LACMTA to evaluate proposal to turn Orange Line BRT to light rail

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Steve Hymon/LACMTA

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has received an unsolicited proposal from Fluor Enterprises, Inc., to accelerate conversion of the Orange Line from bus rapid transit to light rail through a public-private partnership.

This is the first proposal LACMTA has received for this Measure M project and the tenth proposing an alternative delivery method for a major capital project. The transit agency recently advanced unsolicited proposals for two mega projects in the Los Angeles region.

“Thanks to the voters who supported Measure M, the private sector is taking the opportunity to work with Metro,” said LACMTA Board Chair John Fasana. “[LACMTA’s] thoughtful approach to exploring innovations can help ensure the voters receive the best return on their investment.”

LACMTA’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is now in the process of assembling a Phase 1 review team to evaluate the concept on its financial and technical merit.

“Our call for unsolicited proposals has prompted this proposal and we see that as proof positive that we are stimulating excitement in the private sector for Metro projects,” said LACMTA CEO Phillip A. Washington. “These proposals can be game changers in delivering better mobility to our region sooner than expected.”
The review team will be charged with reaching a decision on whether to advance the proposal to the next phase of review, decline further review or proceed directly to a competitive solicitation.

“Since we announced our new unsolicited proposal policy to the public one year ago, we have been gratified by the strong response,” said LACMTA Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank. “We are seeing innovation at its best in the proposals and we look forward to delivering projects and programs – supported by P3s – to improve the quality of life of our region.”

Since opening in 2005 between North Hollywood and Warner Center in Woodland Hills, LACMTA says the 18-mile Orange Line has exceeded even the most liberal ridership projections. In 2012, it was extended from Canoga Park to the Chatsworth Metrolink and Amtrak station. It is the busiest bus route in the San Fernando Valley. Light rail conversion of the Orange Line has the potential to save 15 minutes of travel time and increase capacity between 250 percent and 580 percent.

The Orange Line BRT was constructed on old rail right-of-way and the idea of converting it to light rail has been gaining as ridership has grown.

In April 2015, LACMTA’s “The Source” blog touched on the possible conversion of the corridor to light rail and estimated the cost to between $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. Additionally, the conversion would require detailed environmental reviews, two to three years of construction and space to build a rail vehicle maintenance yard.

Categories: OFF Track Maintenance, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Yards & Terminals