Opinion: Taking Away Traffic Lanes for a Bus Lane on Olive Avenue is Just a Bad Idea

Traffic on Olive near Vewrdugo is already backed up for blocks using two lanes. What will happen if it is only one lane?

For those of you who do not pay attention to your government at work, it’s time for you to pay attention to your government at work.

This coming Tuesday, March 26, the Burbank City Council will consider Metro’s request to put a dedicated bus lane down Olive Ave. This will reduce Burbank’s main Street from two lanes in each direction to one lane, affecting the way of life for many residents.

Why is this a bad idea? It’s not that we do not want mass transit and greener solutions to pollution. You have to ask yourself if the end justifies the means. In this case, the answer is no.

Let’s start off with some background. The City of Burbank has a population of just over 100,000 people. According to Burbank’s economic development, that population swells to close to 240,000 every workday. That’s a lot of people who come in and out of Burbank every single day.

Olive Ave. Is to Burbank what every main street is to every local town and community. Not only is it the main thoroughfare that runs through our city, it’s also the dividing line between North and South. All streets north of Olive have a N address while all streets on the South side have a S address. That’s because when this city was put together, Olive Ave. was considered the main focus.

Taking out a lane of traffic in both directions between Buena Vista and Lake will create a traffic deadlock that will force drivers to find alternate routes. How many drivers will find their way onto Oak St. through residential neighborhoods to try to get around the bottleneck? Going north one block to Verdugo could be just as bad since Verdugo was redesigned for one lane years ago it has all the traffic it can handle right now.

With all that traffic now predicted for Olive, how many people will want to travel down that main street to many businesses located there? They will probably want to avoid the traffic and now avoid those businesses. We just saw a report at the last Council meeting that they need to help small businesses with a five-year plan just adopted. What will this do to those businesses?

At this time Metro has not proven that the ridership in the Burbank area warrants such a radical change. Presently, the BurbankBus system runs mostly empty, even though the fare is only $1.00. In fact, Metro has had to scrap some of it’s Metro Micro bus routes because of such little usage even though they also only cost a dollar per ride. It was believed that Metro was spending $60.00 for every person who used the service.

I would like to see some hard statistics about the need for a bus line between North Hollywood and Pasadena. Can they assure us that buses will run 75% full every 15 minutes along that corridor if this is put into reality? Nowhere in the Metro proposal does it talk about traffic patterns or density or where the overflow traffic will go. No traffic studies have been done to show the amount of vehicle usage that Olive Ave. gets on a daily basis now.

If this line is such a priority for getting people where they want to go, why has Hollywood Burbank airport not been included as a destination? Certainly, the amount of one-direction traffic going to and coming from the airport would make this project more viable. Not only is the airport left out, but the nearest stop to a Burbank Metrolink station is 1/4 mile away, forcing passengers to walk from Olive and Lake to the Metrolink station.

The city desperately needs to redevelop both the Olive and Magnolia overpasses. Burbank has requested Metro to work on the Olive Ave. overpass and add a stop there closer to the Metrolink station, which Metro has refused to do. Metro also wants the city of Burbank to fund some of the construction work, considering that the city has older areas that need work anyway. This is not for Metro to decide.

After the Caltrans carpool lane debacle, we learned that when they are done, they can plead poverty and not complete what they promised or leave things better than they found them. What will stop Metro from taking the same approach toward Burbank?

What is concerning is if Metro becomes hostile and stops or threatens to stop funding for other transportation projects in Burbank for which we all pay tax money. They cannot hold us hostage because we do not want to change our city’s layout for their needs.

This just seems to be an ill-advised project being shoved down our throats with no proof of concept. If Metro wants us to create a dedicated lane for their buses, they first need to show that the need is there. Keep the lanes at mixed flow for everybody, and after six months of their service, if they can show their buses are carrying 75% loads, I will be one to say we need to rethink this. But until then, this is too big of a step to take.

Burbank’s City Council will decide this Tuesday night. I advise you to stop by and let them know your opinion. You can also call them during the meeting at 818 238 3335.

In previous meetings, the City Council has said they want to keep the lanes mixed usage. Metro is trying to change their minds.

Let the City Council know that Burbank cannot be bullied.


    1. Craig, thank you for this well worded article and for advocating so strongly for Burbank! As the president of Vision Burbank we are holding a rally in front of city hall at 5:15pm and will then go inside where many of us will make public comment against a dedicated lane.

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