The popular Metro Orange Line busway across the San Fernando Valley might be helping to ease traffic congestion on the Ventura Freeway during the morning commute. The first attempt to gauge the busway’s impact on freeway volume found a slight improvement in the morning commute. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley studied commutes since the 14-mile Orange Line opened Oct. 29 and determined that traffic between 7 and 10 a.m. had sped up about 7 percent – from an average of 43 mph to 46 mph. The study also found that the amount of time that morning commuters waste being stuck in congestion – defined as traffic slower than 35 mph – declined about 14 percent. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “The freeway is operating more efficiently,” said Hamed Benouar, director of the California Center for Innovative Transportation at Berkeley, which is primarily funded by the California Department of Transportation and conducts research for other government organizations. Saving even a minute or two a day adds up over time and results in less smog and gas savings, researchers said. “When more vehicles go through at higher speeds, the pollution is less,” Benouar said. “That has an impact on the environment.” The busway now handles about 16,400 passenger boardings a day, much higher than the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s initial estimates of 5,000 to 7,000 daily boardings. Officials don’t know how many of the Orange Line riders used to drive the freeway. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!