BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  1





          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          726 (Nazarian)


          As Amended  April 29, 2015


          Majority vote


           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes |Ayes                  |Noes                 |
          |----------------+------+----------------------+---------------------|
          |Local           |9-0   |Maienschein,          |                     |
          |Government      |      |Gonzalez, Alejo,      |                     |
          |                |      |Chiu, Cooley, Gordon, |                     |
          |                |      |Holden, Linder,       |                     |
          |                |      |Waldron               |                     |
          |                |      |                      |                     |
          |----------------+------+----------------------+---------------------|
          |Transportation  |16-0  |Frazier, Achadjian,   |                     |
          |                |      |Baker, Bloom, Chu,    |                     |
          |                |      |Daly, Dodd, Eduardo   |                     |
          |                |      |Garcia, Gomez, Kim,   |                     |
          |                |      |Linder, Medina,       |                     |
          |                |      |Melendez, Nazarian,   |                     |
          |                |      |O'Donnell, Santiago   |                     |
          |                |      |                      |                     |
          |                |      |                      |                     |
           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 


          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:  








                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  2







          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)Specifies that the authority granted by this bill to MTA is  
            subject to specified collective bargaining requirements.  


          3)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  
            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:  










                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  3





          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.  Additionally, this bill specifies that  
            MTA's use of the longer articulated buses is subject to  
            collective bargaining requirements.  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 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.  









                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  4






            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.  


            "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  








                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  5





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


          5)Policy Consideration.  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 Legislature 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.  









                                                                       AB 726


                                                                      Page  6






          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 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.  




          Analysis Prepared by:                                               
                          Misa Lennox / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958  FN:  
          0000234