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.
What does the future hold for the statewide infrastructure
bond measures to be decided in November? According
to a recent poll, the future is at least on
the positive side. Participants indicated that
they are warming up to the bond measures, although
two of the five measures to be voted on (education
and affordable housing) are getting tepid approval.
If the numbers improve considerably and prove winning
at the November polls, the bonds would be a boon
to numerous languishing but needed transportation
projects in California. Los Angeles City Councilman
Bill Rosendahl hopes that the bonds along with a
scaled-down LAX Master Plan will help bring the
Line closer to the airport and beyond, even
though such an extension is not a priority for Metro
at the moment.
still needing to find $10 million in savings on
top of using reserves to cover its $110 million
deficit, officials are looking towards advertising
revenue. While some believe it could be a modest
revenue generator for the transit agency, critics
contend that the visual clutter may not be worth
the boost in funds.
Advocacy groups are increasing
pressure to replace school buses running on
diesel fuel with cleaner-burning counterparts. Activists
point out that children in San Bernardino are in
greater risk of developing asthma than children
elsewhere in the state. To date, only 5% of school
buses in California run on compressed natural gas,
while another 10% use emissions-reducing particulate
traps on existing diesel buses. To the north, Bay
Area transit agencies will offer round
trip rides at no cost on their systems during
days when smog levels are at their highest. The
effort is part of the Spare the Air Days program
where, in previous years, no-cost rides were given
only in one direction.
If running anything on compressed natural gas still
does not suit your fancy, transit advocate Alan
S. Drake argues that complete electrification of
U.S. railroads could reduce
oil consumption by up to 10% in 12 years. Drake
notes that increasing urban transit funding, purchasing
electric trolley buses, encouraging bicycling and
creating a "Strategic Railcar Reserve"
can complement this move and reduce overall oil
dependency. Fellow transit advocate Paul M. Weyrich
expresses hope that the recently convened National
Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study
Commission will set aside partisan ideology and
a fresh approach to the transportation question
at the Federal level.
Regarding airports, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
announced that he will resurrect
a long-dormant regional airport authority to
encourage growth at other airports as a means to
stem increasing air traffic at LAX.
Lack of consensus and weak powers vested to the
authority lead to its demise, but officials hope
these flaws will be undone and bring airport traffic
to those that actually want it, such as Palmdale
and Ontario Airports. Los Angeles County Supervisor
Don Knabe is particularly
excited, as his district includes LAX and Knabe
was a board member of the Southern California Regional
Airport Authority before it disbanded in 2003.
Could a bullet
train between Victorville and Las Vegas be in
the works? According to the Victorville Daily
Press, DesertXEnterprises is working with local,
state and federal agencies to make this a reality.
An environmental review will soon begin, and a public
comment period will begin in late June. Just west
of Victorville, plans to widen State Highway Route
138, notorious for its string of deadly head-on
crashes, continue moving forward. Starting June
will begin installing
truck lanes on the portion of the route climbing
the San Gabriel Mountains just west of State Highway
Route 2 near Wrightwood.
One highway innovation that is being given serious
consideration today is mileage-based
road pricing, which is in trial mode in Portland,
Oregon. Instead of paying the state gas tax, participating
motorists are charged 1.2 cents for each mile they
drive. Proponents see this as a way of replacing
the gas tax altogether, since state and federal
governments are wary of raising them according to
inflation. Another benefit seen is that it may also
do away with the concept of toll road facilities,
since the driver is in fact paying a toll based
on how much he drives.
It is of note that among other dubious distinctions
greater Los Angeles has earned, a recent survey
revealed that it has the
worst road rage of any city in the nation. According
to the survey, young drivers and those with lengthy
commutes are the most likely to react to aggressive
driving. Respondents largely cited inattentiveness
as a factor in how drivers control their vehicles
on the road, which could in turn lead to tailgating,
cutting someone else off or driving too fast. Truckers
share the feeling, as a separate survey indicated
that California has the
worst automobile drivers in the nation. (The
same survey noted that Pennsylvania has the worst
roads for truckers, while Texas has the best.)
As if that wasn't enough, a new sensation is sweeping
the nation: Gas
rage. Drivers are now taking out their frustrations
on gas station clerks, with the latter reporting
an increase in hostile behavior and harassment towards
them. The National Association of Convenience Stores
advises owners and operators to explain patrons
that despite the high gas prices they charge, convenience
stores are not making much profit off of them.
On the smart growth front, residents
are moving in to Archstone Del Mar, the new
transit-oriented development perched over the Del
Mar Gold Line station. According to the Pasadena
Star News, "There are 32 such villages
in various stages of development along the MTA's
four light-rail lines, a number that will rise considerably
by the end of the decade." Residents are particularly
thrilled that they don't have to use their car for
much of anything now, with numerous amenities within
walking distance of the complex.
For the more technically inclined, Union
Pacific will soon start using unoccupied,
remote-controlled locomotives to sort train
cars in its Colton yard. However, some employees
are concerned about safety, to the point that they
are urging the City of Colton to impose safety measures
before the switch. Critics of the technology contend
that accident rates are higher where unoccupied
locomotives are used, but proponents note that recent
studies have shown these devices are no more dangerous
than other methods of car sorting. UP will also
introduce new pollution-controlling
technology at its Roseville yard near Sacramento.
Meanwhile, Metro recently gave approval to install
fiber-optic systems intended to improve security
monitoring across the Metro system. Metro also selected
a company to implement and manage a regional
Smart Card service center. The North County
Transit District seeks bids to install wireless
technology along its Coaster commuter rail line.
Additionally, the Federal Transit Administration
launched a pilot program aimed at encouraging transit
agencies to use
the Internet for capital purchases.
Angeles Economic Development Corporation recently
launched a campaign aimed at informing citizens
about the dangers of "Not-In-My-Back-Yard"
thinking. To learn more, visit www.backyardweb.org.
Mariel Garza became the latest Los Angeles Daily
News staff writer to give
public transit a try and write about her experiences.
In doing so, however, she took great strides in
stocking up on household materials and dog food,
so that she wouldn't have to lug such things on
the bus during her transit trial. Will the test
bring satisfaction and wisdom to this new transit
rider? Stay tuned.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
May 23: A state bill allowing
tribal groups to voluntarily join the Southern
California Association of Governments passed the
State Assembly by a unanimous vote of 68-0. Assemblymember
Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) hopes that Assembly Bill
2762 will encourage increased collaboration between
governments while protecting tribal sovereignty.
The bill now moves to the State Senate.
May 31: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will
receive a boost in anti-terror funds, even as other
ports in the state will receive less in comparison
to years past. Of the $92.5 million to be received
for the region, $80.6 million will go to the ports,
while an unidentified amount from what remains may
be used to "develop a countywide initiative
for regional planning and training," according
to LA Deputy Mayor Maurice Suh.
Officials in Albuquerque offered a sneak
preview of the New
Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail service.
Crews are testing the trains for its debut this
summer. For the first three months, no fare will
be charged; after that and until the end of the
year, it will cost $2 to ride.
June 3: Metrolink
service on the Orange County line. Riders
reacted positively to the new service, which
is composed of three round trips between Los Angeles
Union Station and Orange County. This will begin
one of the largest expansions for the commuter rail
system since its inception in 1992, as Sunday service
will be introduced in July and Inland Empire-Orange
County service will soon follow.
June 6: LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced
that the city is cracking down on illegally parked
cars during rush hour. Transit officials say they
hope the cost and inconvenience of illegal parking
will deter drivers from blocking streets. Violators
will be fined $65 and charged $144 for towing, plus
$33 a day for storage, if the vehicle is not claimed
within an hour of its removal.
Upcoming Events: Metro
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday,
June 7, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center,
6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
MagLev Task Force: Thursday, June 8, 11:00 a.m.
SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los
California Transit Advocates: Saturday, June
10, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill
St., Los Angeles.
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.,
Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday,
June 14, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset
Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, June 14 and Thursday,
June 15, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
and Programming Committee, Wednesday, June 14,
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, June 14, 2:30
Management & Audit Committee, Thursday,
June 15, 9 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, June 15, 10:30 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, June 15, 12 noon.
Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, June 21,
9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor,
Board Meeting: Thursday, June 22, 9:30 a.m.,
Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, June 27
- 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!
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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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