Metro Rapid was designed as a replacement for MTA's previous limited-stop service to provide faster connections with intersecting local Metro Bus service. Passengers can ride a local bus between local stops and the nearest Metro Rapid station, transferring to and from the faster line to speed overall trip time.
Metro Rapid benefits from a traffic signal control system -- Automated Traffic Survelliance And Control (ATSAC) -- developed in conjunction with LADOT. Within the city limits of Los Angeles, MTA's control center can see the locations of Metro Rapid buses in relationship to signalized intersections on a screen similar to this one:
(Click here to see a part of the above screen in better detail.)
Green dots indicate signalized intersections; there are two "point markers" between each signal which show the approximate position of Metro Rapid buses (special transponders mounted underneath each bus transmit information from loops buried in the street, and turn red when a bus is too close to the one in front of it). The control center has the ability to hold green lights if a bus is about to cross the intersection, or hold a bus that is moving too quickly across the route by allowing a red light to stop it. (There are also cameras mounted at some intersections -- also shown on the screen above -- which can be used to determine if there are unusual traffic conditions.)
ATSAC also allows MTA to calculate, based upon the distance of a bus from the next Metro Rapid "station", when that bus will arrive and display the amount of time remaining on changeable signs at the station. LADOT also has a webpage with real-time traffic maps which display ATSAC information.
The map below illustrates all of the proposed Metro Rapid lines. Metro Rail lines are shown in black; the first four (Phase I) Metro Rapid lines -- 720 on Wilshire-Whittier, 745 on Broadway, 750 on Ventura and 754 on Vermont -- are shown in red. The additional lines are shown in blue (Phase IIA - 2003), green (Phase IIB - 2004), purple (Phase IIC - 2005), yellow (phase IID - 2006) or violet (Phase IIE - 2007-08). They were proposed to either replace existing limited-stop service or create new service alongside existing local stop service. (Note that this map shows the original implementation schedule and that some lines were implemented in different years than originally proposed.)
Six of the lines were designed to serve high-ridership arterial streets in the Valley. Again, this map shows the original implementation schedule.
The Phase II lines in the Valley were:
- Line 724 (Lankershim Blvd. - San Fernando Rd.), shown in yellow above, augmenting Line 224. (Implemented June 30, 2008: Originally proposed as Line 766 and scheduled for implementation in December 2006, then delayed to June 2007; it was subsequently put on hold to determine how Line 794 might replace part of it. It was cancelled June 28, 2009 in favor of extending Line 794 to Sylmar via San Fernando Rd.) An earlier proposal for limited-stop Line 366, using the same routing, was proposed as part of the June 2003 service change program but withdrawn after the public hearing due to a lack of public support.
- Line 734 (Sepulveda Blvd. North), shown in yellow above, augmenting Line 234. (Implemented June 25, 2006; originally scheduled for implementation in December 2006, later proposed to begin in June 2005 but delayed due to non-availability of resources for all-day operation.)
- Line 741 (Reseda Blvd.), shown in purple above, augmenting Line 240. (Implemented December 17, 2006; originally scheduled for June 2005 implementation as a Reseda-Sylmar line and later proposed for December 2005 implementation as a combined limited-stop/busway/express line from Northridge to Westwood.)
- Line 761 (Van Nuys Blvd.-Westwood), shown in aqua above, replacing Line 561. (Implemented June 29, 2003; it had originally been slated for December 2002.) The former Line 561 service between Westwood and LAX was restored by Culver CityBus Rapid 6 (Sepulveda Blvd. South), which began operation January 4, 2010.
- Line 780 (Los Feliz Blvd. - Colorado Blvd. - Fairfax Ave.), shown in purple above, augmenting Lines 180 and 217. (Implemented December 19, 2004, without the Fairfax Ave. segment; Line 717 on that street began operation June 27, 2005 and was recombined June 25, 2006 with Line 780.)
- Line 794 (San Fernando Rd.), shown in violet above, replacing Line 394, with a deviation via Brand Blvd. and the Ventura Freeway (SR-134) to serve downtown Glendale. (Implemented June 30, 2008: Originally proposed for implementation, with Line 724, in December 2006, then delayed to June 2007 and subsequently delayed to determine if a more direct alignment was preferred. Although it was ultimately proposed to operate on the Line 394 alignment -- without the Brand Blvd. deviation -- consent decree compliance forced the original route to be implemented. The line was modified June 28, 2009 to operate direct via San Fernando Rd. and extended to Sylmar, replacing Line 724.)
Also shown on the map (dashed purple line) is the Metro Orange Line on the Burbank-Chandler corridor. The originally proposed Line 752 (Topanga Canyon Blvd. - Roscoe Blvd. - Vineland Ave.), replacing Line 418 (since renumbered to Line 353), has been removed from consideration. A 2002 MTA staff report explains how the target corridors were selected for inclusion in the Metro Rapid program.
The Metro Rapid expansion program was designated by the federal judge which oversaw the consent decree between Metro and the Bus Riders Union as the remaining portion of the New Service Plan; under the terms of that decision, Metro agreed to complete the system-wide implementation of 25 Metro Rapid lines by June 2008.
(Thanks to Rex Gephart, Rod Goldman and Steve Fox at Metro for providing maps and graphics.)
The MTA staff report is in PDF format.
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