RTD's 1975 "Grid Service" (The Second Decade)

The first major reconfiguration of took place in March, 1975, when RTD replaced service that was haphazardly configured over earlier years with a grid of service that took better advantage of the Valley's geography.

Approved by the RTD Board of Directors on January 21, 1975, the restructuring was required by the Flat Fare Agreement with the County of Los Angeles*, which mandated a grid system in both the Valley and the South Central Los Angeles areas for a 13-week trial period (through June 20, 1975). As described in the RTD Board report, the grid was to "provide service along major arterials and/or secondary roadways in a North/South direction at approximately one mile spacings and in an East/West direction at approximately one-half mile to one mile intervals ... with weekday and Saturday service operating at about 20-minute intervals from approximately 6:00 am to 7:00 pm" Monday through Saturday (with Sunday 20-minute service across an eight-hour period beginning two hours earlier and ending one hour earlier), and 60-minute night service until 10:00pm every evening. Thus, the restructured service used the long, end-to-end arterial streets of the Valley to create straightlined service which interconnected service in a more logical manner than the previous system.

(*-The agreement, which was originally implemented from April 1 to June 30, 1974 to provide operating subsidies during the national energy crisis, was extended by the County Board of Supervisors into the 1974-75 fiscal year on the condition that RTD undertake the aforementioned grid restructurings in order to increase service in the two defined areas. The County provided subsidies to RTD, which was then able to charge a flat 25-cent cash fare for all services.)

As the name implies, all of the purely local service lines were placed into a grid running end-to-end on the primary arterial streets in the San Fernando Valley. Only the lines which operated from the Valley to Downtown and the Westside (24, 35, 81, 86, 88, 93, 721, and 724) kept their original routes and line numbers, although the Topanga Canyon Blvd. portion of Line 81 was replaced by the new Line 151.

1975 RTD 'Grid Service' Map

The new lines were assigned sequential numbers, from west to east and then from south to north:
Lines 156, 161, 168, and 169 were introduced in the first phase on March 2, which involved new service on Woodley Ave., Lassen St., Plummer St., Saticoy St., and Sunland Blvd.; the remaining lines, most of which were restructured from the existing service, debuted in the second phase on March 30. Lines 168 and 169 were added, almost as afterthoughts, after the original grid was designed, which explains why their numbers do not conform with the "south to north" numbering scheme.

This also begins to explain why the Valley's east-west line numbers seem at first look to be assigned in a disordered fashion.

Anticipating the need for considerably more buses in service under the grid, RTD opened a second Valley bus yard (Division 15) on December 22, 1974 on leased property at Penrose St. & Tujunga Ave. (supplementing the existing operations at Division 8, located at Van Nuys Blvd. & Sherman Way, which was already planned to be expanded at a new location in Chatsworth). Both divisions moved to their present locations in 1982: Division 8 to Canoga Ave. & Nordhoff St. in September, and Division 15 to Glenoaks Blvd. & Branford St. in October.

Not only did the grid survive past its 13-week "trial period", it became the basis for service into the 21st Century. In fact, relatively few changes to the basic grid took place in the ten years following 1975. The significant changes (excluding minor realignments) were:

RTD BusApril, 1975: Line 716 (Canoga Park Drive-In Park & Ride) was created; RTD Park & Ride Logoit underwent several changes at its north end between 1977 and 1979 as the park-ride lot was moved following Pacific Theatres selling the drive-in property. Line 721 (Van Nuys Drive-In Park & Ride, started in July of the previous year) was extended west on Roscoe Bl. to Reseda Bl. (and was further extended to Northridge Fashion Center in July, 1978).

RTD BusJuly through September, 1975: The first actual tweaks to the grid were made, with the cancellation of Line 161 (Buena Vista St.) in July and Line 724 (Burbank Park & Ride, started in July of the previous year) in August; in October, the Plummer St. portion of Line 168 -- which was largely duplicated by Lines 93 and 153 -- was eliminated in favor of an westward extension on Lassen St. and interlining with Line 166 (Nordhoff St. - Osborne St.). October was also when the interlining of Lines 164 and 165 (Victory Bl. - Vanowen St.) was established. (The 166-168 interline was discontinued December 10, 1995; the 164-165 interline lasted until December 16, 2007.)

RTD Bus1976: In April, the Glenoaks Blvd. version of Line 24 was replaced by Line 162 with the San Fernando Rd. version taking over the Olive View Hospital portion of Line 167 (the rest of Line 167 was replaced by extending Line 157), and Line 163 was extended on Sherman Way to replace Line 86 west of Van Nuys Blvd.; April was also when the interlining of Lines 155 (White Oak Ave.) and 160 (Laurel Canyon Blvd.), now known as Lines 239 and 230, respectively was begun (that interline was the last of the grid-era interlines to be discontinued, on December 12, 2010). In June, Line 88 stopped serving the interior loop of LAX as the Airport Commission voted to remove all RTD service from within the airport, even though the planned off-site bus center to connect with LAX-operated shuttles would not be built for another eight years (later -- from July, 1981 until June, 1987 -- service on the line operated to the Imperial Terminal on the airport's south side). Line 154 was extended to Porter Ranch in July. Service between the west Valley and Westlake Village by local Line 161 and peak-hour downtown express Line 123 was begun in October. This year also saw a short-lived experiment with express Line 774, which operated between the Sepulveda Drive-In and Century City, continuing to downtown via the new "diamond lanes" on the Santa Monica Freeway (the later removal of those lanes by court order doomed the 774 experiment as well).

RTD Bus1977: Line 88 replaced the Van Nuys Blvd. portion of Line 157 (leaving the remaining Sepulveda Blvd. service on the alignment it still operates today as Line 234) in January. Line 161 was realigned in August to serve the growing Warner Center business development. In November, a "loop route" (Line 170) operated in the Granada Hills area with minibuses was begun; it was cancelled four months later, in March, 1978.

RTD BusSeptember, 1978: Line 24 was extended from Olive View Medical Center to Sylmar Juvenile Hall and Line 157 was extended to El Cariso Park.

This is a map of how grid service was configured at the end of 1978. It should be noted that express lines designated with a "F" or "X" appended to the main line number are not shown:

RTD 1978 Grid

RTD BusJune, 1980: Line 121 service was merged into the Line 721 schedule (both were peak-hour express lines with similar routes); Line 20 was extended from its Glendale-to-Burbank route to replace the Magnolia Blvd. portion of Line 163, then was itself replaced by Line 183 in December.

In September, 1980 RTD almost began operating Valley-to-Century City express Line 570.

RTD BusDecember, 1980 to September, 1981: A renumbering scheme began to be introduced (see October 2, 1983 for details), beginning with peak-hour express lines. In the Valley, four lines were redesignated:
(-The local versions of 56XL/56XP (56L and 56P) were renumbered 91 and 90, respectively, at the same time.)

During this same period:
This map shows how service was configured in September, 1981:

RTD SFV September 1981 Map

It should also be noted that, beginning in 1973, RTD had operated a number of "subscription service" express lines for major employers using 500-series numbers. These came and went, as demand dictated, and are not included in this summary, for the most part. By the end of the 1970s, most of these services (which were paid for by the employers) had been discontinued, and RTD opted to start converting these into non-subscription express lines in December, 1981. The first two in the Valley to undergo conversion were two lines that had been discontinued in March, 1979, then restored one month later as regular express lines at the request of the employees who had used them: Lines 512 (Woodland Hills - Crenshaw Center) and 514 (Woodland Hills - Hollywood/Wilshire District), which were combined into an alternate version of Line 716, designated 716A; at the same time, the remaining Line 81 service on Ventura Blvd. was renumbered to 150. The renumbering scheme continued to be implemented, with Line 86X (Los Angeles - Van Nuys - North Hollywood Express) redesignated 412 in June, 1982.

RTD BusSeptember to December, 1982: The long-time maze of residential street service in the Encino area -- which originated with Line 81 and was transferred to Line 154 when the grid was created -- was finally eliminated in favor of direct operation via Burbank Blvd.; Line 426 was extended west of Reseda Blvd. to Topanga Canyon Blvd., and -- as noted previously -- the present Chatsworth bus yard (Division 8) was opened. Division 15 moved to its present location in Sun Valley one month later. Line 122 (Los Angeles - Burbank - North Hollywood - Van Nuys Express) was renumbered to 413 in December.

RTD BusLine 427 Fare Zone ChartFebruary and March, 1983: RTD converted the remaining subscription lines to regular express lines, with numbers assigned from the new numbering scheme. Three of those lines were in the Valley: 504 (Westlake Village to ARCO Plaza) was combined with Line 123 into Line 423, 505 (Downtown to West Valley) was combined with existing Line 716 into Line 427 -- with a somewhat complicated fare structure due to its length and stop configuration requiring multiple express fare zones (shown at right) -- and 511 (Downtown to Chatsworth - Mission Hills) became Line 419. Line 716A was renumbered 427A and Line 721 was renumbered 418. (Although the Line 427 express zone chart pictured is from 1999, when fares were higher than in 1983, the complexity of a five-zone express is obvious ... and Line 427 operators were expected to memorize this chart in order to charge the correct fare for cash-paying passengers!)

RTD BusOctober 2, 1983 (The Great Renumbering): RTD General Manager John Dyer completed implementation of the numbering scheme that remains to this day, with line numbers below 100 reserved for local service to downtown L.A., 100s for east-west local service and 200s for north-south local service not serving downtown, 300s for limited-stop versions of local lines, 400s for express service to downtown and 500s for express service elsewhere, and 600s for special service and shuttles (later, 700s were added for Metro Rapid service and 800s for Metro Rail). In addition, numbers started at downtown and increased in a counter-clockwise pattern (the San Fernando Valley ended up with the 90s, 150s and 160s, 220s through 240s, 410s and 420s, and 560). Every line that was out of compliance with the new scheme was renumbered; in the San Fernando Valley, this resulted in 19 lines taking on new numbers:
The following map was issued in 1985 and is the most interesting -- albeit convoluted -- system map ever issued by RTD. It used a different color for every line in a section of the map, switching from solid to dotted lines alternating all colors when lines shared a street segment. Unfortunately, this approach required many pastel colors being used alongside the bolder ones, which makes this scan very difficult to read. (We show only the San Fernando Valley portion of the map, but our copy was scanned in its entirety by the Metro Library and a framed print of the scan hangs on the wall opposite the conference table in the southernmost area of the Library, if you want to see the map in all its glory.)

1985 RTD System Map - SFV

This map shows RTD service when it was at the highest point in the agency's history, not only in terms of service levels, but also of the amount of street mileage and number of lines operated. This was subject to almost immediate change, as RTD was forced to make difficult decisions the year after this map was issued, resulting in a number of cuts they really did not want to make.

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