The Battle over Buses on Colorado Boulevard

2019 Editions Featured Front Page June More News

By K. D. Dunleavy

The Time for the Community to
Weigh In Is Now

Update:  The Meeting date for the community to talk over the Metro busing plan has been changed.  The new date time and place are:  Tuesday, June 18th at 7 p.m. at Eagle Rock City Hall. 

What this is about:   The Metro Board of Directors recently advanced a plan that would put bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.

Under the plan, the Colorado Boulevard corridor would be one segment of an 18-mile BRT line connecting North Hollywood and Pasadena (NoHo-Pasadena). Various routes were considered for the line, including one that would use the 134 Freeway to traverse Eagle Rock, thus bypassing Colorado Boulevard. But Metro staff determined that a route along surface streets would attract more riders and provide better connections than a freeway-based route. The Metro Board accepted the staff’s finding and on May 23, voted to begin a draft environmental review of the street-running route.

Metro Plan would turn much of the boulevard into a bus thoroughfare.

The Board’s vote gives the street-running route a leg up over possible alternative routes. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. “Although the Metro staff has made an initial recommendation to put the bus on Colorado Boulevard, this is far from being a done deal,” said Brian Haas, a spokesperson for Metro, in an interview with the Boulevard Sentinel. “Community feedback is a huge part of this,” he said. “We want to make sure that what we do makes sense.”

That flexibility will come in handy, because judging from the reaction on social media, Eagle Rockers don’t see much sense in putting a BRT line on Colorado Boulevard.

Here are some of the concerns:

A BRT line on Colorado Boulevard would require reconfigurations to allow for dedicated bus lanes. Metro has not specified what that would mean, but it could include removing the boulevard’s medians, removing traffic or bike lanes, removing parking spaces or some combination of those things.

And for what? The vast majority of BRT riders would not be coming or going from Eagle Rock. The vast majority would just be passing through. Looked at that way, the disruption from the BRT in terms of driving, traffic and parking on Colorado Boulevard seems far greater than the benefits to the town.

Another concern is that the BRT line on Colorado Boulevard could change zoning rules in areas near the bus stops. One of the Metro’s stated objectives with the NoHo-Pasadena line is to “support…transit-oriented community goals.” Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) is a city program that lets developers build more and denser housing on multi-family lots near a major transit stop, as long as the project includes some affordable units for low income people. With proposed BRT stops at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend Avenue, a swath of Eagle Rock would fall under TOC rules. More housing to ease the housing shortage is badly needed. But putting a BRT line on Colorado Boulevard seems like an opaque and convoluted way to go about getting it.

Metro has made some good arguments for a NoHo-Pasadena BRT. The area it would cover is heavily traveled, with almost all of the trips by car and only a tiny fraction by public transit, despite having Metro rail connections at both ends. A premium bus service would provide an alternative to driving and connect Metro’s regional transit network to residential areas along the route.

But Metro has yet to make a good case for why the proposed BRT has to run the length of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock instead of catching the 134 freeway. One community meeting on the topic, at the Eagle Rock Plaza on October 18, 2018 was only sparsely attended.

Another community meeting will take place on June 18 at the Eagle Rock City Hall, where the Land Use Committee of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) will host a representative from Metro to discuss the project.

Metro also plans “Public Scoping” meetings beginning in July, which are required by law to give the public a chance to learn more about the proposal and provide input on issues that policymakers should consider in the environmental review. The Boulevard Sentinel will keep you informed of dates, times and places as they become available.

11 thoughts on “The Battle over Buses on Colorado Boulevard

  1. A great article – succinct and significant. This plan could have an enormous effect on the community and I’m mighty glad you are bringing this up. None of the businesses of Eagle Rock (I’ve spoken with maybe 20 owners so far) are at all happy with the idea of losing parking and drop-off lanes, or interfering with safe and convenient left turns. And scraggly as that median is, most of us like it better than nothing. Now is indeed the time to speak up – thank you.

  2. I’m a lifelong Eagle Rocker & a daily bus rider. BRT makes perfect sense for our neighborhood. As a younger member of the community, I am invested in the well-being of our environment, today & in the long run. Now is the time to speak up for a more sustainable future, which includes more accessible public transportation- a rapid bus service on our local thoroughfare. I think BRT on Colorado would be a great asset as we endeavor towards this goal of a healthier community for all.

  3. Is it too much to expect our local journalists to do more reporting than checking out the local social media posts? The meeting was never changed – people started announcing dates before any agendas were set. Did you guys reach out to the ERNC before posting this article? Where are the links to the available studies and presentations that Metro has done? A quick 34 second Google search would give you those documents. Why are you presenting the opinions of a few disgruntled local business owners as facts? What’s the opinion of the Chamber of Commerce? Where’s the link to the letter the ERNC wrote in 2016? It’s not too much to expect our local newspaper to present clear, factual, and non-biased reporting on issues that will affect our community.

  4. Pat – Better to point out any errors in the reporting rather than to guess at what we have not reported. I agree that more links in the on-line Sentinel is a good idea.

    1. Bill you do a great job keeping the community informed at no cost to readers last time I checked. Readers can then use the info you provide to do their own research and then inform others as the above reader has done.

  5. I am against a BRT line for Colorado Blvd in ER. 1) Parking: Local cars will clog the streets near the bus stops. People from ER, HP and GP will drive and park near the stops. This will mean increased all-day parking in residential areas. This will likely increase crime in residential areas and hurt nearby businesses as well.
    2) Turns: a) left turns onto Colorado will be more difficult. Many side streets don’t have a traffic signal and left turns onto Colorado during busy times are already difficult. B) left and U-turns on Colorado are extremely common. Currently, left and U turns often back up traffic on Colorado. A lack of the median will mean left turns will always back up traffic or many signals will need to be added. Adding signals will mean greatly increased wait times for everyone, and more air pollution.
    3) The Colorado Blvd master plan was to support a walkable area. The BRT will destroy that effort. I actually walk over a mile on Colorado more than 5 times a week. IMO, if the median is eliminated, the extra space should be used for long and skinny left turn spots and to increase the sidewalk width on the south side of Colorado.

    Colorado blvd is a very crooked street with lots of ups and downs. It is not a safe and straight street. Adding additional complications will make it more dangerous.

    The BRT will run an almost 24 hours per day service with hundreds of buses per day. This will end the peaceful evening on Colorado blvd that we have now. Until recently, most businesses were not allowed to stay open past 10 pm.

    As previously mentioned, ER will then allow high density building which means even more cars parked on the street.

  6. I am a Highland Park resident who uses public transit when it works for me, drives when i need to, and enjoys the small businesses on Colorado as well as on York and Fig. I believe it’s time for all Angelenos, not just locals, to let go of their parochial narrow minded selfish nimbyism and embrace the future including the need for better transit options and yes way more hiusing right on all of our backyards. The present is not working. Public transit needs to increase significantly and more housing is needed now. I applaud the plan to use Colorado Blvd. Better to embrace the inevitable changes and work together to make them as sensible fir as many interests as possible. Change is inevitable. No is not an option.

  7. Bill you do a great job keeping the community informed at no cost to readers last time I checked. Readers can then use the info you provide to do their own research and then inform others as the above reader has done.

  8. I’ll be darned. How is it that you politicians always get away with lies and deceit. Well, the answer is that we the community don’t get involved enough. They try “hard to represent us” with their “little” intere$t$ in mind only. How about trying to fix the problems BRT already has before creating more mess? Doesn’t that make more sense?. We have been collecting signatures and we have an average of 3 people per hour coming in to sign the petition against the absurd and unnecessary project on putting the bus on Eagle Rock Colorado Blvd. Keep it on 134 !

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