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.
Amtrak has been without authorization legislation
since 2002. Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the "Passenger
Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2005"
(PRIIA) on July 27, 2005. The bill provides for
"Amtrak reform and operational improvements,"
authorizes Amtrak for the six years Fiscal 2006-2011,
provides for capital assistance for states, and
development of state rail plans. Debate and a
vote in the full Senate on S.1516 are very likely
to occur as early as Friday, September 15. Go
to the Senate website,
contact your two senators and ask them to approve
S. 1516 but also to vote "no" for three
bad amendments (visit NARP for details):
One by John Sununu (R-NH) would kill the
long-distance network by requiring Amtrak to discontinue
trains that lose more than a certain amount of money
Another Sununu amendment would allow an entity
other than Amtrak or the host railroad to petition
FRA to replace Amtrak as the operator of a route.
Finally, an amendment by Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
would strike language aimed at facilitating reduction
of Amtrak's debt, even as Amtrak was paying interest
rates as high as 9.5% on some debt.
Here's a surprise to no one: Ventura County will
experience a two-fold
increase in traffic congestion by 2030. The
report concluding this also suggested that private
interests take part in building road infrastructure.
Surely the folks in San Bernardino will be much
happier when several major
highway projects will be completed by late 2007,
including completion of the 210 Freeway. One of
these projects will close
sections of the I-15 and I-215 interchange in
Devore for five weekends starting September 29.
Closer to home, La Cañada Flintridge city leaders
concern how a completed 710 Freeway might affect
the health of residents.
Meanwhile, Caltrans recently reported that carpool
lanes are becoming
more congested in part due to the increased
use of single-occupant hybrid vehicles in the lanes.
The report suggested suspending issuance of new
decals for the vehicles, even as a bill to increase
the amount of hybrid vehicles in the lanes awaits
signature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Late night train service on the Metrolink San
Bernardino line has received mixed
reviews. Some appreciate the new train run departing
Union Station at 11:15 p.m., though some are disappointed
that service was adjusted throughout the day to
make it possible. The North County Transit District
in San Diego will host workshops
that will discuss mixed-use development on properties
surrounding future Sprinter stations. San Francisco
tourists and locals alike have been turned off by
Cable Car fares that are as
steep as the hills they climb. The cash-strapped
SF Muni recently raised fares to $5. Atlanta MARTA continues phasing
in a "smart card" system, while seven
transit agencies in Seattle will band
together to test its own "smart card"
A lot of negative vibes against mass transit reverberated
in last week's newspapers. A Los Angeles Daily
News article regarding plans to bring
high density to transit centers through rezoning
was met with a lukewarm
response by the editorial board. One letter
printed in the Daily News expressed contempt
at transit-oriented development, though another
one believed this would be a
good thing. When the possibility of bringing
trolleys back to Downtown L.A. crept up, two
readers were quick
to dismiss it. (The Los Angeles Downtown
more details about the trolley.) Letters responding
to last week's Steve Greenhut column
in the Orange County Register mostly expressed
derision at handing funds from a renewed Measure
M to transit projects.
Still, not all is gloom and doom. An editorial
from the Downtown News showed hope that the
DASH system can be retooled to meet changing needs
in Downtown L.A. One letter to the OC Register
the Measure M renewal. Even The Economist
that mass transit is "not just for the desperate
Westside Chronicle reporter Tina Page continues
exploring the mismatch between work and housing
and how public transportation did not catch up to
supplement the growth of jobs in the Westside. A
recent study on affordable housing worsened
the outlook, as it was revealed that new units
were being built as quickly as the old ones were
either being torn down or converted.
Regarding the ports, a bill to fund pollution control
at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach sits
at the Governor's desk awaiting signature. Senate
Bill 927 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)
would impose a $30 fee on every 20-foot cargo container
arriving and departing from the two ports. The bill
also aims to fund security improvements at the ports,
which are still
lagging five years after 9/11 brought port security
to the limelight. Shippers and retailers asked the
Governor to veto
the bill, claiming it would increase the costs
of doing business at the ports. The Los Angeles
supported the Governor signing the bill, as
it would be a true test of his environmental stance.
Also, an invitation
is extended to attend a panel discussion on port
concerns. See Upcoming Events below for details.
So what should we expect from the new
US Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters?
One of her strong interests is to privatize highways,
but some see her as a more balanced transportation
figure that would be more open to improving passenger
Eight Weeks Until The Election: Are transportation
officials really salivating
for bond funds? Many are hoping that voters
will approve the transportation bonds as packaged
in Proposition 1B. The City of Los Angeles hopes
to use some of the funds to synchronize signals.
Metro has launched Major Investment Studies for
several corridors in the area that could be eligible
for funds. Some of the more, better or different
crowd are annoyed
that road projects will not take as big a role as
when the bonds were first suggested.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
September 6: Port of Long Beach officials
announced a pilot
program to test low-emission hybrid cargo handling
equipment. The program is part of the "green
ports" initiative adopted by the Ports of Long
Beach and Los Angeles to reduce pollution in the
San Pedro Bay. The six-month testing period will
begin next year.
Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed was
in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding
the possible appointment of Metro Deputy CEO John
Catoe to the position of general manager for the
MARTA system. "This would be a tragic loss
to Los Angeles, to lose John Catoe," said Reed
to staff writer Paul Donsky. "He's one of the
top guys in the industry and in the country in running
bus systems." Los Angeles Daily News
columnist Rick Orlov was not
lost on Atlanta's desires to woo Catoe.
September 7: The Los Angeles City Airport
Commission approved plans to install
advertising at Los Angeles and Ontario International
Airports. However, the Commission deferred action
on bidding for new concessions at LAX, after hearing
from representatives of existing airport concessions.
Officials will work with labor leaders to see that
jobs and pay levels will be protected as a result
and will bring the matter back to the Commission
later in the autumn.
Officials from Rio Hondo College near Whittier launched
bus pass program to relieve traffic congestion
and parking crunches at the campus. Rio Hondo will
pay $80,000 to proved special passes for all of
its 4,810-student body. The passes are valid for
travel on Metro, Foothill Transit
September 8: LAX officials launched remote
baggage check-in at the Van Nuys FlyAway lot.
At a counter, passengers can check in their luggage
for $5 and, upon arriving in LAX, can head straight
to the security checkpoints, saving valuable time.
Other locations such as the Union Station FlyAway,
the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Port of
Los Angeles cruise ship terminal will feature the
service later this month.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)
and the Riverside County Transportation Commission
(RCTC) Boards held a joint meeting to discuss the
Irvine-Corona highway tunnel. The Boards voted to
tests under the Cleveland National Forest to
determine whether the mountain soils and rock formations
can support a tunnel. The agencies must still
ask for environmental clearances to bore five
holes for the tests.
Ironically Shameless Plug: Are you down and
out and need work? Then the Union Pacific Railroad
job for you! The railroad recently announced
openings in Southern California. Training will be
provided and salaries reach up to $40,000 in the
first year. For more information, visit the Union
Pacific employment page.
Upcoming Events: Metro
Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday,
September 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center,
Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Town Hall Los Angeles:
Thursday, September 14, 8 a.m., The Omni Los Angeles
Hotel, 251 South Olive Street, Los Angeles. Keynote
speaker: Matthew K. Rose, Chairman, CEO and President
of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, will be the Keynote
speaker for the event. The Q & A session will
be followed by a panel discussion titled "The
Port of Los Angeles – A Secure, Green and Efficient
Port?" Sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of
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
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, September 20
and Thursday, September 21, Board Room, Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
and Programming Committee, Wednesday, September
20, 1 p.m.
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, September 20,
Management & Audit Committee, Thursday,
September 21, 9 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, September 21, 10:30 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, September 21, 12 noon.
(Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, September
22, 10 a.m. San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG
Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting:
Monday, September 25, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room,
600 Main St., Orange.
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday,
12 26, 5 p.m.,
3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station),
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!
Meeting: Thursday, September 28, 9:30 a.m.,
Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Rail Customer Conference: Tuesday, October 24,
6:45 p.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles. An invitation
is required to attend. To get one, write to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line
"Customer Conference" and include the
following: First & last name; mailing address;
daytime, home and cell phone numbers. Also include
any questions you might want to ask. Information
submitted must match that on your driver's license
or legal ID, as you will enter a secure building.
Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!
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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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