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.
Alert: Metro is rolling out with its Metro Connections program that
would spell doom to bus
service in many regions. Metro has provided a list
of routes to be downgraded or cancelled. The Transit Coalition urges you to
attend the Public Hearings listed in Upcoming Events. You can
also view a printable
11x17 map of these cuts that you can print and pass to fellow bus riders.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed an executive order establishing
low-carbon fuel standards for California. Some are hopeful that this and changing
attitudes in Detroit and Washington will increase interest in electrically
propelled motor vehicles. Others, however, are sulking
at the indifference of the governor towards increasing public transportation's
role in reducing emissions and are interpreting this as an act of hypocrisy.
Somewhat along these lines, persistently high gasoline prices have finally
changes in driving habits, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
National per-driver mileage fell by 0.4% in 2005, while transit ridership rose
more than 6% on Metrolink trains and 5.7% on Metro buses and trains. However,
transit hater Wendell Cox would like for you to believe
Times columnist Steve Lopez is on the prowl again
with regards to the Westside traffic crisis. This time, his hunt targets a
small group of residents in Cheviot Hills (and much more specifically, the
Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association) that have been responsible for thwarting
construction of the Exposition Light Rail line to Santa Monica from day one. Are
these folks serious? Just take a peek at their secret
plan of attack. Still, some sanity prevails, as other Cheviot Hills residents
buck the trend and show their support for the Expo Line with a snazzy new website
In response, Frank Gruber of The LookOut applauds the warmer
attitude towards major transit solutions in the Westside, though he also laments
continuous catering of motorists at the expense of pedestrian safety. One
letter to the Times compared the loss of the Red Cars to the demise
of printed news. Another
letter, this time to Gruber, pleaded for officials to build the "subway
to the sea" under Wilshire Boulevard. Another response to the traffic crisis
comes from Bob Rosebrock, who believes Disneyland-style
monorails are the solution. Rosebrock even has a website exalting
its purported virtues over the subway. (If you really believe monorails
will be a smash hit in Los Angeles, just look at the ridership
disaster unfolding in Las Vegas.)
If you are not yet aware, Metro is scrambling over
deficit that threatens to destroy bus and rail service in the near future.
One suggestion that has been given serious thought is raising fares, which have
remained relatively unchanged since 1995. The Times came out in support
of the idea, but a reader quickly
responded that it would reduce ridership. New Jersey Transit will execute
this tactic with a 10%
fare increase to be approved by its Board, even though an increase occurred
as recently as June 2005.
The Times editorial board also issued
an editorial on the perceived
inefficiencies of carpool lanes. Letters replying to the editorial attacked
assertions that the lanes are used only by hybrid drivers and mothers with
In other transit news, bus riders in south Whittier are giving
marks to the 25-cent "Sunshine Shuttle" bus. Those in the San Fernando
Valley will experience some relief from Orange Line overcrowding, when Metro rolls
out with even
larger buses. The Los Angeles Daily News praised the development in
Metro will also consider creating its own transit
court to handle citations given to fare evaders and other scofflaws.
Officials hope that Angels
Flight will reopen this summer once a new drive system is installed. The funicular
connecting Bunker Hill with Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles will return to
a much different city center, with some suggesting that it might become a form
of valuable transportation instead of a nostalgic tourist attraction. Much farther
north, an Oregon-based firm was awarded a contract to produce the
first domestically manufactured modern streetcar.
Job growth in the
Inland Empire and other California inland communities is finally
taking off, promising to put a strain on transportation infrastructure in
the near future. To that effect, a coalition of city and county governments are
working to bring funds to improve
Interstate 10 in San Bernardino County. Caltrans has similarly
produced a list
of recommended projects for the Inland Empire. The Daily News rejoiced
in an editorial
at news that Proposition 1B funds were approved for northbound carpool lanes on
I-405, but wailed at the lack of funds towards a similar project on I-5 between
the 134 and 170 Freeways. However, some are asking (begging?) the state to increase
the gas tax, which has stayed the same since 1994, as a way to supplement
the bond money and build even more projects.
Also, Metro gave $5 million
a road at the interchange of I-5 and Magic Mountain Parkway. Escondido mayor
and SANDAG chair Lori Holt Pfeiler blasted
claims made in a North County Times column
that the agency is focusing too much on transit solutions while steering away
from highway construction. In Del Mar, the
fate of a 1933 highway bridge through sensitive wetlands will soon be decided.
And it just gets worse: Parking control officers are experiencing an increase
in acts of parking
ticket rage. However, officials are fighting back. San Francisco is pushing
stronger protection for officers, while a bill in Sacramento would make it a felony
to strike any parking control officer in the state and increase penalties for
those who do.
Efforts to increase security and reduce pollution at the
ports are placing
a dent on the lives of short haul truckers. Since deregulation in the 1980s,
most truckers are self-employed and must fiercely compete with each other to transport
containers nearby, which in turn depresses already thin profit margins. Worse
yet, it is estimated that one fifth of said truckers are illegal immigrants, a
facet of trucking that may greatly change when the federal government issues guidelines
for port workers.
Meanwhile, a power
struggle brews at the Port of Long Beach. A proposed city charter amendment
would effectively strip harbor commissioners of their power to independently approve
terminal expansions and long-term leases. Nearby, the Port of Los Angeles, business
owners and residents, in a rare show of solidarity, expressed derision at a watered-down
(no pun intended) port
In the Victor Valley, questions
loom over a proposed freight rail facility. The intermodal
facility at the Southern California Logistics Airport would generate new jobs
and increase freight capacity for the nation. However, local leaders fear that
the energy-saving and pollution-reducing qualities of transporting freight by
rail would come undone. A recent report concluded that the new facility would
increase air pollution in the area to a notable extent. Meanwhile, Caltrans is
$65 million it gave to Placentia for the controversial OnTrac project.
After a decade of stunted growth, Van Nuys Airport is experiencing a major
resurgence. The boom comes after the Los Angeles City Council approved a master
plan for the nation's busiest general aviation airport 16 months ago. Several
private jet firms are moving forward with expansions, while some nearby residents
are concerned that certain kinds of noise-generating jets would operate from the
Regarding growth issues, the City of Thousand Oaks and the Ventura
County Council of Governments reached
an accord on the number of affordable homes the city could accommodate. To
the west, Ventura city planning officials are finalizing a "smart
growth" blueprint that would vastly alter the landscape of its central
area. Closer to home, "smart growth" policies and the presence of the
Red Line subway are being credited as the catalysts
of Hollywood revitalization.
On the bicycle front, Assemblymember
Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) continues his quest to increase
the buffer between cyclists and motorists. Nava recently introduced Assembly
Bill 60, which would prohibit drivers from passing cyclists unless their vehicle
stays at least three feet from the bike.
Here is a list of other recent
January 22: The Orange County Transportation
Authority (OCTA) Board voted to fine
a contractor $5,000 a day for not completing work on a stretch of the 22 Freeway
on time. The problem stems from a reconstruction of the Magnolia Street Bridge
that was requested by the OCTA. Representatives from contractor Granite-Myers-Rados
contended that the request pushed the completion of the project back from November,
as originally intended. The Board mulled about fining the contractor $50,000 for
each of the eight days following the deadline. (The Orange County Register
published an editorial
on the subject.) In other news, the Board also received a status report on their
wish list of Proposition 1B projects and approved a joint study with the Los Angeles
County MTA (Metro) regarding transportation issues between the two counties.
The Yucaipa City Council approved conceptual plans for a new
transit center near their new city hall. Funds for the $1 million project
would come from Omnitrans, San Bernardino County, and the state and federal governments.
January 23: U.S. President George W. Bush outlined a proposal to reduce
consumption of imported oil by increasing
production of alternative fuels during his State of the Union address. Energy
experts faulted the plan, which they believe relies too much on ethanol production
and vaguely aims for 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels to be produced by
2017. William W. Millar of the American Public Transportation Association laments
that, like Governor Schwarzenegger, Bush gives no plans to increase transit use
as a means to reduce oil consumption.
January 25: USC released
results of a groundbreaking study concluding that children living next to freeways
lung impairments over time. Those who lived within 500 yards of a freeway
had a 3% deficit in the amount of air they could exhale and a 7% deficit in the
rate at which it could be exhaled compared with children who lived at least 1,500
yards from a freeway. In areas with pollution from other sources, children had
an average 9% deficit in the amount of air they could expel from the lungs. Scientists
point to particulate matter as the culprit and warn that, though these numbers
appear small, they could cause great damage as the child grows.
26: The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA)/ Metrolink
elected Riverside County Transportation Commission member and Temecula councilmember
Ron Roberts as chair and Ventura County Transportation Commission member and Moorpark
city council member Keith Millhouse as vice-chair. Both will serve one year terms.
January 29: The California High Speed Rail Authority Board voted to
environmental studies for three segments of the proposed system: Sacramento
to Fresno, Fresno to Palmdale, and Los Angeles to San Diego. The news comes even
as the governor threatened to cut
funding from the Authority.
Departures: Roderick T. Goldman
of Metro retired on January 25. He was awarded a plaque for his service at Metro
and its predecessor agencies. Goldman announced that he has started a Gardena
based firm, Diversified Transportation Solutions. The Transit Coalition wishes
him the best in his endeavors.
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., Los Angeles. CANCELLED.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, February 1, 7:30 p.m.
Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
Planes & Automobiles: Perspectives on Santa Monica's Rich Transportation History:
Friday, February 2, 2:00 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica
Blvd., Santa Monica. The discussion will feature a presentation by national transportation
expert Joseph P. Schwieterman. For information, call (310) 458-8600.
San Fernando Valley Governance Council Public Hearing: Wednesday, February
7, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.
SCAG MagLev Task
Force: Thursday, February 8, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St.,
12th floor, Los Angeles.
Gateway Cities Governance Council Meeting and Public Hearing: Thursday, February
8, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey.
South Bay Governance Council Meeting and Public Hearing: Friday, February
9, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.
(Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, February 9, 10 a.m. SCRRA Offices,
700 S. Flower St., 26th floor, Los Angeles.
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, February 12 and 26,
9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council Meeting and Public Hearing: Monday,
February 12, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.
Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council Meeting: Tuesday, February 13,
6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.
Board Meeting: Wednesday, February 14, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Westside/Central Governance Council Public Hearing: Wednesday, February 14,
5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, February 14 and Thursday, February 15, Board
Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, February 27 - 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!
RailPAC Annual Meeting:
Saturday, March 17, Metro Gateway Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to
Union Station), Los Angeles. Featured speakers: Gerald Francis, Metro Rail Operations;
Alex Kummant, Amtrak President.
SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, March 21, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St.,
12th floor, 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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