Welcome to a special election issue of 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.
The Results Are In: Voters in California
and across the nation let their opinions be known
on various transportation initiatives. The biggest
success by far is the approval
of all five bond measures, including Proposition
1B, which passed
with 61% of the vote. Proposition 1A, which would
limit borrowing from revenues aimed for transportation,
passed with a whopping 76% of the vote.
Undoubtedly, good promotion had plenty to do with
the success of the measures. Business and government
leaders at the recent Mobility21 summit urged
voters to pass Prop 1B, especially in light
of anticipated growth at the ports. At the same
meeting, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer urged Californians
step up to the plate" and vote for the
bonds. Their efforts proved promising. On entering
Election Day, a new Field Poll found steady
support for all five bond measures, with Prop
1B leading the pack at 56% support. Still, many
voters expressed concern
that the bonds would drown the state with debt,
while others believed the risk would be worth the
perceived improvements they would bring.
Los Angeles City Measure H, a $1 billion bond relating
to affordable housing, failed
to pass. Some particularly believed that voter
decision of the measure would serve as a litmus
test of public desire for higher-density growth.
Meanwhile, voters across the state rejected
Proposition 90, which aimed to restrict government
eminent domain powers.
Local transportation measures across the state experienced
mixed results. Fiscally conservative Orange County
residents voted to renew
Measure M, a transportation sales tax that in
its new form includes many
road projects but has been chastised for its
strong mass transit elements. Nevertheless, it very
much boiled down to this: Tax
or traffic? To the north, San Joaquin County
residents voted to increase
their sales tax to fund transportation improvements
and services, including the Altamont Commuter Express.
Another sales tax measure for transportation is
leading in Tulare County, while a similar tax
in Fresno is cruising
Transportation measures in nearby counties, however,
fared worse, with many including Measure K in Stanislaus
County achieving majority support but not
the 2/3 "super-majority" needed for
passage. Merced County residents could not
muster enough votes to pass Measure G, a shortcoming
also felt in Kern County for Measure I, a sales
tax that, aside from funding road projects, would
have also collected matching
funds for federal grants secured by Rep. Bill
Thomas (R-Bakersfield). Most of these measures had
strong road elements. Nevertheless, Measure D in
Santa Barbara County also failed
to reach super-majority passage, as
did Measure R in Sonoma and Marin Counties,
both of which offered funds for new commuter rail
service in their communities.
Transportation measures across the nation are also
getting mixed results. Kansas City, Missouri, residents
voted to extend
their sales tax to build a light rail system
in their city, much to the shock of transit officials
who were largely indifferent on the idea. Residents
in Salt Lake City, Utah, voted to increase
their sales tax to expedite TRAX light rail
projects. Residents in Grapevine, Texas, voted
for commuter rail service to Fort Worth. Near
Miami, Florida, Broward County residents rejected
an increase in sales taxes to improve mass transit
by means of new express bus services. Two
propositions in Spokane, Washington, that would
have allowed its transit agency to design and search
for funds to build a light rail system failed.
On To Other Topics: What went wrong with
the Las Vegas Monorail? With Fitch downgrading its
bond rating to CCC, Joe Mysak of Bloomberg News
explored the history of the project and the failures
that ensued, concluding that the system was a victim
high hopes". The Monorail consisted of
purchasing 0.8 miles long of existing track and
building another three miles of it. According to
Mysak, financiers were initially convinced that
anticipated high ridership would yield profits and
easily pay off the bonds. However, a delayed grand
opening, accidents, and a lengthy closure dampened
San Francisco will soon become the next city to
with Bus Rapid Transit. MUNI is studying the service
for a section of Geary Avenue, whose bus lines log
55,000 boardings a day. Buses would operate much
in the same vein as Metro Rapid in Los Angeles,
with signal priority and limited bus stops, except
that the service would also include bus-only lanes
and ticket machines at each stop. Meanwhile, a study
for a BART extension to Warm Springs was approved
by the Federal Transit Administration, which will
make the extension eligible for federal funds.
In road developments, Burbank residents are asking
officials to undo hastily installed traffic-calming
devices on an otherwise notoriously steep and
winding road. Some in Hollywood are pondering covering
up a trenched portion of the Hollywood Freeway
and install a park on the top. The South Coast Expressway
(State Highway Route 125) in San Diego is on
schedule for a June 2007 opening. The toll road
would provide an alternate route from the San Diego
area to the international border through rapidly
expanding Chula Vista. With state legislation expanding
toll facilities now signed into law, we could be
lot more toll roads in the future.
Meanwhile, Orange County treasurer-collector-elect
Chriss Street continues to accuse Caltrans of failing
to pay back taxes on properties it had acquired.
Caltrans maintains that it is a responsible taxpayer
and that it pays Orange County the legally mandated
24% of rent collected on its properties. The development
comes as the state agency accuses the City of Claremont
of discouraging developers to purchase
its surplus property by rezoning it.
In Whittier, a quarrel has erupted over who
is responsible for maintaining and securing
a railroad overpass on the 605 Freeway. Union Pacific
Railroad once owned the bridge, which was the scene
of a recent shooting, but the owner that since bought
it has been reclusive on the issue. Ownership issues
are also brewing on a pedestrian
bridge connecting Long Beach with Hawaiian Gardens.
Speaking of bridges, Montebello will have to aim
for lower goals now that the Alameda Corridor
East Construction Authority won't fund grade separations
at its four railroad crossings.
Regarding seaports, federal officials announced
that the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will
new mobile radiation detectors. The devices
will inspect cargo ships, trucks and trains for
radioactive materials that could be part of a terrorist
attack. These and six additional scanners will be
delivered by January. Meanwhile, the Air Quality
Management District approved spending $36 million
diesel trucks at the ports with cleaner burning
varieties. The program aims to reduce
pollution from port vehicles by as much as 45%.
Officials are also looking forward to next year,
when an environmental
study to expand the 710 Freeway between the
ports and East Los Angeles will launch.
On the "smart growth" front, the City
of Pasadena received recognition
from the USC School of Architecture for making "smart
growth" a meaningful part of its General Plan
and bringing high-density development to the city.
So what's stopping expansion of high-speed rail
in the United States? The inaction is due to various
reasons, according to an article
in USA Today. Even as planning for distinct
HSR systems in different areas of the country move
forward, most if not all will stay in the planning
stages. Officials that plan these systems generally
concur that the lack of federal involvement and
funds is the main culprit. Some, however, also challenge
the notion that travelers would actually use the
Here is a list of other recent developments:
October 31: The San Bernardino County Board
of Supervisors voted to enter in a joint
powers agreement with Los Angeles County that
would expedite plans for a freeway between the Antelope
Valley and Victorville. This would bypass involvement
with the San Bernardino Associated Governments,
shedding off as much as a decade in planning and
November 1: The Los Angeles City Council
installing red-light cameras at 22 intersections
in the San Fernando Valley. The choice of locations
will be based on the number of red light violations
and collisions. The cameras will be installed by
November 2: The Los Angeles City Department
of Transportation unveiled signal
synchronization on portions of Van Nuys and
Laurel Canyon Blvds. in the San Fernando Valley.
Improvements include sensors that track traffic
speeds and road troubles. The sensors send information
to transportation officials, who can then adjust
the signals to keep vehicles moving. The upgrade
is part of a $250 million effort by the City of
Los Angeles to bring automated traffic control to
the rest of the city.
Los Angeles City officials dedicated a new
bike path along San Fernando Road, paralleling
the Metrolink right-of-way, in Sylmar. The new path
runs from Hubbard St. in the City of San Fernando
north to Roxford St., which would augment an existing
bike path in San Fernando. The path is part of a
long-term project to install a bike path along San
Fernando Road, with the next phase in Pacoima breaking
ground in 2007.
The Palm Springs SunLine Transit Agency dedicated
of hydrogen fuel services for vehicles. The SunLine
already uses a fueling facility for its two hydrogen-fueled
buses. The expansion will allow other hydrogen-fueled
vehicles owned by SunLine to use the fueling facility,
with businesses and residents allowed to fuel similar
vehicles in the near future.
Upcoming Events: 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.
Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday,
November 9, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, November
10, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson
Transit Advocates: Saturday, November 11, 1
p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los
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
SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, November 15, 9 a.m.,
SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, November 15 and
Thursday, November 16, Board Room, Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
and Programming Committee, Wednesday, November
15, 1 p.m.
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, November 15,
Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, November
16, 9 a.m.
Construction Committee, Thursday, November
16, 10:30 a.m. CANCELLED.
Committee, Thursday, November 16, 12 noon.
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