Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 21

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.

It's that time again: Tuesday night is our Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the infrastructure bond proposals, which paves the way for a public vote this November. A ceremony to celebrate the accomplishment was held near the Caldecott Tunnels (State Highway Route 24) in Oakland. Orange County stands to gain as much as $486 million in transportation improvements, even as it hopes a major widening of the I-5 from the Riverside Freeway to the Los Angeles county line will spark an economic boom in the area. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez criticized the FY 06-07 budget proposal from the governor, claiming it cuts funds for public transit and ignores replenishing cash reserves for financial emergencies.

Ridership continues to grow on buses and rail lines across Southern California thanks to high gas prices. (If you still think these high prices will go down, just listen to what the federal government has to say.) Santa Clarita Transit is noticing an increase in riders, though it is not yet known if the new riders are here to stay. Having recently emerged from a near strike, the Riverside Transit Agency is trying to cope with a surge in passengers using its commuter-oriented buses.

The recent growth in patronage has prompted Foothill Transit to delay certain fare increases on its system, while Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines will not be as generous. The Metro bus and rail system will not see a fare increase this year, although Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Zev Yaroslavsky believes a fare increase must happen in the near future. The Los Angeles Daily News published a letter from SO.CA.TA Public Affairs Director Kymberleigh Richards (under "MTA Fares") suggesting that acceding to the demands of the Bus Riders Union has been the cause of continuous budget shortfalls for the agency.

For a more technical view on public transportation, METRO Magazine offers several articles worth reading this May. Veteran transit advocates offer tools to weather political storms that are too often associated with mass transit. Former METRO editor Cliff Henke held a roundtable discussing stagnation of transit agencies contracting out bus service. To see how one man continuously balances the need of public transit with the desire for more roads, enter The Wonderful World of Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Art Leahy. Other topics include innovative air conditioning technologies on transit systems and ten emerging technologies that will impact public transportation in the near future.

Last week was Bike-To-Work week. To top off the week, the Los Angeles Times published several articles on bicycle travel in the area. Private companies are now joining the fray, as they promote bicycle commuting through seminars and their own Bike-To-Work days. Still, it is not lost on many that bicycling in a car-oriented city can be quite challenging. Thus, the Times offered suggestions on how you can make bike commuting and traveling possible.

Regarding transit-oriented development, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that a restaurant will spring up in the renovated Santa Fe Depot at the Gold Line Del Mar station, site of a mixed-use complex currently under construction. Further east, Western Riverside Council of Governments Executive Director Rick Bishop explains how the Inland Empire can accommodate high-density growth, noting the maddening home-buying rush that has plagued the area and encouraged suburban growth at the expense of infrastructure.

Exceptionally Shameless Plug: A certain group of young Westside car enthusiasts gained worldwide recognition for their coincidental taping of a rare Mercedes that was driven by the wife of bad boy Stefan Eriksson and was summarily confiscated by police. The boys regularly sight rare and exotic cars as a hobby, videotape them and show their work at several websites such as www.exoticspotter.com or www.streetfire.net.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

May 13: Over 80 Marina del Rey residents protested plans to extend the Marina Freeway (State Highway Route 90) to near Lincoln Boulevard (State Highway Route 1). The Coalition to Save The Marina, which believes that the freeway is not needed, organized the protest.

May 15: Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed addressed participants at a Valley VOTE meeting regarding the importance of bringing Orange Line service to the Bob Hope Airport Amtrak / Metrolink station. A report on the event is now available.

May 16: U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta unveiled a plan from the Bush Administration to address capacity issues affecting all modes of transport in the country. Proposals included privatization of facilities, "congestion pricing," and competition among state and local agencies to fast-track projects with the greatest potential to reduce congestion. To no one's surprise, Amtrak and passenger rail were omitted, which was duly noted by University of Pennsylvania transportation professor, Vucan R. Vuchic, who wrote a polite yet unwavering rebuttal noting the importance of offering alternatives for an aging population, including improving long-distance rail services.

May 21: Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl announced the appointment of Transit Coalition President Ken Alpern to the Transportation Committee of the Empowerment Congress formed by Rosendahl. The Congress aims to improve transportation and focus planning policy in Los Angeles Council District 11, which includes most of the Westside.

May 22: The LA Times published an editorial raising hopes that the Wilshire Red Line may be built sooner than thought. Even with a ban on using local money for its construction, the recently approved state infrastructure bond package may offer matching funds to lure federal participation in this critical project.

Upcoming Events: 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 parking is available on the roof of Building F, accessible from 21st and Grand.

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!

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, May 25, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, June 1, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, June 14, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, June 1, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, June 7, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Foothill Gold Line Community Design Workshops:

·  Wednesday, June 14, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Monrovia Community Center, 119 W. Palm Av., Monrovia.

·  Monday, June 19, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Ayres Hall, Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Av., Arcadia. Parking available.

·  Tuesday, June 27, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., City Hall, Outer Council Chamber, 5050 N. Irwindale Av., Irwindale.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, June 14, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us • The Transit Coalition