Last weekend, I tried out the new Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley. It runs east/west from the Warner Center in Woodland Hills to the end of the Red Line in North Hollywood. I don't know if anything like it exists anywhere else. It is a bus on a mostly dedicated roadway that acts like a train. It is really long with about 3 sets of doors that automatically open and close at each stop. You can enter any of the doors since you buy your ticket before boarding and don't have to show your ticket to the bus driver. You also don't have to signal the driver when you want to stop because the bus automatically stops at every station just like a train would. The bus did have the typical stop-requesting cable however, which did result in a voice saying "Stop Requested" over a loud speaker. Maybe the cable was just there to put at ease people that are accustomed to pulling such cables on normal buses.
I started at the Reseda stop and headed east toward North Hollywood. Then I checked out the Red Line station since I had never been there before. It looked like there were new residential and commercial projects underway near the station which was nice to see. I then rode the Orange Line to the Warner Center. The trip took exactly 40 minutes which isn't too bad to get accross the valley. While on board, you could pass time by watching the "Transit TV" monitors which displayed news and ads.
The only thing that I didn't really like about the Orange Line was that the bus had to stop once in a while at red lights. That killed the whole train-like feeling of having a true dedicated right-of-way.
If building the bus/train Orange Line is much cheaper than building a light rail line, I'd be happy to see more lines like that appear in Los Angeles, especially up and down the Westside where we desperately need better public transit options.
That's pretty cool. I didn't know they were building that. Out here in Nashville we're supposed to get some sort of light rail thing within the next few years. Should be interesting...
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