Monday, June 15, 2009

More Busway to Tollway

Reader Jon points us to this LA Times article discussing new tollways. They don't mention that those HOV lanes were once dedicated bus lanes. The El Monte busway to the East was opened in 1974 as a bus only facility. The Harbor Freeway Busway was expected to get over 60,000 riders yet ended up with just 5,000. Now it will be a toll road. How long until the Houston HOV lanes that carry 40,000 bus passengers a day get the treatment?


Thomas said...

"How long until the Houston HOV lanes that carry 40,000 bus passengers a day get the treatment?"

They already are. METRO is currently in the process of converting all of its freeway HOV lanes to HOT lanes:

Matt Fisher said...

What next? The El Monte Busway was once a "Red Car" line, by the way. Hmmm. I wonder if the I-35W BRT corridor in Minneapolis will be HOV lanes, and then HOT lanes? At least I'm hearing about HOV lanes in this case. It should be LRT in my view. Looks like a trojan horse.

And in Atlanta, an earlier "BRT" proposal on I-285 hyping "train like" buses would expect the possibility of HOV lanes which could expand further. It appears to have been dropped.

IMHO, this apparently proves that BRT is not as much of a "stepping stone" to light rail.

Jon said...

in portland for the replacement sellwood bridge the local community strongly wanted to replace the existing 2-lane bridge with a new 2-lane bridge, and was absolutely against a 4-lane bridge. one of the proposals was for a 4-lane bridge with 2 of which as transit-only lanes. considering this wasnt even a major transit route, most could see these transit lanes were a wolf in sheeps clothing to get a 4-lane bridge that would quickly be converted into 4 auto lanes. luckily the community didnt fall for it.

Anonymous said...

Why was the Harbor Freeway BRT so spectacularly unsuccessful? That's what I'm wondering. Was it just that it was along the freeway, rather than through places where people actually live/work (though I guess in LA people live and work right by the freeway).

Anonymous said...


We in L.A. are still trying to figure out why the Harbor Transitway failed.

It's not because the freeway is so far away from housing. The Transitway runs through South L.A., which is extremely poor and has very high transit ridership.

Parallel to the freeway are heavily used local lines on Broadway and Figueroa Street. Broadway also has a Rapid line. Those aren't hurting for riders.

The Transitway buses are very fast, so speed isn't the issue.

My own theories on why the Transitway failed are:
1. Metro charging express step-up fares to ride the buses on the freeway. Poor riders value money over time, which is why the slow locals and not-all-that-fast Rapid, at $1.25, are heavily ridden and the express buses, which cost $1.85-$2.45, are not.
2. The Harbor Transitway is an extremely dangerous place to wait for a bus.

The Blue Line runs about 3 miles to the east, and it is one of the busiest rail lines in the country. It has been running over capacity. The key factors in its success are local fares for the whole line (L.A. to Long Beach is 24 miles) and a heavy police presence.