Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 22

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.

Despite a $110 million structural deficit, the Metro Board approved a $3 billion budget that will add new bus service and hold off a fare increase in addition to keep rail and highway projects on track. The Board concurrently rejected a plan by CEO Roger Snoble to cut $10 million from security expenses and instead directed him to find other sources of funds. The Bus Riders Union is on a mad dash to have the Consent Decree extended until 2011 since it believes that Metro will surely reduce service or raise fares as a result of the deficit. The Special Master appointed to oversee the Decree, Donald Bliss, resigned earlier this year, with no one having taken his place, which marks an ominous note on whether the Decree will be extended or allowed to expire.

BART itself is profiting from robust ridership, as their recent budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year can attest to. Other commuters are finding relief in good-ol' two-wheel transportation such as bicycles, motorcycles and even Segways. This increase in use of alternative modes may soon be over, however, as gas prices are falling across the state. Lawmakers at the state and federal levels are disappointed that months of studies regarding the high prices have come to nothing, since oil companies, who have been reaping in record profits, were otherwise not found to have done any wrongdoing.

Speaking of bicycling, activists in San Bernardino County are fighting to complete a gap between two Santa Ana River trails and create a single "Crest-to-Coast" multipurpose trail. To this purpose, it was announced that a coalition of cities and institutes are coming together and forming the Upper Santa Ana Watershed Foundation.

Other cities are moving with their own enhancements to improve the transit experience. The City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a law that would ban smoking at all transit facilities, from bus and cable car stops to Muni stations. The New York City MTA is moving forward with plans to combat a rise in graffiti incidents, which include installation of cameras.

Transportation continues to play an important role at the state level even after finishing work on the bond proposals set for a November vote. At least one Assembly district race is circling around port issues, even though the ports themselves are not in the district. An editorial from the Sacramento Bee decried the governor's proposal to use "spillover" funds from the state gas tax to pay for previous transportation bonds instead of current transit operations. Former Assemblymember and current candidate for State Controller Tony Strickland moves forward with a petition to repeal said tax altogether.

A report revealed that aging school buses are among some of the worst air polluters in the state. Even though the state has vigorously followed a program to buy new natural gas vehicles and soot collectors for existing vehicles, the Berkeley-based Union of Concerned Scientists noted that there is still a long way to go. Meanwhile, South Coast Area Transit in Ventura County is moving away from purchasing hybrid buses and instead resorting to improved natural gas buses.

Caltrans opened a section of new carpool lanes on the San Diego Freeway between I-105 and the Marina Freeway ahead of schedule. Caltrans hopes that the new lanes will reduce travel times by as much as 50 percent. The last segment of the southbound carpool lane between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside will be complete by 2008. Plans to build the northbound lane are ongoing. Meanwhile, officials pushing for reversible carpool lanes for the Antelope Valley Freeway (State Highway Route 14) near Pearblossom Highway were shocked to learn that the project would cost close to $800 million. On the other end of the Southland, a group is resorting to a higher power in aiding their fight against the San Onofre Toll Road.

In Burbank, officials are looking into quirky technologies that can help manage parking woes throughout the city. The City Council recently delayed a decision on selecting a parking management option and instead directed staff to study the costs of the technologies as well as existing parking revenues. Indeed, other quirky technologies help the City of Los Angeles manage traffic across the city, according to the Washington Post.

Announcement: Starting June 3, Metrolink will begin weekend service on the Orange County line. Through December 31, weekend fares will be 50% of the regular fare. However, for June 3 only, you can buy one Saturday Metrolink ticket and a friend rides along for no additional cost. Also for June 3, those holding valid Orange County Transportation Authority bus passes can also ride at no cost. All stations within Orange County will host events for the family to celebrate this event.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

May 24: The Los Angeles Department of Transportation released an audit showing that as much as $530,000 in tickets has been unaccounted for by Five Star Parking, the private operator of the Hollywood and Highland parking garage. The day before, the Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the operator's contract, ensuring a $17 million share of the revenues. The report, and others that came before it, believed that Five Star employees are engaging in fraudulent activities, though a company executive said that some employees have already been disciplined.

May 25: The California State Assembly approved a bill to upgrade the status of the Los Angeles World Airports police and establish it as an autonomous body. The upgrade would give the police body additional powers, including training bomb-sniffing dogs, controlling traffic and regulate alcohol sales.

May 30: Three Los Angeles Daily News staff writers wrote about their recent experiences on transit in Los Angeles. Brett Hopkins tries to use transit as much as he can, if only to give him a clear conscience. Aron Miller tries to find any excuse to get on the bus and learn about his fellow Angelenos. Josh Kleinbaum believes that the additional time spent traveling is not worth the cost savings or even the peace of mind, to the point that he summarily resumed his auto commute.

Upcoming Events: 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.

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.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, June 8, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, June 10, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

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.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, June 14 and Thursday, June 15, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, June 21, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

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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