|Other name(s)||Silver Line (2009–2020)|
|Line number||910 & 950|
|Termini||El Monte Station|
Harbor Gateway Transit Center (910)
San Pedro (950)
|Stations||12 (makes additional street stops)|
|Website||Metro J Line|
|Type||Bus rapid transit|
|System||Los Angeles Metro Busway|
|Depot(s)||Division 9 (El Monte)|
Division 18 (Carson)
|Rolling stock||NABI 45C-LFW & 60-BRT|
|Daily ridership||11,628 (Sep. 2021, weekdays)|
|Opened||December 13, 2009|
|Line length||38 mi (61.2 km)|
|Character||Shared-use busways with some city streets|
The J Line (formerly the Silver Line, sometimes listed as Line 910/950) is a 38-mile (61.2 km) bus rapid transit route that runs between El Monte, Downtown Los Angeles and Gardena, with some trips continuing to San Pedro. It is one of the two lines in the Metro Busway system and is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
The J Line offers frequent, all-stops service along the El Monte Busway and the Harbor Transitway, two grade-separated transit facilities built into the Southern California freeway system. The line was created on December 13, 2009, as part of the conversion of the facilities from high-occupancy vehicle lanes into high-occupancy toll lanes (branded as Metro ExpressLanes) that allow solo drivers to pay a toll to use lanes. The tolls collected have been used to operate the J Line and to refurbish the aging stations along the line.
As J Line buses travel along the El Monte Busway and the Harbor Transitway they serve stations built into the center or side of the roadway. There is a 3.6 mi (5.8 km) gap between the western end of El Monte Busway and the northern end of the Harbor Transitway in Downtown Los Angeles, where J Line buses travel on surface streets, making a limited number of stops. Along the route, buses serve several of the region's major transportation hubs including El Monte Station, Union Station, 7th Street/Metro Center station, Harbor Freeway station and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center.
In 2020, the line was renamed from Silver Line to the J Line while retaining its route numbers and the color silver in its square icon as part of a renaming of all Metro lines.
Two services are operated under the J Line name:
The eastern section of the J Line route runs on the El Monte Busway between the El Monte Station in El Monte and Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. The southern section of the route runs on the Harbor Transitway between 37th Street/USC station in Downtown Los Angeles and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center near the city of Carson. Buses travel between the eastern and southern sections along 3.6 mi (5.8 km) of surface streets in Downtown Los Angeles where J Line buses make a limited number of stops near major employment centers, tourist destinations and Metro Rail stations. Buses utilize about 2.5 mi (4.0 km) of bus-only lanes in each direction to speed trips across Downtown Los Angeles.
J Line route 950 trips continue south of the Harbor Gateway Transit Center along the Harbor Freeway to San Pedro traveling in general-purpose freeway lanes and making two stops en route at stations located on the side of the freeway near off and on-ramps. In San Pedro, J Line route 950 buses once again travel along surface streets, serving the Harbor Beacon Park & Ride and making frequent stops along Pacific Avenue.
The J Line charges a premium fare that is higher than most other Metro routes. Metro day passes are accepted as full fare, but all other pass holders must pay for an upgraded 1 zone pass or pay an additional "premium charge" at the time of boarding.
Like the other Metro Rail and Metro Busway lines, the J Line operates on a proof-of-payment system. Passengers may board at either the front or rear door of J Line buses and validate their Transit Access Pass (TAP) electronic fare card at readers located onboard the bus, near the door. Metro's fare inspectors randomly inspect buses to ensure passengers have a valid fare product on their TAP card. Pre-payment of fares and all-door boarding reduces the time buses need to remain stopped at stations.
TAP vending machines are available at most stations (except Carson and Pacific Coast Highway, which are expected to be removed from the line in 2021) and are located near most street stops in Downtown Los Angeles. But, because vending machines are not available at all stations and street stops, passengers who need to purchase a card or add funds can do so at the farebox on board the bus. None of the other Metro Rail or Metro Busway lines offer onboard sales.
Metro and Foothill Transit offer a reciprocal fare program where pass holders may ride either J Line or Silver Streak buses between Downtown Los Angeles and the El Monte Station.
|Services||Stations and Stops||Type||Date opened||City (Neighborhood)||Major connections and notes|
|●||●||El Monte Station||Station||July 14, 1973||El Monte||Park and ride: 1,287 spaces|
|●||●||Cal State LA||February 18, 1975||East Los Angeles||San Bernardino Line|
|●||●||LA County+USC Medical Center||Los Angeles (Boyle Heights)|
|●||●||Union Station||November 1, 2020||Los Angeles (Downtown)|| |
Amtrak, LAX FlyAway and Metrolink
Paid parking: 3,000 spaces
|●||●||Aliso/Los Angeles||Arcadia/Los Angeles||Street Stop|
|●||●||Spring/1st||December 13, 2009|
(Civic Center/Grand Park)
(7th St/Metro Center)
(7th St/Metro Center)
|April 30, 2012 (southbound)
June 23, 2013 (northbound)
|Los Angeles (North University Park)|
|●||●||Figueroa Way/Adams||Flower/Adams||June 26, 2011|
|●||●||37th Street/USC||Station||August 1, 1996||Los Angeles (Exposition Park)|
|●||●||Slauson||Los Angeles (South Los Angeles)||Park and ride: 150 spaces|
|●||●||Manchester||Park and ride: 253 spaces|
|●||●||Harbor Freeway|| |
Park and ride: 253 spaces
|●||●||Rosecrans||Los Angeles (Harbor Gateway)||Park and ride: 202 spaces|
|●||●||Harbor Gateway Transit Center||Park and ride: 980 spaces|
|●||Figueroa/Victoria||Figueroa/190th||Street stop||December 13, 2015||Carson|
|●||Carson||Station||November 17, 2000||Park and ride: 143 spaces|
|●||Pacific Coast Highway||Park and ride: 240 spaces|
|●||Harbor Beacon Park & Ride||Street stop||December 13, 2015||Los Angeles (San Pedro)||Park and ride: 180 spaces|
Main article: History of Los Angeles Metro Rail and Busway
The idea for the route now known as the J Line came in 1993, as Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) staff studied how to operate buses on the Harbor Transitway, which was under construction and would open three years later in the summer of 1996. Metro staff recommended the creation of a dual hub-and-spoke ("dual hub") system with a trunk route that served both the Harbor Transitway and the operationally similar El Monte Busway which had opened two decades earlier in January 1973. Staff said the dual hub proposal, would be the most efficient and cost less to run, but the Metro Board of Directors decided to continue running bus routes on both the El Monte Busway and Harbor Freeway as they had before.
After the Harbor Transitway opened, ridership was radically lower than expected: Caltrans had projected that 65,200 passengers would travel along the Harbor Transitway each day, but after 10 years, the facility had only attracted 3,000 passengers per weekday. That amount is low compared to the El Monte Busway, which had 32,000 boardings a day in November 2000.
After the very successful launch of the Orange Line busway (now the G Line) in the San Fernando Valley, Metro decided to rebrand the county's other busways in an attempt to increase awareness. 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 bus routes operated on either facility. The changes were criticized as being difficult to understand for irregular and new riders.
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 bus route began operations on December 13, 2009, the HOT lanes on the Harbor Transitway went into service on November 10, 2012 and the El Monte Busway's HOT lanes opened on February 22, 2013.
Since the start of the J Line, Metro has been working to refurbish the aging stations along both the Harbor Transitway and the El Monte Busway. The 1970s-era El Monte Station was demolished and replaced by a new station in October 2012. All of the Harbor Transitway stations were refurbished with real-time arrival signs, new wayfinding signage, improved lighting, and soundproofing by late 2012. The El Monte Busway stations received a similar refurbishment in January 2015. Transit Access Pass (TAP) card ticket vending machines were added to stations in early 2017 to support all-door boarding on J Line buses. Metro has also added a new station on the El Monte Busway at Union Station that opened on November 1, 2020.
Efforts have also been made to speed up J Line buses as they cross Downtown Los Angeles on surface streets. LADOT added bus priority to traffic lights in 2012 and over several years about 2.5 mi (4.0 km) of bus-only lanes have been added in each direction, allowing buses to bypass traffic on nearly 70% of the 3.6 mi (5.8 km) surface street portion of the route.
In 2015, Metro integrated the last remaining Metro Express route on the Harbor Transitway, the 450X to San Pedro, into the Silver Line. Originally a new express Silver Line service was added that served San Pedro and skipped many Harbor Transitway stations; but by June 2017, San Pedro-bound buses were serving all stations, the increase in speed deemed not enough to justify increased crowding on other buses.
As part of Metro's NextGen Bus Plan, the agency has proposed discontinuing the J Line's route 950 that offers service to San Pedro. Metro says the change would allow the J Line to transition to battery-electric buses and would improve the reliability of buses that operate between El Monte Station and Harbor Gateway Transit Center. Service to San Pedro would be shifted to a new line that would operate between San Pedro and the Harbor Freeway station via I-110, with a peak-hour extension to Downtown Los Angeles. The changes are expected to be implemented in 2021. The city of San Pedro opposes the change with citizens requesting that they also receive electrified bus service.
Ridership has steadily grown on the J Line each year.
An estimated 6,612 passengers rode the line each weekday in January 2010 (the first full month of operation) and ridership has grown steadily each year since. Ridership set a new all-time high in February 2016 with an estimated 16,884 passengers riding the line each weekday.
The on time performance of the Metro J Line is currently around 82.4%, defined as being less than 5 minutes behind schedule. That places it far behind the Metro Rail lines (99% on time) and Orange Line (94% on time), but better than an average Metro bus route (80.6% on time). On time performance benefits from the active traffic management system installed as part of the Metro ExpressLanes project.
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 at 80 mph (130 km/h) in his 2009 Honda Fit (15 mph (24 km/h) 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.
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. 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.
The Metro J Line is primarily operated with a fleet of dedicated NABI Metro 45C "CompoBus" coaches. Each 45-foot long (14 m) bus is made of light composite materials and is powered by compressed natural gas. Coaches are painted or vinyl wrapped with a special grey livery that matches the design of newer Metro Rail vehicles and the coaches used on G Line.
As of September 2, 2020, 60-foot long (18 m) NABI 60-BRT, previously used on the G Line and also painted in the special Metro Busway grey livery, are operating on the J Line until the switch to battery-electric buses is complete.
BYD K9M & K11M electric buses are expected to take over the J Line fleet sometime in the near future.
Buses used on the J Line are operated out of Division 9 in El Monte on the grounds of El Monte Station and Division 18 at South Figueroa Street and West Griffith Street in Carson, about a mile south of the Harbor Gateway Transit Center.