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.
Last Call: Tomorrow night is our Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below
City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Jose Mayor
Ron Gonzales on a visit
to the State Capitol, calling on Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger to address housing needs in his Strategic
Growth Plan. Villaraigosa took the opportunity to
his support for high-density, transit-accessible
housing and, in turn, funds
for a Metro Red Line extension to the Westside.
The Strategic Growth Plan is heaping up even
more criticism, this time from State Treasurer
Phil Angelides, because of the lack of money for
mass transit. The Los Angeles Daily News
expressed their concern in an editorial
that the Strategic Growth Plan may be hijacked by
political bickering and sternly warned against it.
Get ready to pay more to use the 91 Express toll
lanes. Increasing demand for the lanes has prompted
the Orange County Transportation
Authority (OCTA) to increase
rates and stem growth in toll lane traffic.
Tolls will surge to as much as $8.50 during Thursday
and Friday peak periods. Most rates during other
times will go up by 75 cents. "Congestion-based
pricing", is sprouting in Denver, Houston and
Washington, D.C. Edward Sullivan, engineering professor
at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who studied the lanes
for five years, concluded in a Press-Enterprise
article that, despite the increase, there will
always be people who will value the lanes and pay
to use them. It can be assured that drivers
will look for other ways to reach job-rich Orange
County, and an increase in vanpooling and patronage
on parallel Metrolink lines
will ensue. OCTA, along with Caltrans, must also
deal with rising
costs on expanding the Santa Ana Freeway between
the Los Angeles county line and the Riverside Freeway.
Meanwhile, OCTA is mulling tow-truck
driver regulations after a recent series of
accidents involving tow trucks, which may include
background checks and drug tests.
When it comes to making public transit easier for
the masses, you can count on the technology-savvy
San Francisco Bay Area for fresh ideas. For
years, BART electronic signs
have largely been responsible for informing passengers
at station platforms about updates, train times
and delays. Next month, BART plans to provide up-to-the-minute
updates and schedule information on its Web site
as well as on hand-held electronic devices such
as BlackBerrys. San Francisco Muni and
AC Transit already
provide Internet updates for riders at www.nextbus.com. As
if that wasn't enough, the Metropolitan Transportation
Commission, which oversees BART, is partnering with
nine Bay Area counties to improve
bus service to low-income families. The funds
may be used for expanded weekend and nighttime bus
services, taxi vouchers, bicycle and pedestrian
projects and shuttles specifically serving the transit
After years of dealing with increased traffic during
races, the California Speedway
in Fontana announced
a plan to increase traffic flow into the event.
The plan was crafted by Gameday Management Group,
which has created similar plans for other sporting
events such as the Super Bowl and the Major League
Baseball All-Star Game. Part of the plan includes
color-coded parking passes for ticket holders. However,
if this does not suit you, you can still take the
Bernardino Line, which makes a special stop
at the California Speedway during events.
Gold Line commuters continue to make their voices
heard with regards to the new express service. This
time, however, existing and potential passengers
place the new service in
a more positive light. Transit Coalition Executive
Director Bart Reed was quoted in a Pasadena
Weekly piece, sharing his opinion on service
reductions on the Gold Line caused by the express
service. Reed also voiced his concerns on this at
the Metro Board meeting.
Burbank was recently deemed one
of the sootiest cities in the nation. Jan Perry,
Los Angeles City Councilmember and Air Quality Management
District western region board member, believed that
it is largely due to the Golden State and Ventura
Freeways, which run through Burbank, because of
their heavy use by diesel-burning trucks. And if
you plan to use the nearby airport soon, be prepared
as much as $11 for daily parking.
Bart Reed and Transit Coalition President Ken Alpern
had a front-page
article published in the monthly newsletter
of The Greater West
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce that addressed
the obstacles facing the creation of the Westside
Segment of the Expo Line to Santa Monica. The Mid-City
Segment of the Expo Line is expected to clear all
federal and local hurdles to break ground later
and map on Santa Clarita Transit Route 8, the
new bus service from Sylmar to Valencia opening
Sunday, March 5, is now available.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
February 11: Transit Coalition President
Ken Alpern attended a conference of certified Neighborhood
Councils within Los Angeles Council District 11
that was called by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.
75 representatives from the eight Neighborhood Councils
of the district, from Pacific Palisades to Westchester,
attended this conference that included a discussion
on transportation. Transit Coalition newsletters
and handouts were distributed to participants, and
an update on efforts to create and extend mass transit
into the Westside was given.
The Los Angeles Times published a report
on freight railroads, which are experiencing a major
boom with increased cargo traffic and have record
profits to prove it. However, most of the growth
is attributed to increases in fees and has led to
train delays, irritating customers. Railroads hope
to use their net income to fund and build major
capital projects at a rate like never before.
February 13: Alpern gave a presentation to
staff members from the offices of Congressmember
Jane Harman, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Los
Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl to discuss
federal and local funding priorities for current
projects such as the Expo Line, as well as future
projects such as an extension of the Green Line
to LAX and the Metrolink regional rail plan that
includes service to LAX via the Metro Harbor Subdivision
Right of Way. Other topics of discussion included
electrification of the rail network and increasing
the level of Metrolink service throughout the region.
February 20: RailPAC President Paul Dyson
and Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed
made a presentation to members of Valley VOTE on
the Orange Line to Bob Hope Airport Metrolink
/ Amtrak station.
February 21: The City of La Cañada Flintridge
City Council unanimously voted
to accept property easements that will allow
the city to link up several existing multi-purpose
trails to complete a trail loop through the city.
The San Francisco Examiner published an article
and national increases in public transportation
patronage in light of rising gasoline prices. The
article quotes a recent American Public Transportation
Association report that claims that use of mass
transit remained steady even after a drop in gas
prices. The increases were evident on San Francisco
transit systems, with BART seeing a 3.5% increase
in passengers during the third quarter of 2005,
Muni showing a relatively meager 2.1% increase during
the first nine months of 2005 (despite recent fare
hikes and cuts in bus service) and Caltrain seeing a
whopping 14% during the same time.
¿Habla usted español? Entonces le gustará el
nuevo sitio de web espanol.amtrak.com.
Amtrak announced a new Spanish version of their
website, which will make booking trains easier for
Spanish-speaking passengers and hopefully attract
new customers. The English and Spanish websites
MotionPoint technology, which avoids the need
for parallel sites, duplicate work and repeated
notifications of changes on the English site. The
Spanish website can also be accessed through the
English Amtrak page.
February 22: Opening statements began at
Blue Bus trial in the Los Angeles Superior Court,
West Los Angeles Division. In 2004, the elderly
Haroun Mehdipour sustained injuries on his head
and left arm while trying to run after Big Blue
Bus in Santa Monica. According to attorneys for
the defendant, the bus driver closed the front door
and drove off, running over Mehdipour in the process.
Mehdipour is now suing the City of Santa Monica
for negligence in hiring and supervising the bus
February 24: The Metro Board discussed
on the timeframe and costs of building a Red Line
extension west to Santa Monica. Despite a lukewarm
reception by most board members, Board Members and
County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe
in with concerns that, should Metro eventually
pursue the project, it would reduce the relative
priority of other transit projects in the county.
No further action was taken. However, the Board
acted on motions regarding the Municipal Operators
Service Improvement Program and the release of two
bicycle planning documents.
Despite last minute opposition from Gov. Schwarzenegger,
The Orange County Transportation Corridor Agency
an environmental impact report for the San Onofre
Toll Road and selected the route through the park,
which was recommended by its staff. The project
would still require approval from numerous state
and federal agencies and is expected to attract
Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly
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!
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.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, March 2, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office,
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
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.
(Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, March
10, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., 26th
floor, Los Angeles.
Transit Advocates: Saturday, March 11, 1 p.m.,
Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.
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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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