HomeCity NewsCouncil Enters Into Agreement With Metro for BRT

Council Enters Into Agreement With Metro for BRT

The Burbank City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to enter into a cooperative agreement with L.A. Metro for the design and construction of the North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, advocating for “mixed flow” on the Olive Avenue segment of the route.

Tuesday’s agreement will enable the city and Metro to collaborate on the final design and construction of the project.

The 18-mile project would construct a BRT between the North Hollywood B and G Line Stations (formerly the Red and Orange Lines) and the L Line in Pasadena (formerly the Gold Line) and would pass through the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles. It has been the source of debate between pro-transit and pro-business advocates, who disagree on the lane configuration of the bus line’s Olive Avenue segment. 

The agreement signals the Council’s willingness to cooperate with Metro on the design of the BRT route in Burbank. Metro and the city still disagree on whether the bus line will operate on a mixed flow route on Olive, which means busses would travel together with traffic, or whether Metro would build dedicated bus lanes on the busy artery, which would reduce normal traffic lanes on Olive to one lane in each direction.

Metro, the city and Burbank residents will collaborate further before a design — incorporating either mixed flow or dedicated bus lanes — is finalized.

“We are going into this with an open-ended [mindset]; we don’t know where we are going to land, but this is a roadmap of the issues, that, from our perspective, we’d love to discuss,” Mayor Nick Schultz said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The BRT report was the Council’s only report for the night. Still, the meeting ran more than seven hours, past 1 a.m., as Council members sat through dozens of public comments.

Just minutes before the meeting started, counterprotesters crashed a demonstration outside of City Hall that consisted mostly of Burbank business owners who were against dedicated BRT bus lanes.

Led by Vision Burbank, a local political action group, protesters advocated for the City Council to reiterate a 2022 position in favor of mixed flow lanes on Olive, which would have the BRT share Olive’s four lanes with traffic.

“We are delighted with the Burbank City Council’s decision to uphold their stance on mixed flow for Olive Avenue,” said David Donahue, president of Vision Burbank. “However, we were disheartened by the Metro representatives’ inability to provide satisfactory answers to simple questions posed by Councilwoman [Zizette] Mullins and several others during the Council session.”

Burbank Chamber of Commerce Jamie Keyser Thomas has told the Leader that the Chamber is formally in favor of mixed flow.

“This aspect of the proposal is impractical and counterproductive,” the Chamber said in a press statement, citing traffic and negative business impacts as its most significant concerns, and calling Metro’s process “undemocratic.”

Counterprotesters advocated for more progressive public transit designs in favor of dedicated bus lanes, citing successful BRT lines in other U.S. cities with heightened ridership and reduced traffic congestion.

“BRT is a better, safer, faster transit system than a standard bus system,” Burbank Transportation Commissioner Eddy Polon told the Leader. “Even though it’s a bus and not a train, it has some of the features of a train. It’s going to have raised platforms at each of the boarding stops, and with the dedicated lanes, it’s going to actually run on time. But once we take away the dedicated lanes, it becomes a regular bus. And we lose a lot of the benefits of a Bus Rapid Transit line.”

In approving the agreement, the City Council voted to continue to support the city’s position described in its previous 2022 letter to Metro, including support for mixed flow lanes on Olive Avenue.

Council members chose to refrain from including specific project description language in the agreement to further continued discussion with Metro and the city in effort to reach consensus on outstanding project issues.

The City Council also designated a Council subcommittee to work directly with the Metro board of directors and other elected officials to reach a final configuration of the project and secure support for improvements to the Olive Avenue bridge, which is a hub for Burbank’s growing transit infrastructure.

Additionally, the approved Cooperative Agreement will ensure that Metro will be subject to the city’s permitting procedures before construction can begin. This will allow the city to be reimbursed for its project costs. 

As part of the agreement, Metro committed to conducting ongoing public outreach and holding community meetings as it continues to develop the final design and construct the project.

“Up until today, we have had so few people in this conversation who actually use the bus,” Councilwoman Tamala Takahashi said. “It’s essential that the folks who ride the bus have a voice. Not just the residents who ride the bus, but the people who work in Burbank. … It’s so important to me that those voices are heard.”

Takahashi added that an efficient bus line is essential to ensure sustainable travel through the city. Burbank has a 3-to-1 jobs-to-housing ratio, meaning that the population of the city swells by 300% during the day. Those people are largely traveling through Burbank by automobile.

Despite the agreement and the Council’s stance on mixed flow, designs for the BRT are not set in stone. Metro will complete design plans mid-2025 and construction is expected to take place 2025 through 2027, city officials said during the meeting.

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce advocated against dedicated bus lanes on Olive Avenue in favor of shared traffic flow, citing traffic and safety concerns, and potential negative business impacts.


Polon also advocated for the reconstruction of the Olive Avenue Bridge, calling it “seismically unsafe.” Many speakers at the Tuesday meeting joined him in calling for a new bridge on Olive.

“The reason that the BRT is not putting a station on that bridge is that if they park two of their buses side by side on the top of the bridge, there’s no guarantee that bridge holds,” he said.

Current designs would have the closest stop to the bridge positioned on Lake Street. It’s an important connection to the Metrolink station, which has an elevator to the train line at the top  of the bridge.

“BRT would help make the bridge a transit center. That’s important,” said Polon. “When that happens to, it becomes eligible for county state and federal funds. [L.A. County Supervisor] Kathryn Barger has already said she’ll sign on to help support it. We need Metro to also be a partner. And then we’re going to go after the state and federal governments to get this money to build a resource for our city.”

Plans to update and widen the Olive Avenue Bridge to accommodate bike and public transit travel are scheduled for consideration in June, when the Council reviews the city’s Capital Improvement Program.

Polon estimated the project would cost north of $60 million, saying that BRT was an important element in securing funding for the new bridge.

The North Hollywood to Pasadena BRT line is planned between the North Hollywood B and G Line Stations (formerly the Red and Orange Lines) and the L Line in Pasadena (formerly the Gold Line) and would pass through the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles. – Photo courtesy L.A. Metro

First published in the March 30 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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