LA Orange Line BRT.
Photo by Matt Johnson.
LA’s Orange Line is one of America’s most well-planned and successful BRT routes. It’s real BRT, with a dedicated busway and rail-like amenities. And it has a big problem: Just 8 years after opening, it’s hitting maximum capacity.
At rush hour, the Orange Line runs 60′ articulated buses every 4 minutes. That’s already peak efficiency.
More buses would add more seats, but would also disrupt the traffic signals along the line, slowing buses and causing bunching. Capacity would technically go up, but the line would slow down for everyone, and traffic on surrounding streets could get worse.
Even with a dedicated busway, you just can’t run vehicles more often than about every 4 minutes without a lot of negative effects. Not unless you fully separate every single intersection with elevated flyovers.
At some point, the most effective way to increase capacity is with larger vehicles. That means rail. And at about 30,000 riders per day, LA’s Orange Line is hitting that threshold.
Oh by the way, Arlington’s Columbia Pike corridor is projected to have over 30,000 transit riders by 2030. And it won’t have a dedicated busway.