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.
Reminder: Next Tuesday is our Transit Coalition
Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger guaranteed that his
bond measures will achieve victory at the polls…
November. Negotiations to have the vote in June
amid a State Senate impasse even as the State Assembly
approved a partial package of bond proposals to
go on the ballot. The Senate rejected the package
largely because nothing would be provided for transportation.
went wrong? Commentators suspect his "political
capital" had been exhausted
due to concern on the part of fellow Republican
lawmakers that he asked for help
from the Democrats before consulting
his own party. Transportation agencies across the
state will be forced
to wait for funds to repair and upgrade aging
infrastructure. In the Los Angeles Times Capitol
Journal column, George Skelton blames
the legislative process itself for the impasse.
Others contend that the Los Angeles region was to
blame, since local leaders such as LA Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa were believed to be aggressively pursuing
more than their share" of funds. Despite
this, Villaraigosa remains
optimistic that a public bond measure will be
ready by the November elections.
Bus agencies across California are experiencing
change. Foothill Transit closed escrow for $8.55
million office building that will become their new
headquarters by year end. The San Diego Metropolitan
Transit System will embark on a major overhaul of
the bus system, infuriating
riders. A recent survey conducted by the Orange
County Transportation Authority revealed
that 70% of its users do not own cars and 90% are
satisfied with the service. Haroun Mehdipour, who
was run over by a Big Blue Bus in 2004 and lost
his left leg, will receive some change in his pocket
thanks to the unanimous decision by a jury to award
him $2.7 million from the City of Santa Monica
and the municipal bus operator for negligence on
Oddly enough, San Fernando Valley leaders plan to
celebrate the Orange
Line by closing
it and running a half-marathon on the route
in October. A letter
(under "Orange Crush?") to the Los
Angeles Daily News praised the idea of the marathon
but questioned the impact it may have on weekend
riders who may use the line to reach work. Kymberleigh
Richards, Public Affairs Director for SO.CA.TA.,
and Bart Reed, Transit Coalition Executive Director,
voiced strong concerns before a Metro committee
meeting reviewing this proposal. A
separate letter (under "Busway's Better")
suggested that below-level busways should be built
for the Westside instead of a subway, which elicited
response (under "Money's Worth") by
Transit Coalition Communications Director Numan
Blatant request: How can you help grow transit
advocacy in Southern California? The Transit Coalition
engages in many activities for the improvement of
transit and the betterment of Southern California
in its role as a policy framing and advocacy group.
Each month, a print newsletter is published and
the weekly eNewsletter you are reading is distributed.
Additionally, Coalition members attend various transit
related meetings where they engage in public comment
and speak to board members to present views. But
in running the Coalition comes the financial challenge
to pay our costs. A volunteer may go to Washington
or Sacramento and whose expenses need to be covered.
Publishing a newsletter incurs printing and postage
costs. That's where we need your help. Whether it's
small donation or a large gift, it all helps
us grow. Can we count on your contribution?
With the recently
reported brouhaha over new colors for Metro
fixed Guideway lines, Eric Buckley of the LA
Weekly made his own suggestions
for what may soon be called the "Purple Line."
The Metro Board will review the proposal
on line colors on Thursday, March 23.
launched its "sealed corridor" program,
which aims to improve safety by physically prohibiting
drivers and pedestrians from the rail tracks through
numerous devices such as quad gates and zigzag pedestrian
crossings. The Antelope
Valley and Ventura
County lines will receive the first set of improvements,
leaving other lines to wait
their turn. Also, UC Riverside is mulling a
plan to let students ride all Metrolink
trains at no cost.
Tustin has recently completed
its segment of a 14-mile bikeway and trail that
will run from Newport Bay to Irvine Park. The trail
is part of the Peters Canyon Regional Park, which
may be completed in five to seven years.
Did you know that the I-10/I-605 interchange is
the 19th busiest in the state? The interchange was
designed in 1964 and included a weave along the
west side of the 605, which causes daily backups.
In 1999, The South Coast Air Quality Management
District deemed the area surrounding the interchange
as one of the highest air-pollution-cancer risk
factors in the San Gabriel Valley. A new overpass
to undo part of the weave is proposed, but funding
may not come easily. The Pasadena Star News
published an editorial
decrying the situation.
It is not the only road facility with severe challenges:
The Route 90 Expressway in Marina Del Rey may
not be upgraded until 2011 at the earliest due
to the need for environmental reports that will
take years to compile, and already it is causing
considerable controversy. Ventura County may
lose funds to improve highways in the area,
in particular for the 118
Highway west of Moorpark. Coachella Valley is
bind of its own, as it must find $2.6 billion
to address congested highways and keep up with rapid
growth. Mayor Villaraigosa had a
change of heart regarding replacing incandescent
bulbs on traffic signals with energy-efficient LED
signals. The mayor recommended that the City Council
have LA Department of Transportation do the work
instead of award a contract to a private firm.
On a more positive note, solar-powered flashing
lights have been installed
at 31 school zones across Los Angeles County. The
county will also launch new
signals using wireless technology that will
speed traffic flow at 51 intersections in the South
Bay. Caltrans is moving forward with a much-needed
upgrade of a 2.1-mile segment of the 138 Highway,
a.k.a. "Blood Alley", in Llano. Even as
these improvements come, Metro and Metrolink continue
traffic alleviation through mass transit and
better use of road capacity.
The Port of Long Beach released a new 10-year strategic
plan that hopes to make the port a better
neighbor with the community by reducing environmental
and health impacts. This effort might very well
be moot if officials do not address traffic and
pollution issues stemming from growing
truck traffic from Mexico. Undoubtedly, ports
and other transportation media must also prepare
for the growing
threat of bird flu. According to guidelines
compiled by the U.S. State Department, transportation
facilities must produce a plan to deal with concerns
from the community and workers, as well as establish
emergency procedures in the event that goods movement
and travel is severely restricted due to a pandemic.
Want to learn more about the recently signed SAFETEA-LU?
Metro Magazine has a report
on the basics of this critical mass transit funding
law, including new programs, radically different
funding structures and improvements to Buy America
and handicap access statutes. The Metro Board (not
related to the above magazine) will soon review
an amendment to the 2006 Federal Legislative Program
to seek funds for a series of Small
Starts proposals and address some serious gaps
in the San Fernando Valley and fix new Rapid Bus
On the smart growth front, a mixed-use development
has been approved
by the LA Community Redevelopment Agency to acquire
five parcels of land around Hollywood and Vine,
next to a Metro Red Line station. Local merchants
are protesting the decision for fear that the project
would raze local landmarks. The project was among
a list of transit-oriented developments praised
by Good Jobs First as part of a report
honoring 25 such developments across the nation.
These mixed-use projects hold great
promise in making housing available near transit
stations, reduce both household and transportation
expenses, and improving the local economy, or so
according to the conclusions from a recent briefing
sponsored by the Environmental and Energy Study
Plenty is happening with regards to hydrogen fuel
cells. AC Transit in Oakland introduced three zero-emissions
cell buses as part of a demonstration project.
The City of Burbank recently installed a hydrogen
fueling station, although activists suggest
that funds would be better spent on existing electric
car technology. Even Gov. Schwarzenegger jumped
in via satellite from the State Capitol, addressing
delegates of the 17th Annual Hydrogen Conference
in Long Beach. Schwarzenegger reiterated the state's
commitment to protect the environment through development
of clean technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
March 12: The Los Angeles Times reported
that some 600 bridges across California are at great
risk of collapse during an earthquake. Caltrans
has managed to rebuild most of the spans it maintains.
However, cities and counties have been scrambling
to find funds and retrofit their own bridges.
March 13: Tow truck driver John Meza was
by the Orange
County Transportation Authority for saving the
life of an eleven-year-old boy on Friday, February
10. In his role as a tow truck driver for the Orange
County Freeway Service Patrol, Meza responded to
a call for medical aid on the 57 Freeway and found
a van on the shoulder with a family and the boy,
whose seatbelt became tangled around his neck, choking
him. Meza freed the boy by cutting the belt with
March 15: Los Angeles World Airports and
the new Union Station-LAX FlyAway service. LA Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa joined other officials in celebrating
the new service. The service is part of a program
that will create new FlyAway services across the
Southland over the next several years to relieve
congestion at and provide an alternative to driving
to LAX, although it may not
be much of a help for South Bay residents who
want a similar service. Should the service prove
popular, LAWA may install a FlyAway to Ontario Airport,
which is poised
to benefit from the recently aborted LAX expansion
plan by absorbing more flights and passengers. Meanwhile,
plans to install a FlyAway in Sylmar have stalled,
and a letter
(under "FlyAway stalled") from Transit
Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed states that
the poor location selected dooms this FlyAway.
South Pasadena Council Member David Margrave resigned
from the Gold Line Construction Authority. Margrave
was vocal on noise issues along the Pasadena Gold
Line, but in recent months had been dogged by conflict
of interest issues regarding a condominium project
next to property he owns near the line. The City
Council appointed Keith Hanks to fill the vacancy.
March 16: Amtrak
made a FY
2007 funding request for $1.59 billion and outlined
proposed reforms during a Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee meeting. President Bush recommended
that $900 million should be given to the national
passenger rail service. Amtrak Chairman David Laney
promised that Amtrak will "
reevaluate" (often but not always a euphemism
meaning "kill") long-distance services,
which provide the only passenger rail service to
23 states. Such reevaluation may include eliminating,
restructuring or adding routes, according to
Transportation Commission approved $208
million in state funding to construct the Exposition
Light Rail Line to Culver City. Metro will request
an additional $315 million at the next Commission
meeting April 27 in Fresno. Groundbreaking is set
for summer. The Commission also approved
$12 million for local projects in Orange County.
The funding brings the total for transportation
planning and construction for FY 05-06 to $3.3 billion
for 764 projects across the state.
March 21: DASH
buses in the San Fernando Valley ran on a limited
schedule due to a work stoppage. Organized workers
for the contractor who provides DASH service are
asking for a pay increase. The reduced service schedule
is in effect until further notice.
Economic Alliance Livable Communities Council:
Tuesday, March 21, 8 a.m., Economic Alliance Office,
Boeckmann-Fleming-Gelb Board Room, 5121 Van Nuys
Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. POSTPONED.
Board Meeting: Thursday, March 23, 9:30 a.m.,
Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
(next to Union Station), Los Angeles.
(Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, March 24,
10 a.m. San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building,
12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 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 Line Construction Authority: Thursday,
March 31, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration,
500 W. Temple St., Board Hearing Room 381B, Los
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday,
April 5, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center,
6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
Westside/Central Governance Council: Tuesday,
April 6, 6:30 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset
Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, April 6, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office,
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
MagLev Task Force: Thursday, April 13, 11:00
a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor,
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Reed, Executive Director
Parada, Communications Director
The Transit Coalition:
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.
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