Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 6

Welcome to The Transit Coalition weekly newsletter! Our organization participates in meetings with key decision makers and community leaders and our goal is to keep you informed on the latest developments in the transportation scene across Southern California.

As both Houses of the State Legislature scrutinize and question the infrastructure bond proposal from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a pair of political activists are bankrolling a campaign to tax oil pumped from California wells and use the funds to study alternative fuels, which may easily make its way to the November ballot.

On Monday, February 13, Metro will debut a new limited-stop service on the Pasadena Gold Line, which theoretically would shave 5 minutes off end-to-end travel time. Stops would include Union Station, Highland Park, Mission Del Mar and Sierra Madre Villa. (The new Gold Line timetable is now available.) However, passengers, transit advocates and even some Metro staff are concerned about the service for a variety of reasons. The Transit Coalition has a complete report. Meanwhile, the Gold Line Foothill Extension stands to lose federal funds for preliminary engineering of the 24-mile line if local governments do not act quickly.

Transportation improvements in the Inland Empire are experiencing a slate of challenges. Ridership on Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) buses declined by nine percent, largely attributed to an increase in fares. Omnitrans, however, recorded steady increases in ridership after a period of decline. Even so, a recent audit on Omnitrans shows significant and deeply rooted problems within the San Bernardino Valley bus agency. Having had enough of the parade of audits, the Omnitrans Board of Directors voted to bring in new managers to resolve critical problems within the agency. Meanwhile, a redesign of the northern junction of Interstates 15 and 215 has received top priority. SANBAG hopes to build additional lanes and add capacity to the beleaguered interchange.

Everyone seems to have an opinion this week. The Planning Report interviewed Interim L.A. Planning Director Mark Winogrond, who expressed the need for incoming director Gail Goldberg to revitalize the demoralized Planning Department. Metro Investment Report interviewed Art Leahy, Orange County Transportation Authority, shares his thoughts about improved bus service, state money used for projects within counties instead of between them, and the proposal to build a tunnel between Riverside and Orange Counties. New planner, Stephanie Reich of the Long Beach Department of Planning and Building, believes streamlining and "consistency" will help forward numerous developments in her realm. Daily Bruin columnist Jason O'Bryan feels that tolling the 405 Freeway can solve a smorgasbord of ills on the roadway. Finally, with the high-speed rail proposal in serious jeopardy, Daniel Krause, Executive Director of Californians for High Speed Rail expressed his frustration over the possibility that the Strategic Growth Plan will foster more automobile use and sprawl.

Three op-ed pieces appeared in both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News. Peter Gordon, Tom Rubin and James E. Moore II expressed their opposition to rail transit in general and offered market-based solutions that would limit automobile travel. The op-ed by Ray Bradbury slammed the Red Line and claimed that his pipe dream solution of building novel monorails would be a better use of resources, a point brought up on a reply to the Gordon op-ed. Dan Turner wrote about his cumbersome experiences regarding traveling to LAX by transit, comparing it to the fateful 1915 Antarctic expedition by Ernest Shackleton. Turner ended his piece with a quick plug for the new FlyAway service from Union Station to LAX, due to start on March 15. Meanwhile, the Daily News published the glowing results of an Orange Line passenger survey, where 20% of passengers were former automobile users.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

January 27: The State Air Resources Board declined to rescind a pact with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads aimed at reducing locomotive diesel pollution and cleaning up rail yards across the state. The result of a 2004 study on pollution emitted from rail yards in Southern California, the pact proved controversial since it gave the state a great deal of power in enforcing it and kept local governments and advocates out of the process.

January 31: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa outlined his vision on regionalizing air travel in Los Angeles. The mayor called for using LAX for international flights while airports such as Ontario and Palmdale handle domestic travel. The plan faces numerous obstacles, including expansion roadblocks on most airports within the state, the desire of airlines to operate at a central location and the apathy due to previous and unsuccessful attempts to spread air traffic to other airports. If the plan moves forward, it would certainly please residents in the Antelope Valley, whom recently saw the end of their only flight service from Palmdale. (State Senator Richard Alarcon recently introduced legislation that would create a regional airport authority, which would authorize study and construction of a new airport and expand operations at Palmdale. A Daily News editorial expressed support for the proposal.)

February 2: U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that LAX will receive an additional $29.5 for a runway safety project. The project aims to reduce the number of "near-misses" by moving one of the parallel southern runways and building a new taxiway between the two. This brings the total federal contribution for the $250-million project to $68.3 million. Another $27 million will be spent to soundproof homes in communities surrounding LAX.

Upcoming Events: Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Tuesday, February 7, 6:30 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency Joint Powers Board Meeting: Wednesday, February 8, 11:30 a.m. Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, February 9, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Mobility 21 Coalition Meeting: Friday, February 10, 8:30 a.m., Caltrans Administration Building, 100 S. Main St., 1st Floor Conference Room, Los Angeles.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, February 10, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, Room 206, 801 E. Carson, Carson.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, February 10, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., 26th floor, Los Angeles.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, February 11, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles. Guest Speaker: Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts, 1988 Democratic candidate for President of the United States and former Chair of the Amtrak Board of Directors, will share his perspectives on transportation issues and the Governor Schwarzenegger infrastructure bond proposal.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 16, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Valley VOTE meeting: Monday, February 20. RailPAC President Paul Dyson and Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed will make a presentation on extending the Orange Line to Bob Hope Airport Metrolink / Amtrak station.

SFV Economic Alliance Livable Communities Council: Tuesday, February 21, 8 a.m., Economic Alliance Office, Boeckmann-Fleming-Gelb Board Room, 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) Region 12 Annual Meeting: Saturday, February 25, 2006, California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento. Guest speaker : Congressman Jim Costa.

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, February 28 - 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA 90012. ( Map; December minutes.) We hope to see you there!

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications Director

About The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a 501[c](3) non-profit whose goal is to increase Transit Options and Mobility in Southern California by mobilizing citizens to press for sensible public policy to grow our bus and rail network.

As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions to allow us to pursue our important work. Add yourself to our mailing list and please donate to help us grow.

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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us • The Transit Coalition