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.
There are a slew of mixed signals regarding voter
interest on the statewide infrastructure bonds package.
It was reported
that, according to a recent Field Poll, voters
favor some of the measures, but not by much.
Only the transportation bond measure enjoys majority
support, while other measures simply have more supporters
than opponents. Even though there are no formal
groups working to oppose the bonds and Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoys
growing popularity because of the proposals,
failures of bond measures at the voting booths
could alone work against them. Columnist Joshua
Shaw notes that, even if the transportation bonds
were approved, public transportation would continue
to lose due to lack of commitment by the state
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to create a
no-cost transit week was met with a cold reception
by the Los Angeles Times, which published
detailing the troubles Bay Area transit systems
deal with when they implement their Spare the Air
program and how those problems may very well deter
ridership growth. Indeed, some note that there is
way to gauge either a reduction of air pollution
or a permanent increase in transit passengers. (The
San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged that
the program has helped boost downtown commerce in
San Francisco. Some in the Bay Area are pondering
sources of funding for public transportation,
while others are asking to make every
day a Spare the Air day.) The same paper also
published a letter
regarding the brouhaha
over the name of the Exposition light rail
line now under construction.
Meanwhile, the Orange County Transportation
Authority (OCTA) considered
placing a renewal of Measure M, a half-cent sales
tax that funds transportation improvements, on the
November ballot. Three years after opening, the
Pasadena Gold Line is enjoying "
moderate success" that some hope will grow
once it reaches deeper into the San Gabriel Valley.
In Redlands, the San Bernardino Associated Governments
continues to inform residents about plans to bring
Metrolink service to their community. In Barstow,
Mayor Lawrence Dale expressed
disappointment that the DesertXpress, a proposed
high-speed rail line between Victorville and Las
Vegas, will not serve his city even though it is
right in the pathway.
Gas prices topped an average of $3
a gallon across the nation, with California
drivers paying some 22 cents more for a gallon of
gas. With gas prices nearing their highest levels,
is increasingly rampant at gas stations. The
Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures
has issued 59 citations during the fiscal year ending
June 30. Gas station owners and Department officials
equally note that the latter has little in terms
of manpower and new technologies to inspect the
county's 1,800 gas stations. Officials also note
that fraud at the consumer end is also growing.
Meanwhile, Caltrans works towards
of HOV lanes on 6.2 miles of the Antelope Valley
Freeway south of Palmdale. Improvements like these
may be limited in the future, however, since existing
taxes do not fund as many projects as in years
past and voters refuse to increase these taxes.
If you haven't noticed, Amtrak's Coast Starlight
trains of late have been the victim
of numerous delays and cancellations. Just a
few years back, the Coast Starlight was considered
to be the premiere long-distance train for the national
passenger railroad. Now, it has fallen to disarray,
with the Train Riders Association
of California recently reporting that delays
of up to 11 ½ hours are common on the Los Angeles-Seattle
corridor. Union Pacific, which owns most of the
track the Coast Starlight runs on, says it
is working hard to dispatch both passenger and freight
trains in a timely manner.
Taxi drivers are working to improve
the climate for taxis in the City of Los Angeles.
Currently, few designated taxi zones exist and the
city strictly enforces ticketing at red curbs, where
taxis would otherwise pull over for a short while
to drop off passengers. Thus, taxi drivers are discouraged
to drive around looking for potential customers,
since that would require pulling over to an illegal
spot or stopping in the middle of the street, obstructing
traffic. Though the Downtown Center Improvement
District is at the forefront of this fight, representatives
from taxi companies and traffic engineers hope that,
should a solution be found, it can be implemented
elsewhere in the city.
Metro Investment Report recently interviewed
Gloria Jeff, the new head of the Los Angeles Department
of Transportation. According to Jeff, the city must
work harder to get their "fare share"
from the federal government to bring mobility improvements
to the city. Jeff was particularly surprised at
the mutual interaction between the disparate transportation
agencies in the region. However, her decision to
remove James Okazaki from his position as the Deputy
General Manager has struck a
bad chord within the Japanese-American community,
since he was the second Nisei to depart from the
LADOT since Villaraigosa became Mayor.
In light of the recent power outage at a radar center,
air officials are working
to find solutions to avoid a future collapse
of the regional air traffic control system. The
Federal Aviation Administration is currently working
on a system where its 22 nationwide radar centers,
including the one in Palmdale where the outage occurred,
can take control of any other radar center should
a power outage result. The new system will cost
$2.1 billion and should be in operation by 2008.
Regarding the environment, researchers are concerned
that as much as 25%
of all air pollution in Los Angeles may actually
be attributed to trans-Pacific sources such as China.
Some worry that China will soon eclipse the U.S.
in producing greenhouse gases and that increased
fossil fuel consumption from this and other developing
countries would exacerbate the serious threat of
Down at the ports, officials praise
the success of the PierPASS program aimed at
reducing truck travel from the ports during peak
hours while increasing capacity at the ports. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the Port
of Los Angeles a grant to monitor
air pollution in surrounding communities. The
Ports of Los Angeles
and Long Beach gave residents
near the ports another
30 days to comment on the San Pedro Bay Clean
Air Action Plan. Over at the Inland Empire, business
leaders are working to bring legislation that would
enterprise to fund transportation improvements,
especially those pertaining to port traffic that
comes into the numerous distribution centers inland.
Regarding non-motorized travel, Duarte continues
construction of its portion of the Emerald Necklace,
a series of interconnecting greenways with paths
and trails. Ten cities around the San Gabriel River
between the Santa Fe Dam and Whittier Narrows are
working to make this project a reality. Pasadena,
meanwhile, learned that projects to make the city
walkable" could cost up to $91 million…
and it wouldn't address existing sidewalks that
are in disrepair.
Out and About: How bad has the parking situation
at the Bob Hope Airport become? Just
look at this flyer, which was recently distributed
on parked cars by airport officials.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
July 26: The Los Angeles Times reported
on various transit-oriented developments sprouting
along the Metro Red Line subway. Metro is working
closely with private developers to build more than
20 of these projects valued at over $2 billion at
Metro Rail stations.
July 27: The Daily Breeze reported
on the recent trip to China by LA Councilmembers
Greg Smith and Bill Rosendahl to see first-hand
the purported virtues of MagLev. Smith
believed that the technology is viable, but is not
sure if it can be implemented in Los Angeles. Rosendahl
hoped that such a technology could shuttle airline
passengers to regional airports such as Ontario
International Airport as well as fill a niche for
long-distance ground travel. The Southern California
Association of Governments is working to bring a
59-mile MagLev line between Ontario and the Westside
at a cost of $5.5 billion and could see construction
Matthew Amorello, the chairman of the Massachusetts
Turnpike Authority overseeing the Big Dig project,
amid pressure from Governor Mitt Romney. Amorello
previously sued to keep his job, but Massachusetts'
highest court turned down his suit. It was later
revealed that insurance
from the project might be able to pay for some
of the repairs in the tunnels. The fallout stemming
from the death of a motorist due to a fallen panel
in one of the tunnels is considered another example
of a "
political culture that continues to value the
interests of a few, whether it's influential contractors,
powerful labor unions or former politicians"
at the expense of public safety and taxpayer accountability,
according to the Daily News of Newburyport.
This "culture" is a stark contrast to
the thoroughly regulated and relatively de-politicized
methods employed in California, where different
agencies work together to build a project while
complying with each other's regulations.
Upcoming Events: Metro
San Fernando Valley Governance Council Public
Hearing: Wednesday, August 2, 6:30 p.m., Marvin
Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van
Nuys. The hearing will discuss proposed
modifications to San Fernando Valley bus service
as part of Metro Connections, to be implemented
in December 2006. (
Maps of major changes; text
summary of all changes; June
7, 2006 motion regarding hearings on changes.)
Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday,
August 3, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
Westside/Central Governance Council: Thursday,
August 3, 3 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset
Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, August 3, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office,
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday,
August 8, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El
Monte bus station), El Monte.
SCAG MagLev Task Force:
Thursday, August 10, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818
W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles. CANCELLED.
Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday,
August 10, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, August
11, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson
Transit Advocates: Saturday, August 12, 1 p.m.,
Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.
SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, August 16, 9 a.m., SCAG
Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday,
August 22 - 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!
Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!
Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern
California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.
We welcome your thoughts
and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please
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.
Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue