Preliminary Evaluation of Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit Project

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - busway, planning - safety/accidents, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - bus, mode - subway/metro, mode - bus rapid transit


Travel time, Transit safety, Ridership, Patronage (Transit ridership), Los Angeles County (California), Journey time, Evaluation and assessment, Cost effectiveness, Busways, Bus rapid transit


This paper provides a preliminary assessment of the Metro Orange Line of Los Angeles County, California, one of the first full-feature bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in the United States. The paper also compares the Orange Line with two recent transit investments in Los Angeles: the Gold Line light rail and Metro Rapid, a rapid bus service with limited BRT features. The assessment is based on existing performance, cost, and operational data from the Orange Line’s first year of service. The study found that the Orange Line is exceeding ridership projections, reducing travel times, easing congestion, and attracting people out of their cars. It is performing better than the Gold Line, which cost significantly more, yet carries fewer riders. Metro Rapid appears to have some cost-effectiveness advantages but lacks travel time consistency and a premium transit service image. The Orange Line also offers lessons for future BRT planners. The Orange Line has suffered several collisions between buses and private vehicles, primarily because private vehicles were running red lights. Safety changes included reducing bus speeds through intersections, which contributed to higher-than-projected travel times. If safety issues were addressed, this would provide valuable lessons for future at-grade busway projects. Also, as with some other recent projects, the Orange Line has pavement integrity issues. Further research would be useful in this area. Overall, the Orange Line is providing mobility benefits and attracting new riders to an extent usually thought possible only with expensive rail systems. As the Orange Line matures, further performance analysis and evaluation of land development impacts would be valuable.