Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, March 26, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 13

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 The Connection: Tomorrow Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner meeting. Also coming up are scoping meetings for the proposed statewide high-speed rail network. The proposed service promises to whisk Angelenos to San Francisco in about 2 hours. Additionally, the City of Placentia will host a public study session on the Westgate Metrolink station project. See Upcoming Events below for details.

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.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) rolled out a plan to dramatically raise fares through 2009. The first fare hikes might come this July, when day passes would be increased from $3 to $5. One-way fares would remain at $1.25 until 2009, when they would rise to $2. This comes even after Metro will perform the first round of draconian cuts in service this June. Metro must hold public hearings on the increases before approving them, though indeed the Metro Board can approve them immediately.

The Bus Riders Union swiftly attacked the increases. The BRU, through its parent company the Labor/Community Strategy Center, forged a Consent Decree with Metro in 1994 that, among other things, limited Metro from raising fares. Thus, Metro has not performed any significant fare increases since then. Metro CEO Roger Snoble in fact cited this lack of action as the primary reason why the transportation agency must now go through with steep and sudden fare hikes.

Blogger Peter McFerrin of Clueless and Slightly Slack blasted notions that a reduction in fares would lead to increased patronage. Through a crude calculation of fares against ridership demand, McFerrin concluded that Metro would lose more in farebox revenue through the BRU proposal than it would gain by raising fares. The subsequent reduction in service brought about by shrinking farebox revenue would lead to reduced service (supply) and, hence, reduced patronage (demand).

An Orange County Transportation Authority committee recommended paying $30 million a year to provide paratransit service to seniors. The private transit firm that will give it has been accused of providing shoddy service by stranding riders and arriving hours late. The same committee also recommended funds for grade crossing improvements along Metrolink tracks. While we're at it, the OCTA is seeking applicants for its citizens' advisory committee.

The Expo Line Construction Authority completed its scoping meetings for Phase 2 of the light rail line from Culver City to Santa Monica . People are responding approvingly to the project, if these letters to the Los Angeles Times are any indication. In fact, some are squarely blaming opponents from Cheviot Hills for denying rail to the Westside.

Comments on Metro Bus service continue to flow weeks after the Los Angeles Daily News published a revealing article on not-too-customer-friendly drivers. However, it was quickly acknowledged that any form of commuting will have its share of annoyances. The Daily News also introduced readers to their new transportation blog at www.insidesocal.com/theride/. Metrolink produced a report that a bridge-and-tunnel crossing could be built to replace a legally contested grade crossing in Agua Dulce. Also, Metro Line 275 will switch over to Norwalk Transit as a move to save crucial bus service while also adding a connection to the Norwalk Metrolink Station.

Excitement continues to brew for the intermodal freight facility in Victorville. The cheap land around the former George Air Force Base (now the Southern California Logistics Airport) will surely aid in its growth. Planners believe its close proximity to major transcontinental rail lines and interstate highways will attract users. Local leaders hope that the facility will be a boon to jobs in the high desert. Meanwhile, package delivery services are fighting gas price increases with innovative technologies and methods of delivery, even though some would rather stick to just-in-time delivery, which some believe works against fuel efficiency.

Transit agencies across the nation are installing Wi-Fi on transit systems as fast as they can. However, agencies often must decide whether to provide a free service or a subscription to users. Canada 's VIA Rail has a paid service and Washington State Ferries, Trinity Railway Express in Dallas and, locally, North County Transit in San Diego are installing paid service. AC Transit in Oakland , Riverside Transit Agency and Sound Transit in Seattle will initiate free Wi-Fi instead.

Up north, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom placed a proposal before its Board of Commissioners to replace parking perks with no-cost transit passes. The success of the bond vote last November has prompted state legislators to introduce a flurry of bills that include bonds as their main funding mechanism. Just outside Sacramento , Union Pacific expects to repair a burnt trestle and bridge structure with a steel-and-concrete version in 16 days.

To the east, as plans for the Second Avenue Subway in New York City move along, transit enthusiasts take fascination with 10 peculiar rail cars that were ordered and received for the new line in 1949.

Please Help Us : Want to improve transportation in Southern California? Would you like to keep informed on what is happening in the transportation scene? Then help us by donating to our cause and joining The Transit Coalition. Our volunteers meet with various transit officials and policymakers to discuss transportation needs in our region and work with agencies to make transit improvements a reality. But in running the Coalition comes the financial challenge to pay our costs. A volunteer may go to Washington or Sacramento , whose expenses need to be covered. Publishing a newsletter incurs printing and postage costs, while publishing this eNewsletter takes on delivery costs. A monthly subscription to Moving Southern California comes with your membership. Visit our Donations page to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

Onto highway matters, Caltrans and the City of Colton agreed to share the costs of ramp improvements on the I-10. Westside home owners are gearing up for a campaign to reduce the number of properties needed for the recently funded I-405 northbound carpool lanes. Officials from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are mulling improved road connections between the two areas.

In order for the San Onofre Toll Road to be built, the Transportation Corridor Agencies will have to please no less than eight distinct agencies that already view the project with skepticism. The Long Beach Press Telegram published a condemnatory editorial that takes fault with penalty policies on Orange County toll roads.

As if it wasn't obvious enough, a new report revealed that the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles make massive contributions to the national economy. All 435 Congressional districts benefit from what comes through these two ports, according to the report. The ports also contribute to $28 billion in taxes, $6 billion of which goes to California . The report also commends the two ports for pursuing environmentally friendly innovations. The Long Beach Press Telegram gave a favorable editorial to the news.

The Metro Investment Report published an interview with Allan Alexander, who co-chaired the Beverly Hills Mass Transit Committee and helped stir his city to warmly welcome the proposed Wilshire Blvd . subway. Metro Investment Report also published excerpts from a keynote speech made by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters during the Faster Freight, Cleaner Air conference, which was held last month in Long Beach . Meanwhile, The Planning Report published an interview with state legislator and former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Feuer. Particular attention was given to land use, "smart growth" and transportation policies that affect the 42nd Assembly district, which Feuer represents.

The Redondo Beach City Council voted to spend more money on a bike project after nearly a decade of planning and an escalation of costs. The new bike facilities would connect the Marine/Redondo Green Line station, which barely enters the city proper, with areas to the south. Meanwhile, bicyclists recently gathered in Redlands to participate in the thrilling 2007 Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Warner Center is enjoying a boom in property development. However, the ensuing traffic problems prompted the Woodland Hills-based Daily News to editorialize their discontent at the lack of a coherent growth plan for the area. Meanwhile, tensions are rising over one of the last open-space parcels in Pasadena , which could be slated for high-density development. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Downtown News reiterated its desire to see increased DASH service, this time to complement the growing restaurant population on Seventh Street .

The Transit Coalition and Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Ted Balaker participated in last week's Los Angeles Times Dust-Up , a point-counterpoint blog that discusses current issues and events. A collection of their responses is now available:

        Monday, March 19

        Tuesday, March 20

        Wednesday, March 21

        Thursday, March 22

        Friday, March 23

And if the above-mentioned solutions to traffic do not suit your fancy, read this interview of a local pipe dreamer who wants to bring Personal Rapid Transit to Orange County .

Particularly Shameless Plugs : CityLites will host their annual InnerCity 21 & 5 Mile Bike Tour and Festival on Saturday, May 19. Please see this flyer for more information and learn how you can sponsor the event. Also, For those not yet familiar with it, visit Experiencela.com, where you can learn how to access various cultural venues and events by mass transit. The website was the subject of a Daily Trojan article.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

March 20 : The Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled a new parking plan that aims to speed traffic in and out of the park. An enlarged parking staff will direct motorists to parking stalls and then exit the park through the same gate they entered. Pedestrian walkways at the parking lots will also be added. The Dodgers website features maps and additional information.

March 22 : The Metro Board unanimously voted to perform preliminary engineering and technical studies for a Route 710 tunnel under South Pasadena . The meeting attracted opponents from the quaint hamlet, but the possibility of tunneling the future freeway under it also attracted supporters from other areas of the San Gabriel Valley . The $5 million allocated for the study will be combined with $5 million from Caltrans and $2.4 million secured by Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena).

The Board also approved $356.5 million for carpool lanes on the I-10 between Routes 57 and 605. This comes after the California Transportation Commission voted to refuse bond funds for the lanes.

A San Bernardino Associated Governments committee recommended to monitor progress on a study from the Southern California Association of Governments that would see if a new Metrolink station in the community of Highgrove is feasible. Both SANBAG and the Riverside County Transportation Commission remain skeptical of the plan since they believe it will not generate enough riders to warrant the expense. Nevertheless, local activists continue to fight for the station.

March 23 : The San Diego Regional Airport Authority voted to work with state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) and amend a bill that would limit the powers of the Authority. Board members hope that the cooperation could help "improve this authority," according to board Chairman Alan Bersin. As written, the bill would introduce elected officials to the Authority Board.

The Streetscapes Mural Project of Ventura unveiled 12 murals designed by students from Cabrillo Middle School . More than 100 people gathered in Ventura to view the murals, which will be installed at bus stops in the city. The murals are now viewable online courtesy of the City of Ventura .

March 26 : The United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley approved a resolution calling for increased Metrolink service along the Ventura County and Antelope Valley lines.

Hooray! Metrolink launched a completely redesigned website. The easier-to-use page intends to match the design of its print materials while offer better access to news and schedule information.

Upcoming Events : 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 .

City of Placentia Westgate Metrolink Station Study Session: Tuesday, April 3, 4:30 p.m., Placentia City Council Chambers, City Hall, 301 E. Chapman Ave., Placentia. For more information on the project, call Michael McConaha, Senior Analyst, at (714) 993-8245.

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 .

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

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, April 9, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte .

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, April 11, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center , Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills .

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, April 13, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St. , 26th floor, Los Angeles .

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, April 14, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza , Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St. , Los Angeles .

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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.

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