Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 16

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.

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

Los Angeles City Councilmembers Tony Cardenas and Greg Smith are backing a $1.5 billion bond measure to rehabilitate streets across the city. The proposal has the backing of five members in the City Council. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is pursuing his own road-repair funding plan, had no opinion on the matter. Some question the proposal due to the burden it might bring on taxpayers, the belief that taxpayers are already paying for road repairs and the concern that alley and sidewalk repair are not included. The motion will be brought to the City Council next week.

Villaraigosa himself is vouching for Palmdale Airport as a viable part of a regional airport system. The mayor recently gave his support to a coalition of officials from L.A. County, Los Angeles World Airports and the City of Palmdale in applying for federal funds to bring air service back to Palmdale. Villaraigosa is encouraging organizations and individuals to drum up support by writing to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. The proposal should dissuade attention from LAX woes, which were cheerfully outlined by London Times correspondent and self-professed "LAX geek" Chris Ayres.

Nearby, Littlerock residents are actively advocating Caltrans to improve a section of State Highway Route 138 that runs through their community without paving over their longstanding businesses.

Metro is mulling a fare hike to keep up with rising operations costs. The agency has a $150 million structural deficit for the next fiscal year. Naturally, the Los Angeles Daily News blames the shortfall on years of "mismanagement" which includes building a "subway to nowhere" (despite logging 138,000 boardings in March, rivaling subway lines in New York) and pushing for a "hare-brained" subway down Wilshire Boulevard. One option the Authority is exploring is to lease floors at the Metro Gateway Headquarters to businesses searching for office space. The Bus Riders Union took advantage of that fare adjustment notion to push for an extension of the Consent Decree with hopes that such would prevent an actual fare increase.

Not three years before Metrolink trains roll into Perris and already there is opposition. Residents near the UC Riverside campus are concerned that the new service will bring in more noise, pollution and vibrations on top of existing freight traffic. As a result, the community is asking the Riverside County Transportation Commission to consider a train station in unincorporated Highgrove instead of two stations one mile apart at the university. The Perris Valley line is still under environmental review. Meanwhile, Metrolink recently launched a second study for introduction of commuter rail service to Redlands.

A recent article purports that despite an increase in HOV lanes across the country, recent census data reveals that carpooling has decreased by 9.8%. However, this probably will not stop plans to build carpool lanes on the 60 Freeway. The $55 million project will close the final gap of carpool lanes on the freeway in Riverside County. Meanwhile, the Orange County Transportation Authority is balking at the notion of joining the recently created Riverside Orange Corridor Authority and will consider creating its own agency, which would include the Transportation Corridor Agency, which operates the Orange County toll roads, and the Riverside County Transportation Commission.

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments expressed their disappointment with the state and federal government, who have yet to funnel funds to help build additional sidings on the Union Pacific Coast Line, the source of frequent delays for Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight trains. The Council was ready to offer $250,000 as a match for as much as $10 million in state and federal funds. The line features antiquated sidings that are distantly spaced between each other and too short for freight trains.

Further south, plans to bring regular rail service to Palm Springs moves along, with the Riverside County Transportation Commission approving a resolution to support the route last Wednesday. Efforts have been largely hampered by the realities of congestion on the Union Pacific Sunset Route, which passes near the area.

Heading back north, officials at BART and the Amtrak Capitol Corridor are considering testing Wi-Fi internet service on their trains.

The City of Ventura is moving forward with a plan to realign a notably beaten bike path at Surfer's Point, hopeful that the California Coastal Commission will approve the plans this summer. The city has been working with state park officials and the Ventura County Fair Board on ownership issues. The decade-old plan has garnered the approval of local elected leaders, outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists alike, although questions remain. In Redlands, volunteers are close to turning a portion of an abandoned rail line into a multi-purpose trail.

On the smart growth front, a new mixed-use project in Orange County was approved. Urban Pacific Builders and the City of Garden Grove negotiated an agreement to redevelop 15 acres of land and install 800 housing units as part of the $300 million project. Meanwhile, Smart Growth Online asks why affordable housing remains elusive even with current efforts.

Oy vey: Prosecutors arrested Swedish bad-boy Stefan Eriksson today, alleging he was alone behind the wheel and legally drunk when he crashed a stolen Enzo Ferrari at 162 miles an hour in Malibu last February. As a convicted felon in Sweden (on counterfeiting and drug charges), he's also on the hook for carrying a gun illegally. No word if they charged him for calling out sheriff's deputies to comb the hills for the mystery man named Dietrich who Eriksson first said had been driving the car; also no word on the investigation into the "homeland security" officers who interviewed Eriksson on the side of Pacific Coast Highway that morning.

Another Announcement: Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl invites you to attend a public meeting to discuss alternatives and proposals in an ongoing reevaluation of the LAX Master Plan. Participants in previous meetings, including Rosendahl himself, have called for an extension of the Green Line and a people mover into the airport area a priority. Transit Coalition President Kenneth Alpern expressed the need to extend the Green Line further north to Santa Monica via Lincoln Boulevard (State Highway Route 1). View this notice for more details.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

April 10: The Los Angeles Daily News reported on the travails of an elderly woman who is fighting a ticket for jaywalking in Sunland. Mayvis Coyle was cited last February for crossing busy Foothill Boulevard and obstructing traffic, although Coyle claims that the light was green for her when she started her walk across the street. The incident has attracted worldwide attention as individuals and media outlets contacted City Hall to express disdain to the LAPD officer who wrote the ticket. How bad has it become? Even the City of San Fernando Police Department is annoyed, if only because people mistakenly thought they were involved, to the point that the Department had to issue a press release correcting the matter. The Daily News subsequently published an editorial expressing disbelief at the matter. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez promises to support her " every step of the way."

April 11: Arcadia residents voted to pay for a grade separation of the future Foothill Gold Line at Santa Anita Avenue. 72% of voters approved the bond measure. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune noted that the unusually high turnout was due to interest in the popular bond measure and a heated city council race revolving around eminent domain concerns.

April 13: Arthur Winston, the famed employee who maintained buses and trains at Metro and its predecessor agencies for 72 years and retired last month, died in his sleep at the age of 100. Winston was revered for his steadfast reliability, strong work ethic and a positive outlook on life through misfortunes and social changes. Metro released a statement expressing sadness at the news and celebrating his long life. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. Winston is survived by his brother, North Winston, 98, his great-granddaughter Brandii Wright, 29, and his great-great grandson, Kenny, age 4. The Transit Coalition sends their condolences to their family, knowing that his unparalleled wisdom will be sorely missed.

Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed and RailPAC President Paul Dyson attended the SCAG MagLev Task force meeting. A report on the meeting is now available.

Departures: Caitlin Liu has left the LA Times transportation beat and will be moving to New York. Lisa Mascaro, staff writer for the Daily News on transit news, will leave for Washington, D.C. soon. The Transit Coalition wishes them the best in their new endeavors.

Upcoming Events: SFV Economic Alliance Livable Communities Council: Tuesday, April 18, 8 a.m., Economic Alliance Office, Boeckmann-Fleming-Gelb Board Room, 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, April 19, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

LAX Master Plan Scoping Meetings: Wednesday, April 19, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Flight Path Learning Center, Imperial Terminal, 6661 Imperial Hwy., Los Angeles.

State Highway Route 2 Terminus Scoping Meetings: Wednesday, April 19, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Metro Gateway Headquarters, Windsor Room, 15th floor; and Thursday, April 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Barlow Hospital, Williams Hall, 2000 Stadium Way, Elysian Park, L.A.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 20, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles. ( Supplemental agendas.)

Planning and Programming Committee, Wednesday, April 19, 1 p.m.

Finance and Budget Committee, Wednesday, April 19, 2:30 p.m.

Executive Management & Audit Committee, Thursday, April 21, 9 a.m.

Construction Committee, Thursday, April 21, 10:30 a.m.

Operations Committee, Thursday, April 21, 12 noon. (The Pasadena Star-News reports that the committee will discuss a plan to install shuttle service to Dodger Stadium during the homestand.)

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committees and Board Meeting: Friday, April 21, 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, April 25 - 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 Board Meeting: Thursday, April 27 Wednesday, May 3, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), 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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numan.parada@thetransitcoalition.us  The Transit Coalition