Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Look at Los Angeles Metro's 176

Logo of the Los Angeles County Metro Rail and ...Image via Wikipedia
Like most transit systems across the country, Metro in Los Angeles has been facing tough economic times. However, like the rest of its brethren in California, they have also been facing a double whammy of recession and money being taken out of transportation to shore up its crumbling general fund by the former governor. Now Metro is proposing to cut even more service in June including route 176 which travels from Highland Park to the El Monte Station at the eastern end of the El Monte Busway.

The 176 is near and dear to my heart because I spent many years living along the route and riding it. Here is the map and schedule of the current 176.

The route first started as a Pacific Electric bus traveling from Mission and Fair Oaks in South Pasadena to Alhambra connecting several of the PE's major rail lines. The bus line was later extended to replace rail service and for many years was route 79 traveling from Main and Garfield in Alhambra through South Pasadena and Highland Park and ended up at Huntington Drive and Monterey Road.

In April, 1976 the RTD, Metro's predecessor, revamped routes in the San Gabriel valley and surrounding areas, and the little 79 was split up into two other lines. The first line, the 143, took the park of the 79 from Highland Park to Huntington and Monterey Rd. and continued all the way to East LA. The 143 was latter merged with route 425 and later renumbered 256 which continues today although it has also faced being axed at one time or another over the last few years.

The 430 took over the other part of the 79 from Highland Park to Alhambra plus portions of other routes to create the present 176. In early 1977, the route was extended from Highland Park to Glassell Park via Ave 50 replacing a short shuttle route. For 30+ years the 430/176 traveled back and forth between Glassell Park and El Monte with little notice until the portion between York and Figueroa in Highland Park to Glassell Park was cut in order to allow Metro to retire its remaining and aged 35 foot RTS buses.

That brings up to the present time and the very real possibility that this route will probably meet its demise in a few months. I am going to use this route as a case study on what can be done to route that has largely been ignored for 30 years to improve its performance, the socially-economic conditions that apply to the line, and some alternatives to the Metro proposal.

In the next entry I will describe the current route and some of the different neighborhoods the bus travels through and other interesting facts about the route.
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