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.
The DASH shuttle bus system may be an inexpensive
way to get around Downtown L.A. However, the DASH
has also been plagued with unreliable scheduling,
"leapfrogging" and short service hours.
Most Downtown residents feel the service does not
meet their needs, especially given the explosion
of newcomers and activities in the area. This is
to change when the Los Angeles Department of
Transportation (LADOT) releases a study on the service
that would also address changing demographics and
In other transit developments, OCTA Line 794, the
new Inland Empire-Orange County bus service, will
on Monday, September 11. Metro is now resorting
and study preparation classes as a way to train
future bus drivers, who are in short supply. LA
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sees it as a measure
labor expenses in the long run, since Metro
spends up to $5 million annually on overtime just
to keep existing services. AC Transit in Oakland
will soon install
Wi-Fi Internet on their buses.
People are responding to transit developments accordingly.
Dr. Sergio Castillo discusses his daily routine
involving a stress-less
commute from Corona to Watts via Metrolink and
Metro Rail in a Press Enterprise article. Metro
SFV Governance Council Chair Kymberleigh Richards
exception to a recent Los Angeles Daily News
article suggesting that the San Fernando Valley
is being shortchanged when it comes to bus service.
To the east, two Inland Empire mayors and the chairpersons
of two Boards of Supervisors will hold an event
at the BNSF yard in San Bernardino to protest the
of funds for underpasses and overpasses on railroads
in the rapidly growing area. In New Mexico, the
Rail Runner commuter rail line between Albuquerque
and Bernalillo recorded its 100,000th
passenger after less than a month in service.
Across the pond, international travelers voted London
as the "
best city in the world for public transport,"
while Los Angeles came in dead last.
Down in Marina del Rey, residents are coping with
growth issues. The county has major plans for the
unincorporated area, which includes an extension
of the Marina Freeway west to the harbor. Residents
vow that there will be a major fight against both
the freeway and any redevelopment efforts. One of
the best ways to get around is the intra-harbor
ferry known as the
WaterBus, which costs only $1 to board. But
hurry! The seasonal service will end on September
In road related developments, UCLA, UC Berkeley
and UC San Diego will participate in a yearlong
trial program that would let undergraduates
between 18 and 21 years of age use Flexcar. Such
may be a moot point for students at UCLA, as the
with exponentially worsening traffic. For the
area, the Expo and Wilshire Red Lines can't come
soon enough. In the San Gabriel Valley, work on
the HOV ramps between the 57 and 60 Freeways is
for completion early next year, while Caltrans
the construction of soundwalls and HOV lanes
on the 60 Freeway between I-605 and the 57 Freeway
in January. A bill to ban
the use of cell phones while driving quickly
moves through the state Legislature.
Across the nation, engineers are facing the prospect
of a major
infrastructure crisis that may cripple the economy.
Noted transit obstructionist Randal O'Toole published
detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the Interstate
Highway System. The report condemns federal earmarking
and "flexible funds" that could be used
for either roads or transit while criticizes the
relatively "centralized" planning process
that made the Interstates possible in the first
place. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a battle is
brewing over how
to provide parking to the new Nationals Stadium
that would be convenient to patrons but would also
not interfere with precious stadium views should
it be built as a parking garage.
After a tough fight, Pasadena finally
let go of their 11 Nissan Hyperminis. The city
was lauded for their efforts despite ultimately
losing the cars after all legal methods to keep
them had been exhausted. The San Gabriel Valley
Tribune published a glowing
column by Robert Rector commending Pasadena
city officials for holding out as long as they can.
Meanwhile, jumping on the electric car bandwagon
is comedian Tommy Chong, who owns a 1964 Oldsmobile
that is being retrofitted
to run on electricity, without sacrificing power
and class. As Chong best said it, "by driving
the ultimate electric stoner car, I can get off
the titty. You know, the oil titty."
In the meantime, California will cross a major,
if quiet, milestone this week when diesel suppliers
will complete a mandated switch to an "
ultra-low sulfur" blend of the fuel. The
development promises to greatly reduce emissions
from trucks and buses and thus keep the air cleaner.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will
follow suit as it installs "clean
diesel" technology on 264 of their heavy-duty
trucks. Private boaters in the Port of Los Angeles
are also experimenting
Regarding smart growth, there is growing concern
that "gentrification" is pricing
out residents of established neighborhoods at
a faster rate than before. Some see the development
as a sign of a continuously intense real estate
market that is affecting every corner of the region.
Columnist George Skelton takes a critical look at
recent bipartisan actions in Sacramento and examines
how such cooperation will be needed to sell
the infrastructure bonds proposals to the skeptical
Oy gavalt: Members of the Bus Riders Union
recently held a press conference blasting
Mayor Villaraigosa's plan to have transit opened
to patrons at no cost for an entire week. BRU spokesperson
Manuel Criollo revealed that, according to the BRU,
it would take $7 million to implement such a plan.
Criollo voiced that such a cost would be better
used in reducing the Metro monthly pass by $4 to
$48, believing that "it has historically been
proven that when you reduce bus fares, you attract
long term transit users." Meanwhile, the days
of power for the BRU could be numbered, as their
Consent Decree will expire this October. As a last-ditch
effort to drum up support for an extension of the
Decree, BRU advocates are moving
their fight to the Los Angeles city neighborhood
Here is a list of other recent developments:
August 21: Work began on converting an abandoned
Union Pacific right-of-way in Whittier to a greenway
trail. The City of Whittier must still approve
a traffic plan related to the trail. The new trail
will run over the intersection of Whittier (State
Highway Route 72) and Washington Boulevards via
an existing steel truss bridge. The cost of the
project is $14 million.
August 23: Los Angeles World Airports officials
alternatives that intend to address traffic
issues at LAX. One calls for double-decking Century
Boulevard, which would provide a direct connection
between the airport terminals and the 405 Freeway.
Officials have since held
a meeting with residents and merchants near
the airport, detailing and discussing the proposals.
It was noted that Los Angeles is one of the few
cities in the world where local and airport traffic
share the same streets. The
next event will be held tonight, August 29.
See upcoming events below for details.
August 24: The Metro Board deferred
a decision on assigning a color name to the
Expo Line. Instead, the new light rail line will
be simply known as the "Expo Line" and
be marked by a black color on maps until a future
Board decision dictates otherwise. Board member
and LA City Councilmember Bernard Parks has been
the forefront of naming it as such yet assigning
the color rose to the line. Public opinion repeatedly
pushed for an aqua color, a fact not lost on
Board member and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who
took note of the popularity of the aqua moniker
during the meeting. The Los Angeles Daily News
published an editorial
satirizing the issue, while a letter
to the editor blasts Parks for his stubbornness.
Nevertheless, the Board adopted the name "purple"
for the Wilshire/Western branch of the Metro Red
Line, "silver" for the El Monte Busway
and "bronze" for the Harbor Transitway.
(The Transit Coalition would like to thank those
who contributed to this effort!)
August 26: Seven Union Pacific locomotives
on their sides in a derailment near San Timoteo
Canyon and Live Oak Canyon roads, spilling diesel
fuel that caused a blaze on one of the engines.
The apparent cause of the accident was that the
locomotives were going
too fast around the curves. Another derailment
earlier that day on the BNSF railroad tore up tracks
in Highgrove and led to the closure of at least
three roads that cross the tracks.
St. Louis opened its Cross-County Extension of the
MetroLink line to great fanfare. Passengers voted
with their feet as crowds filled train cars
along the $678 million extension of the city's light
rail system. Commuters
embraced the extension with just as much enthusiasm
service began the following Monday. The gem
of the project is a 1.3 mile tunnel connecting University
City with Clayton. However, the transit agency in
St. Louis, also named Metro, faces a serious
financial crisis as a result of project redesigns
that included a subway portion.
August 28: The Orange County Transportation
Authority Board approved
the $22.5 million purchase of nearly 14 acres in
Anaheim for a new transit hub. Local bus, Metrolink
and Amtrak service will be moved to the new station
by 2010. The Board also voted to add 78 CNG buses
to their bus fleet and discussed an update on the
widening of the Garden Grove Freeway.
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority added
more Capitol Corridor trains between
Sacramento and San Jose. The new service translates
to a 52% increase in service between the two cities
and a 30% increase between Oakland and Sacramento,
the largest increase ever in the history of the
August 29: Amtrak announced
that former Union Pacific vice president Alexander
Kummant will become CEO for the national passenger
railroad starting September 12.
Acknowledgments: The Transit Coalition would
like to thank laist.com for featuring
our eNewsletter in their August 22, 2006 blog posting
and listing us as one of the "
eNewsletters that rock".
Upcoming Events: Los
Angeles International Airport (LAX) Master Plan
Stakeholders Forum: Tuesday, August 29, 2006,
6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Flight Path Learning Center in
the LAX Imperial Terminal, 61 West Imperial Highway,
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday,
September 6, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent
Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
Exposition Metro Line
Construction Authority: Thursday, September
7, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One
Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, September 7, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter
office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, September
8, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson
Transit Advocates: Saturday, September 9, 1
p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting:
Monday, September 11, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room,
600 Main St., Orange.
SCAG MagLev Task
Force: Thursday, September 11, 11:00 a.m. SCAG
Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday,
September 12, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near
El Monte bus station), El Monte.
Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday,
September 13, 3 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center,
Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday,
September 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone
SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, September 20, 9 a.m.,
SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday,
September 26 - 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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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
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