Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Trip on Route 176

Miniride #4201 in downtownImage by Metro Transportation Library and Archive via Flickr
Last time I gave a brief history of LA Metro's Route 176. Today I will describe the route and some of the social-economic situations that exist along the line.

Map and schedule of the 176.

As I mentioned yesterday, the 176 currently starts its run near the corner of Figueroa and York in Highland Park. The actual end of the line is behind a aging 70's shopping center. At the corner of the shopping center is a fast food restaurant that used to be very good although I have not been there in several years.

Highland Park used to be a streetcar suburb but these days is sadly better know for the large amount of gang violence that takes place in the area. It is not an area you would want to be walking around after the sun goes down and sometimes even when it is up.

After leaving its layover zone the 176 turns on Avenue 64 before turning left onto York Blvd and crosses the elegant York Avenue Bridge. To the west you can see the very tall former Santa Fe bridge that the Gold Line now travels across. If the payment has worn down enough on the York bridge you can see railroad tracks in embedded in the street (unless they have been removed in the last few years). These are not former Pacific Electric tracks but are the only remains of a profitable former Union Pacific branch line that used to run all the way to Pasadena. However, when Interstate 210 was put in the tracks were forced out.

After you cross the bridge over the Arroyo Seco you have not only gone over a divide in the land, but you have also crossed a major economic divide. You have now entered the city of South Pasadena who has infamously been fighting the construction of a freeway segment for many years. Don't get the idea that there is a up-swelling of anti-car attitude in the city, they want the freeway they just in somewhere else (read between the lines: over toward the Los Angeles border in the less affluent part of town).

The first stop in the city used to generate some peak loads as there was a clothing manufacturer located here but it has been gone for many years and the riders with it. The line then makes brushes the Gold Line before heading north on Pasadena which turns into Mission Street. At the corner of Mission and Meridian is the Gold Line's stop in South Pasadena with the 176 being the only full time bus service the station sees.

The route then travels through the small South Pasadena business district which does not look all that different from the scenes shot here for the 1980's Michael J. Fox film "Teen Wolf". At the corner of Fair Oaks and Mission you have a connection with Metro Route 260 and there is also the Fair Oaks Pharmacy which features a classic soda fountain counter.

Once pass Fair Oaks the route travels through a residential area before turning onto Garfield and traveling along the San Marino/South Pasadena border. The route then crosses Huntington Drive and once again moves out into the city of Alhambra. Until the route turns onto Main Street, the 176 shares the route with Montebello Municipal Bus Route M30. Once the route turns onto Main Street it travels through the heart of the Alhambra Business District. Along Main Street the 176 shares the street with the 79 which means that along two of its primary corridors it shares the streets with other routes and we know how some transit circles see any duplication of service as something to be avoided.

Just after Main Street turns into Las Tunas the 176 turns onto Mission and passes the San Gabriel Mission. Metro plans to continue serving the rest of the 176 route by extending another route to run from El Monte to this intersection since it is the busier section of the line.The route along Mission is mostly residential with some small businesses located along the way. Most of the neighborhoods would rate as lower middle class.

The route continues down Mission, turns onto Rosemead Blvd sharing the street with the 266, then travels through the Telstar Industrial Park before making its way to the El Monte Bus Station. The Industrial Park is another generator of business but like most industrial parks generates those riders at only shift change times.

That gives you a very basic concept of the route. Next time I plan to look at the route from a marketing prospective to see what is the major failings of the route and what can be done to make the route more viable. I will also look at some alternatives to keep service along most of the route.

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