The board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority unanimously approved Thursday doing a feasibility study on converting the Orange Line busway into a light rail line.

The next step is for Metro staff to bring to the September board meeting recommendations on how to proceed with the study that would look at construction and engineering concepts, ridership and environmental issues.

The board also approved doing a feasibility study on connecting the Red Line and Orange Line stations in North Hollywood with the Gold Line Foothill light rail extension in the San Gabriel Valley via a connection at Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian, whose district includes parts of the Valley, said transit upgrades are needed.

“This is a big step for the San Fernando Valley’s 2 million residents, who need more transit options, including light rail,” Krekorian said in a prepared statement.

Converting the Orange Line to light rail is supported by a number of elected officials and business groups such as the Valley Industry & Commerce Association. Metro, however, does not include an Orange Line light rail project in its long-range development plans.

Taking the matter to the Metro board was spurred by Gov. Jerry Brown signing this month a bill repealing 1991 legislation prohibiting above-ground, at-grade rail from crossing the San Fernando Valley.