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.
Starting this week, Metro will hear public
comment on its plans at individual Service Sector public hearings to reduce
bus service across the region as a way to stave off a $104 million structural
letters to the Los Angeles Times responded with calls to either decrease
fares or increase them. Public transit enemy James E. Moore II also sent a letter
with suggestions such as ending rail construction and use, giving transit vouchers
to the poor, and "legalizing private transit", presumably jitneys, bandit
taxis and such.
The NIMBYs of Cheviot Hills are mobilizing to defeat
Phase II of the Exposition Line. Visitors to the pro-Expo Light Rail
for Cheviot website are offered a sampling
of literature opponents publish to discredit the project. Transit Coalition
member Harold Katz wrote an acidic
indictment against Westside NIMBYism in the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Katz noted that when NIMBYs stopped freeway and transit projects in hopes of curbing
development, development came anyway. Also, readers lashed out at overdevelopment
of the Westside with several
Proponents of airport regionalization rejoice! ExpressJet
announced plans to expand
their services at Ontario Intuh, LA/Ontario International Airport.
United Airlines beat out Delta for a contract to serve LA/Palmdale Airport with
service to San Francisco. This can only mean good
news to those who want to ease passenger use and car traffic at LAX. To celebrate
the development, Los Angeles World Airports
will launch an advertising
blitz to spread awareness of the two airports. Meanwhile, air ridership through
Bob Hope Airport reached record
highs for the second year in a row.
How can you prepare yourself
for a trip to LAX? Is there really any sort of transit to the airport? This
Los Angeles Times report summarizes available alternatives to driving
into the airport and how the airline passenger can use them.
As a testament
to the growing popularity of Metrolink, Antelope Valley Line passengers experience
decreased availability of seats and increased crowding. Some relief will come
to the line in the form of new
cars to ease the overcrowding, though they won't be available until 2009 at
the earliest. (If you haven't done so already, come and get a sneak preview of
the new Metrolink website.)
may soon come to the Gold Line should Metro approve funds for it. Los Angeles
City Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel is encouraging
staff to take public transportation to work at least once a week. Up north,
the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments released
figures indicating that transit use and Pacific Surfliner ridership
is up while carpooling and Coast Starlight ridership is down after five
In our last eNewsletter, we reported that ridership and revenues
were on the decline for the Las Vegas Monorail. The Las Vegas Sun takes
a jab at discovering why
the monorail has been a failure. The paper noted that its stations tend to
be several yards away from casino entrances whereas buses deliver tourists right
to the casino floors. High fares, closeness of the stations for a four mile route,
and lack of destinations were also cited. However, should the monorail fail to
"pay its way", operators will use its insurance to pay off bondholders.
Hopes of building a high-speed rail line in California are quickly
hitting some significant obstacles. The California High
Speed Rail Authority recently approved $298.4 million for engineering the
line. The Authority estimates it would need $104 million in the next fiscal year
for engineering and right-of-way, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes
only $1 million, barely enough to keep the Authority office running. (Already
some are commenting that his budget is dead
on arrival, since it is based on too many unfounded assumptions.) High speed
rail advocates are planning to educate elected officials in Sacramento on the
project this March.
Some suspect that scuttling high speed rail would
legacy of the governor. Across the pond, Spain and Morocco are moving forward
with design for an underwater
high-speed rail link between the two countries. At this rate, Africa will
have HSR before America does! (Breaking news: Vietnam
also announced plans to build its own HSR.)
A movement to reduce
restrictions on Orange County carpool lanes grows. The new carpool lanes on the
Garden Grove Freeway allow vehicles to enter and exit wherever they wish. Local
officials wish to employ the same concept elsewhere on the freeway system. As
a result, Caltrans is considering giving local transportation agencies (in this
case, the Orange County Transportation
Authority) the power
to designate such lanes. The Orange County Register came out in support
of the idea.
Speaking of which, the OCTA will also sanction
a contractor who failed to complete said work on the Garden Grove Freeway on time.
Additionally, the OCTA will give $250,000
to Riverside County for studies on widening the 91 Freeway in their area.
Even though construction will not start until 2015 at the earliest,
Caltrans and the San Bernardino Associated Governments are working with Victor
Valley cities to select a bypass
route for U.S. Highway 395 and preserve the right of way. SANBAG will complete
a study next year that would select an alignment for the bypass among a group
of alternatives between northern Adelanto and I-15. Caltrans will complete
its own study of other alignments, which includes segments of U.S. 395 further
north of Adelanto, in 2011. In the meantime, Caltrans plans to widen the existing
highway. Just south of that, San Bernardino traffic leaders broke
ground on a major reconstruction of the I-215 in their city, which should
be completed by 2014.
As a response to a USC
report citing that children living near freeways are at greater risk of developing
lung problems, some are questioning existing efforts to build houses, parks and
schools next to them. Even though sites
near freeways are unavoidably dangerous to one's health, planners often wind
up building near them anyway because land is much more easily available. Some
blame the phenomenon on a lack of a centralized effort to coordinate development.
is alive and well in South Pasadena, as City Council candidates pompously
assail the 710 Freeway, using the above report to indict even a tunnel version
of the freeway. Safe-driving advocates are condemning
5-1-1, the traffic information phone number in many cities, because drivers
are tempted to dial it on their cell phones while driving. Thus, 5-1-1 ironically
causes the accidents its users are trying to avoid.
Problems are arising
over a state bill to increase the buffer between bicyclists and motorists. One
in the Whittier Daily News lists the problems while offering more practical
solutions that can be taken right now to improve bicyclist safety. Meanwhile,
Lakewood officials inaugurate a nature
trail along the San Gabriel River.
Metro CEO Roger Snoble talked
problems of sprawl during an event in Downtown Los Angeles. Snoble announced
that Metro will use its property holdings to entice developers into building
transit-oriented developments around its rail and Orange Line busway stations.
One curious consequence of such development in Downtown is that many properties
that are developed were previously parking lots. This has led to a decrease in
parking supply, an increase
in parking costs, and a dearth of customers to establishments that relied
on cheap parking. Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed was quoted in
the Times article, suggesting that good transit would make a suitable replacement
for parking if it is available. Also, a report by the City of Los Angeles concluded
that the Grand Avenue project would require substantially
more tax breaks than previously expected.
Officials in the Inland
Empire hope that the Goods Movement Action Plan proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
will offer funds
for critical freight rail projects. Most acknowledge that the $3 billion allotted
from Proposition 1B would only cover short-term needs and hardly make a dent of
progress, though any help is better than nothing at all. On those lines, one local
economist believes elevated
toll lanes for freight trucks should be considered.
Yes, the ports
have come a long way from the days where cargo had to be hauled by hand. To
augment this, the Port of Long Beach prepares a proposal for a 160-acre
terminal on Pier S, one of the last undeveloped pieces of land in the port
At the national level, the U.S. House of Representatives voted
Amtrak $1.294 billion for FY 07 as part of a continuing resolution, $304 million
or 19% below Amtrak's "basic" request of $1.598 billion, and $579 million
or 31% below Amtrak's full request of $1.873 billion, according to the National Association of
Railroad Passengers. Transit
would receive a boost of $480 million, meeting levels authorized in SAFETEA-LU,
while highways get a $3.532-billion increase.
Cities across the nation
are eyeing streetcars as a way to attract development in vacant downtowns, a sort
development-oriented transit". Portland, Tampa, and Little Rock paid
small sums to build streetcars and in turn reaped billions in development. Streetcars
are not without its critics, however. Some simply view them as amenities instead
of vital transit. Nevertheless, most developments around them foster pedestrian
environments, with basic needs such within walkable distance.
that is gaining currency is "
carbon neutral". This describes the practice of giving money to projects
that, in theory, would offset pollution produced by certain activities. Critics
claim that it would give people the mistaken impression that they can continue
polluting as they wish so as long as they support pollution reductions elsewhere.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
Transit users at a community meeting in Montrose expressed
fears that Glendale Beeline 3, which connects La Cañada Flintridge with Glendale,
would be drastically modified or cancelled. Glendale traffic transportation administrator
Jano Baghdanian assured residents and business leaders that the city will not
cancel the line. Instead, the route will be severed at Glendale Community College,
meaning that those coming from La Cañada and Montrose would have to transfer at
the college to continue their journey to Glendale.
Former Metro Deputy CEO John Catoe was sworn in as general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit Authority. Catoe will lead the $1.2-billion-a-year agency and overseee
a $3.3-billion, six-year Capital Improvement Program.
Union Pacific began operations
of new low-emissions
diesel engines at its yard in Commerce. Each 2,100-horsepower train will reduce
emissions by up to 80 percent while using as much as 16 percent less fuel than
current low-horsepower switchers. Union Pacific will roll out 60 of these engines
February 2: The state Department of Motor Vehicles
announced that no
more applications for hybrid vehicle stickers will be accepted. Caltrans reported
that some increases in vehicles on the lanes were observed since the program launched.
Hybrid drivers are going through a deep
funk, since these stickers enabled single-occupant hybrid vehicles to use
Upcoming Events: Metro
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.
and Programming Committee and Congestion
Management Program Public Hearing, Wednesday, February 14, 1 p.m.
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, February 14, 2:30 p.m.
Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, February 15, 9 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, February 15, 10:30 a.m.
Committee, Thursday, February 15, 12 noon.
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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