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.
Forget: Next Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting.
See Upcoming Events below
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled
a budget whose goal is to eliminate financial deficits but also threatens
to pull the plug on public transportation where it is most needed. Among other
things, the proposal would pilfer funds from an account that serves as the only
source of transit operation dollars from the state, and use them to build road
projects instead. The so-called "spillover" fund is a surplus of gas
tax revenues against sales tax revenues that came to $624
million in FY 07 and is projected to reach $1.1 billion in FY 08. (A further
explanation of the spillover fund is provided.)
Advocacy groups are unleashing
their wrath against the draconian proposal. Metro stands to lose
as much as $260 million in operating and capital funds. Transit Coalition Executive
Director Bart Reed denounced
the cuts, saying that state leadership has already tapped the funds to the
tune of $1.68 billion for unrelated programs. Both Democrats and Republicans icily
received the budget proposal, the former fearing across-the-board program
cuts and the latter believing that revenue projections are unrealistic.
Worse yet, the governor plans to permanently
halt high speed rail plans by indefinitely shelving a $10 billion bond vote
slated for November 2008.
Also on the governor's mind is his
proposal to cut emissions from vehicles as a means to stave off global warming.
Specifically, he is asking for a reduction in carbon content of fuels refined
from oil over the next 13 years while encouraging the use of alternative fuels
such as ethanol. One
letter in response lamented the overuse of the private vehicle and suggested
that planning walkable neighborhoods may be the answer.
To the north,
the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a list
of road projects that would be funded by the state infrastructure bonds approved
in November. The California Transportation
Commission will review this and other nominations in February. Objection came
in the form of environmentalist David Schonbrunn of the Transportation Solutions
Defense and Education Fund, who fears that there is too much focus on highway
solutions that would hinder efforts to fight global warming.
of which, why
are gasoline prices so high right now? Prices traditionally tend to be lower
during the early months of the year. Instead, California is bucking the trend
as gas prices remain at current levels and prices drop elsewhere in the nation.
Could it have something to do with the arctic blast enveloping much of the nation?
Is it related to refinery problems up north? The phenomenon is baffling economists
and straining the wallets of Californians everywhere.
Growth issues continue
to haunt Ventura County. Cities are now balking at the prospect of having to add
more than 28,000
housing units across the county. Some cities like Thousand Oaks are nearing
their limit for growth, while others like Camarillo feel they have too high a
number to accomodate.
Metro recently opened its renovated customer service
center on Wilshire and La Brea. The former restaurant also houses the Metro Lost
and Found, which houses some 12,000 items. Sue Doyle, the new transportation reporter
for the Los Angeles Daily News, explores
this curious department and offers examples of the strange things people leave
behind on the bus.
The nation continues to explore streetcars
as a way to connect communities. In an era of tight transit capital dollars,
cities are turning to streetcars for their relative affordability in contrast
to building far-reaching but expensive light rail systems. Most people are attracted
to streetcars because of their nostalgic feel, while officials see them as a way
to foster compact development in once-decaying city centers. The Portland Streetcar,
for example, has been responsible for bringing in 100 projects totaling $2.3 billion.
Everyone chimes in on transportation this week. In response to a Steve Lopez
in the Los Angeles Times bemoaning Westside traffic, various frustrated
motorist vented out horror
stories of all sorts and offered ideas ranging from monorails to population
control. Respondents repeatedly clamored for a subway down Wilshire Blvd. Two
letters also responded to the column. Also, columnist Steve Hymon explores
several mysteries relating to parking
fines in Los Angeles.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
January 8: The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released a report
condemning government leaders in California for not
adopting laws that could increase motorist safety. The report stated that
there were 4,329 deaths on California roadways in 2005 and that car crashes cost
the state economy $20.66 billion every year.
Federal regulators approved
technology for freight trains that emerged partly as a result of a fatal collision
in Placentia nearly five years ago. Known as positive train control, GPS technology
and digital communications systems would monitor the location of trains and warn
train operators of hazards. Brakes would automatically be applied when operators
fail to act. Burlington Northern Santa Fe will install the technology on 15% of
its rail network across 17 states, but will not do so in California until a future
date. The technology has been one of the most sought after, with other railroads
exploring versions of their own.
The Los Angeles World Airports
revealed that it has received two bids to operate
twice-daily service between Palmdale Airport and a major Western air hub.
Delta Airlines proposes to operate service to Salt Lake City, while United Airlines
proposes to offer service to San Francisco. The last service to operate out of
Palmdale Airport, Scenic Airlines to North Las Vegas, ceased service in January
2006 after one year of operations. The Daily News later printed an editorial
in favor of the development.
January 9: The Long Beach City Council
passed a motion that would establish a task force to examine working
conditions of truck drivers using the ports. Suja Lowenthal, the councilmember
who introduced the motion, believed that the deregulation of the trucking industry
in 1980 has led to the creation of smaller trucking companies that offered cheaper
services at the expense of better wages and benefits for drivers.
Los Angeles City Council voted to study whether building a park over a trenched
portion of the Hollywood Freeway would be feasible. Officials believe the park-tunnel
may be fiscally sound, considering that buying property for a park in the
area would be expensive. One
letter to the Daily News took exception to the development.
The American Public Transportation Association reported that public transportation
$6,200 per household and 1.4 billion gallons a gas every year, according to
a study. The full report is now
January 10: The Riverside County Transportation
Commission Board voted
to axe plans for a Metrolink
station in Highgrove. A Commission report suggested that the station would
cost at least $15 million while serving as few as 117 riders. Officials also cited
a San Bernardino Associated Governments report that basically concluded the same
January 12: The Los Angeles City Council declined
to review a decision by the city Airport Commission to raise terminal fees
for low-cost carriers and maintenance fees for airliners that use certain terminals
under long-term leases. Discount airliners promised to petition the U.S. Department
of Transportation regarding the matter, while other airlines intend to take court
January 13: A subway station under construction in Sao
Paulo, Brazil collapses,
damaging surface buildings and killing
one person. Rescue teams continue to dig to liberate victims trapped a minibus
that was entombed in the collapse. The incident brought to light concerns
of building underground infrastructure in dense cities and echoed the Big Dig
project, where a faulty overhead panel collapsed and killed a motorist last year.
January 14: The Big Dig tunnel where said faulty overhead
panel collapsed and killed a motorist last year was reopened
after major repairs were performed.
Upcoming Events: SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, January 17, 9:30 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh
St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, January 17 and Thursday, January 18, Board
Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
and Programming Committee, Wednesday, January 17, 1 p.m. (Of note is Item
6--Harbor Subdivision Technical Feasibility Analysis)
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, January 17, 2:30 p.m.
Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, January 18, 9 a.m.
Construction Committee, Thursday, January 18, 10:30 a.m. CANCELLED.
Committee, Thursday, January 18, 12 noon.
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, January 22 and February
12, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.
our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, January 23 - 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!
South Orange County
Major Investment Study Stakeholder Working Group Meeting: Wednesday, January
24, 10 a.m., Mission Viejo City Hall, Saddleback Room, 200 Civic Center, Mission
Board Meeting: Friday, January 26, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG
Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.
Exposition Metro Line
Construction Authority: Thursday, February 1, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall
of Administration, Board of Supervisors Hearing Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St.,
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, February 1, 7:30 p.m.
Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
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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
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