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.
Last Call: This Tuesday is The Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See
Events below for details.
As expected, road projects will receive the
first round of bond funds through a recently
created $4.5 billion account known as the Corridor
Mobility Improvement Account. The Metro Planning and Programming
Committee recently approved a wish list of projects
that include two
projects along the I-10 in the San Gabriel Valley.
Orange County transportation officials also
drafted their wish list of projects, with priority
given to those whose environmental studies are complete.
Additionally, a coalition of Inland Empire business
interests are teaming
up to bring some of the bond money for transportation
in their area, provided that they can make a convincing
case against other much needed areas. The San
Gabriel Valley Tribune praised efforts by transportation
officials to bring
meaningful regional projects to life. Project
applications are due by January 15.
The Westside continues to keep office
vacancy rates low while fetching respectable
rents for prime office space. This has led to increased
concern that existing transportation infrastructure
will not be enough to handle new workers. The Los
Angeles Times published an editorial
that recognized the importance of using the state
bond money to build the subway and other worthy
Westside projects. The editorial noted that such
projects are wrongfully maligned for costing a great
deal of money to serve a small area of the county,
even though the terrible traffic in the area demands
for bolder measures.
Meanwhile, Beverly Hills makes
its preparations for a subway down Wilshire,
a project once opposed by residents but now seen
as a major boon and a necessity. The ad-hoc city
Mass Transit Committee eventually recommended a
route following Wilshire, with two stops at La Cienega
Blvd. and Beverly Dr. Letters
to the LA Times shot back at suggestions
asking city leaders scrap the Wilshire subway for
an inferior busway. While Los Angeles fiddles away,
Beijing is moving forward with an ambitious
subway project that would rival systems in London
and New York.
As a means to aid shoppers during the holiday season,
Santa Monica Municipal
Bus Lines (The Big Blue Bus) launched
a shuttle service that circulates between park-and-ride
lots and the city's main shopping areas. Four uniquely
wrapped, biodiesel buses will run on the Holiday
Shoppers' Shuttle during afternoon and early
evening hours and will charge one dollar for a round-trip
ticket. To promote the shuttle, Santa Monica Police
officers will pull over auto drivers on the street
them for good driving. The "ticket"
will give the driver two round trips on the Big
Blue Bus and a ride on the shuttle at no cost. Santa
Monica also launched
a new website, parkingspacenow.smgov.net,
that offers visitors real time parking information
at some of the city's most popular attractions.
One thing that sours bus travel in Los Angeles is
Transit TV, according
to Times contributor Tim Cavanaugh. The TV
screens installed on Metro buses show television
advertisements to a hopelessly captive audience,
and Cavanaugh believes they infringe
on an otherwise peaceful and reflective bus ride.
Also souring the bus experience is a contract dispute
between First Transit and its bus drivers union,
the Amalgamated Transit Union. A
recent strike affected two paratransit services
operated by First Transit under the auspices of
Gasoline prices rose
slightly during the Thanksgiving holiday, with
states in the West reporting the most notable increases.
As a response, Metrolink provided
holiday trains as an alternative to the gridlocked
Atlanta Journal Constitution staff writer
Paul Donsky came to Los Angeles and summarily reported
on the benefits
and problems of Bus Rapid Transit. Atlanta MARTA is working on
a Rapid Bus-like system of limited stop buses with
signal priority, while also mulling a network of
commuter buses as well as a busway circling the
city. Times staff writer Robin Rauzi discusses
her adventures on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
while making a plug for the Santa Barbara
Car Free program.
In road-related matters, the extension of the 210
Freeway from La Verne to Fontana recently celebrated
anniversary, and residents are eagerly
waiting for its completion to San Bernardino
in late 2007. Meanwhile, major construction on the
22 Freeway should be completed
by this Tuesday, November 28, much to the relief
of motorists. Caltrans is investigating
whether or not there is a connection
between carpool lanes and accidents, noting
that vehicles in carpool lanes can travel by as
much as 35 miles per hour faster than their single-occupant
The roadside town of Yermo, however, isn't
benefiting from the repaving of I-15 between
Barstow and Las Vegas. Residents themselves do not
benefit from the traffic that clogs their only connection
to civilization. Worse yet, the traffic doesn't
contribute to the local economy, since most drivers
choose to bypass the town and thus their roadside
establishments such as hotels and gas stations.
Burlington Northern Santa
Fe is taking the high road by recruiting
railroad hobbyists to keep an eye out for terrorist
activity. Once dismissed as "foamers"
and harassed after 9/11 for pursuing their hobby,
the railroad now sees them as a no-cost method to
improve security along its 32,000 miles of track.
Through the BNSF-sanctioned group Citizens for Rail
Security, hobbyists can report behavior and activity
on railroad property that are out of line with regular
Plans to modernize Los Angeles International Airport
are under attack, as low-cost airlines using the
airport are protesting a rise
in terminal rents. Officials at Los Angeles World Airports
claim that they have not charged fair market rents
and as a result are subsidizing air service. Airlines
claim that an increase of fees will hurt a financially
drained industry that is coping with rising fuel
costs. Also, the Engineers and Architects Association,
which represents more than 7,500 Los Angeles city
workers, performs its share of rolling
strikes, starting with one at LAX yesterday.
The Port of Los Angeles continues to break
records, as more than 800,000 cargo containers
flowed through the harbor in October, outpacing
the Port of Long Beach and leaving other ports nationwide
in the dust. Many believe that the extended work
hours and additional workers aided in the growth.
Even so, the commissions overseeing each port approved
a $2 billion package aimed at reducing port pollution,
in particular by replacing some 16,000 aging diesel
trucks. The votes came after acrimonious
public comment, but an editorial in the Long
Beach Press Telegram acknowledged
that the balance between port growth and environmental
responsibility is not lost on the minds of commissioners.
Growth is coming to the Coachella Valley, and water
supply is the least of concerns. Instead, transportation
will form the
greatest worry to future residents, as outlined
at a recent Urban Land Institute conference held
in Rancho Mirage. The Southern California Association
of Governments believe that the area will grow once
the Inland Empire is built out in 25 years, but
transportation infrastructure must be built to accommodate
both local and interstate traffic.
Meanwhile, South Pasadena is reinventing
its quaint little town with decidedly more urban
amenities. Past attempts at revitalizing its neighborhoods
would be quashed by slow growth advocates who would
oppose most projects due to their relatively large
size. San Gabriel Valley is poised
to grow economically, even though a shortage
in developable land is imminent, according to a
recent report. To the south, the Orange County Transportation
Authority doled out grants of $100,000 each to three
more cities wishing to improve
their connections with Metrolink stations.
Elsewhere, a recent study developed for San Diego
and Riverside Counties urged for a reduction
of freeway commuters between the two areas as
a means to preserve economic growth. Simi Valley
residents grew critical of a report suggesting its
community needs 5,086
new housing units while other cities need less.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
November 16: The San Bernardino Associated
Governments held a workshop that discussed "
transit villages" along a proposed Metrolink
line to Redlands. Even though a Metrolink line to
the area is at least six years away, community leaders
are taking the opportunity to learn about transit-oriented
development and see how it can satisfy needs such
as jobs and housing.
November 17: California State Parks named
San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates as the
winner of an international
design competition for the Los Angeles State
Historic Park, commonly known as the Cornfield.
The firm will now spend the next year meeting with
community members and refining their designs. UCLA
urban design professor Richard Weinstein concurrently
outlined the pros
and cons of such competitions in a Los Angeles
Times op-ed. Weinstein concluded that many good
ideas are often thrown out while second-rate concepts
are routinely adopted and they may damage revitalization
efforts in Downtown L.A.
The San Diego Association of Governments approved
the Sprinter project budget by $98.6 million
to a total of $484.2 million, a figure to be presented
to the Federal Transit Administration. Officials
representing the North County Transit District,
which oversees the line, believe it will cost $440
million to complete the line and will open by the
end of next year.
November 20: A joint city-county authority
the $2 billion Grand Avenue Project. Questions about
tax rebates continue to loom over the project. However,
the county Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles
Community Redevelopment Agency and the Los Angeles
City Council will take up the tax questions when
they review the proposals at their respective meetings
in the near future.
Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, November
28 - 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!
Transit Advocates: Saturday, December 2, 1 p.m.,
Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday,
December 6, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent
Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
Specific Plan Amendment Study Public Outreach
Meetings: Wednesday, December 6, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.,
and Saturday, December 9, 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.
Meeting: Thursday, December 7, 9:30 a.m., Board
Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent
to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Exposition Metro Line
Construction Authority: Thursday, December 7,
2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, December 7, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter
office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday,
December 12, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near
El Monte bus station), El Monte.
Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday,
December 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset
Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
SCAG MagLev Task Force:
Thursday, December 14, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices,
818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.
Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday,
December 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, December
15, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson
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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
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