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.
This 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 have been pushed
to this week. 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.
The pen of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was very
busy last week as he raced to sign numerous state
bills. However, the governor vetoed
a bill that would have charged a fee on containers
to fund improvements at the Ports of Long Beach
and Los Angeles. Retailers and shippers opposed
the bill because of the fear that it would drive
up the cost of doing business at the ports and send
shippers elsewhere. Schwarzenegger believed that
the bill did not offer enough opportunities to instill
public-private partnerships. Bill author Senator
Alan Lowenthal believed the fee was necessary to
fund projects that would increase security, reduce
pollution and ease congestion at the ports. (Nevertheless,
some believe that Proposition 1B will expedite
efforts to bring these projects to life.) However,
the governor signed a bill that would require drivers
down or change lanes when approaching a roadside
Torrance residents may soon be able to ride
their own buses at no cost. It was revealed
that only 2% of Torrance residents ride Torrance Transit
buses. As a way to boost local ridership, Torrance
leaders are in talks with the bus system to see
how to make no-cost transit a reality. Some fear
a loss of fare revenue that would ensue, while others
note that it may affect how Metro allots funds for
the system. Perhaps a new source of revenue should
be in order for them, much like what BART will pursue,
the latter recently approving tapping
into alcohol advertising revenue. Meanwhile,
forward with Metro Connections, which promises
to save millions in operation costs and adjust bus
service to where the passengers go… even if it means
scaling back poorly used services. Los Angeles
Times staff writer Steve Hymon wonders why the
City of Los Angeles is giving
little attention to a recent streetcar proposal
for Downtown L.A.
For a quirky view of how to make public transportation,
uhm, fashionable, just turn to BrightHouse
image consultants, who recently briefed the Atlanta
MARTA on how to update
the look of its transit system. Ideas include no-cost
rides on choice days of the year, installing leather
couches in trains, and overhauling the system's
logo with the slogan "
the ART of travel". Though both sides love
the ideas, they also recognize that even the most
feasible ideas would be costly and maintaining the
existing system in top shape despite tight budgets
should stay as the main focus.
Regarding highway matters, paving
begins on the completion of the Foothill Freeway
to San Bernardino, while officials in Simi Valley
called for a
widening of the 118 Freeway. Valley Boulevard
in the San Gabriel Valley is experiencing a
major business boom that is all but pushing
out lower-density development along the former highway.
The new U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary
Mary Peters continues to raise eyebrows with her
tolling-based solutions" to shore up highway
funds. Transportation advocate Kymberleigh Richards
recently reminded readers how
California gas tax revenues are not used
to shore up general state budget woes.
Low- and no-emissions vehicles continue to excite
the masses. A San Gabriel Valley Tribune
decried federal plans to reduce tax credits for
hybrid car consumers but acknowledged that the cars
are selling briskly enough to lower the need for
the credits. AC Transit in Oakland
its success in using three buses with either
hydrogen fuel cell or electric hybrid technology.
In an attempt to satisfy environmentalists, General
Motors announced that it would build 100
hydrogen-fueled cars by 2007. Honda announced
that it has developed a clean-burning
diesel passenger car that can meet California's
stringent emissions goals. The moves could be too
little, too late, as California moves to sue
the nation's largest car manufacturers for contributing
to environmental damage in the state.
Regarding airports, the March Joint Powers Commission,
which oversees proposals for March Air Reserve Base
in the Inland Empire, left open the possibility
passenger air service at the joint-use military
base. However, the idea soured some officials who
see such a use as an assault on the quality of life
for the booming resident population.
Our attention now turns to Boston, where public
officials are digging big against the Big Dig. A
1998 memo revealed that Big Dig project managers
believed that the ceiling panels needed only
two bolts per panel to support them, even as
project designers insisted that four bolts were
needed. Two state senators are working on a bill
that would call for independent
oversight on major public works projects. Meanwhile,
a Massachusetts gubernatorial hopeful released a
cheeky ad intended to embarrass all involved.
So what do bus and rail operators do for fun? Some
of them take part in the annual Metro Roadeo held
this year in Arcadia, where local drivers and mechanics
compete to see who
is the best in show. Bus drivers must complete
an 11-obstacle course using their 40-foot buses
in seven minutes. The less objects you run over,
the more points awarded. Groups of mechanics meanwhile
are challenged to fix a broken engine within seven
minutes. Winners of the competition win a $300 gift
card, a coveted belt and a ticket to the international
competition next May in Nashville.
As this week's human-interest story, the Glendale
Metrolink/Amtrak station is home to the
Ambassadors, a group of retirees who guide transportation
users and inform them of train schedules and local
An update on both Eastside Gold Line and Orange
Line Canoga station construction is now
Six Weeks Until the Election: The Modesto
Bee came out in support
of Proposition 1B. LA Area Chamber of Commerce chairperson
David Fleming emphasized the
importance of the bond measures in a recent
Metro Investment Report interview. Concern
grows that the
bond measures are too much for the bond-weary
California voter and that money for ads promoting
the bonds is lacking. Some expect that Proposition
1C will not only provide much needed affordable
housing in the state, but that it could also stem
the tide of sprawl and encourage high-density
Here is a list of other recent developments:
September 20: The U.S. House of Representatives
a repeal of a law prohibiting federal funds for
the construction of the Purple Line down Wilshire
Boulevard. Rep. Henry Waxman wrote H.R. 4653 to
undo a ban he wrote 20 years ago due to safety concerns.
Waxman had a change of heart when he learned that
new technologies would make tunneling safer. The
Los Angeles Daily News articulated their
scorn over the development in an editorial.
Some wrote letters to the Los Angeles Times
emotions about the vote. The bill must still
pass the U.S. Senate either this week or after the
A Metro committee voted
to ask for two studies on extending
the Orange Line to Chatsworth and down Van Nuys
Boulevard. A previous report suggested that an extension
on Canoga Avenue (as opposed to an extension along
the former railroad right-of-way paralleling Canoga
Ave.) would be viable. The full Metro Board must
still approve the studies at their meeting this
September 21: A Superior Court judge rejected
Metrolink's request to dismiss pending lawsuits
related to the January 2005 crash in Glendale. This
means that plaintiffs can move ahead in suing the
agency and Metro, the latter owning the right-of-way,
for negligence due to the use of "push-pull"
September 22: The San Diego Association of
Governments voted to issue
as much as $18 million in federal funds to keep
the Sprinter project on track. Most San Diego officials
praised the development, though some showed concern
that the North County Transit District, which oversees
Sprinter construction, is not doing enough to stem
September 23: A German MagLev train crashed
onto a maintenance vehicle, killing 23 passengers
aboard. The incident has led to Germany's transport
minister to speak
with representatives of the train manufacturer
to determine how safe is the technology. Investigators
believe that human
error was involved and had nothing to do with
the particular technology, although some question
why did the safety systems fail. However, the tragedy
is not shelving MagLev plans elsewhere. Munich reaffirmed
its plans to build its own line, while China
continues unabated with its plans to expand
its recently charred MagLev system and Japan
announced plans to spend $3.1
billion over the next decade on MagLev development.
Upcoming Events: Metro
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!
Board Meeting: Thursday, September 28, 9:30
a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Special Closed Session Board Meeting at 8:30
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday,
October 4, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent
Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, October 5, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office,
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
Exposition Metro Line
Construction Authority: Thursday, October 5,
2:30 p.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., The Rail Restaurant,
110 E Commonwealth Ave., near the Fullerton Amtrak
Directions from the station). Speaker: Art Brown,
Chair, Metrolink and LOSSAN.
Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday,
October 11, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset
Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday,
October 12, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, October
13, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson
Transit Advocates: Saturday, October 14, 1 p.m.,
Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.
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. To participate,
this form and include your first & last
name, mailing address, birth date and gender, as
it would appear on your legal ID, since you will
enter a secure building. Also include a phone number
to inform you of any last minute changes. Also submit
any questions you might want to ask.
Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!
Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern
California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.
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.
Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue