Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 14
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.
Once again, gas
prices are rising at an incredible pace. Compared to last Monday, prices
per gallon were up by an average of 7.6 cents in California , while prices
rose by an average of 9.7 cents across the country. San Francisco is getting
the worst, with prices creeping towards $4 in some areas. Huge refinery profit
margins, falling gasoline production, tensions with Iran and increased consumption
are to blame.
of anger abounds after Metro proposed raising fares. The elderly would be
especially affected by the steep hikes, since most live on a fixed income. Student
passes would explode from $20 to $72 under the current proposal.
Orange County Transportation Authority agreed to partly
fund a study for a new Metrolink station in Placentia . The OCTA also gave
to Veolia Transportation by stating the private company will lose its contract
unless it operates the county dial-a-ride system satisfactorily. Stations for
the Sprinter project are taking shape, sadly
without drinking fountains.
Are you in a need of a little culture
in your life? Then hop
on the Metro Rail system, just like Chris Lee of the Los Angeles Times
did. Lee learned to his astonishment that many who come to take tours of the
artwork have never used the rail system before.
The cancellation of Foothill
Transit Line 283 has lengthened
the commute times for bus riders, despite replacement service. Riding a bus
in Thousand Oaks can be a real challenge if
one is not prepared. In the high desert city of Tehachapi , officials discussed
whether their dial-a-ride service is meeting
local transit needs.
Onto road matters (and this week there seems
to be quite a bit of them), officials are frothing at the latest sensational
cure for Westside traffic: Turning Olympic and Pico Blvds. into one-way
streets. A Los Angeles Times editorial
expressed elation at the concept, while letters
in response expressed lukewarm concern. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County is
exploring methods that would encourage County employees to buy
environmentally friendly vehicles.
Are cul-de-sacs a planning pariah?
Planners today believe that most cul-de-sac designs do
more harm than good by limiting mobility options. Letters
responding decried such assertions by stating that they enjoy the peace and tranquility
that these closed-off streets offer.
Having had enough of getting the
shabby treatment, Caltrans plans to sue
cities and developers to provide cash for upgrading their highways. Caltrans
argues that developers should pay in accordance with the traffic their developments
bring. Developers dismiss the challenge as "extortion," while cities
counter that such lawsuits would take away money from local street maintenance.
Lawsuits against the state agency effectively hamstrung many of their projects
in the past.
Transportation officials in Orange County are greatly encouraged
by the success of the new in-and-out carpool lanes on the Garden Grove Freeway,
to the point where they want to expand
the program elsewhere. A recent OCTA committee meeting suggested that the
Riverside , Orange and San Diego Freeways should be the next to offer carpool
lanes where drivers can enter at any point. Meanwhile, state Senator Abel Maldonado
(R-Santa Maria) introduced Senate
Bill 889 (not to be confused with Assembly Bill 889; see below), which would
and guilt tactics to discourage solo drivers from illegally using carpool
The Whitter Daily News editorially
expressed their appreciation that new carpool lanes on the 10 Freeway in the
San Gabriel Valley will move ahead after all, thanks to the efforts of the Metro
Board. The addition of three county supervisors to the San Gabriel Council of
Governments promises to add
more clout to the region. Caltrans shut
down a portion of State Highway Route 138, a bypass of Los Angeles through
the Antelope Valley known fondly as "Blood Alley", because violent drivers
have injured three construction workers on a segment.
take center stage in this Donald
Shoup op-ed. The UCLA professor of urban planning argues that pricing precious
parking spaces according to supply and demand would reduce time driving around
to find a spot, infuse cash to local beautification, and even reduce pollution.
Shoup noted that some cities adjust their meter rates to achieve an 85% occupancy
rate. Something similar would in turn offer parking for those who actually need
it instead of those who are lucky to find it, according to Shoup.
San Clemente opened a new
pedestrian trail paralleling the ocean last winter to great success. The new
trail, which hopes to discourage trespassers from walking on nearby rail tracks,
is the culmination of efforts between the city and the community to build a safe
alternative to illegally crossing the tracks. However, activists fear that the
California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates rail crossings, may yet
force changes to the trail.
It is not getting any better at the airlines.
Recent results of an annual study concluded that airline
service is decidedly worse than last year. On-time performance worsened last
year, and more checked baggage was lost in the same time. One bit of good news
did emerge: Customer complaints "stabilized" at a rate of 0.88 per 100,000
passengers! Perhaps because of these problems, more and more passengers are choosing
luggage shipping services" as an alternative to checked baggage.
Port officials, environmentalists and labor groups are coming together in
finding ways to reform
the existing system of hiring truck drivers. Activists compare the current
method of moving goods out of the ports by hiring "independent contractors"
to the sharecropping system of yore. A separate report from retailers, shippers
and terminal operators suggested that private
industry should charge fees to fund an overhaul of diesel trucks. Meanwhile,
a major reconfiguration of highways on Terminal Island was completed
and opened to traffic last weekend.
Los Angeles City Councilmember
Ed Reyes recently rebuffed
efforts by a major rail car manufacture to install a facility at Taylor Yard,
which would bring 200 jobs to the area. Reyes countered that community members
are working to turn the property into a park. The Daily News printed some
of the responses.
in passenger rail continues to grow in the Midwest, with Wisconsin officials contemplating
of Amtrak and commuter rail. In the South, a lifestyle columnist laments
the truncation of the Sunset Limited, which connected New Orleans with
Florida before Hurricane Katrina. Back home, a recent news video reveals that
monorails are not
as futuristic as often believed.
Internationally, Chile President
Michelle Bachelet suffered a major
collapse of voter confidence when transit users protested a large-scale adjustment
of bus routes in Santiago that either left them stranded or forced them to take
slower routes with more transfers.
Shameless Plugs : Founded in 2002, CityLites
is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting exercise,
good nutrition and physical fitness in inner-city communities. On Saturday, May
19, CityLites will host the 4th Annual Inner City 21 and 5-Mile Bike Tour Festival
and Carnival in Jesse Owens Park at Century Blvd. and Western Av. Proceeds
from the event will go to local middle and high schools to foster after-school
sports- and physical-education-related activities. Call (323) 280-0288 or see
flyer for more information.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
March 23 : The Los Angeles City Council voted
to support state Assembly
Bill 889, which would create a construction authority for the Green Line with
the intent of extending it to LAX. "Establishing a construction authority
would jump-start funding and building the Green Line extension," according
to Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.
Caltrans Director Will
transportation funding strategies at the annual San Bernardino County City-County
conference. Kempton heard first-hand disappointment from officials who fought
for bond funds that would catalyze local projects. Kempton replied that many jurisdictions
up and down the state were disappointed and that other funding schemes, such as
partnerships, must be explored.
27 : Los Angeles officials spoke to leading Congressmembers
in Washington and lobbied
for transportation funds, among other things. The group led by Los Angeles
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce gave particular
focus to rail, transit and goods movement projects that are in need of federal
funds. The Los Angeles Daily News took an impatient approach at the effort
in an editorial.
March 28 : Los Angeles officials and transit advocates took
their fight for "Spillover" funds to the state capitol. The Legislature
held its first budget subcommittee hearing on the public transit budget, where
more than a dozen advocates and representatives of local agencies, including Metro,
urged the committee to restore
the funds. Representatives from Metro argued that their recent fare proposals
are partially due to an anticipated loss of revenue caused by the diversion.
(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.)
Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, which would work to realize an east-west
highway connecting the Antelope and Victor Valleys , met
for the first time. Though not in attendance, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford decried
plans to build the highway as a toll road, an idea championed by state Senator
George Runner. Participants, including several supervisors from Los Angeles and
San Bernardino Counties , discussed several actions the Authority could perform
that could move the project forward. The Authority will seek $23
million this year to fund the project.
2 : The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in declaring
greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are pollutants
subject to federal regulation. The Bush Administration sided with automakers
in arguing that federal officials had no power in setting emissions limits. The
decision was favorable to California , whose state officials are asking for tougher
emissions controls from vehicles by automakers. Even after the near victory, however,
the state must still
clear various hurdles before enacting what would be one of the toughest emissions
standards in the nation.
3 : The French TGV broke
the record for speed on a high-speed conventional rail train, clocking at
357 mph (574.8 km/h). The record fell just shy of the 581 km/h record held by
a MagLev train in Japan . The previous record for a steel-on-steel train was 515
km/h, achieved 17
years ago. The test was performed on the TGV Paris-Strasbourg line, which
will open this June.
Close : The Light Rail for
Cheviot website now includes several conceptual drawings of a green corridor
for the Expo Line through West Los Angeles.
Events : California High
Speed Rail Authority Scoping Meetings:
- 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.
- Wednesday, April 11 , 3 p.m.
and 6 p.m., Gordon Hoyt Conference Room, City Hall West, 201 S. Anaheim Blvd.
, Anaheim . (Changed from March 29.)
- Thursday, April 12 , 6 p.m.,
Palmdale City Hall , 38300 Sierra Hwy. , Palmdale.
- Thursday, April 12 , 3 p.m.
and 6 p.m., Norwalk Transportation Center, Arts & Sports Complex Community
Meeting Center (Sproul Room), 13200 Clarkdale Avenue, Norwalk. (Changed
from March 28.)
- Tuesday, April 17 , 6 p.m.,
Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles .
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 p.m., Marvin
Braude Constituent Center , 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.
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 .
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, April 5,
7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, April 9, 9 a.m., Board
Hearing Room, 600 Main St. , Orange .
Citizens' Advisory and Oversight Committee Public Hearing: Monday, April 9,
Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station),
Los Angeles .
San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, April 9, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa
Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte .
Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, April 11, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center , Sunset Room,
325 S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills .
Gateway Cities Governance Council : Thursday, April 12, 2 p.m.,
Gas Company ERC, 9240
Firestone Blvd., Downey Public
Library (Cormack Room), 11121 Brookshire Ave., Downey.
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 .
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, April 18 and Thursday, April 19, Board Room,
Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, April 24 - 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!
last week's newsletter? Read it here!
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welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications
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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