Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, June 26, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 26

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.

Don't Forget: Tuesday evening is our Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Action Alert: In response to the tragic Metrolink January 2005 accident in Glendale, Assemblymember Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) is pushing forward with his bill AB 1699 to prohibit "push-mode" operations on California commuter rail services. After careful research, the L.A. Times is expected to editorially oppose this bill.

With huge campaign donations from "Special Interest Law Firms" litigating against Metrolink and other California Commuter Rail Agencies to secure passage of this bill, the effect will impose substantial operating costs increases that will be passed along to users in the form of higher fares, but won't make our commutes any safer. A new FRA Study released today Re-Affirms Safety of Push-Pull Passenger Rail Operations. Assemblymember Frommer is using the Orphans and Widows of victims to impose his version of faux safety.

We need your help today and tomorrow before noon to phone these Senate Transportation and Housing Committee members to express your opposition to AB 1699. They are: Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach, chair), Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks, vice chair), Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego), Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), Michael Machado (D-Linden), Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), Nell Soto (D-Ontario), Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield), Abel Maldonado (R-Monterey), Bob Margett (R-Glendora), George Runner (R-Lancaster). You may look at a sample letter detailing the relatively safe "push" operations that are standard across the globe. The text of AB 1699 as well as information about the status and history of the bill is available.

Metro is expanding bus service, as the newly launched Sepulveda Rapid Bus line demonstrates. Line 734 is the third Rapid Bus service in the San Fernando Valley and connects Sherman Oaks with the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station. Another new shuttle route, Line 634, connects the same Metrolink station with LA Mission College via Hubbard St.

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority is proposing a 25% increase in fares as well as several modifications to bus routes and service reductions. Officials cited high fuel and labor costs as reasons for these drastic measures. In Riverside, a county supervisor is pushing a plan to delay the launch of the Perris Metrolink line and supplant it with express bus service, with the saved funds to be spent on grade separation.

With freight activity booming, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has been especially busy, increasing capacity and building new facilities to handle the traffic. In addition to building a third track through Cajon Pass and retrofitting its San Bernardino yard to allow multiple containers to be stacked, BNSF is planning the Southern California International Gateway, which would handle much of the freight load coming from the ports. As BNSF would like to point out, all of these upgrades will use environmentally sound equipment and pollution-reducing techniques.

If you're curious as to what kind of people use train services in California, take a look at this Modesto Bee article, detailing the travels of Los Angeles Times staff writer Jane Engle aboard the Pacific Surfliner. Most riders appreciate the scenic sights to behold on most trains, as well as the opportunity to relax and slow down. Some, however, express irritation at the fact that many trains are not punctual.

Even after a federal official declared that long security checkpoint lines at LAX were gone "forever," many passengers claim to see nothing of it, saying that lines are as long as ever, even though others add that the lines are more tolerable than times past.

The Los Angeles Times published various articles recounting transportation in the City of Angels through the ages. Times staff writer Thomas Curwen reported on a traffic book from the 1920s that is largely responsible for how streets are designed in Los Angeles to this day. Staff writer Chris Erskine provided a timeline of how car culture and personal transport developed in LA.

One particular curiosity to note is an op-ed piece by Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation, who sees a tunnel connecting the Long Beach Freeway to Pasadena as a win-win situation after a recent study concluded that said tunnel could be built using new technologies. To point out issues such as tunnel length and earthquake stability, Poole referenced various tunnels across the globe including (gasp!) the Metro Red Line and Eastside Gold Line tunnels. (A recent public meeting on the 710 tunnels drew mixed reactions from participants.) But LA Times readers throw lots of doubts at Poole's tunnel theory claims.

Dana Bartholomew reviews the Sylmar tunnel disaster of June 1971, where Lockheed Shipbuilding & Construction violated many mine safety laws that resulted in the worst tunnel disaster in California history.

On the planning front, Burbank leaders are mulling a land-use proposal that would limit industrial and commercial development in the city. The proposal will use a formula to determine square footage of a development based on expected trips to a business and the size of lots. Also on the Transit Orientated Development front, Urban Housing Alliance launches a new website to promote it's three Glendale projects which are a short walk from the Metrolink Station.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

June 19: Caltrans and Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency officials announced plans to study transit options in Pacoima, home to a resident population of 100,000, half of which live below the poverty line. The non-profit Initiating Change in Our Neighborhoods will perform the study.

The state Assembly Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 764, which aims to reduce pollution at the ports by defining goals and offering incentives. It would require ports to reduce emissions to 30% below 2001 levels by 2010. The bill has already been approved by the state Senate, and will likely be voted by the entire Assembly in August.

An Orange County Transportation Authority committee voted to recommend selecting Parsons Group to study widening the 405 Freeway between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach by two lanes. Officials contend that, should the project be built, it could increase rush hour speeds by up to 5 miles per hour. The OCTA Board previously approved the project, which could cost at least $500 million and is a decade away from construction at best.

June 20: The Long Beach City Council voted to uphold an environmental document for upgrading the Long Beach Airport terminal, much to the chagrin of community members. The Council will later vote whether the terminal will be rebuilt or not.

June 21: California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson announced that a measure that would require oil companies to fund alternative fuel programs has gained enough signatures to qualify for an appearance on the November ballot. It would create a $4 billion program aimed at reducing oil and gasoline use by 25%. Funds would come from a levy between 1.5% and 6% on oil extracted from California.

June 23: US Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced his retirement, effective July 7. President George W. Bush noted that he was the longest serving Transportation secretary in history. He was credited for restoring confidence in air travel after 9/11, although he has also been criticized for ineffective leadership with regards to the Amtrak question and rail transportation in general.

June 24: The OCTA offered rides at no cost to patrons boarding at the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station. The tickets were valid on the new Metrolink Orange County Saturday service between LA and Oceanside.

Upcoming Events: Wendy Greuel Community Forum: "The Intersection of Planning and Transportation." Monday, June 26, 6 p.m., Los Angeles Valley College, Monarch Hall. 5800 Fulton Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91401-4062.

Foothill Gold Line Community Design Workshop: Tuesday, June 27, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., City Hall, Outer Council Chamber, 5050 N. Irwindale Av., Irwindale.

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!

Friends 4 Expo Transit General Meeting: Wednesday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. at Hamilton High School Library (second floor, main building, 2955 Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, just north of the Santa Monica Freeway. ( Map.)

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, July 5, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Tuesday, July 6, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, July 6, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, July 8, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, July 12, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, July 13, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, July 14, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

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