Photo Courtesy of LA Metro

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — An express bus that provides a direct connection between North Hollywood and Pasadena began operating this week, providing what Metro officials say is a much-needed public transit link between the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

The NoHo-Pasadena Express, or Line 501, will operate seven days a week. Up until now, existing connections have only operated during weekday peak hours, with no service on Saturdays and Sundays.

The express line will operate from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Buses will arrive every 15 minutes during peak hours, with frequency going down to every 30 minutes during off-peak hours.

The express line’s six stops pass through North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, and will use the Ventura (134) Freeway’s carpool lanes.

Travel times across the entire length of the route are expected to be about 55 minutes at peak traffic times and 30 minutes during off-peak periods.

“This new express bus fills the missing link in Metro’s existing transit network,” Metro board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Metro riders will get a more direct route between the “two valleys” and no longer have to take a detour to downtown Los Angeles before reaching the other valley, according to Ridley-Thomas.

Metro officials anticipate ridership of about 1,750 per day, but the numbers will be reviewed after six months to decide if any changes need to be made. The new line is expected to cost the transit agency $1.2 million during the initial half-year pilot period.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who sits on the Metro board, noted that if the line proves successful, “it could provide the justification we need to consider even greater transit investments in this corridor.”

“I encourage cross-valley commuters to try the 501 and see for themselves how it can make their transit experience better than ever before,” Najarian said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is second vice chair on the Metro board, said the express line “eases congestion, connects communities, and links workers to jobs.”