The heat is on near new Orange Line
May 31, 2012
Sheriff’s deputies charged with making sure motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians stay safe around the soon-to-open Orange Line Extension have recently handed out 138 tickets—and counting—in the area around the new busway.
Their efforts have intensified recently, as the popular rapid transit bus line prepares to open its new, 4-mile route next month, extending the line from Warner Center to the train station in Chatsworth.
“Just this weekend alone, we did about 40 [citations],” sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Estrada said.
One of the biggest problems: motorists making illegal right turns on red across the busway.
“People are doing that like crazy. They’re ignoring [posted signs] completely, and risking a collision with a bus,” Estrada said.
Others try to beat a changing light but end up partially blocking the intersection—another ticket-worthy infraction.
Then there are those who manage to get into trouble on foot—using the busway as an impromptu running track. So far, deputies have issued only warnings to the joggers.
“They’re getting educated not to be jogging up and down the busway,” Estrada said. “For now, we’re just advising them. They’re not getting cited yet.”
Enforcement efforts have increased as Orange Line buses make trial runs on their new, dedicated busway in advance of an expected June opening. Updated 5/29/12: The Orange Line Extension is set to open to the public on June 30. A day of festivities and free rides is planned. Details are here.
Traffic collisions are not uncommon when new transit lines open, as motorists must adjust to new travel patterns. After the original Orange Line opened in 2005, a series of accidents led officials to convene a special committee to improve safety around the line.
This time around, an aggressive public education campaign is underway, drawing on earlier lessons learned.
Metro “safety ambassadors” have started working near schools in the area, observing pedestrian patterns and helping people navigate crossings.
An advertising campaign is planned for a range of San Fernando Valley publications, and flyers will be placed aboard Metrolink trains and distributed in locations where they’ll reach drivers, such as car washes and gas stations.
And, of course, nothing focuses a motorist’s attention like an expensive traffic ticket. Deputies on motorcycles and in patrol cars are out in force between the line’s Canoga Station, located at 6610 Canoga Ave., and the Chatsworth Metrolink Station, 10047 Old Depot Plaza Road, from now until several weeks after the line opens.
To stay out of trouble, “drive carefully and pay close attention to the signs and the red lights,” Sgt. Estrada advises.