OPINION: Burbank Needs to Tell Metro to Rethink Their Wheels

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In my 40 years as a high school baseball coach, we used to look at the new rule book every January to see what ‘new’ rules the rules committee came up with each year. Usually, these rules were head-scratching until you remembered, that if the rules committee did not come up with rules every year, they would be an irrelevant group.

They just felt they had to do something.

It looks like Metro has the same problem.

If they don’t come up with new ideas and projects, no matter how ineffective they may be, the planners and executives involved will look to be expendable.

So now we have the North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project. Five years ago they identified this corridor as one of the most heavily traveled without a premium bus service and in need of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

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Five years later, in March of 2022, they released their final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Over the five years, you can see the different routes were proposed and changed. It started to look like they were trying to put a square peg in a round hole and no matter what they tried, it just did not work.

But remember, we pay these people large salaries, so they are going to make it work whether it’s practical or not.

One major contention in the final report is REMOVING one lane of traffic in each direction on Olive Avenue between Lake Street and Buena Vista Avenue to vehicles and instead, creating a dedicated bus lane.

These are from the same brilliant minds that before had wanted to run a dedicated bus lane next to the curb and eliminate ALL street parking on Olive Ave. and to heck with all the small businesses that needed that parking to survive.

So now we have the single lane of traffic on Olive proposed for the City Council to discuss at their meeting tomorrow (April 12).

Presently, they have shown 2,200 cars per hour travel through Olive at peak times. We all know that traffic is already backed up several blocks at signals, especially at the Olive/Verdugo/Sparks intersection. So now let’s put 2,200 cars into one lane of traffic so we can have, and get this, SIX buses an hour travel the route.

And the benefit to that dedicated lane for buses? ONE minute of travel savings time!

You gotta be kidding. And how many millions of dollars have gone into the past five years of planning to come up with this one-minute solution?

Thankfully in Burbank, we have transportation guru David Kriske, who has recommended to the Council to send a letter to Metro that basically states that if they want to have a bus route come through Burbank, they can use the regular (mixed flow) traffic lanes like everyone else.

Why not install triggered light sensors that buses can operate when they get near a signal to give them an extra-long green light? Our fire department used that technology back in the day when Station 11 was on Olive and they wanted the signals green at Third or Glenoaks when responding out of their station.

This is 100% a Burbank City Council decision and they need to put Burbank first.

Let’s also think for a brief second about what people are going to do if they are stuck in a single lane of traffic for miles – they are bailing off Olive using the Waze app or a GPS app that will give them routes through residential streets. Oak may become a major detour.

Do we need mass transit, yes, of course. But we also need to completely rethink mass transit.

Burbank Bus is a failure (and yes, I will get into that at another time) and this BRT project does not only not work but hurts Burbank.

It’s time to completely change the game. We need to start thinking about clean energy. Why not monorails? Disneyland has made them work for over 50 years. Just think if the City Council would have approved Walt Disney’s plan for Disneyland back in 1951 here in Burbank. We might have actually had monorails today.

Instead, we have high-priced suits, trying to justify their jobs, spending five years on a project that will knock an entire one minute off people’s commute time.