BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 22, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT


                              Brian Maienschein, Chair


          AB 726  
          (Nazarian) - As Amended March 26, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Vehicles:  Los Angeles County Metropolitan  
          Transportation Authority.


          SUMMARY:  Authorizes the Los Angeles County Metropolitan  
          Transportation Authority (MTA) to operate articulated buses that  
          do not exceed 82 feet on the Orange Line in Los Angeles County.   
          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Provides an exemption to the vehicle length limit in existing  
            law to allow MTA to operate articulated buses that do not  
            exceed 82 feet on the route designated as the Orange Line in  
            Los Angeles County.  


          2)Finds and declares that a special law is necessary because of  
            the unique circumstances of a large number of riders using  
            buses operated by MTA on the Orange Line and the need to  
            reduce overcrowding on those buses.  


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Establishes MTA as the successor agency to the Southern  








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            California Rapid Transit District and the Los Angeles County  
            Transportation Commission and prescribes its membership and  
            duties.  

          2)Prohibits a vehicle from exceeding a length of 40 feet and  
            creates a number of exemptions to that limit.  


          3)Prohibits an articulated bus from exceeding a length of 60  
            feet.  


          FISCAL EFFECT:  None


          COMMENTS:  


          1)Bill Summary.  This bill provides an exemption to the maximum  
            articulated bus length limit in current law and authorizes MTA  
            to use articulated buses up to 82 feet on the Orange Line  
            route in Los Angeles County.  This bill is sponsored by MTA.  


          2)MTA and the Orange Line.  MTA was created pursuant to AB 152  
            (Katz), Chapter 60, Statutes of 1992, through the  
            consolidation of the Los Angeles County Transportation  
            Commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District.  
             MTA is now the third-largest public transportation system in  
            the United States by ridership, serving a 1,433 square mile  
            area.  After purchasing and converting an abandoned railroad  
            line parallel to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101), MTA opened  
            the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley in October of 2005.  
             The Orange Line opened as a 14-mile route consisting of  
            two-lane dedicated busways for 60 foot articulated buses.  The  
            Orange Line crosses 34 streets and 


          five midblock pedestrian crosswalks, and at signalized  








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            intersections, loop detectors give 


          Orange Line buses traffic signal priority.  Adjacent to the  
            dedicated busways there are eight miles of bicycle and  
            pedestrian paths, with designated on-street bike lanes for the  
            remaining six miles.  In 2012 MTA did a four-mile northern  
            extension of the Orange Line, connecting four new stations.  
            The use of longer articulated buses on the Orange Line was  
            identified as one of the suggestions to expand Orange Line  
            capacity and improve travel time in the Orange Line bus Rapid  
            Transit Sustainable Corridor Implementation Plan (Orange Line  
            CRT Sustainable CIP), developed by MTA in partnership with the  
            City of Los Angeles in 2011.  In addition to examining  
            improvements to the existing bus rapid transit system, MTA  
            also analyzed the possible conversion of the Orange Line to a  
            rail service.  


            As of November 1, 2009, MTA had 391 articulated buses in its  
            fleet, and contains a plan to assume 500 articulated buses in  
            the near term and another 100 beyond fiscal year 2020.  


          3)Author's Statement.  According to the author, "This is a  
            district bill that will give MTA the flexibility needed to  
            address the growing demands of public transportation in the  
            Greater San Fernando Valley.


            "In 1991, MTA purchased the Southern Pacific Burbank Branch.   
            After 15 years of examining potential transportation  
            alternatives, MTA constructed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along  
            the entire Southern Pacific Burbank Branch route, which is  
            currently known as the LA Metro Orange Line.  Today, much like  
            light rail, the 18 mile Orange Line runs on dedicated bus  
            lanes and uses a dedicated right-of-way with stations  
            approximately at one mile intervals.  









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            "The San Fernando Valley has since outgrown the BRT system.   
            When BRT was determined to be the preferred alternative, MTA  
            estimated that Orange Line ridership would average 16,000  
            riders on weekdays.  However as of September 2012, average  
            ridership was 31,787 -almost double the initial estimate.   
            Ridership on the Orange Line continues to grow rapidly each  
            year.  To add, current Metro Orange Line operation has headway  
            restrictions that limit how many standard articulated buses  
            can operate there.  


            "Consequently, bi-articulated buses would allow for expansion  
            of capacity on this line. Bi-articulated buses can have up to  
            80 passenger seats, which would translate into an operating  
            capacity of 112 passengers. Bi-articulated buses currently  
            operate in South America (primarily Brazil) and in Europe  
            (Germany, Holland, Switzerland).  The most common  
            bi-articulated bus designs are about 82 feet in length.  


            "In order to effectively address the growing public  
            transportation needs of the San Fernando Valley, alleviate  
            congestion and take advantage of available transportation  
            resources, this bill will offer MTA the flexibility they need  
            to operate buses up to 82 feet in length along the Orange  
            Line.  This bill does not impose a mandate, but rather unties  
            the hands of MTA to build appropriate alternative means of  
            transportation to properly serve its customers."  


          4)Prior Legislation.  There is extensive legislative history  
            surrounding the discussion of bus length limits.  This bill is  
            not MTA's first attempt to gain the authority to use larger  
            articulated buses on the Orange Line.  SB 650 (Padilla) of  
            2007 would have authorized transit agencies to operate  
            articulated buses up to 65 feet subject to a number of  
            restrictions, including limiting the buses to operating on a  
            dedicated right-of-way, and the establishment of a route  








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            review committee.  The provisions relating to bus length were  
            eventually amended out of SB 650.   


          5)Policy Considerations.  The Committee may wish to consider the  
            following:


             a)   Potential Changes to the Orange Line.  This bill  
               authorizes MTA to use articulated buses up to 82 feet on  
               the route designated as the Orange Line in Los Angeles  
               County.  MTA has the authority to change and expand any of  
               their routes, and although the Orange Line currently has  
               bus designated lanes, the authority granted by this bill  
               may have very different safety implications depending on  
               how the Orange Line is expanded or changed in the future.   
               The Committee may wish to ask the author to consider  
               limiting the authority granted to MTA to operate  
               articulated buses up to 82 feet only on currently  
               designated busways on the Orange Line to address safety  
               concerns about the compatibility of these larger buses with  
               other vehicles on regular city streets.  


             b)   Safety.  According to the United Transportation Union,  
               "The unsafe conditions created by this size of a bus being  
               allowed to be operated, especially in the greater Los  
               Angeles area, far outweighs any benefit for using busses of  
               this size and length."  


          6)Arguments in Support.  Supporters argue that this bill will  
            give the necessary local flexibility to address the growing  
            demands of public transportation in the greater San Fernando  
            Valley.  


          7)Arguments in Opposition.  Opposition argues that this bill  
            will allow for an increase of over 20% in the current legal  








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            length of articulated buses in California and that this  
            creates an unsafe and dangerous driving condition placing both  
            bus passengers and the general driving public in danger.  


          8)Double-Referral.  This bill is double-referred to the  
            Transportation Committee.  


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority  
          [SPONSOR]


          Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles




          Opposition


          United Transportation Union




          Analysis Prepared by:Misa Lennox / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958












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