Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 44

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.

Come To These Events: The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy will host a conference featuring Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá who embraced "smart growth" concepts in remaking his city. Also, the Beverly Hills Mass Transit Committee will hold a meeting regarding the proposed subway extension. See Upcoming Events below for details.

And So It Has Happened: On Sunday, October 29, the Consent Decree was no more. U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter, who supervised the implementation of the Decree during its ten years of existence, ordered on Wednesday, October 25, that the Decree has " served its purpose and will not be extended." Metro CEO Roger Snoble noted that the agency no longer has to go to court to bring bus improvements. The Los Angeles Daily News celebrated the development with an editorial expressing a more efficient future for Metro. One letter to the editor believed that the end of the Decree would signal even more bus improvements. The Bus Riders Union, which got the Decree through its parent group the Labor/Community Strategy Center, warned that fare hikes and service reductions are imminent. However, Hatter said that he would continue to monitor a four-year plan to increase bus service.

Officials sang praises for the Orange Line busway, which celebrated its first year of service. The "train on rubber wheels" currently logs in 21,000 daily boardings, contrary to Metro projections suggesting it would board only 7,000 daily in the first year. The success is quite apparent when one visits the North Hollywood station, where throngs of passengers get off the sleek Metro Liners and transfer to the Red Line subway. The celebration comes as some are downplaying a recent accident that injured 17 passengers. The Daily News also celebrated with an editorial praising its cost-effectiveness and improved safety record.

To augment this celebration, the Metro Board moved forward with a plan to rehabilitate the Lankershim Depot at the eastern end of the Orange Line. The City of Los Angeles will transfer the project to Metro and provide the necessary funds to complete it. Metro hopes to turn the historic site into a customer service center.

Metro Investment Report came out with several articles regarding transportation issues. LA Deputy Mayor of Transportation Jaime de la Vega lauded developments regarding the LAX Master Plan and the resurrection of the Southern California Regional Airport Authority. (Also mentioned is a short quip about a possible Green Line extension, though de la Vega also envisions an Expo Line extension using the Harbor Subdivision.) Gloria Molina wrote an article describing the successes and challenges Metro faces today. Congressmember Adam Schiff expressed that tough times still lie ahead before California gets the federal transportation funding it deserves.

In other developments, the City of Los Angeles calculated that as much as $164 million in parking tickets remains uncollected. Ventura County officials unveiled new gates and signals at two deadly railroad crossings in Somis. To the north, BART is testing "near field communications" technology that could one day allow passengers to bypass ticket machines and have their fares debited through a wave of their cell phones over the fare gates. Planetizen columnist Steven E. Polzin provides a lighthearted connection between transportation use and the obesity epidemic. Recent studies in Britain showed that its citizens are increasingly obese, despite living in historically compact cities with ample transit, throwing a wrench in the belief that such compact development aids in health.

An update on Eastside Gold Line construction as well as the future Canoga Park Orange Line station is now available.

Shameless Plug Redux: 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. Participants will earn $40 for their time. 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. Space is limited, so those who respond will be screened on a first-come first-served basis.

One Week Until the Election: Transportation officials in the San Gabriel Valley expressed hope that the bonds will pass. Foothill Transit in particular could reap $49.2 million in bond funds. Others believe that the bonds could build the Foothill Gold Line, the Purple Line subway to Santa Monica and improvements on the 710 Freeway, just to name a few wish-list projects. Attendees at the recent Mobility21 summit also hoped that voters approve the transportation bonds.

The Ventura County Star came out in support of Proposition 1A, while the Los Angeles Times endorsed four of the five bond measures on the ballot, including Proposition 1B. The Odyssey organization provided its endorsement for the two bonds. Meanwhile, guest columnist Maria Armoudian made a plug for the two transportation bond measures while elaborating her experiences on Metro and LADOT buses.

The Transit Coalition has a short summary of Props 1A and 1B, and you can visit The REBUILD California Plan for more information.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

October 24: Long Beach Transit celebrated the birth of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man 51 years ago and is often considered the mother of the civil rights movement. To celebrate, the front seats of 220 buses were adorned with a black ribbon and a placard memorializing Rosa Parks, as well as cards telling her story.

Metro held a Rail Customer Conference to discuss various improvements completed and in progress. Rail Operations representatives discussed the new 2550 train cars that are capable of running on all three light rail lines, major communications upgrades, safety issues on the Blue Line, speed issues on the Gold Line and connectivity with the Red Line.

October 25: The California Air Resources Board and the California Highway Patrol joined forces to crack down on trucks emerging from the ports. The team set up three checkpoints around the ports and inspected 128 trucks for emissions control compliance. 20 of those trucks were cited for emissions and mechanical violations and their drivers could be subject to fines.

October 26: To celebrate its 14th anniversary, Metrolink identified Van Nuys resident Andrew Sanchez as its 100 millionth rider. Sanchez was bestowed with prizes including a four-night cruise to Baja California at the Anaheim station. Other riders had a chance to win one of seven Metrolink monthly passes at no cost. The commuter rail agency expected to reach the milestone next year, but ridership increases pulled the anticipated event closer.

October 27: Two Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains ran on the track of the future Sprinter line for the first time. Veolia Inc., which will operate the Sprinter trains, performed compatibility tests along a half-mile of track to ensure that its computer systems would accurately record train movements. The DMUs were specifically designed to meet California emission standards and are narrower in gauge than their European counterparts.

October 28: Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed attended the RailPAC regional meeting in San Carlos. The meeting mainly discussed Caltrain electrification but also referred to plans for the Coast Daylight train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which could launch as early as 2008. A complete report of the event is now available courtesy of RailPAC secretary Russ Jackson. (A report of an earlier meeting between RailPAC President Paul Dyson and new Amtrak President Alex Kummant is also available.)

Upcoming Events: Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, November 1, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, November 2, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles. CANCELLED.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, November 2, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Beverly Hills Mass Transit Committee Town Hall Meeting: Thursday, November 2, 7:30 p.m., Beverly Hills City Hall, Council Chambers, 455 N Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. The Mass Transit Committee will present its findings and seek public input before developing a final recommendation for City Council consideration. Support for the subway at this meeting is critical, so those who wish voice their support should attend.

Rail~Volution Annual Conference: November 5-8, Marriott Magnificent Mile Hotel, 540 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

Metro Advanced Transit Vehicle Consortium Meeting: Monday, November 6, 12 noon, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

California High Speed Rail Authority Public Meeting: Wednesday, November 8, 10:30 a.m., State Capitol Building, Senate Hearing Room 3191, Sacramento.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, November 8, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, November 9, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, November 9, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, November 10, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, November 11, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, November 13 and 27, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.

An Evening With Enrique Peñalosa: Monday, November 13, 5:00 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles. As Mayor of Bogotá, Peñalosa built the world's premiere Bus Rapid Transit system and hundreds of kilometers of sidewalks, bicycle paths, pedestrian streets, greenways, and parks. Neighborhood residents, business owners, policy-makers, students, advocates fighting childhood obesity, and anyone else who wants a more livable Los Angeles is welcomed to attend. Tickets: $15 - 50 suggested donation per person; $10 per student.

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, November 15, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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.

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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us • The Transit Coalition