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.
Lest ye forget:
Next Tuesday is The Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting.
Additionally, The Transit Coalition invites you
to two RailPAC meetings, as well as a special Metro
Rail Customer Conference on Tuesday, October 24.
See Upcoming Events below for details.
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
during the last half of September. 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 (A summary
of S. 1516 and descriptions
of the three amendments are provided courtesy
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.
A major obstacle in building the now-named Purple
Line to the Westside could soon be cleared. U.S.
Congressmember Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) introduced
legislation that would repeal a ban on federal
funds for tunneling the subway. Created 20 years
ago, the ban was a knee-jerk
reaction to a 1985 methane explosion that questioned
the safety of the project. However, a panel in 2005
concluded that new technologies were available that
would make tunneling and operations safe. LA Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa continues to stomp for the
"Subway to the Sea," although he risks
local Congressmembers who wish to pursue transit
projects in their own districts.
Others are giving praise to the Orange Line, which
continues its ridership growth. Officials are now
talking about extending
the line to the Chatsworth Metrolink station.
Such an extension would use an existing right-of-way
paralleling Canoga Avenue. A letter to the Los
Angeles Daily News suggested jettisoning
the ROW altogether and use Canoga Ave. instead,
while another letter lamented the blown
opportunity of building it to Burbank via the
Chandler ROW. A Daily News editorial equally
lambasted Metro for focusing on other rail lines
in the region at the expense of San Fernando Valley
traffic. (A map showing extensions at both ends
of the Orange Line is available.)
light cameras on the Orange Line are helping
to reduce collision rates and have led to an increased
number of citations.
Meanwhile, residents in Agua Dulce are suing
for access to a shortcut that includes a Metrolink grade
crossing. Property owners Rancho Agua Dulce LLC
contend in a subsequent counter complaint that the
crossing on the road, which is in their property,
is dangerous. Burbank residents are bemoaning a
plan to connect
the Chander and Los Angeles River bikeways,
arguing that it would lead to increased traffic
and crime. Humor columnist David Allen decided to
his luck with the new late-night service on
the Metrolink San Bernardino line.
To the north, a recent study reported that the awarding
of transportation project contracts to minorities
crippled after passage of Proposition 209, which
curtailed affirmative action. SamTrans in San Mateo
County received some timely
advice from the Federal Transit Administration
on how to boost sagging ridership on its buses.
Meanwhile, BART is mulling the use
of a flat
fare across its system.
Regarding automobile travel, an op-ed in the Ventura
County Star suggested that technologies
to increase road capacity and safety without
increasing lane miles exist and should be implemented.
by Inside Bay Area chastised a state bill
that would increase the amount of hybrids in carpool
lanes without addressing existing capacity issues.
So what is the story on passenger rail service between
Los Angeles and San Francisco? It was recently
announced that the Coast Daylight train
will have a slot available on Caltrain tracks between
San Jose and San Francisco. The service would need
a new train set, new stations along the Union Pacific
Coast Line and additional sidings between Gilroy
and Salinas. RailPAC estimates that
it would cost $150 million.
The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, as well
as several others in the U.S., handled a record
amount of incoming cargo last July. Palm Springs
officials believe that freight traffic through the
area will more
than double by 2025. With such a great amount
of cargo moving in, however, the security risk grows.
It is good to know that the U.S. Senate approved
a bill that would increase radiation screening at
the ports (and boost rail and mass transit security
in the process).
Seven Weeks Until the Election: The Sacramento
supported Proposition 1B, as
did the Contra Costa Times. State Senator
Kevin Murray is also making
the rounds, supporting both Propositions 1A
and 1B, which, according to Murray, could pump as
much as $6 billion for Westside transportation projects.
However, some environmental groups are growing leery
of the bonds. The Sierra Club recently adopted a
stance on the bonds, even as many of their Northern
California members recommended opposing them, since
more than half of the money would go to road projects.
Columnist Phil Strickland believes likewise but
also adds that the fragmentation
of transportation policy is equally devastating.
Backers of the bond measures also grew concerned
funds regarding other unrelated measures, which
could drown out their campaign to woo voters.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
September 12: The Foothill Transit
Governing Board approved
the March 2007 launch of the new Silver Streak service.
Articulated buses would ferry passengers between
Montclair and Los Angeles, stopping at Pomona, West
Covina and El Monte, and will utilize existing HOV
lanes including the El Metro Busway. The service
express Line 480. Bus service changes including
restructuring of several Busway lines were also
September 15: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
into law a bill that would prohibit motorists
from holding their cell phones while driving. This
will allow drivers to use handless technologies
as a substitute. Some lawmakers believed that the
mere act of conversing with another is the real
cause of distraction, while others noted that other
distractions such as kids and eating while driving
are just as dangerous.
September 18: The Los Angeles City Airport
Commission awarded a $503 million contract to overhaul
the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
It would be the first major construction project
at the LAX terminals since the terminal was built
for the 1984 Olympics. Upgrades will include new
air-conditioning, paging and electrical systems;
new elevators and escalators; and a new explosive
detection machines in the terminal's baggage system.
An Orange County Transportation
Authority (OCTA) committee approved
a plan to spend $7 million for preliminary engineering
and environmental study of high-speed rail service
between Anaheim and Los Angeles. The proposed line
would use existing rail corridors while trains reach
speeds of up to 125 mph. (Metrolink trains currently
reach 79 mph.) The full OCTA Board must still allocate
Nashville became the next city to have commuter
rail, as the Music City Star
launched service between Nashville Riverfront station
and Lebanon, Tennessee. Riders responded
positively to the new service. The $40 million
rail line brought in 345 passengers on the morning
of its inaugural run. The Regional Transportation
Authority, which operates the train, expects 1,400
daily boardings in six months.
Congratulations! On August 30, Los Angeles
World Airports (LAWA) Rideshare received two national
awards: The first is a Gold Medal in the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's) "Best Workplaces
for Commuters (BWC) 2006 Race to Excellence".
Gold was the highest level awarded, and only 4 public
sector agencies received this award. Out of more
than 50 companies to receive an award at any level
(Gold/Silver/Bronze), LAWA was the only airport
management agency on the list.
The second is the "Outstanding Service Award
in the Public Service Sector" from the international
Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) for
the LAWA employee transit pass program, which increased
participation by 135% in 2005. LAWA currently distributes
over 200 transit passes at no cost to LAWA employees
every month and approximately 21% of their employees
(695 out of 3375) participate in the transit, vanpool,
or carpool program. LAWA recently completed the
Annual Employee Transportation Survey, which revealed
an average savings of 458 vehicle trips per day
at LAX and 72 vehicle trips per day to ONT (out
of 427 employees).
Upcoming Events: 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.
RailPAC Regional Meeting,
Southern California: Saturday, October 7, 2006,1:30
to 4:30 p.m., Fullerton Amtrak Station Rail Restaurant.
Speaker: Art Brown, Chair, Metrolink and LOSSAN.
RailPAC Regional Meeting, Northern California: Saturday,
October 28, 2006
1 to 3 p.m., SamTrans Headquarters, 1250 San Carlos
Ave., San Carlos, one block from the San Carlos
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
email@example.com 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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