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Los Angeles 'Orange Line' Busway - infrastructure - Light Rail Now


Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway –
Part 2 – Infrastructure Issues

Light Rail Now Production Team · October 2006

This continues our photo-report examining Los Angeles's new "Orange Line" busway, widely regarded as perhaps the premier recent example of state-of-the-art "Bus Rapid Transit" ("BRT") – and the wide range of claims that this type of bus deployment is "rapid transit on rubber tires" and "just like rail transit, but cheaper". With this examination of selected infrastructure issues associated with the "Orange Line" busway, it may become clearer why many transit advocates and professionals in the transit industry contend that this state-of-the-art "Bus Rapid Transit" ("BRT") facility is not "just like light rail" ....

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway – Running way deficiencies

BRT passing

Taken from the cabin of an eastbound bus, this photo of two buses passing at approximately 45 mph (i.e., over 70 kph) on the busway illustrates how narrow the paveway is – with the approaching westbound bus already hugging the far side of its lane. it probably would have been prudent to provide the busway with both shoulders and a median separation to prevent any possibility of sideswiping or head-on collisions. As it is, drivers seem to instinctively decelerate a bit when passing so they can comfortably hug the outer edge of the paveway.
[Photo: L. Henry]

A Grim Object Lesson – Head-on Collision on a Pittsburgh Busway

Pittsburgh newsclip

The hazards of higher-speed bus operation on a narrow, two-lane alignment are grimly underscored in this news clipping of a head-on collision between two buses on Pittsburgh's East Busway in January 1995.
[News item scanned by John DeWitt]

Gold Line Light Rail System – Positive guidance of rails

Gold Line LRT

This photo (from Sep. 2004) illustrates the doubletracked alignment of the Gold Line light rail transit (LRT) system serving the Pasadena area east of central LA. The positive guidance of rails means there is no possibility of a train "swerving" to hit another train or the center poles which support the overhead power contact system. Train motormen don't have a tendency to slow down when approaching an opposing train. The result is faster, safer operation than in the case of a relatively narrow two-lane busway.
[Photo: L. Henry]

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway – Wide 3 lanes at stations

BRT station

Somewhat on the other extreme, this photo illustrates how the busway is widened at many stations to 3 lanes to permit some buses, if necessary, to bypass others which are loading at the station. This total width (nearly 40 ft, or 12 m) for a single direction is significantly wider than LRT stations typically require.
[Photo: L. Henry]

Los Angeles Blue Line LRT – Station showing narrow width

Blue Line LRT station

For contrasting the busway station width with LRT, this photo shows a considerably more narrow Blue Line station (also in a railway alignment) – and this station serves tracks in 2 directions!
[Photo: L. Henry]

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway – Rutted, deteriorated pavement

Rutted pavement

Already, in less than a year of operation, the "Orange Line" busway pavement has become seriously rutted, deteriorated, and uneven, producing rough, uncomfortable riding quality for passengers and more wear and tear on buses. in contrast, rail tends to retain durability and smooth riding qualities for much longer.
[Photo: L. Henry]

Go to...

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report Main Page

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report - Part 1 - Overview

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report - Part 3 - Operational Issues

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report - Part 4 - Buses and Interior Space

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report - Part 5 - Accessibility for Mobility-Challenged

Los Angeles "Orange Line" Busway Photo-Report - Part 6 - Accessibility for Bicycles

Light Rail Now website
Updated 2006/10/18; 2012/06/01

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All website material © 2000-2007 Light Rail Now Project (unless otherwise indicated)