AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We’re definitely motivated to this,” he said, saying he could take the Orange Line occasionally for work or to theaters. “It was a long time coming.” Celeny Martinez, 27, of Van Nuys, tested the bus for her daily commute to work at HealthNet in Woodland Hills. “It’s easier than the 101 with all that traffic.” And Marilyn Stine, who’s lived in the Valley since 1961, decided to step outside her neighborhood and see what she’s been missing. “This is the first bus I’ve been on in, like, 40 years,” said Stine, a widow, enjoying the sights from the window and considering trips downtown. “I want to see parts of the area I haven’t seen before.” In this car-crazed region, crowds of people waited in line Saturday under the San Fernando Valley sun to do the unthinkable – ride a bus. The Metro Orange Line debuted to more than 30,000 curious passengers, many of whom stood for up to an hour in a line snaking around a city block to try the long-awaited mass transit line across the Valley. On board the silver double-length buses, some found an alternative to grueling freeway commutes. Others saw a way to get around on weekends. And others found nothing worthwhile to draw them back. “We think it’s a wonderful idea whose time has come,” said Calabasas attorney Jerry Posell, on board with his wife, Ellen, on a practice run for a potential trip downtown. No sooner did the morning’s free rides get under way than lines started forming at the North Hollywood Station, the eastern terminus of the 14-mile route that stretches across the Valley to Warner Center. The free rides continue today. The Valley has waited more than 20 years for an east-west transit line that was promised when voters first approved new taxes for transportation. The busway wasn’t the Valley’s first choice but emerged as a compromise when it became clear the MTA had no money left to build a subway or light rail. Its total cost was $350 million. “We’ve been looking forward to the opening of it,” said Valley Glen mom Dalet Brady. “For years,” added her husband, Max Bulwa. The couple plan to take their boys Felix, 5, and Declan, 2, on the Orange Line to Lake Balboa Park to feed the ducks and to Saturday soccer practice at Pierce College. “I wish there was more of it,” she said. “L.A. needs more public transit.” But for all the crowds Saturday, riders were mixed on whether the Orange Line would be of much use to them. The Orange Line promises a 40-minute ride across the Valley, about as fast as the freeway during rush hour. Woodland Hills resident John Morris, waiting in line at Warner Center with his wife, Yan, wanted to see if he could take the busway to his job near Universal City because he’s grown so tired of the freeway. “I’ve been driving the 101 and it’s just like sitting,” he said. “The only advantage to this would just be being able to relax.” But Winnetka resident Shirley Miller said the route isn’t near enough to destinations like the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square or medical centers. “It doesn’t really go anyplace I want to go and the stops are not convenient to anything,” she said. And while Gerri Mastrangelo said she might take it to the malls in Warner Center, her husband, Martin, said there needs to be more off-hour connecting service. “I think they need more cross buses later at night. That’s the only thing I’m disappointed in. Not everybody has cars. People work at night and they need the buses.” The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s general manager for the Valley said he wants to hear riders’ comments, and urged them to bring their suggestions to the Governance Council, which meets the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Van Nuys Civic Center. “Let us know. We want to hear that.” A handful of protesters showed up at the North Hollywood Station, critical of the route’s safety as well as cutbacks to the local bus lines. Protester Donna Gooley of North Hollywood said spending money on the new buses when other routes were being cut was “a slap in the face to bus riders.” The morning saw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky out greeting riders, while later on Councilman Tom LaBonge was on hand and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel brought her toddler out for a look. MTA officials, who rolled out more buses to meet the crowd, were thrilled with the turnout. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Yaroslavsky. “This is what I predicted from Day One. Let people vote with their feet.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!