Orange Line (Los Angeles Metro)

The Orange Line is a bus rapid transit line in the Metro Busway network in Los Angeles, California. It operates between Chatsworth and the North Hollywood Metro Station in the San Fernando Valley where it connects with the Metro Red Line on the Metro Rail system for Downtown Los Angeles. The other line in the Metro Busway network is the Metro Silver Line. The 18-mile (29 km) Orange Line[2] uses a dedicated, exclusive right-of-way for the entirety of its route with stations located at approximately one-mile intervals; fares are paid via TAP cards at vending machines on station platforms before boarding to improve performance. The Metro Orange Line bicycle path runs alongside part of the route.

Metro Orange Line
Metro Liner traveling on the exclusive busway near Chatsworth
Other name(s)F Line
TypeBus rapid transit
SystemLos Angeles Metro Busway
StatusIn service
TerminiNorth Hollywood
Daily ridership22,469 (July 2016)[1]
Line number901
WebsiteOrange Line
OpenedOctober 29, 2005 (2005-10-29)
Operator(s) Metro (LACMTA)
CharacterAt-grade exclusive right-of-way
Depot(s)Division 8 (West San Fernando Valley)
Rolling stockNABI 60-BRT & 65-BRT (weekday peak hours only)
Line length18 mi (29.0 km)[2]
Route map

Division 8 OMSF
Sherman Way
Warner Center
De Soto
Pierce College
Van Nuys
Valley College
Laurel Canyon
North Hollywood
all stations accessible

The line, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), opened on October 29, 2005, with a construction cost of $324 million. The route follows part of the Southern Pacific Railroad's former Burbank Branch Line which provided passenger rail service from 1904 to 1920; it was subsequently used by Pacific Electric streetcars from 1938 to 1952.

Beginning in 2020, the line will be renamed to the F Line while retaining its orange coloring.[3][4][5]

Service description

Because of its many differences from a standard bus service, the authority has branded the transitway as part of the region's network of light and heavy rail lines. It appears on Metro's "Metro Rail & Busway" map. Orange Line vehicles (called Metro Liners) are painted in the silver-and-gray color scheme of Metro Rail vehicles. Likewise, it is one of the authority's two bus lines that have been marketed with a color designation rather than its line number (901). The Orange Line is rarely referred to by its line number, but it sometimes appears on documents and destination signage.

The transitway's color name, the Orange Line, refers to the many citrus trees that once blanketed the San Fernando Valley. In the planning stages the transitway was known as the San Fernando Valley East-West Transitway, and later the Metro Rapidway.


Metro Orange Line buses to Chatsworth operate 24 hours a day.[6] At peak hours (between 6 am and 7pm eastbound, 5 am and 6 pm westbound), alternate buses run only between North Hollywood and Canoga Station. Passengers can transfer at Canoga to a shuttle bus that serves the Warner Center area, including the former Orange Line station.

Station list

Current Stations

Stations Connections City/ Neighborhood Parking[7] Date Opened
North Hollywood

  Metro Red Line

North Hollywood 951 Spaces October 29, 2005
Laurel Canyon
  • Metro Local: 230, 237, 656 (late night only)
Valley Village
Valley College
  • Metro Local: 167, 237, 656 (late night only)
  • LADOT Commuter Express: 549
  • LADOT DASH: Van Nuys/Studio City
Valley Glen
  • Metro Local: 154, 158
Van Nuys
  • Metro Local: 154, 233, 237, 656 (late night only)
  • Metro Rapid: 744, 788
  • LADOT DASH: Van Nuys/Studio City
Van Nuys 776 Spaces
  • Metro Local: 234
  • Metro Rapid: 734, 788
1,205 Spaces
  • Metro Local: 164, 237
  • Metro Local: 164, 236
  • LADOT Commuter Express: 573, 574
Lake Balboa 270 Spaces
  • Metro Local: 240
  • Metro Rapid: 744
Tarzana 522 Spaces
  • Metro Local: 242
Pierce College
  • Metro Local: 164, 243
Winnetka 373 Spaces
De Soto
  • Metro Local: 164, 244
  • City of Santa Clarita Transit: 796
Canoga Canoga Park 612 Spaces December 27, 2006[8]
Sherman Way
  • Metro Local: 162, 163
Canoga Park 207 Spaces June 30, 2012
  • Metro Local: 152, 353
  • Metro Local: 166, 364
Chatsworth 610 Spaces

Former Stations

Stations City/ Neighborhood Date Opened Date Closed
Warner Center Woodland Hills October 29, 2005 June 24, 2018[9]


Maximum recorded average weekday boardings were 31,904 during September 2013.[1] While usage initially fell during the Great Recession with average weekday boarding running at 22,669 in 2010, it has since rebounded, averaging 28,263 weekday boardings so far in 2015.[1]

YearWeekday boardings

Level crossings


Collisions with automobiles occurred weekly during the first several months of operations. Metro has noted that the Orange Line had about the same accident rate as other bus lines in the city on a per-mile basis,[10][11] and has stated that the line's accident rate is "less than half" of Metro's entire fleet of buses.[12] The Blue Line also had a significant number of collisions in its early years and currently has the highest fatality rate in North America.[13]

Metro issued slow orders after two collisions in November 2005 involving a critically injured driver. Buses were required to slow to 10 mi/h (16 km/h) vs. 25–30 mi/h (40–50 km/h).[14][15]

In December 2005, Metro called for the installation of red-light cameras at most intersections.[16]


There is concern that the Orange Line will soon reach its engineered capacity, and has exceeded its designed capacity during peak periods.[17] During peak hours, the signaling system is designed to balance the Orange Line buses with vehicle cross traffic. Adding more buses requires platooning, or bunching, which is the running of convoys of two or more buses together, similar to what rail achieves in having multiple cars per train. Greater signal prioritization is also an option, and comes at the cost of decreasing cross street travel times and capacity. Another alternative requires the changing of state law or the granting of a Caltrans exemption from state law and the purchasing of 80-foot-long (24 m) buses.[18]


The majority of the Orange Line is built on part of the former Southern Pacific Railroad, which was later taken over for Pacific Electric Red Car service; passenger service on this segment ended in 1952, but the right-of-way remained undeveloped, and was acquired by Metro in 1991. As the Metro Rail system was being designed in the 1990s, initial plans were to build an extension of the Metro Red Line there, since the purchased right-of-way's eastern terminus was at the site of the planned North Hollywood station. However, political developments stymied these plans: community objections to surface transit along the route resulted in a 1991 law mandating that any line along the route be built as a deep-bore tunnel,[19][20] but a 1998 ballot measure driven by perceptions of mismanagement banned the use of county sales tax to fund subway tunneling.[21][22][23] Prevented from using the route for rail, Metro proceeded to create its first bus rapid transit line along the corridor, and despite further lawsuits from area residents,[24] the line opened on October 29, 2005, at a final cost of $324 million ($23 million per mile).[25]

On June 23, 2009 construction began on a four-mile (6 km) extension from Canoga northward along the Southern Pacific trackbed[26] to the Metrolink station in Chatsworth. Metro's board approved the plan on September 28, 2006, and it was completed in 2012 at a cost of $215 million.[27][28][29] This created two branches at the western end of the line beyond Canoga station; the older branch proceeded outside the busway on city streets to Warner Center. In 2018, this branch was eliminated and replaced with a frequent service local shuttle, leaving the entirety of the Orange Line on dedicated right-of-way.[30]

Proposed developments


In July 2017, Metro voted to begin a transition to an all-electric bus fleet. While the entire fleet will probably not be replaced until 2030, the transition on the two Metro Busway lines will begin much sooner. A contract was signed to purchase 35 60-foot articulated zero emission New Flyer XE60 buses for the Orange Line, with all-electric service on the line expected by 2020.[31]

Grade separation and crossing gates

As part of the package of enhancement to the LA Metro system approved by voters in 2016 with Measure M, in October 2017 Metro recommended a series of improvements to the Orange Line. These include quad crossing gates at 34 intersections, and the construction of a mile-long elevated section between Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevard. These improvements would eliminate much of the time Orange Line buses spend waiting at red lights, and would cut end-to-end travel time along the entire route by 29%. Projected construction costs are $283 million.

The project is currently in the pre-construction, planning, and public outreach phase, but the goal is to begin full construction in 2019 and complete it by 2025.[32][33] The pre-construction phase of the Metro Orange Line grade-separation has already begun, starting with the LADWP undergrounding the overhead power lines at Sepulveda Blvd and Orange Line in Van Nuys.

Possible Burbank extensions

Two possible extensions of the Orange Line to Burbank have been proposed. One possible extension proposed by transit advocates, including members of The Transit Coalition,[34] is an extension from North Hollywood station to Hollywood Burbank Airport, which would run north on Vineland Avenue and east on Vanowen Street to the airport, to connect with the Metrolink station.

Another extension proposed is from the North Hollywood Station along Chandler Boulevard that would connect to the Burbank Downtown Metrolink Station.[35] The 3.9 mile long arrangement would provide increased access to commuter rail as well as transit access to the pedestrian-friendly entertainment and retail district of Downtown Burbank at the proposed new terminus. Proponents of this expansion also argue that the extended line could eventually serve as the beginning of a San Fernando Valley / Orange Line to Pasadena / Gold Line connection.

As of October 2011, both the Bob Hope Airport and Downtown Burbank extension options are being studied, in addition to other potential BRT routes in Los Angeles County. The abandoned roadbed east of North Hollywood Station was converted into the Chandler Bikeway rail trail.[36]

Conversion to light rail

When purchased in 1991, Metro originally considered the route for use as either light rail or a Red Line extension: both ideas have been discussed repeatedly by train advocates. A railroad route would allow longer vehicles and higher operating speeds. The conversion back to a railroad would be relatively inexpensive: former mayor Richard Riordan described it as the "least expensive rail alternative" of the lines under consideration.[37] However, there are several legal and political challenges. Until 2014, Metro was prohibited by law from converting the Orange Line to any form of rail other than a subway. Due to a 1998 proposition, Metro also cannot spend the sales tax revenue from previously passed propositions, but can use revenue from subsequent tax increase propositions such as Measure R funds (conversion of Orange Line to rail is not included in any Measure R projects, but does include the "subway to the sea" along Wilshire Boulevard and other subway proposals) and other sources of revenue on subways.

Metro has been criticized for dismantling existing railroad infrastructure for bus usage. In October 2013, Los Angeles City 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge introduced a motion to support the repeal of Public Utilities Code section 130265 (1991's SB 211, or Robbins Bill) and support of any legislative and/or administrative action by Metro which would prioritize the development of rail-based transit. The motion was passed by the City Council on October 29, 2013 and approved by the Mayor on November 6, 2013.[38]

In April 2015, a report prepared for Metro estimated that conversion of the Orange Line to light rail would take two to three years and cost between $1.2 and $1.7 billion. This price would include both upgraded infrastructure and corresponding rail vehicles. Improvements to the busway to improve capacity, including more and larger buses and grade separation at busy intersections, could be implemented for $230 to $350 million. The report noted that if not upgraded in some way in the near future, the Orange Line would soon reach capacity at rush hours.[39]

As the above projects are phased in, long term plans in 2018 had full conversion planned to take place by 2050.[33]


On October 27, 2005, two days before the line's official opening, a motorist driving with a suspended license ran a red light and collided with an eastbound bus at Vesper Avenue. There were no injuries.[40]

During November 2005 there were two collision-caused injuries. In the first, a fare inspector on the bus was taken to a hospital for minor injuries after a 65-year-old female driver made an illegal right turn against a red light and struck an Orange Line bus near the crossing at Corbin Avenue in Reseda.[41] In the second, one person was seriously injured and 14 others hospitalized after an elderly motorist apparently ran a red light while using a mobile phone.[42] After the second collision, Metro instructed all buses to slow down at intersections[14] and installed white strobe lights on the sides of the buses to improve visibility. They said that they would review any and all ideas to improve safety on the line.[15]

In October 2006, a delivery truck hit the side of a bus. One person was seriously injured and 16 received minor injuries.[43]


The large buses, which have been dubbed "Metro Liners" by Metro, are twenty feet longer than the standard forty-foot bus, and carry up to 57 passengers, which is about 50% more passengers. (A prototype 65-foot bus is also used for the Orange Line.) The buses are articulated in the center due to this longer length and have three doors for faster boarding and alighting. Vehicles have no fareboxes because the Metro Orange Line operates on a proof-of-payment system, like the Metro Rail network. These will be replaced by New Flyer XE60s.

Environmental impact reports and cost benefits of alternatives

On October 22, 2004,[44] Metro issued a Revised Final Environmental Impact Report (RFEIR) that concluded that the Metro Orange Line was superior to each of three Rapid Bus Alternatives studied in the revised report. The RFEIR studied:

  1. Three East-West Rapid Bus Routes Alternative (Sherman Way, Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard)
  2. Five East-West Rapid Bus Routes Alternative (Sherman Way, Victory Boulevard, Oxnard Street, Burbank Boulevard, and Chandler Boulevard)
  3. Rapid Bus Network Alternative (as submitted by Citizens Organized for Smart Transit, this network of nine Rapid Bus routes would consist of three east-west routes and six north-south routes)

The revised FEIR examined the environmental impacts, costs and benefits of each Rapid Bus alternative and concluded:

  1. The Metro Orange Line would attract substantially more new riders than any Rapid Bus alternatives.
  2. The Metro Orange Line would result in the greatest system-wide travel time savings.
  3. The Metro Orange Line would maintain the most consistent travel time, which would not be compromised over time as the result of increasing traffic congestion.
  4. The Rapid Bus alternatives would all have lower capital costs than the Metro Orange Line because of their minimal construction requirements. However, because the Rapid Bus alternatives would attract fewer new riders than the Metro Orange Line, the Rapid Bus alternatives exhibit poor cost-effectiveness measured on a per-new-rider basis.
  5. The exclusive transitway operation of the Metro Orange Line has distinct land use benefits that would encourage transit-oriented development at/around stations and is consistent with adopted local planning documents.
  6. Operating costs for the Rapid Bus Network Alternative would be up to $10 million more each year than the cost to operate the Metro Orange Line.

See also


  1. "Metro Ridership interactive tool". LA County Metro.
  2. "Facts At A Glance". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  3. metro changes its mind: letters come first now.
  4. Scauzillo, Steve (December 13, 2018). "Because they're out of colors, LA Metro will rename all its train lines and rapid busways with letters in 2019". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  5. Newton, Damien (November 20, 2018). "Metro Moves Ahead with Changes to How They Name Rail/BRT". Streetsblog LA. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  6. "Orange line timetable" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  7. "Orange Line - Map and Station Locations" (pdf). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  8. "New Canoga Station, Park & Ride Lot Opens on Western Terminus of Metro Orange Line". December 27, 2006.
  9. "Warner Center Bus Service Improvements". Warner Center. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  10. "Similar bumpy roads for transit in L.A., Houston - Crashes raised safety concerns for light rail here and California's Bus Rapid Transit".
  11. Liu, Caitlin. "Six Hurt in Latest Orange Line Crash". Los Angeles Times.December 8, 2005.
  12. LA Times – Orange Line bus crash hurts 17
  13. Wells, John V (July 18, 2000). "Train Whistle at Rail Grade Crossings". Congressional Testimony.
  14. Liu, Caitlin and Amanda Covarrubias. "Orange Line Model Beset by Crashes". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 2005.
  15. Liu, Caitlin. "Orange Line Buses May Get Strobe Light Signals". Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2005.
  16. Liu, Caitlin. "After Crashes, Red-Light Cameras to Be Installed at 12 Orange Line Crossings" Los Angeles Times. December 15, 2005. B1.
  17. "Busway so popular, it's nearing capacity" (PDF).
  18. "Bus System Design Features That Significantly Improve Service Quality And Cost Efficiency".[broken link]
  19. "Is a Busway the Valley Way?; The region's Orange Line is ready to roll but some wonder if it will do much to curtail traffic.", by Amanda Covarrubias, The Los Angeles Times, page A1, October 18, 2005
  20. "Hahn Tiptoes in Front of Buses, Is Flattened.", by Steve Lopez, The Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2001
  21. Broverman, Neal (February 4, 2014). "State Could be About to Repeal Ban on Light Rail in the Valley". LA Curbed. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  22. "Legal arguments against the busway".
  23. "Public utilities code section 130250-130265".
  24. Liu, Caitlin; and Times Staff Writers (March 13, 2003). "Valley Busway Opponents Told to Reimburse MTA". Los Angeles Times.
  25. "Crashes Heighten Busway Concerns", by Amanda Covarrubias, Caitlin Liu, and Times Staff Writers, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2005
  26. "Item 44 Program Management Project Budget and Schedule Status" (PDF). Metro. January 18, 2012. p. 3. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  27. Guccione, Jean. "MTA to Run Orange Line Busway to Chatsworth". Los Angeles Times. September 29, 2006. B1.
  28. extension diagram
  29. "Canoga Park-Chatsworth busway construction kickoff Wednesday", Sue Doyle, Daily News, Retrieved June 23, 2008
  33. Olga, Grigoryants (July 17, 2018). "LA's Metro says improvements are in the works for the Orange Line, with light rail in mind". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  34. "The National Transit Coalition".
  35. Sotero, Dave (October 18, 2011). "Orange Line Bridges: Are they strong enough for light rail?". The Source. Metro. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  36. "Los Angeles County Bus Rapid Transit Corridors" (PDF). Metro. October 19, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  37. "Legal Arguments Against the Busway". San Fernando Valley Transit Insider. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  38. "Council File: 13-0002-S100". LACityClerkConnect. City of Los Angeles. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  39. Nelson, Laura J. (April 10, 2015). "Report: Converting Metro's Orange Line to rail could cost $1.7 billion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  40. Liu, Caitlin. "Car Hits Bus on Transitway Test Run, Raising Concerns for Safety", Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2005.
  41. "Car Collides With Orange Line Bus". ABC7. November 2, 2005. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  42. "Busway Safety Controls Boosted 10 MPH Speed Ordered Entering Intersections". the aftermath of Wednesday's collision that sent 15 people to the hospital, one with a severe injury. The collision, one of two Wednesday, was caused by a 78-year-old motorist who ran a red light, possibly while talking on a cell phone.
  43. Silverstein, Stuart (October 24, 2006). "Orange Line bus crash hurts 17". Los Angeles Times. A crowded Orange Line bus collided with a delivery truck in the east San Fernando Valley on Monday afternoon, leaving one person seriously hurt and 16 others apparently with minor injuries, authorities said.
  44. "Revised Environmental Report for Metro Orange Line Corridor Released; Study Examines Rapid Bus Alternative" (Press release). Metro. October 22, 2004.
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