Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Repeal of Orange Line Rail Ban Clears State Assembly

Last summer, LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge began pushing for the repeal of SB 211, a law passed in 1991 which bans the construction of light rail on what is now Metro's Orange Line busway.  While a light rail conversion has become a popular cause amongst San Fernando Valley transit users, the reality is that the LA City Council has no power to overturn state law.  However, it appears that Sherman Oaks Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian has successfully taken the fight to Sacramento.  In late January, the State Assembly gave unanimous support to a bill sponsored by Nazarian which would repeal the ban on above-ground rail in-between North Hollywood Station and Hazeltine Avenue.  The bill, designated AB 577, has since moved on to the State Senate for consideration.  While this is another step towards correcting the Valley's 20 year old mistake, it's important to remember that Assemblyman Nazarian's bill is no silver bullet.  Even if AB 577 becomes law, you won't wake up to trains running down the middle of Chandler Boulevard the next morning.  A light rail conversion is possible, but there are no funds currently set aside for such a project.  There's also the question of what happens to the 30,000 people who ride the Orange Line every day during this hypothetical conversion.  Still, this could be something to consider for the 2016 Measure R++ wish list.


  1. The Orange bus line should have been an LRT line in the first place.Strong local lobbying caused this law to benefit a few at a cost to many and should have never been past. Now it is time to upgrade the bus line to an LRT from the Burbank to Chatsworth Metrolink stations or extend the Red line on the surface to Chatsworth. The Orange bus line is at saturation and more buses can not be added since they will block cross streets. The bus takes twice as long and cost twice a much to operate as a LRT line. The buses are uncomfortable and cramped inside. The ride quality is poor. It is time upgrade this line sooner than later.