Monday, February 26, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 9
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.
Make A Date With Us: This Tuesday is the monthly Transit Coalition Dinner
Meeting, featuring a speaker from the California High Speed Rail Authority. See
Upcoming Events below for details.
once, Giants and Dodgers fans might agree on one thing: Their hometowns got a
"raw deal" from the California
Transportation Commission. The latter released a list of staff-recommended projects
that offered hardly anything for the two most congested urban areas in the state.
In response, Los Angeles County
politicos and transportation leaders launched a lobbying rally at the CTC aimed to secure
funds for Southern California.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was unhappy with the choices, to the point where
he listed his own recommendations, including two projects in the Inland Empire and the
much-desired northbound carpool lane on the 405 Freeway
between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. Regarding the I-405 project,
some suspect that the CTC was merely confused about when construction would
begin on the project. Complicating matters is that other regions are stating their cases for why they should receive
a bigger slice of the $4.5 billion allocated for the first round of projects.
San Gabriel Valley
officials were also irate at the CTC for omitting improvements for the I-10/I-605
interchange. In response, leaders organized a press conference at the interchange to express
their dissatisfaction at the choices and their resolve to undo the wrong. San
Diego leaders also made their pitch to the CTC. Riverside leaders
promised that their constituencies will receive what is duly entitled to their region. Rural counties,
which some claim received disproportionate attention in the short list,
are also mounting a fight to get even more funds.
Yes, this all makes for some good begging and groveling.
displeasure was soundly expressed through various media outlets, with unusually
high sympathy towards Los Angeles
. The political gridlock revived debate whether engineers or politicians should make transportation
decisions. Columnist Daniel Weintraub noted that the bonds were passed partly
because they were supposed to be distributed without political meddling. Columnist
Dan Walters lamented that, thanks to the recent antics from urban leaders, the
selection process is quickly becoming another pork fest.
counterpoint the claims, George Skelton pointed out that, when accounting for
voter approval of the bonds, L.A. is getting even less. The Los
Angeles Daily News even went so far as to call the CTC and ask them to make
the I-405 carpool lane a high priority. (A second plea was also published.) The Daily News also asked
the CTC to heed the recommendations of the governor.
Everyone seems to believe that, suddenly, the bonds have become a "bait-and-switch" scam. Transit
Coalition Vice-President Jerard Wright checked in with letters to the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News, expressing the need for a
subway connecting the Westside and the Valley.
in Ventura and Santa
Barbara Counties are
also annoyed that their joint widening project on the 101 Freeway would still
have to scrape up $20 million for design. They too lobbied the CTC to
ease the restriction. The Ventura County
Star expressed its disappointment editorially. Those in the Inland
Empire felt the CTC should reward the area for ardently supporting the
But not all news is sad and
County officials expressed
their satisfaction that CTC staff listed a
good number of their projects in their area. This should make Angels fans quite
happy. Meanwhile, the Orange County Register published an op-ed stating that the 91 Express
Lanes will return to state ownership once the project loans are paid off. The
op-ed expressed that the lanes are a "cash cow" that should fund Orange
County projects and not
go to state coffers.
Highway (State Highway Route 74) will receive major improvements that will require intermittent
shutdown of the route for the foreseeable future. Caltrans asks drivers to seek
"alternate routes". The problem is that the highway is one of a very
small handful of highways that connects Orange
County with eastern cities
across the mountains. The only other "alternate routes" are the traffic-choked
91 Freeway to the north and State Highway Route 78 just south of Camp
recent talk of fare increases floating around, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times expressed
that, if anything, Metro patrons should board buses and trains at no charge. Op-ed
author D. Malcolm Carson believes that such a concept would vastly increase bus
use in the area. One actual improvement to bus service may come in the
form of WiFi. The Metro Board recently approved efforts to bring wireless internet service to buses
The Daily News published
an exposť on indifferent Metro bus drivers in the San
Fernando Valley. Staff writer Sue Doyle took several trips on lines
that would be affected by a major restructuring plan due to take effect this June.
Buses running either late or not at all were a common occurrence, according to
her field study as well as citations by fellow passengers. However, some coach
operators additionally show contempt at their customers by violating Metro
regulations. Some even change the number of the bus line displayed on their headsigns
so as to avoid picking up passengers!
Westside leaders continue to work together in bringing
rail to the beach region. Los Angeles Council member Bill Rosendahl called on
fellow leaders to help build a "rail network" for
the Westside. Paralleling these efforts, state Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)
introduced a bill that would create a construction authority for a Green Line extension
San Bernardino officials are betting that a future bus rapid transit
line will improve the luck of its ailing city
core. The San Bernardino Express, or sbX, would run from Cal State San Bernardino
to Jerry L.
Center in Loma Linda for
a total of 16 miles. Officials will seek the $150 million to build the project,
which could be opened as early as 2011.
The cities of La Palma
and Buena Park are
pooling their resources to launch a shuttle
connecting their communities with Metrolink trains. A lack of parking coincides with increased
ridership from the three Metrolink stations in Santa Clarita. Police
cracked down on motorists in Burbank and
Glendale who illegally and dangerously cross train tracks. La
Mirada and Santa Fe Springs residents are annoyed at learning
that a much-needed grade separation at Valley
View Avenue is short on funds.
Thanks to fuel-efficient cars, the gas tax is not as great a source of revenues as it once
was. The Federal Government estimates that the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded
by an 18.3-cents-a-gallon tax, will run into a $230 million deficit by fiscal
year 2009. U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Mary Peters believes that
the gas tax is obsolete and new funding mechanisms must be explored.
Union Pacific is getting bad press once again. Plans
to build a rail spur from the Sunset Line in Arizona
to Port Calumet in Baja California are creating a stir among Arizona
farmers. Property owners accuse UP of not disclosing their plans to
the public, leaving much of the project as a mystery to inquiring minds. Meanwhile,
MagLev pokes up in Victor
Valley , this time as a
tool to that could move freight from the ports. Also, trucks from Mexico are coming soon to American
roadways as part of a pilot program, sending transportation safety and air quality
officials into a panic.
why there are more flight delays than ever before? Some
list a combination of factors. Airlines stretch their employees and aircraft too
thinly, and planes are scheduled too tightly, leaving little wiggle room for delays.
Another problem is that the Federal Aviation Administration penalizes planes for
returning to the gates, so pilots and passengers are forced to wait on the taxiway.
Highly congested airports figure as some of America's most dangerous airports.
Meanwhile, state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San
Diego) is working on legislation that would change the structure of the San Diego County
Regional Airport Authority and strip the Authority its responsibility to prepare
land-use plans for neighborhoods next to existing airports. This comes as a response
to the overwhelming defeat of its November ballot measure to move the airport
to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. The San Diego Regional Airport Authority
has so far stayed mum on the issue.
are hoping that pedestrian-oriented development will reduce obesity.
The City of Chino Council
recently reexamined zoning laws and redevelopment efforts to see how
they can promote walking with the direct intent to increase health. Ventura
County officials will perform
a "walkability" survey for cities and neighborhoods that will gauge
the safety and usefulness of pedestrian facilities. Meanwhile, high-density development
is coming to Pomona, where several projects
are taking shape around the local Metrolink station.
Across the pond, European rail companies are working
hard to make cross-continent travel even faster through the completion of several
projects. Some believe these and other improvements could very well supplant airline
travel by making long-distance rail travel faster and thus more relevant. "It
isn't just environmentally friendly, it's more civilized," said Philip Beckett,
operations director for European Rail.
is a list of other recent developments:
16 : National
City filed a lawsuit against the San Diego MTS
in hopes of preventing a takeover of their bus system. MTS believes the move would
save money for the system. National City Transit counters that it was a bad deal,
noting that Chula Vista Transit continues to administer its own bus system with
help from MTS while achieving cost savings. MTS is scheduled to take over National
City bus routes March 4.
19 : London
expanded its congestion zone to cover western
parts of the city. Drivers would have to pay $15.65 a day to enter the area. The
plan would cost 120 million pounds and would generate 40 million pounds annually.
February 21 : The 5-1-1 traffic information system made its debut in San
Diego County .
San Diego motorists
can now get the latest information about accidents and construction work that
might be in their way, and an estimate of how long it will take to reach their
destination. Motorists are also encouraged to visit the website at www.511sd.com.
26 : Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined
airport leaders in a groundbreaking ceremony for the LAX Tom Bradley
Terminal renovation. The $576 million project is the largest in city history.
Completion is scheduled for March 2010. Some hope that the renovation will slow
a decrease in international flight service
from LAX. In recent years, other cities such as San Francisco
and Las Vegas have
made major strides in luring international companies to their airports.
Orange County Transportation Authority reviewed the claims of 8 drivers from the
91 Express Lanes and 8 other drivers from the toll roads that the agency fined them to an excessive degree. The 16
drivers face fees totaling $335,000, ranging from $1,600 to $93,000. The group
hopes to turn their complaint into a civil-action lawsuit.
Events: 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!
Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority:
Thursday, March 1, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Board of Supervisors
Hearing Room 381B, 500 W. Temple
St. , Los Angeles .
Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday,
March 1, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435
Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles
Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council:
Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 p.m., Marvin
Center , 6262
Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.
SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, March 8,
10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W.
Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los
Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council :
Thursday, March 8, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey
Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday,
March 9, 9.30 a.m., Carson
Community Center , 801
E. Carson St. , Carson .
SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings:
Friday, March 9, 10 a.m. SCRRA Offices, 700
S. Flower St. , 26th floor, Los
Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council:
Monday, March 12, 5 p.m., 3369
Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte
bus station), El Monte .
Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, March
14 and Thursday, March 15, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles
Metro Westside/Central Governance Council :
Wednesday, March 14, 5 p.m., La Cienega
, Sunset Room, 325
S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills
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; Bill Bronte, Caltrans Division of
SCAG Goods Movement Task Force :
Wednesday, March 21, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818
W. Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los
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The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a 501[c](3) non-profit
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