Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 19

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.

State lawmakers approved a $37.2 billion bond measure that will go to voters in November. The ballot measure would be a part of a $116 billion public works plan to upgrade infrastructure, in particular transportation. The fast-growing Inland Empire is expected to greatly benefit from the plan, even though many of the projects championed there are almost entirely road-related. Part of the proposal includes permanently allotting gas tax revenues to transportation as per Proposition 42 that received a strong endorsement from the Automobile Club of Southern California. A Long Beach Press-Telegram editorial praised the bipartisan effort to bring the proposal to voters but had reservations about funding affordable housing.

Even as increases are tapering off and prices are actually falling elsewhere in the country, gas prices in Southern California continue to climb. The City of Calabasas is fighting back by increasing local bus service and encouraging people to walk when they can. Europeans share a bit of advice to Americans reeling because of high gas prices: Get over it. It is no secret that European drivers pay substantially more for gasoline, of which taxes make up much of the price. Meanwhile, oil companies and transit agencies are not the only ones benefiting from high gas prices: Transit TV is experiencing an increase of viewers, largely due to the increase in riders on buses where their ubiquitous televisions are placed.

Toll roads are becoming all the rage across the country. Private firms are either leasing existing toll roads or building new ones. As an example, the City of Chicago leased their Chicago Skyway toll road for 99 years at a price of $1.8 billion, which the city will use to pay existing toll road debt and establish a "mid-term annuity the city can use to smooth the effects of economic cycles and stabilize the need for additional revenues." The under-construction South Bay Expressway (State Highway Route 125) in San Diego is an example of a new toll road being built under the long-term private concession model.

State Assemblyman and former state Coastal Commission member Pedro Nava proposed setting aside funds to study traffic in south Orange County as a way to block construction of a proposed toll road through San Onofre State Beach. The toll highway is already set for a fight in federal court because it would greatly damage a Native American burial site, according to defendants.

Want to learn more about SAFETEA-LU? No, it's not an alternate form of the Texas Two-Step. Instead, it's a $244 billion federal program aimed at funding critical transportation projects in the country. Signed into federal law after four years of work, the program will introduce new programs and refines existing programs. More information is provided courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration.

Meanwhile, Burbank Mayor Jef Vander Borght has decided to kill a plan that would have changed Chandler from twin two-way streets to two one-way streets going opposite directions on each side of a bike path, calming the nerves of residents. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation sharply criticized an analysis by the federal government on how a new FBI headquarters in Westwood would affect traffic on the Westside. To boot, Lawndale officials are resorting to a novel way of attaining more parking spaces on its streets: Doing away with excessive red-painted curbs.

Thursday, May 18, is Bike to Work Day, and employees are encouraged to leave the car at home take a bike to work. Pasadena is more than prepared for the date, as the city embarked on building a bikeway network currently spanning more than 50 miles, connecting residents to schools and transit facilities such as the Metro Gold Line. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez shares with readers his bicycle travails and bike transportation challenges in the City of Angels.

With regards to smart growth, Long Beach housing advocates are fighting for more low-income housing to supplement a future transit-oriented development at Long Beach Bl. and First Street, next to the Metro Blue Line.

Passengers at Ontario Airport wish to have a cell-phone waiting lot, where drivers can park free for a short while, either call passengers arriving at the airport or wait until they are called, and pull into the airport to pick up the passengers. A similar concept has existed at LAX since 2004, but no plans exist to bring it to Ontario. Meanwhile, Bob Hope Airport is experiencing a parking shortage, to the point where they are looking towards Van Nuys to find parking space.

For your entertainment: Three would-be bandits were videotaped as they tried to break into a Metrolink ticket vending machine… and walked away with no cash for their efforts. A Los Angeles boy who posted a photograph of himself tagging a Metro bus on a popular website was arrested for suspicion of vandalism. Finally, bad-boy Stefan Eriksson was newly charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run when it was learned that a Porsche Cayenne in his possession crashed into a SUV near his home last January. Columnist Chris Lee gives a summary of the events related to the unusual case of the totaled Ferrari Enzo and aptly gives it the name " Enzogate."

Here is a list of other recent developments:

May 3: The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority unanimously approved a plan to rehabilitate the two runways at Bob Hope Airport. The project will start this summer and is not expected to affect airport operations.

San Bernardino Omnitrans directors approved a site for a future transit center to house local and enhanced bus service as well as future Metrolink trains. Omnitrans will now begin buying the land required. The high-tech bus line, dubbed SbX, is projected to begin service in 2010. If no delays occur, the transit center may begin operations in three years.

May 6: Transit Coalition Communications Director Numan Parada joined SO.CA.TA to bring transportation awareness at Fullerton Railroad Days, where an estimated 40,000 families and rail fans came to see model railroads, real-life rail cars and other railroad paraphernalia. Copies of The Transit Coalition newsletter Moving Southern California, as well as other transit advocacy materials, were distributed to attendees. When those were exhausted, attendees were directed to our website and the weekly eNewsletter. Of note was the unseasonably large LEGO train set built by the Irvine-based Southern California Lego Train Club.

Upcoming Events: 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: 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.

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

Valley VOTE meeting: Monday, May 15. Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed will address attendees on current transit matters in the San Fernando Valley.

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.

Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority Community Open House 2: Wednesday, May 17, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Culver City, 4117 Overland Ave. Free parking is available at this site.

Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority Community Open House 3: Tuesday, May 23, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Cafeteria (Building H), 400 W. Washington Blvd. The campus is easily accessible from the Metro Blue Line. Limited free parking is available on the roof of Building F, accessible from 21st and Grand.

CityLites 3rd Annual Inner City 21 and 5-Mile Bike Tour Festival and Carnival: Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 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.

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!

Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.

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