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Metro extends Noho to Pasadena express bus pilot

The Metro board voted Thursday to extend the pilot period for an express bus service between North Hollywood and Pasadena for another 180 days, but with changes.

The 501 express bus started service in March when the Gold Line extension to Azusa opened.

The service bridges the transit gap between the Orange Line rapid bus and Red Line subway in North Hollywood and the Gold Line in Pasadena. Along the way, the bus also stops in Burbank and Glendale.


Ridership on the new line has built up to just under 1,100 boardings each weekday, about 650 fewer than the target of 1,750 officials had set.

At a Metro committee meeting last week, Bart Reed with the Transit Coalition said one of the problems with the bus is the lack of service during early mornings and late nights when people who work service jobs often need transit.

"The 501 runs on a banker's schedule. You’re not working with the people that use buses," he said.

Metro has extended the pilot for an additional 180 days through February with some changes: the bus will run on 45-minute intervals down from 30-minute intervals on weekends when ridership is low, and 12-minute intervals down from 15-minute intervals during peak hours on weekdays. 

Officials said they will study the option of adding early and late service and may lower the fare from the express service fare of $2.50 to Metro's regular fare of $1.75 as an introductory offer. Metro will also expand its marketing effort for the line.

At Thursday's meeting, the board also approved a contract to provide electronic signs at 300 Metro bus stops that will provide real-time arrival information.

The board also approved acceptance of a $307 million federal TIFIA loan for further construction of the Purple Line subway down Wilshire Boulevard.