Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 12

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.

Don't Forget: Next Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner meeting. Also coming up are scoping meetings for the proposed statewide high-speed rail network. See Upcoming Events below for details.

The Transit Coalition is participating in this week's Los Angeles Times Dust-Up, a point-counterpoint blog that discusses current issues and events. This week, Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed goes head-to-head with Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Ted Balaker to see what policies or actions could stem traffic congestion in Los Angeles .

Action Alert: Precious transit operations funds from the state continue to be threatened by proposals to shift "spillover" funds from excess gas tax revenues to the state general fund. This could severely undermine transit growth even as transit usage continues to outpace travel by other modes. Join us in fighting these cuts by contacting key elected officials and voicing your concerns. For those unfamiliar with the fight, you can read an explanation and benefits of the Spillover account courtesy of Cal-PIRG.

Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick published a scathing indictment of the city Department of Transportation. The report noted, among other things, that DASH service is implemented in a haphazard fashion, without taking account their effectiveness. The report argued that many DASH lines overlap existing Metro service. As a result, DASH could run up a $200 million deficit during the next decade. The Los Angeles Daily News published an equally scathing editorial denouncing the DOT.

BART becomes the latest rail system to install moving ads in its tunnels. Commuters can spot the ads along the tunnel walls between Embarcadero and Montgomery Street stations.

Also, Metro is partnering with the Los Angeles Valley College Job Center to recruit new bus drivers. Santa Clarita is moving forward with an assessment of dial-a-ride services that intends to tailor services according to the demand. Metrolink and the San Bernardino Associated Governments are scratching their heads as to why ridership on the late-night San Bernardino line train is dwindling. Hemet takes a first look at transit-oriented development at the site of their future Metrolink station.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Hymon continues his quest against bad transport policy in Southern California. This time, he tackles aborted attempts to revitalize San Pedro. One local denizen would like to see Pacific Avenue replaced with a park promenade. Hymon also gives readers an update on Metergate, noting that Long Beach will soon extend parking meter use to Sundays. The city to the south is looking for other ways to tame its own parking crisis.

Resentment over what was not funded with the voter-approved transportation bonds continues. Apple Valley leaders got a splash of political cold water when they learned a critical highway bridge that would connect the community with Victorville was not funded. San Gabriel Valley leaders were disappointed that, despite setting up a united front, funds for the 10/605 interchange were left out. In contrast, officials revealed that the first round of bond money is the most amount of money the State Transportation Improvement Program have received for highway projects since 1998.

Columnist Daniel Weintraub takes a backstage look at how Caltrans computed all those numbers that were used to sell the statewide infrastructure bonds. Locally, some believe that much of our traffic trouble is caused by cancelled freeway plans of the past. One of those cancelled freeways, the Beverly Hills Freeway, comes back to haunt locals as the City of Beverly Hills wants to widen Santa Monica Boulevard, which was demoted from state highway status two years ago. Another denizen in Santa Clarita notes the problems associated with expanding road capacity and implored greater investment in mass transit.

And if you think toll roads are a panacea to our traffic woes, just look at what you the driver might inherit: 16 motorists recently filed suit against the Transportation Corridor Agency, which manages the Orange County Toll Roads, for unfairly charging collectively as much as $334,000 in fines for $2,500 in uncollected tolls.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is exploring the concept of the " inland port". It would serve as a cargo hub, where trains carry goods from the seaports to an inland distribution center via existing railways. A somewhat similar facility is under development in Victorville. The multi-modal Southern California Logistics Airport facility was the subject of a recent Metro Investment Report interview with SCLA/Stirling Enterprises Principal Dougall Agan. Meanwhile, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles continue to replace vehicles with newer, lower-emissions models.

Indeed, Victorville is fast becoming a focal point of transportation in the region. One project that continues to intrigue transportation folks is the proposed DesertXpress service that would start in Victorville and transport would-be gamblers to Las Vegas . Ground may be broken next year for the high-speed conventional train, according to officials, with trains operating by 2012, should DesertXpress secure private financing. Some are annoyed that the line will go only as far south as Victorville, while others noted that the plan clashes with a completely different proposal to connect Anaheim and Las Vegas using MagLev technology trains.

Enthusiasts continue to demand more vehicles that can run on vegetable oil. Proponents claim the fuel can produce far lower amounts of certain types of pollutants than gasoline, though the emissions increase nitrogen oxide levels. Some use oil from restaurants, while others resort to fresh oil that can be found at any supermarket. Diesel mechanics can convert engines so that they can operate with vegetable oil. Many of them are working fast to meet the increasing demand. This would be quite an alternative, since gas prices continue to reach astronomical levels.

Ever wondered what a Critical Mass event looks like? The Westside Chronicle takes a look at a group of bicyclists who get together once a month and ride on city streets. Also, would you pay $448 to fly from LAX to Ontario ? This would be an overstatement to what is done when airlines ferry passengers to their flight connections by shuttling them to other airports.

Bride of the Shameless Plug : Want to know what makes pedestrian-oriented areas successful? Check out these examples of communities that established walking-friendly policies. Additionally, America on the Move has been at the forefront of the walking movement by providing users with tools to monitor their walking habits.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

March 13 and 15 : The final scoping meetings for Phase 2 of the Expo Line, from Culver City to Santa Monica , were held at Santa Monica and Cheviot Hills , respectively. Participants were generally favorable to the light rail project. However, several Cheviot Hills residents continued to show disdain for the project.

March 15 : A dramatic fire burned a wooden trestle in Sacramento that carried Union Pacific and Amtrak trains. Arson is suspected. Union Pacific has already launched a major reconstruction of a new concrete-and-steel trestle, which may become operational in as little as 16 days after the fire. In the meantime, Amtrak California Zephyr trains will originate from Roseville instead of Emeryville (and thus not take the alternative route through Oroville) while Capitol Corridor trains east of Sacramento will be replaced by bus service. A photo essay of the fire is now available courtesy of Ed Van Nordeck and Dan Martin.

The California Transportation Commission recommended nearly a billion dollars in projects for State Highway Route 99. The highway was the only corridor specifically mentioned in the statewide transportation bonds. Among the projects that would be funded is upgrading the last leg of expressway in the San Joaquin Valley , located in Madera County , to freeway standards.

March 16 : A San Bernardino Associated Governments committee approved two agreements that will allow the agency to start developing the Colton Crossing project, which intends to build a grade separation for two cross-country freight rail routes. Currently, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains must travel through an at-grade crossing in Colton , causing massive delays to the two railroads. The first agreement, with Caltrans, sets out the scope of work to be overseen by SANBAG and arranges for the state to provide $2.2 million in funding. The second agreement is a memorandum of understanding with the Union Pacific and BNSF that allows SANBAG access to the site for preliminary work.

March 17 : RailPAC, the National Association of Railroad Passengers and The Transit Coalition held a sold-out joint conference discussing passenger rail developments at the national, state and local levels. Videos of two conference speakers are now available at YouTube: Amtrak President Alex Kummant and United Rail Passengers Alliance Vice President Andrew Selden.

March 18 : Foothill Transit inaugurated the Los Angeles-Montclair Silver Streak service. The line will feature 60-foot articulated buses, Wi-Fi internet service and limited stops, making the trip from one end to the other in about an hour and a half. In response to increased usage of the El Monte Busway, Foothill Transit and Caltrans are working together to see if 3+ carpool times can be extended by an additional two hours.

March 19 : LAX welcomed the arrival of the Boeing Airbus A380 as part of its maiden voyage. The double-decked plane would be the largest passenger plane in service, outdoing a Boeing 737. Many, including Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, commented how quiet the plane was. Thousands of folks were expected to come, much like when the Concorde came to the airport in 1974, but the crowds were nowhere to be seen. More than 100 local suppliers contributed to the construction of the plane.

Announcement : The Transit Coalition has a new discussion board! It is located at transittalk.proboards37.com. You can now post hyperlinks and pictures in addition to text. You must register to use this board. You can still view (but not post at) our old discussion board.

Upcoming Events : SCAG Goods Movement Task Force : Wednesday, March 21, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los Angeles .

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, March 22, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles .

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, February 23, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building , 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St. , Los Angeles .

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, March 26 and April 9, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St. , Orange .

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 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!

California High Speed Rail Authority Scoping Meetings:

  • Wednesday, March 28 , 6 p.m., Norwalk Arts and Sports Complex, Multi-Purpose Room, 13000 Clarkdale Ave. , Norwalk .
  • Thursday, March 29 , 6 p.m., Gordon Hoyt Conference Room in City Hall West, 201 S. Anaheim Blvd. , Anaheim .
  • Wednesday, April 4 , 6 p.m., Glendale Public Library, 222 E. Harvard St. , Glendale .
  • Thursday, April 5 , 6 p.m., Los Angeles County Metro Board Room, One Gateway Plaza , Los Angeles .
  • Tuesday, April 10 , 6 p.m., Sylmar Park Recreation Center ; 13109 Borden Ave. , Sylmar.
  • Thursday, April 12 , 6 p.m., Palmdale City Hall , 38300 Sierra Hwy. , Palmdale.
  • Tuesday, April 17 , 6 p.m., Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles .

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center , 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, April 5, 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, April 5, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles .

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications Director

About 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 rail network.

As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions to allow us to pursue our important work. Add yourself to our mailing list and please donate to help us grow.

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