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. If you use transit on the Westside,
you can still come to the Westside/Central Governance Council meeting listed in
Upcoming Events. The Transit
Coalition also urges you to e-mail your concerns to Metro,
or write a letter and fax it to (213) 922-6988. (Los Angeles City Councilmember
Greig Smith sent in his own letter, which you can read
and take some points.) You can view a printable
11x17 map of these cuts that you can print and pass to fellow bus riders.
The Los Angeles Daily News published yet
another anti-subway editorial. Editors claim that even with interest growing,
the large sums of money needed to build it would be better spent on smaller projects
that are ostensibly just as effective. Indeed, it even goes so far as implying
that busways like the Orange Line would be better suited and can achieve the same
to the editor shot back at the notion, suggesting that, if anything, subways
would be a worthwhile investment for the future. Indeed, a
separate letter in The LookOut believed a busway would be useless in
addressing Valley-to-Westside traffic and that a subway connection paralleling
the 405 Freeway would work better.
Last year, Metro gave a separate color
to the Wilshire/Western segment of the subway in hopes of reducing confusion.
Instead, it appears that it has only made
things worse. Only recently has Metro changed brochures
and station maps to reflect awareness of the newly dubbed "Purple Line."
Metro will change the maps inside the trains next month, which should end passenger
confusion once and for all.
Did you know that rebranding a product can
greatly change perception of it? This is what
Metro has learned four years after implementing a uniform design on bus wraps,
trains, stations and publications. 83% of riders surveyed perceived that service
has improved as a result, even though that is not the case. 73% are more aware
of Metro, which gives the perception that Metro accesses new destinations. Meanwhile,
the Los Angeles Department
of Transportation brings an actual improvement by installing
a bus stop for its Encino-Pasadena Line
549 at the North Hollywood Red Line station.
After an embarrassing
response to a recent incident when mercury was spilled at a station, Metro is
gates and attendants at rail stations in order to increase security. The plan
would be costly: To do so, 500 attendants would have to be hired at a cost of
$24 million a year. Installing gates would cost between $50 million and $100 million.
Omnitrans will soon
roll out higher
fares and various service changes. Single-ride fares would increase a dime
from $1.25 to $1.35 starting July 1, while a day pass would go from $3 to $3.50.
Over the course of five years, single ride fares could go up to $2.25. One possible
victim of the service change is Route 31, a
final remnant of the former Redlands Trolley. Another possible victim is dial-a-ride
service in Yucaipa. Those interested in voicing their concerns are welcomed
to attend their public hearing. (See Upcoming Events.)
The state Transportation Commission continues
to review projects that were nominated to receive funds from Proposition 1B.
Caltrans and local agencies have nominated 147 projects that could be built almost
immediately, which total $11.3 billion, well past the $4.5 billion set aside for
said projects. Knowing that even the nearly $20 billion of bond money approved
by voters won't solve many traffic woes, officials are strongly pushing for private
capital and more toll roads. According to economists, congestion
pricing and the new technologies to support it can benefit the public good
in many ways, not just in providing more road capacity.
After a brief
prices are moving up again. Much of the blame stems from California refineries,
which must switch blending methods around this time, as well as an unusually brutal
winter in the Northeast, which is driving up demand. While hybrid drivers may
dismiss this problem, some want the state to scrap
the sticker program entirely for those who already drive solo on carpool lanes
with the permit.
The Port of Long Beach recently unveiled plans to develop
Pier S, which they envision would be the "
greenest shipping terminal in California." Community members lauded the
development, which mainly focuses on reducing pollution and energy use, but showed
concern about other elements such as water quality and wildlife protection. Meanwhile,
a poll of truckers concluded that the OffPeak program significantly
reduces traffic by encouraging truckers to drive at off-peak hours.
Did you also know that 6.4
million travelers that fly from LAX drive from Orange County? The southern
neighbor in the past refused to increase flights at John Wayne Airport and defeated
plans to build a new one at the El Toro military air base. A great deal of resentment
exists between advocates of airport regionalization largely because of this mismatch.
Officials hope that Orange County becomes active with the recently resurrected
Southern California Regional Airport Authority and will find solutions that would
handle a projected increase of more than 30 million travelers that would come
from the county.
A lot of good news is coming out of Hollywood these
days. Ground has been broken for a major
mixed-use development at Hollywood and Vine, right next to the Metro Red Line
station. Proponents hope that the project will inject the glitz and glamour that
has been lacking at the iconic corner for some time. Access to transit will be
part of the project. Still, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti
warns that lack
of parking in the area may hamper future growth.
a bike trail to parallel the Sprinter DMU system in north San Diego County, which
would connect with coast trails at its western end. While cities along the route
have worked diligently to build the path, however, Oceanside faced several
obstacles, including lack of funds and a difficult terrain, which forced the
city to scuttle plans to build its portion of the trail. For now, bicyclists must
continue their journey to the coast via Oceanside Boulevard. Meanwhile, Metro
and the City of La Cañada Flintridge have reached
an agreement on the design and construction of a local bike path.
Up north, the Oakland AC Transit Board
of Directors approved a funding mechanism relating to the purchase (not the purchase
itself) of 50 revised models of 40-foot Van Hool buses. AC Transit currently operates
100 40-foot Van Hools, along with 63 60-footers and 12 30-footers manufactured
by the same company. The vote came despite transit users expressing nearly universal
revulsion at the buses, although they did
not express what exactly was wrong with them. Board members responded that
drivers seemed to like them, but passengers retorted that drivers in fact hated
them, if only because passengers hated them, too. Fortunately, a guest
commentary in the Contra Costa Times takes the time to explain the
problem with these buses.
In our human interest section, the San Diego
Union Tribune takes a look at a
day in the life of Coaster
train engineer R.L. Thomas. One of his duties is to blow the train horn at crossings,
which has given Coaster a bad reputation with the community, especially in Del
Mar. Also, Coaster trains will offer rides
at no cost to children aged 12 and under on Saturdays in February, March and
In San Bernardino County, SANBAG will move
forward with preliminary engineering and environmental work on a railroad
overcrossing that would eliminate a major freight rail bottleneck between two
major rail routes. Meanwhile, opinions
are mixed on efforts to stop the state high speed rail program. Transit opponent
James E. Moore II wrote a marring op-ed pleading the governor to completely
destroy California HSR progress.
Here is a list of other recent
February 5: President George W. Bush rolled out
the federal budget proposed for FY 08 that, among other things, offers $800
million for Amtrak. The National Association of
Railroad Passengers (NARP) condemned
the request, saying it offers nothing to debt service and would strangle capital
projects and operations of all trains.
The separately offered
$100 million for "capital matching grants to States for intercity passenger
rail projects" would be a condescending pittance compared with what advocates
and officials have long been fighting for, especially in light of the Lautenberg-Lott
reauthorization bill. This goes well against current ridership trends: Ridership
on the Amtrak long-distance train Empire Builder through Montana increased
by nearly 40% since 2002.
Similarly, the budget offers $9.422 billion
for public transportation, $308 million below what was authorized for FY 08 under
SAFETEA-LU. The American Public Transportation
Association expressed stern
disappointment at the development.
February 7: The U.S. House
of Representatives voted
to repeal a ban on federal funds for subway construction under Wilshire Blvd.
Congressmember Henry Waxman reintroduced the repeal legislation this year after
a similar one passed last year but failed to receive consideration in the U.S.
Senate. The Senate will vote on the bill as
early as this week.
Bus passengers threw criticism at a plan to reduce
bus service in the San Fernando Valley during a public hearing on the subject.
Final choices on service changes will be made in March. This is a sharp contrast
to what is being done in Santa Monica, where efforts to increase
service on Big Blue Bus lines move along. Letters
to the Daily News reflected the need to increase fares as a way to preserve
February 12: A consortium of Westside elected officials
the creation of a coalition to bring the Green Line to LAX. The newly formed Green
Line Coalition is composed of Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Congresswoman
Jane Harman, State Senator Jenny Oropeza, State Assemblymember Ted Lieu, and Los
Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. The group have sent letters to 80 local officials
and urged them to join the coalition. A website has been set up at www.greenlinecoalition.com.
Upcoming Events: Metro
San Fernando Valley Governance Council Meeting: Tuesday, February 13, 6:30
p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.
Metro Special 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.
Public Hearing on Proposed Changes to Service and Fares: Thursday, February
15, 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Ontario Senior Center, 225 E. B St., Ontario.
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, February 26, 9 a.m.,
Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.
Consider attending our monthly
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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