Saying it needs a better public transportation system, a Los Angeles City Councilman announced Friday that officials would study how to convert a bus system to light rail in the San Fernando Valley.
The Metro board agreed to study the costs of converting the Orange Line, a bus-only line that spans the Valley, into light rail. Cost estimates were not available.
"The Valley wants transit, the Valley uses transit, the Valley needs more transit," said Paul Krekorian, the councilman, who's also a member of the Metro board.
- Updates: Download the NBCLA Mobile App
Converting the Orange Line, which opened in 2012, to light rail would cut down travel times as more commuters are turning to public transit to avoid traffic on LA’s freeways, city and county representatives said.
Every day, about 33,000 people ride the Orange Line, about how many people take light rail, officials said.
"For years and years, as long as I can remember, people have repeated this tired old stereotype about the San Fernando Valley being wedded to our cars and not being willing to get out of our cars," Krekorian said. "The Orange Line and the Red Line have proven that stereotype to be false."
But some opponents say the cost of building the line is not worth potential benefits.
"I think that that'll take a lot of money and where would it go?" said James Barnes, a commuter who connects from the Orange and Red Lines every day. "It would go to the same place that the buses already go."
Barnes also voiced concerns about the environmental impact of the project.
Officials said the study about the potential plans can take up to two years, and construction will take an additional three years if voters approve the conversion.
Until new legislation was signed this month, a rail line in the area was prohibited by a state ban on studying above-ground light rail projects in the southeast San Fernando Valley, according to City News Service.
Residents had been concerned about rail lines dividing up the neighborhood and the local Orthodox Jewish community were worried the rail line would make traveling on foot difficult on the Sabbath, when they could not drive.
Officials said the concerns have since subsided in light of the Orange Line's success.
Officials are also considering building light rail tracks to connect the Gold Line in Pasadena to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and the Red and Orange Lines in North Hollywood.
Construction is currently under way on extending the Gold Line east from Pasadena to Montclair. Metro is also building the Crenshaw Line that will run north-south between the Green and Blue Lines and connect the rail line system to Los Angeles International Airport.