Restructuring Study

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:

West Valley:

West Valley Map

Southeast Valley:

Southeast Valley Map

Northeast Valley:

Northeast Valley Map

These options were either withdrawn or modified after evaluation based on projected passengers per revenue hour, subsidy per passenger mile, and operating ratio (number of buses required to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:

  1. Van Nuys/Whitsett
  2. Sylmar/San Fernando
  3. Sun Valley Circulator
  4. Sylmar/Arleta
  5. Hubbard/Sayre
  6. Warner Center - Alternative 2
  7. North Hollywood Circulator
(Ranking numbers shown were study-wide rankings that included the entire City of Los Angeles.)

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, said at the time that funds would 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 appears that no DASH route restructuring will be implemented 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.

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