“We are in a great position and feel good about this happening,” Waldman said.

The busway opened in October 2005 between North Hollywood and Warner Center and has proven to be one of Metro’s most heavily used routes. It averaged 16,360 weekday boardings its first month, a number that had grown to 29,722 average weekday boardings in February. That figure includes an extension that opened in 2012 connecting the Metrolink station in Chatsworth with Canoga Park.

The report found that operating a rail line between North Hollywood and Chatsworth would on average save riders about 15 minutes from the nearly hourlong bus commute. Operating and maintenance costs would range from $49 million to $73 million a year.

To continue service while tracks are being laid, Metro would need to offer either on-street replacement service or phase the conversion so only one segment of the busway is closed at a time, the report said.

The report also looked at improving Orange Line service but retaining it as a busway. That would require increasing crossing speeds, retiming traffic signals during peak travel hours and constructing grade separations at eight intersections. It also would require adding buses or using larger buses.

The cost for those improvements would range from $210 million to $350 million.