Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 50

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.

Caltrans recommended that $2.2 billion of the infrastructure bond money be set aside for Los Angeles area highway projects. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is also preparing a final list of highway projects it wants to build. San Bernardino County transportation officials also prepared their wish list of projects that Caltrans will review, but some raised alarm at how the projects were selected. Politicos in the high desert areas were particularly concerned that the High Desert Corridor between the Antelope Valley and Victorville were left out of the list. Riverside County transportation officials continue to tout their highway-heavy ten-year plan to reduce traffic congestion, which could be funded through bond funds.

Meanwhile, the Metro Board expressed its disappointment with Caltrans when the former reluctantly approved $169 million to cover cost increases on various highway projects. In the City of Los Angeles, councilmember Bill Rosendahl announced a proposal to install immediate and practical street improvements to the Westside, in addition to projects such as a Green Line extension down Lincoln Blvd. The proposal will also call for traffic master plans on certain streets.

Long before a single rail is laid for a Gold Line extension to Azusa, Ontario is jockeying for a spot on the Gold Line Authority Board. Ontario is already working with other cities along the future light rail line and supporting their efforts to bring urban rail into Montclair. Moreover, Ontario officials hope that the Gold Line will one day end at the Ontario International Airport. An editorial responding to the development gave kudos to Ontario for their efforts. Bob Huddy of Pasadena dispels myths regarding fledgling ridership on the existing Gold Line in a letter to the Pasadena Star News.

A bit further to the east, San Bernardino County officials are working with relevant cities to select possible stations for future passenger rail service to Redlands. The selections form part of a proposal that the San Bernardino Associated Governments will receive in March 2007.

New technologies and improvements are making transit use easier in Los Angeles. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) now offers its bus trip planning information on Google Transit. Burbank will also offer bus information on the emerging website, which offers satellite maps and bus departure times. Meanwhile, thanks to Measure M in Orange County, Metrolink lines in the area will soon boast of new amenities, "quiet zones" and even a new station in Placentia. Most of these projects are moving forward as ridership on Metrolink lines increases.

To the north, BART officials reversed a three-month-old decision to allow alcohol ads in trains and stations.

Is security improving on Metro buses and trains? Not really, according to an article in Pasadena Weekly. Staff writers Carl Kozlowski and Heather Petrey shared their harrowing experiences while reproving a security force that they believe is more interested in citing passengers than protecting them against crimes. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Sheriff Deputies will continue to patrol Metrolink trains through a $7.2 million contract approved on Tuesday, December 5, while disregarding the fact that deputies often leave the county proper when patrolling trains.

Moorpark mayor Patrick Hunter is touting his idea to consolidate the Ventura Council of Governments and the Ventura County Transportation into one agency. The mayor outlined his vision in an op-ed to the Ventura County Star. Although such a merger may not be possible in the near future (the Council of Governments Board recently voted against the merger), officials agreed to continue working together on land use and transportation issues.

As Chicago makes plans for a 500-mile network of bike paths, cities across the nation ponder plans to make their cities more bike-friendly. One of the biggest challenges is that cities often take out bike-oriented infrastructure, such as dedicated bike lanes on streets, just years after being installed. Today, several unlikely cities such as Phoenix and New York City are either creating or planning bike lanes, usually as a response to health concerns, while transit-friendly cities like San Francisco and Boston have fallen by the wayside.

For those who love local history, the Los Angeles Times published a report on the origins of Los Angeles street names. You might be surprised to learn of streets not named after the ones you think. For those unfamiliar with the tumultuous past and the promising future of rail in Los Angeles, look no further than The Economist to give you a quick summary.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

December 4: Engineers at the Port of Long Beach outlined $1.3 billion rail plan that would handle future freight growth. Currently, the port moves 17.6% of containers by rail but aims to increase the amount to 35%. The nearby Port of Los Angeles moves 29% of containers by rail. The plan stated that existing tracks would reach capacity in five to seven years and that piers at Long Beach have insufficient rail trackage.

Los Angeles World Airports officially renamed Ontario International Airport to "LA/Ontario International Airport" and Palmdale Regional Airport to "LA/Palmdale Regional Airport". The name change intends to reinforce the "We Fly As One" slogan for LAWA by giving its airports a greater sense of regional purpose. According to Palmdale mayor Jim Ledford, "Adding LA to the Palmdale and Ontario airports conveys locally that there is a larger regional system for air transportation, better identifies the size of the Los Angeles region, and creates a better linkage between Palmdale and the Los Angeles basin."

December 5: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board voted to stop a cookies-and-milk advertising campaign that featured scents at several bus stops. Specifically, the Agency sent a letter to CBS Outdoor, which controls advertising at bus stops, to discontinue the campaign, which involved installing adhesive strips that emanated scents of chocolate chip cookies in addition to a "Got Milk?" ad.

December 6: NBC Universal unveiled a $3 billion redevelopment plan for Universal City. Among other things, the plan calls for 124 acres to be set aside for housing and open space, while increasing parking spaces at the adjacent Red Line station. The Los Angeles Daily News praised the development in an editorial but cautioned against keeping community interests away from the plan.

December 7: The U.S. Census Bureau released its findings on its first-ever demographic survey of the San Fernando Valley. Of note is that Valley residents spend an average of 29 minutes commuting to work, compared with a statewide average of 27 minutes and a national average of 25 minutes.

December 9 and 10: The Sunshine shuttle service launched in South Whittier. The shuttle runs to the Whittwood Mall in Whittier, has a 25-cent fare, operates from Monday through Saturday, and accepts Metro and EZ passes.

December 11: U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters asked state and local leaders to respond Department requests for traffic relief in major metropolitan areas. Through the "Urban Partnership Agreement", transportation departments in urban areas would receive grants and loans to test technologies aimed at controlling traffic. Successful technologies would then be considered by the DOT for implementation elsewhere. The strategic plan is now available online.

Upcoming Events: Metro 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. CANCELLED; next meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 11.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, December 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, December 14, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, December 15, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, December 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!

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, January 12, 10 a.m. SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., 26th floor, Los Angeles.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, January 26, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., 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.

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