could even come close to their ridership goals. (They’ve got a dismal track record.)

The average car burns 0.2gallons/hour at idle.  Adding an extra 10 minutes to the roughly 300,000 cars per day that travel this route means an extra 10,000 gallons of gas will be burned each day.  That’s 50,000 gallons of gas needlessly burned by idling cars each week. And this isn’t speculation, increased emissions from road diets have been documented by the FHWA.  This study from Michigan found emissions increased 20% following a road diet.

 5) It will Make Our Communities Less Safe

Reducing throughput of an at capacity road will lead to an increase in traffic accidents.  This has happened in cities all across the country, read about here, and here.

a)    In the summer of 2017 in Playa del Rey accidents increased by over 300%.  In the 5 years before the road diet PdR averaged 1 injury accident a month, in the 4 months of the road diet the average was 1 a week.

b)    On Venice Blvd accidents are up by 20% post road diet when compared to the previous 5 years and injury accidents are up 25%. See www.KeepVeniceMoving.com for the details.

c)    If the Bus Only lanes are physically separated from traffic, as proposed, emergency response times will drop dramatically.  Cars stuck in gridlock will have nowhere to pull right to allow the emergency vehicles to pass. This same effect has been documented time and again on busy streets that have had lanes “repurposed” by ‘Road Diets’. See video here here and here.

d)    The California Fire Code (CFC), the County of Los Angeles Code of Ordinances, and the City of Los Angeles Municipal Code all prohibit the obstruction of fire apparatus access roads. Where is the input from the LAFD/Burbank and Glendale fire departments? It was noticably absent from all of Metro’s analysis.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman says it best: “[Activists] are espousing the removal of lanes for different things, whether it’s buses or bicycles.  How does that work with Emergency Responders?  Most of the time, they don’t even think about that…If you have a bad day in our business, people die”.  


Metro's 'Road Diets' along the 36 mile route from Chatsworth to North Hollywood to Pasadena violate the standards for a 'Road Diet' established by the Federal Highway Administration, the LADOT and every other DOT in the country.

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LA Metro is planning to take Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock down to one lane in each direction. With two lanes this road backs up for miles, this is a typical evening commute on Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock - LADOT’s Traffic Count from 2012 says this road carries 46,000+ cars per day

LA Metro is planning to take Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock down to one lane in each direction. With two lanes this road backs up for miles, this is a typical evening commute on Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock - LADOT’s Traffic Count from 2012 says this road carries 46,000+ cars per day

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Metro says that bus only lanes increase our mobility options by making mass transit more convenient and more reliable. But the truth is trading car lanes for bus only lanes on our city’s busiest streets reduces mobility options for all of us. During the peak hours of 6am to 7pm Metro plans to run a bus every 10 minutes…at best those 6 buses will move just 738 people per hour IF every single one is filled to MAX CAPACITY.

Each car lane on Colorado Blvd through Eagle Rock is moving 1,791 cars per hour…more than double the best case scenario capacity of a bus only lane

This analysis assumes the buses used for BRT are the  729 Xcelsior,  the 60’ articulated bus used on the Orange Line, the largest bus in Metro’s fleet.

This analysis assumes the buses used for BRT are the 729 Xcelsior, the 60’ articulated bus used on the Orange Line, the largest bus in Metro’s fleet.