Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 42

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.

Please Join Us: The Transit Coalition invites you to a special Metro Rail Customer Conference on Tuesday, October 24. This is your chance to voice your opinion on current Metro Rail service. You must pre-register to attend this event. See Upcoming Events below for details.

The Orange County Register published an exposé on properties bought by Caltrans and its predecessor agency, the Department of Highways, for freeways that were never built. Many of the properties are in disrepair and do not pay property taxes. Caltrans in the past promised reforms but never took action in implementing them. California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak defended Caltrans by stating that the Department has sold 674 parcels at $105 million during the time Arnold Schwarzenegger has been governor. Nevertheless, newly elected Orange County tax collector-treasurer Chriss Street promised to excise 10 years of back taxes from Caltrans.

In other road-related news, activists are asking the City of Los Angeles to sell its 74 electric-powered vehicles to the public before they must return the leased vehicles to Toyota. Now that Metro has completed a study on the feasibility of a tunnel to connect the 710 Freeway with Pasadena, the California Transportation Commission may decide further steps in the project. La Cañada Flintridge residents met at a Caltrans meeting to discuss the repaving of Angeles Crest Highway (State Highway Route 2). A letter to the Los Angeles Times suggests it's high time for Southern California to explore double-stacked highways.

Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena are joining forces to link the Gold and Red Lines with some form of public transportation along the 134 Freeway. An editorial in the Burbank Leader lauded the development. However, RailPAC President Paul Dyson expressed his reservations about the idea in an op-ed, suggesting that simply improving the existing bus system along the corridor would yield great benefits.

Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles is asking Metro to take over the restoration of Angels Flight, irking the Angels Flight Foundation, which would like to keep the funicular in the hands of a private entity. With the Consent Decree theoretically expiring in 11 days, the push to rationalize Metro bus and rail fares grows stronger, even as officials strive to avert fare hikes through new funding sources. Judge Terry Hatter will hold a hearing on the Consent Decree this Thursday, October 19, at 10:30 a.m. Azusa residents are concerned that the city may purchase properties around a future Gold Line station and create blight in the process. To promote public transportation, rock band The Secret Machines will perform at Union Station on Tuesday, October 24.

Elsewhere, transit innovations take center stage. Long Beach Transit rolled out with a website improvement that provides up-to-the-minute arrival times of its buses. PC Magazine writer John C. Dvorak ponders why people are not telecommuting more, even as the benefits are growing and communications technologies are making it increasingly feasible. To the north, some 250 BART patrons will use prepaid " flash passes" as part of a pilot program to implement "smart card" technology on the system.

Local municipalities are playing a more active role in bringing transportation to discussion. The Santa Clarita City Council approved a resolution supporting development of MagLev to their community. This would be part of the proposed Orangeline MagLev system that would run between Palmdale Airport and southern Orange County. The Los Angeles City Council approved studying a Green Line extension that would connect with the Expo Line in the Westside. Santa Ana and Costa Mesa will work together to bring improved transit connections from their cities to the Santa Ana Depot and Metrolink station.

Shameless Plug: A research team will conduct a focus group on pedestrian issues in Los Angeles. The 90-minute session will be held on one evening during the week of November 6. If you are a pedestrian in LA, this is an opportunity to have your views and perspectives heard on the topic of pedestrian safety around transit buses. If you are interested in participating, and are a pedestrian and bus rider, please contact Jennifer Rephlo at jennifer.a.rephlo@saic.com or 703-676-2407 by this Thursday, Oct 19th to express your interest. Space is limited, so those who respond will be screened on a first-come first-served basis.

Three Weeks Until the Election: As the Los Angeles Daily News suggests, voters in a way will choose the better of two evils: Using crumbling infrastructure or invoke bonds and pay later to fix it. It is no secret that, should voters approve the measures, a construction job bonanza will ensue. Officials from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties believe the bonds will speed up projects in the fast growing region.

Meanwhile, more Measure M fun brews in Orange County. Letters to the Orange County Register expressed disdain at the mass transit money included in the measure renewal. Still, one OC Register report noted that 40% existing Measure M tax revenues are returned to cities for local projects.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

October 6: The Westside Cities Council of Governments held a symposium to discuss "Livable Boulevards" and other mutual topics. As envisioned, these "Livable Boulevards" would take advantage of multiple transit modes, provide affordable housing and foster sustainability.

October 10: The South Coast Air Quality Management District hosted the 2-day Clean Vehicle Technology Expo at the Ontario Convention Center. Expo participants were informed on the importance of establishing relationships with alternative fuel technology providers, the various grants available for projects related to clean air technologies, and state regulations and tax benefits. Over 550 participants attended the Expo, including representatives from public and private entities that use alternative fuel fleets. California Environmental Protection Agency former Secretary Alan Lloyd was among the event speakers.

Concurrently, the AQMD unveiled new measures that aim to curb vehicle pollution. According to the AQMD, mobile sources generate over 75 percent of the Southland's air pollution. While the agency successfully has forced "stationary sources" such as ports and power plants to reduce emissions, it has little power to enforce measures. The 10-year plan would be far reaching and includes more frequent smog checks and more strict regulation of aerosols. The AQMD also lauded the City of South Pasadena for purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles, supporting legislation encouraging their use, and encouraging other cities to do the same.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) awarded Metro the 2006 Outstanding Public Transportation Award at its annual meeting in San Jose. "Metro has aggressively added new service, including additional freeway express buses and the wildly successful Metro Orange Line," while keeping costs low, according to the APTA. As a result, Metro has been conferred labels on its buses and website designating the agency as "America's Best." APTA also commended BART for its availability of train schedules for iPods.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a $576 million contract to remodel the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The project will begin next year and will take 38 months to complete.

October 11: The national Center for Housing Policy released a report concluding that low- to moderate-income families that move further from work to attain affordable housing often spend those savings and more on transportation. In fact, families with an annual income between $20,000 and $50,000 spend 28% on housing but 30% on transportation. The report is available online courtesy of the National Housing Conference.

October 12: The Southern California Regional Airport Authority met for the first time in two years at Metro Gateway Headquarters. Participants heard a presentation on the history of the Joint Powers Agreement that created the Authority and discussed past failures and missteps. Transit Coalition Communications Director Numan Parada attended the event and reported on what developed during the meeting.

October 13: Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed attended the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Coalition to Explore the Development of a New Regional Airport in Palmdale. State Senators Richard Alarcon and George Runner created the new group to focus on how to bring passenger air service to Palmdale Airport, a frequent player in attempts to spread air traffic to other airports in Southern California. A report of the event is now available.

Upcoming Events: SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, October 18, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, October 18 and Thursday, October 19 Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles. ( Supplemental Agendas.)

·  Planning and Programming Committee: Wednesday, October 18, 1 p.m.

·  Finance and Budget Committee: Wednesday, October 18, 2:30 p.m.

·  Executive Management and Audit Committee: Thursday, October 19, 9 a.m.

·  Construction Committee: Thursday, October 19, 10:30 a.m.

·  Operations Committee: Thursday, October 19, 12 noon.

Expo Line Community Education Workshop: Wednesday, October 18, 7 p.m., 3731 Stocker St. #201, Los Angeles. Guest speaker: Genetha Eddins, Expo Line Community Relations Manager. Sponsored by Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition.

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, October 23, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.

Metro Rail Customer Conference: Tuesday, October 24, 6:45 p.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles. To participate, fill out 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 your phone number so we can inform you of any last minute changes. Also submit any questions you might want to ask.

California High Speed Rail Authority Public Meeting: Wednesday, October 25, 10 a.m., State Capitol Building, Senate Hearing Room 112, Sacramento.

LAX Specific Plan Amendment Study Public Outreach Meetings: Wednesday, October 25, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, October 28, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Proud Bird Restaurant 11022 Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles. The meetings will discuss the North Airfield Preliminary Concepts. Those who wish to come can attend either one of the two meetings.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, October 26, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

RailPAC Regional Meeting, Northern California: Saturday, October 28, 1 to 3 p.m., SamTrans Headquarters, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, one block from the San Carlos Caltrain Station.

Mobility21 5th Annual Transportation Summit: Monday, October 30, 8 a.m. (Continental breakfast at 7 a.m.), Sheraton Universal Hotel, 333 Universal Hollywood Dr., Universal City. Registration: $150 per person.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We 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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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us • The Transit Coalition