LADOT initiated a citywide Community DASH Need Assessment Study in April 2004. The primary objectives were to analyze the existing DASH services operating in Los Angeles -- excluding the downtown routes, which are not classified by LADOT as "Community" -- and make recommendations for the implementation of new services in areas of the City with good transit potential, as well as recommend measures to improve existing Community DASH services
which were under-performing in terms of productivity and cost-effectiveness based on the City Council's adopted transit performance standards.
The study was to identify those areas of Los Angeles are undersupplied by transit service -- excluding areas with population densities of 5 persons or fewer per acre and/or employment densities of 5 jobs or fewer per acre (because public fixed route transit cannot be provided in a cost-effective manner in those areas) -- and analyzed areas with high levels of unmet transit need/demand to determine an area's potential for community-based transit.
Proposals for new DASH service were collected from City Council offices, residents and transit riders via public meetings and the project website, from LADOT and MTA staff, recommendations from previous (mid- to late 1990's) transit restructuring studies which hade not been implemented -- notably the 1994 San Fernando Valley Transit Restructuring Study (SFVTRS) -- totalling over 100 route/service suggestions. Of these, 85 potentially viable proposed new service or modified existing routes were analyzed, along with several route/service modifications for several underperforming DASH routes.
These three maps show the original groups of lines presented in the summer of 2004 to the Metro San Fernando Valley Sector Governance Council. They are split into three regions of the Valley, with notes underneath each map indicating how each proposal was evaluated for inclusion or exclusion in the final report (and origin of the route, if based on previous studies). Existing DASH routes that were already in existence are shown on these maps as black lines:
Chatsworth/Warner Center (dark red): Heavy duplication with MTA service.
Warner Center/Pierce College (medium red): Based on the Metro SFV proposal for Line 643 (Pierce College Shuttle), which was considered for implementation as a connector to the Metro Orange Line.
Northridge 1 (orange): Overlong route with heavy duplication of MTA service. Originally proposed as Orange Line feeder extension of existing Northridge DASH.
Topanga Canyon (green): Projected low performance and complete duplication of MTA service.
Warner Center/Mulholland (purple): Projected low performance and would require more than six buses to operate. Combined the segment of Line 245 proposed by Metro SFV to be cancelled as part of the June 2003 restructuring (but instead split into Line 645) with Line 669, proposed in the SFVTRS.
Warner Center 1 (yellow): Projected low performance; revised in final study as special case (see "Warner Center - Alternative 2" below).
Calabasas/Warner Center (blue): Projected low performance. Based loosely on elements of Line 667 and Line 668, proposed in the SFVTRS.
Noho/Sun Valley (yellow): Overlong route; split into North Hollywood Circulator and Sun Valley Circulator.
Van Nuys (red): One of two lines proposed to replace Van Nuys/Studio City DASH.
Sun Valley (dark blue): Considered duplicative of Noho/Sun Valley proposal.
North Hollywood 1 (purple): Projected low performance; part of route included in North Hollywood Circulator.
North Hollywood 2 (olive): Overlong route; portions included in North Hollywood Circulator.
Studio City (orange): One of two lines proposed to replace Van Nuys/Studio City DASH.
Riverside Shuttle (medium blue): Projected low performance. Originally proposed in the SFVTRS as Line 670, replacing a portion of former Line 97, but instead implemented in 1995 as part of restructured Line 96, then made part of Line 155 in 2011.
Sylmar/San Fernando (yellow): Refined to include portion of Van Nuys/Laurel Canyon route.
Van Nuys Blvd. Local (red): Complete duplication of MTA service.
Sylmar Circulator (orange): Projected low performance. Originally proposed in the SFVTRS as Line 631.
Arleta/Pacoima Circulator (olive): Considered as potential alternative to Van Nuys/Laurel Canyon.
Van Nuys/Laurel Canyon (blue): Overlong route; portions included in revised Sylmar/San Fernando and Sylmar/Arleta routes.
Hubbard/Sayre (dark green): Considered as a potential replacement for part of MTA Line 234.
These options were either withdrawn or modified after evaluation based on projected passengers per revenue hour, subsidy per passenger mile, and operating ratio (number of buses required to provide the normal levels of DASH service). In addition, operational barriers, such as overly long routes (DASH typically does not operate service on routes longer than ten miles) and duplication of MTA lines, were considered. (Based on 2004 data, the average DASH ridership was 47 passengers per hour per bus, with an average passenger trip length of slightly less than one mile.) The study was completed in March 2005; the final candidates in the San Fernando Valley, in order of ranking, were:
DASH Van Nuys/Studio City, which had exhibited marginal performance for a number of years, was proposed for replacement by two new routes (Van Nuys/Kester and Studio City/North Hollywood), as well as by the new Van Nuys/Whitsett route.
One note of caution: LADOT, in a report to the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee, has said that funds will only be available to implement -- at best -- half of the 20 routes ranked citywide. While at the time this meant that the restructuring of the Van Nuys/Studio City route (including implementation of Van Nuys/Whitsett) was likely to happen relatively quickly, and that the second-ranked Sylmar/San Fernando route should have been started within a year, the loss of state funding and a general drop in ridership in the late-2000s put the entire restructuring on hold. LADOT was subsequently forced into service reductions in 2010 and it now looks like these two DASH routes (plus, possibly, the Sun Valley Circulator and Sylmar/Arleta) will not be implemented any sooner than 2015, and nothing beyond that unless additional funding is found.
The study also identified the need for fare integration with MTA to remove a barrier to increased transit ridership, since Community DASH functions as a local circulator
system and a feeder system to regional MTA transit services (bus and rail). Fare integration was identified as especially appropriate for those DASH routes which serve MTA rail or busway stations. In addition, the study called for the assumption of operating funds from MTA whenever it proposes to eliminate service due to low ridership (and/or due to Metro Connections transit restructuring, which, the study said, "will tend to orient MTA bus service away from local Tier 3 service to more narrowly focus on 'hub-to-hub' line haul Tiers 1 and 2 routes, with a resultant elimination of lower ridership local service") if LADOT was to replace that service with DASH routes. It did not indicate how that issue would be handled if MTA opted to eliminate duplicative service on routes the study had proposed for implementation.