Harbor Transitway
I-110 Express Lanes
Metro J Line runs on the Harbor Transitway with frequent service.
Overview
SystemBusway & High-occupancy toll lanes
OperatorLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
Began serviceJune 26, 1996
Routes
Routes
LocaleLos Angeles, California
Start37th Street/USC
EndHarbor Gateway Transit Center
Length10.3 mi (16.6 km)
Stations6

The Harbor Transitway (also known as the I-110 Express Lanes) is a 10.3-mile (16.6 km) shared-use express bus corridor (known as a busway or transitway) and high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes running in the median of Interstate 110 (Harbor Freeway) between Downtown Los Angeles and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center in Gardena, California. Buses also make intermediate stops at 37th Street/USC, Slauson, Manchester, Harbor Freeway, and Rosecrans stations. The facility opened for two-person carpools (high-occupancy vehicle lanes) on June 26, 1996, for buses on August 1, 1996 and was converted to HOT lanes as part of the Metro ExpressLanes project on November 10, 2012.

The Harbor Transitway is utilized by the J Line, a bus rapid transit route operated by LA Metro. It is also used by several Metro Express, GTrans, LADOT Commuter Express, Orange County Transportation Authority, and Torrance Transit bus services, most of which only run during weekday peak periods.

South of the Harbor Transitway, the Harbor Freeway also has two stations on the shoulder of the highway, Carson station and Pacific Coast Highway station which opened on November 18, 2000.

History

Main article: History of Los Angeles Metro Rail and Busway

Construction

2.6 miles of the Harbor Transitway runs on viaducts elevated above regular traffic on the Harbor Freeway.
2.6 miles of the Harbor Transitway runs on viaducts elevated above regular traffic on the Harbor Freeway.

The Harbor Transitway project built 10.3 miles (16.6 km) of new lanes (two in each direction) for buses and two-person carpools (high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes) between Downtown Los Angeles and a new transit center in Gardena, California. The most visually striking part of the project were the 2.6 miles of viaducts that elevated the transitway directly above the regular freeway traffic.[1]: 2  The project also included new stations in the median of the transitway at 37th Street/USC, Slauson, Manchester, Harbor Freeway, and Rosecrans along with the Harbor Gateway Transit Center (then called the Artesia Transit Center) located southeast of the Harbor Freeway/State Route 91 interchange and connected by a flyover ramp.[1]: 3 

South of State Route 91 to San Pedro, a 9.3-mile (15.0 km) section of the Harbor Freeway was widened from six to eight lanes. On this section of freeway, buses travel in the general-purpose lanes and make stops at new stations on the shoulder at Carson and Pacific Coast Highway.[1]: 3  The project also built the off-highway Harbor Beacon Park & Ride in San Pedro, originally intended to be a transit center for the city.[1]: 10 

The project to widen the Harbor Freeway and build the Harbor Transitway was planned and constructed concurrently with the new Interstate 105 (Century Freeway), which was highly controversial and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) was required by a consent decree to include HOV lanes and a transitway, which became the C Line.[2]

After about 20 years of planning and construction,[1]: i  the Harbor Transitway opened on June 26, 1996, at a cost of $498 million.[3] Because of uncertainty on the opening date, buses would not start using the facility a few weeks later on August 1, 1996.[3] Opening of the final one-mile elevated section from 39th Street to Adams Boulevard (including 37th Street/USC station) was delayed until July 28, 1997.[4] The Harbor Freeway shoulder stations would open on November 18, 2000.[5]

Early operations

Even before opening, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) staff recognized that there was an opportunity to link the operation of the Harbor Transitway to the El Monte Busway, an older but operationally similar facility east of Downtown Los Angeles.

During the planning stages, Metro proposed to Caltrans that the transitway be extended from its terminal at 37th Street north for a more direct connection with Downtown Los Angeles or El Monte Busway.[1]: 3  That request was not implemented, but Caltrans did construct the transitway with stub end to create a provision for a future extension.[6] In 1998, Metro studied the extension but found it expensive and technically challenging, and to date there have been no further efforts to extend the transitway.[7]

In 1993, Metro studied how to operate its buses on the Harbor Transitway best and settled on three proposals: continue to run service as it had before, shift to a hub-and-spoke system with a trunk route on the Harbor Transitway, or create a "dual hub" system with a trunk route that served both the Harbor Transitway and the older El Monte Busway.[1]: 5  The study took into account that because the Harbor Transitway was a Caltrans project, no additional operating funds were provided to transit agencies in the region to operate over the new facility. Metro staff recommended the dual hub proposal, saying that it would be the most efficient and cost less to run.[1]: 6  Ultimately, the Metro Board of Directors decided to largely continue running bus routes as they had before.[3] Because most of the buses traveling on the Harbor Freeway served commuters' needs, service was frequent along the corridors during the weekday peak hours but infrequent during other times.

Ridership on the Harbor Transitway was radically lower than expected: Caltrans had projected that 65,200 passengers would travel along the Harbor Transitway each day, but after 10 years ridership fell far below those predictions, with the route seeing just 3,000 passengers per weekday in 2004.[5] That amount is low compared to the El Monte Busway, which had 32,000 boardings a day in November 2000.[5]

Conversion to bus rapid transit and high occupancy toll

New bollards, security cameras, and digital message signs were added to stations after the start of bus rapid transit as seen here at Slauson station in September 2012.
New bollards, security cameras, and digital message signs were added to stations after the start of bus rapid transit as seen here at Slauson station in September 2012.

After the very successful launch of the Orange Line, a new busway in the San Fernando Valley, Metro decided to rebrand the county's other busways in an attempt to increase awareness.[8] In March 2006, Metro decided that the Harbor Transitway would be colored bronze and the El Monte Busway would be colored silver on Metro's maps and the two would be marketed as a "Combined Transitway Service." No changes were made in the operations of the buses routes operated on the lines. The changes were criticized as being difficult to understand for irregular and new riders.[9]

Metro returned to its plan for a dual-hub route in 2009, proposing a new bus rapid transit service called the Silver Line (now J Line) utilizing both the Harbor Transitway and the El Monte Busway. The new higher frequency service would be funded by converting both corridors into high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, to be branded as the Metro ExpressLanes. The Silver Line began operations on December 13, 2009, with Metro planning to refurbish the aging stations along both corridors over the coming years. The electronic toll collection equipment for the HOT lanes on the Harbor Transitway went into service on November 10, 2012.[10] The El Monte Busway's HOT lanes opened on February 22, 2013.[11]

Stations along the Harbor Transitway were improved between early 2011 and late 2012 with the addition of real-time arrival signs, new wayfinding signage, improved lighting, and soundproofing. The Harbor Gateway Transit Center also received bathrooms and a law enforcement substation.[12]

Usage of the Harbor Transitway has significantly increased with the implementation of the J Line,[13] with ridership across the entire route reaching 19,277 boardings a day in February 2020.[14]

Transit Access Pass (TAP) card ticket vending machines were added to most stations (except Carson and Pacific Coast Highway) in early 2017 to support all-door boarding on the J Line.[15] Pre-payment of fares and all-door boarding reduces the time buses need to remain stopped at stations.[16]

Tolls

As of October 2020, the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are a 24/7 service. Solo drivers are tolled using a variable pricing system based on the time of day. Carpools with two or more occupants are not charged.[17] All tolls are collected using an open road tolling system, and therefore there are no toll booths to receive cash. Each vehicle using the HOT lanes is required to carry a FasTrak Flex transponder, with its switch set to indicate the number of the vehicle's occupants (1, 2, or 3 or more).[17]

The difference between the Harbor Transitway and the El Monte Busway is that the latter charges two-person carpools the posted toll during peak hours.[17]

Usage of the express lanes by private vehicles has become high enough to decrease speeds, leading to carpool-only restrictions during peak hours. To compensate, Metro is considering increasing the maximum toll from its current $1.40 per mile cap.[18]

Bus services

The Metro J Line bus rapid transit line runs on the Harbor Transitway from Harbor Gateway Transit Center to Downtown Los Angeles and continues to El Monte Bus Station. The line operates daily with frequent service. In addition to Metro J Line, other Metro bus and municipal bus routes also operate on the Harbor Transitway. They include Metro Express lines 460 and 550, Torrance Transit line 4, Gardena Transit line 1X and Orange County Transportation Authority lines 701, 721. Metro Express line 550 operate only during weekdays peak hours. Torrance Transit line 4, Gardena Transit line 1X, and Orange County Transportation Authority: 701, 721 operate only during weekday peak hours. Metro Express line 460 operates daily along with the Metro Silver Line. Busway bus lines originate from Downtown Los Angeles and El Monte, with final destinations in Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure Park located in Anaheim, Knott's Berry Farm, Artesia, Fullerton, Gardena, Hawthorne, Huntington Beach, San Pedro and Torrance.

FlyAway buses use the transitway to travel between the Los Angeles International Airport and Union Station but do not serve any of the stations.

Stations

37th Street/USC station, stairs from lower level to northbound platform
37th Street/USC station, stairs from lower level to northbound platform
Metro Express routes 460 & 550 departing Manchester station
Metro Express routes 460 & 550 departing Manchester station
Passengers boarding the Metro J Line to Downtown Los Angeles & El Monte Station at Harbor Gateway Transit Center.
Passengers boarding the Metro J Line to Downtown Los Angeles & El Monte Station at Harbor Gateway Transit Center.

The Harbor Transitway has eight stations served by the Metro J Line and is also served by Metro Express buses, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Orange County Transportation Authority, Gardena Transit and Torrance Transit buses. The stations from north to south are:

Station Busway Services Station Type Major connections and notes
37th Street/USC Transitway median
Slauson
Transitway median Park and ride: 151 stalls
Manchester
    •  J Line: 910, 950
    • Metro Express: 460, 550
    • Dodger Stadium Express
    • Orange County Transportation Authority: 701, 721
    • Torrance Transit: 4X
Transitway median Park and ride: 247 stalls
Harbor Freeway
    •  J Line: 910, 950
    • Metro Express: 550
    • Dodger Stadium Express
    • GTrans: 1X
    • LADOT Commuter Express: 448
    • Orange County Transportation Authority: 721
    • Torrance Transit: 4X
Transitway median Connects with  C Line
Park and ride: 253 stalls
Rosecrans
    •  J Line: 910, 950
    • Metro Express: 550
    • Dodger Stadium Express
    • Orange County Transportation Authority: 721
    • Torrance Transit: 4X
Transitway median Park and ride: 338 stalls
Harbor Gateway Transit Center
    •  J Line: 910, 950
    • Metro Local: 52, 130, 205, 246, 344
    • Metro Express: 550
    • Dodger Stadium Express
    • GTrans: 1X
    • Torrance Transit: 4X
Off-freeway transit center Park and ride: 980 stalls
Carson  J Line: 950 Freeway shoulder Park and ride: 140 stalls
Pacific Coast Highway  J Line: 950 Freeway shoulder Park and ride: 240 stalls

Incidents

Bollards were installed at Harbor Freeway station and all similar stations after the crash.
Bollards were installed at Harbor Freeway station and all similar stations after the crash.

On February 22, 2012, a drunk driver on the Harbor Freeway mistakenly entered the bus-only station area of the Harbor Freeway station. The driver, 51-year-old Stephen L. Lubin of Sun Valley, was traveling 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) in his 2009 Honda Fit (15 mph over the freeway's posted speed limit) as he entered the station and encountered a bus stopped at the platform. Lubin swerved to avoid hitting the bus and drove onto the station platform where he hit seven people, critically injuring six, before slamming into a pole on the platform.[19]

After the crash, Metro's CEO Art Leahy asked Metro's safety committee staff to review the layout of busway stations and safety signage on the roadways leading into the station areas.[20] As a result of that investigation, Metro added concrete-filled metal bollards to all stations on the Harbor Transitway and the El Monte Busway to prevent vehicles from entering the platform and additional markings were added on roadways leading into stations.[21]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dual Hub High Occupancy Vehicle Transitway Report" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Scheduling and Operations Planning Staff. August 1993.
  2. ^ Weinstein, Henry (October 15, 1993). "A Concrete Accomplishment: Transit: Long-planned Interstate 105 opens with gala festivities. Amid the tumult, Judge Harry Pregerson takes pride in job-training and housing programs he helped ensure in the freeway corridor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Radcliffe, Jim (June 27, 1996). "Harbor Transitway opens, reducing congestion - Impact felt during evening commute". Daily Breeze. p. A3 – via NewsBank.
  4. ^ Radcliffe, Jim (July 28, 1997). "Final stretch of elevated Harbor Freeway to open". Daily Breeze. p. A2 – via NewsBank.
  5. ^ a b c Shuit, Douglas P. (November 20, 2000). "Harbor Transitway Has Everything but Riders". Los Angeles Times. The $500-million Harbor Transitway from Wilmington to downtown Los Angeles was supposed to generate 65,000 bus rides a day along the Harbor Freeway. But usage did remain low as 3,000 boardings a day—that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has slashed the fare by more than half—from $3.35 to $1.35—in hopes of increasing ridership.
  6. ^ "Google maps satellite view of stub end of transitway". Google.
  7. ^ Gabbard, Dana (June 24, 2010). "Busway Linkage Obsession Puzzler". Streetsblog Los Angeles. Retrieved November 25, 2020.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Emsden, Maya (March 16, 2006). "Approve color designations for Metro lines and fixed guideways" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Freemark, Yonah (December 10, 2009). "Los Angeles Integrates Service on Two Busways, with Plans to Implement Congestion Pricing". The Transport Politic. Retrieved November 25, 2020.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Kudler, Adrian Glick (November 6, 2012). "Everything You Need to Know About New 110 and 10 Toll Lanes". Curbed LA. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Pamer, Melissa (February 22, 2013). "Metro ExpressLanes to Open on San Bernardino (10) Freeway". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved November 25, 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Metro Silver Line Update Report" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. January 19, 2012.
  13. ^ Weikel, Dan (December 2, 2014). "A cleaned-up, safer Harbor Transitway puts more commuters on the bus". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  14. ^ "Metro Ridership". Metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  15. ^ "Universal Fare System Contract Modification". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. April 1, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  16. ^ "All-Door Boarding". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Using Metro ExpressLanes". www.metroexpresslanes.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  18. ^ Nelson, Laura J. (March 24, 2015). "MTA's toll-lane project may be a victim of its own success". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  19. ^ William-Ross, Lindsay (February 24, 2012). "Driver Who Plowed Into Crowded Bus Platform Failed His Sobriety Test". LAist. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  20. ^ "Probe ordered into crash that injured 7 at 110 Freeway bus stop". Los Angeles Times. February 23, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  21. ^ "Harbor Freeway Metro Silver Line Station platform improvements" (PDF). April 20, 2012..

Further reading