Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 8

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.

Fair Warning: Next Tuesday is our Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

The Strategic Growth Plan from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is facing fierce opposition from state lawmakers of both parties. California Republican Assembly President Mike Spence showed concern about the about-face approach the governor has taken in reining in spending. Joel R. Reynolds of the National Resources Defense Council sees a looming challenge in keeping promises to curb global warming and sprawl even as the governor is keen on toll roads (though the one toll road in question, which would run through San Onofre State Beach, was decidedly opposed by the governor.)

City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continues to stomp for the Red Line extension to Santa Monica. A recently released report concluded that building the subway in its entirety would cost $4.8 billion. The Los Angeles Daily News showed disbelief in an editorial. Indeed, not everybody thinks quite positively that it will be built soon (or much of what he hopes Los Angeles will become) despite growing interest. In response, Villaraigosa has pushed to make the project part of the state Strategic Growth Plan, which has been criticized for focusing too much on highway spending and not enough on mass transit. Opinions are mixed on the matter, as this collection of letters to the Daily News shows.

Even as Amtrak continues to break ridership records across California, a recent Harris poll showed that the public desires a great increase in passenger rail and freight as an alternative to roads. Particularly, the public wishes to see commuter and long-distance rail move a larger share of passengers. The results also showed a large interest in seeing these modes developed by various levels of government instead of leaving it at the hands of private enterprise. ( Amtrak Fact Check has returned to the National Association of Railroad Passengers website. The page provides responses to claims by critics of the national passenger railroad.)

On the smarth growth front, developers and builders are swiftly responding to soaring demand for mixed-use projects. Developers generally cite the lack of "greenfield" land and popularity of mixed-use as factors in building these projects. Even with increased availability and their proximity to transit centers and jobs, however, there will always be a sizable amount of people who will not mind long commutes, as this Sacramento Bee article demonstrates. State Treasurer and gubernatorial prospect Phil Angelides is fine-tuning his message to curb sprawl and encourage growth at mass transit stations as part of an overall proposal to reduce oil consumption.

The City of Whittier is soliciting bids to construct a five-mile multi-purpose trail along an abandoned Union Pacific right-of-way. The trail would provide an alternative to Whittier Boulevard (State Highway Route 72) and connect various city landmarks. A connection to the San Gabriel River Trail has yet to be determined.

A new bus service that will connect San Fernando and Sylmar with Santa Clarita will launch on March 5. The Route 8 bus will be operated by Santa Clarita Transit and run all week, with 30-minute headways on weekdays.

Shameless plug: Founded in 2002, CityLites is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting exercise, good nutrition and physical fitness in inner-city communities. On Saturday, May 20, CityLites will host the 3rd Annual Inner City 21 and 5-Mile Bike Tour Festival and Carnival in Jesse Owens Park at Century Blvd. and Western Av. Proceeds from the event will go to local middle and high schools to foster after-school sports- and physical-education-related activities.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

February 9: In response to bus riders and anti-smoking groups, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System directors ordered their attorney to craft an ordinance to ban smoking at bus stops and Trolley stations. Though the agency has mulled a ban for several years, the move gained momentum when the California Air Resources Board deemed "environmental tobacco smoke" as a toxic contaminant. This would make San Diego one of the few cities in California to ban smoking at its outdoor transit facilities.

February 10: Metro announced that it would install sound mitigation measures such as double-paned windows and insulation on houses along the Orange Line route. Since opening the busway last October, Metro has been measuring sound levels to see if residents are experiencing too much noise.

February 13: Express service began on the Pasadena Gold Line, which has been receiving mixed reviews from passengers. Not everyone is impressed. Will this be a clever way to cut ridership by 3,000 per day? With a 33% decrease in rush hour service to 60% of the stations, riders are either crammed into already full trains or are on the express trains with phantom ridership. Go figure.

February 16: US Congressmember Ken Calvert (R-Corona) announced that a federal grant has been awarded to fund bus service along the congested 91 Freeway between Orange and Riverside Counties. The $4.3-million grant will also provide "rapid bus" service along Harbor Boulevard and a security camera system at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

February 21: Donald T. Bliss, the special master overseeing the MTA Consent Decree, resigned to take a job in Montreal. He suggested that Metro and the BRU consider hiring Robert C. Vanderet as his replacement.

Upcoming Events: Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, February 23, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, February 24, 10 a.m. San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

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.) We hope to see you there!

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Ctr., 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, March 2, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., Board Hearing Room 381B, Los Angeles.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, March 2, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

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

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

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