Fanfare opens new bus line

first_imgTaking a page from the history books, political leaders invoked the woman who broke the color barrier in Alabama and the man who brought water to Los Angeles as they celebrated the opening Friday of the Orange Line busway and welcomed a new era in San Fernando Valley transit. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said it was only fitting that on a day the nation memorialized the late Rosa Parks for her brave stance of refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Los Angeles would be cutting the ribbon on another piece of its regional transit system. And county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky delivered a twist on William Mulholland’s famous phase “Take it!” which he uttered in 1913 after turning the spigot on the system that brought water to this desert region. “All I can say to our mayor is, ‘Here it is, use it.’ We waited a long time to get to this destination.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week More than a dozen elected officials, including City Council members, state legislators and Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members crowded one of the double-long buses to make the ceremonial ride to the Balboa Station for the morning event. They were greeted by the El Camino Real High School marching band, the Woodcrest School choir and more than 200 community leaders and MTA staff members under a party tent decorated with crates of oranges. The line was named for the region’s agricultural past. Emcee Huell Howser called the opening of the Orange Line a “wonderful milestone in Los Angeles history.” The 14-mile busway is the Valley’s long-promised east-west transit route that opens for free rides today and Sunday before regular operations begin Monday. The busway is what Valley leaders settled for in the late 1990s after it became clear that the hoped-for subway or light-rail system would not be built despite years of paying transportation sales taxes. Valley residents today remain divided about the $330 million busway, whose total cost is $350 million when the adjacent bikeway and supplemental Park and Ride lot being built on Canoga Avenue are included. Some residents say they’re looking forward to using the Orange Line, welcoming any alternative to the traffic-choked Ventura Freeway. But others dismiss the busway as doing little to ease their commutes. The busway promises a 40-minute ride across the Valley that, when combined with the Red Line subway ride to Union Station, gets commuters from Warner Center to downtown in little more than an hour. “Try that on the 101 or the 405,” Villaraigosa said. “I think you all know what the answer is. “We begin a new era in the San Fernando Valley today, one that’s been long-waited and long-deserved. How fitting it is we open a new busway on the day the nation mourns the loss of a true American hero who refused to give her seat up on a bus.” The mayor added that he’s continuing to pursue his campaign pledge to build a subway under Wilshire Boulevard. To loud applause, he said: “This is just the beginning.” A handful of protesters picketed outside, urging the MTA to enhance safety along the line. Longtime MTA critic John Walsh held a banner reading “Orange Line Deathtrap,” noting that the “orange” was covering up a “red” from previous protests for the opening of the Red Line subway. Inside the party, transit advocate Bart Reed remained critical, saying the MTA needs to provide more north-south connecting buses to make the Orange Line effective. “The fact that they didn’t produce the connecting bus service has doomed this busway for the time being,” said Reed, executive director of The Transit Coalition. “This isn’t rocket science … I want to get this thing fixed so it works.” The MTA had initially promised to beef up Valley bus service, but earlier this year determined that it could not afford to do so. However, DASH has beefed up its shuttle service, with buses operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. around Warner Center, with free rides for MTA pass holders. Among those who attended the celebration was Martha Welborne, the urban planner who sparked the idea for the Orange Line by persuading local officials to visit Curitiba, Brazil, nearly a decade ago to see that city’s busway system. She was thrilled with the new line. MTA Chief Executive Officer Roger Snoble also noted the work the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley did in helping divided Valley residents reach a consensus on the busway. Councilman Dennis Zine, among those on the morning bus ride, said he’s “definitely going to be a frequent flier,” riding the Local 164 bus at Woodlake Avenue to catch the Orange Line to his office downtown. “Everyone wants a subway, light rail,” he said. “This is it. We either make this work or we sit in gridlock in frustration.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply