LA expands DASH bus system with new routes, weekend service

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At a shiny new bus maintenance facility, Los Angeles officials today celebrated a major expansion in the city’s bus service.

Most buses circulating through the LA area are operated by Metro, the county’s transit agency. But the city of Los Angeles also operates a fleet of DASH buses that make shorter trips through individual neighborhoods, allowing residents to run errands or make connections to longer distance lines.

Over the next few days, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation will extend hours of operation for most buses in the system, adding or expanding weekend service on 20 routes. In Downtown LA, buses will run later into the evening, with service until 9 p.m., rather than the end of rush hour.

City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who leads council’s transportation committee, called the schedule changes an “unprecedented expansion” of city transit service at a press event Thursday.

“What’s exciting about what’s happening today is that it’s happening fast and it’s happening right now,” said Bonin.

Additional DASH service is just one part of the city’s expanded focus on public transportation. Last month, transportation officials launched LANow, an on-demand shuttle system designed to carry riders between destinations on the Westside.

Two new lines will also be added to the city’s commuter bus network, allowing riders to travel easily between Downtown LA and the job centers of Playa Vista and El Segundo.

Further expansion of the DASH system will come in the next two years, as the transportation department purchases new electric buses to service planned routes in Boyle Heights, Northeast LA, and the San Fernando Valley. Department officials say service will start on those new lines on a rolling basis, with the full system expansion set to be complete before the end of 2021.

By that point, buses should also come more frequently, with minimum wait times on all lines falling to 15 minutes.

New buses will be kept in working condition at the $42 million maintenance facility unveiled Thursday. The three-acre site includes offices, charging stations, and parking for 77 buses.

Expansion of the DASH system comes as Metro prepares the first major update of its bus network in more than two decades. The transit agency is expected to roll out schedule changes and rejiggered routes over the next few years.

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