Light rail could be the new Orange (Line) in SF Valley

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ORANGELINE_zA rail boom is taking place in L.A, County. But the San Fernando Valley – home to 20 percent of the county’s population – has been left out of the mix.

That could change.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors will consider a proposal this week to transform the popular Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley into a light rail line.

The Orange Line was originally envisioned as a subway or rail line, but Metro ultimately opted for the cheaper bus line. The state Legislature actually banned light rail construction in the Valley in 1991, but that law was repealed last year.

Advocates – including the influential Valley Industry and Commerce Association – say it’s high time the San Fernando Valley was included in Metro’s rail plans.

BUSWAYSIGNA new report prepared for Metro estimates the costs of a conversion at between $1.2 and $1.7 billion. Putting in rail tracks along the 18-mile route would take two to three years.

The Orange Line is the busiest bus route in the Valley, carrying about 30,000 passengers a day. But the report cautions that ridership should be allowed to grow more before tracks are laid.