Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 18

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.

Looking for relief from gas prices? Tough luck. Officials from the Bush Administration revealed proposals to lower gas prices by halting purchase of oil for the strategic petroleum reserve and softening emissions standards. Even so, most concede that it won't make a real dent and high gas prices will last for years to come, largely due to high demand outstripping supply.

Local and regional transit systems are benefiting from the high prices with an increase in passengers. Metro recorded record increases on its bus and rail systems. Metrolink reported impressive ridership numbers for March, reaching 39,700 average daily boardings. Smaller systems, such as the Burbank Bus, are also experiencing ridership surges. The American Public Transportation Association invites commuters to investigate their local transit systems, use them, and ask their employers about transit benefits. Failing that, take a bike.

The American Lung Association revealed that the Los Angeles region has the unhealthiest air in the nation. The Association noted that the area has improved its air quality significantly, but still not enough to protect the health of residents. Officials took stock of the results to advocate for a redoubling of efforts to curb emissions, particularly those coming from automobiles and diesel engines. (A list of the Top 25 "cleanest" and "sootiest" cities in the country can be found here.) The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin praised the California Air Resources Board for having a plan to deal with air quality at the ports, which are the source of much of the air pollution in the region.

Take action: Transit funds in the statewide bond proposal are being threatened. Now is the time to inform your state assemblymember and senator that you want these funds protected and kept in the bond. We have provided you with a sample letter you can use as a template to send to legislators, as well as bullet points outlining the importance of funding transportation projects to keep people and goods moving. A list of state legislators representing Los Angeles County constituents is also available.

The California Transportation Commission approved funds for new carpool lanes on the I-5 between the 170 and 118 Freeways. The same commission also allotted money to key highway projects in the Inland Empire, including the widening of I-215 through San Bernardino. Down at the ports, an oversight policy committee in charge of studying improvements for the I-710 completed the first phase of the $3 billion project by releasing their report detailing a "locally preferred alternative" for the busy freeway.

Even with the good news for highways in the region, Malibu continues to grapple with fatal high-speed accidents on its stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway (State Highway Route 1) 16 years after incorporation. However, one phenomenon that has somewhat stemmed the risk factor is the increase in congestion along the scenic highway, which in turn forces drivers to travel at slower speeds. As if that wasn't enough, Malibu now must also deal with the looming threat of a possible liquefied natural gas terminal some 13 miles off its shores. Locals quickly and vocally demonstrated their unhappiness at the mere thought during a recent hearing on the matter.

A year after last year's rains created havoc on Santa Clarita Valley rivers, bicyclists remain disappointed at the slow speed of progress on rebuilding two washed-out bike paths. Also disappointed are Placentia residents who must foot the bill for the aborted OnTrac project, which promised to build a trench for railroad tracks and also revitalize its fledgling downtown area.

San Diego officials continue to search for solutions to their airport dilemma. A wide variety of solutions have been presented, and each of them has their detractors. As far as the North County Times is concerned, given the limited options, there can be an airport only at either Miramar or Lindbergh Field, since the other proposed sites are too unreasonably far away. The current tenants of Miramar, the US Marines, are hotly contesting the option of sharing its facility with commercial airlines. Lindbergh Field has limited room for expansion since it is close to downtown San Diego and next to the bay.

Meanwhile, the new LAX-Union Station FlyAway service is exceeding expectations, with over 16,000 boardings during the first month of service.

Ferrari Crash Round-the-Clock Coverage: A second arrest was made in the investigation of the bizarre accident, this time revolving around accusations that a companion of driver-at-the-wheel Stefan Eriksson posed as a police officer to purchase a gun. Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies recently confiscated a gun found at Eriksson's Bel Air mansion but registered under the name of an Orange County Sheriff reserve deputy, who in turn received it as part of a controversial program that is in its own world of troubles. It was revealed through court documents that Eriksson paid $1 million down for the Ferrari and two other luxury vehicles, and financed the remaining two-thirds of their cost. Eventually, he was unable to pay the loans and tried to negotiate a new deal with debtors with little success, as he was desperately keen on keeping two of only 400 Enzos in existence.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

April 24: The Pasadena City Council approved a resolution asking Metro to fund operating costs for the Foothill Gold Line once it is completed. Two of the eleven cities along the proposed light rail line have also passed similar resolutions.

April 26: The Los Angeles Daily News published an op-ed by Metro CEO Roger Snoble lauding the success of Metro in maintaining high customer satisfaction and low operating costs, but also warned about the looming deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.

April 27: The California Transportation Commission approved the second of two funding packages for the Exposition Light Rail Line. Metro requested a total of $523 million for the project; $315 million was approved at this meeting with the initial $208 million approved last month. The $640 million project is expected to start construction this summer.

April 28: Transit Coalition Communications Director Numan Parada attended the second annual Ohio Rail/Transit Summit in Columbus, Ohio. Members of All Aboard Ohio in attendance benefited from four presentations (one of which is available online thanks to presenter Carrie Makarewicz) regarding the present challenges of bringing intercity rail through the state (known as the Ohio Rail Hub plan), as well as discussions with representatives from gubernatorial candidates. Members were then assigned to meet with staff from state legislators to express the importance of establishing passenger trains in the Buckeye State.

April 29: The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported the results of a Public Policy Institute of California study noting that Inland Empire residents have the dubious honor of having the longest commute times. The study also noted the great disparity in work commute times, with some commuters able to travel closer to their jobs whileothers must travel great distances.

May 1: Immigrant workers and sympathizers marched along Los Angeles streets to advocate for their rights. Buses on some of the busiest lines in the Metro system were affected as they detoured around crowds.

Amtrak celebrated its 35th anniversary with the usual and unfortunate uncertainty of its future as the only national passenger railroad. You can catch up on Amtrak history at the Amtrak Historical Society website.

Upcoming Events: Metro Board Meeting: Wednesday, May 3, 9:00 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, May 3, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, May 4, 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, May 4, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles. FOLDED ONTO EXPO LINE COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE. See below.

Expo Line Community Open House: Thur., May 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Dorsey High School auditorium, 3537 Farmdale Av., Los Angeles ( Map).

Fullerton Railroad Days: Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Pancake breakfast served at 8 a.m.), Fullerton Train Station, 120 E. Santa Fe St., Fullerton.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, May 13, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Tuesday, May 2, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, May 17, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, May 23 - 6:47 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!

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.

Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue on transit.


bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us  The Transit Coalition