Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 15

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.

Spillover Still Threatened: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to press for a shift of "spillover" funds from excess gas tax revenues to the state general fund. The Sacramento Bee expressed anger at the maneuvering in a recent editorial. The Assembly Budget Sub-Committee will be holding a hearing on the State Transit Assistance budget for public transit tomorrow at 4 pm in Room 127 at the State Capitol. 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 Times columnist Steve Lopez once again tackles the transportation question and the lack of political leadership to enable solutions. This time, he takes a trip to the offices of the Southern California Association of Governments and sees several traffic models courtesy of director Mark Pisano. Toll roads and "congestion pricing" would be a major way to increase freeway speeds and relieve congestion, according to Pisano. MagLev, truck tolls and accident clearing also figure highly in their suggestions. Two letters to the Times responded to the column.

Metro is on a campaign to identify artifacts belonging to long-gone Chinese workers found during Eastside Gold Line construction. Compounding the problem is that many of the names found on the artifacts could be their pseudonyms. Eight Chinese headstones and 14 burial bricks were found during excavation. Metro has set up a web page that contains more information and contact options.

If you haven't noticed, Metro is also on a campaign to install as much advertising on stations as the Board directed. 7th/Metro station is getting the royal treatment, with McDonald's advertisements plastered up and down the subway station. Some passengers see the ads as an aesthetic alternative to gray and drab walls, while others find them annoying. Meanwhile, the Daily News reports that you can ask your Metro bus driver to turn down the volume from TransiTV sets.

The Los Angeles Daily News editorialized discontent at Metro for proposing to rapidly raise bus fares. Anticipation builds for a study on turning Olympic and Pico Blvds. into one-way streets, which should be completed next week. Letters in the Los Angeles Times criticized short-term transportation fixes that ignore long term needs. One short-term fix comes from the U.S. Postal Service, which will restrict mail delivery trucks from using Wilshire Blvd. during peak hours. Times op-ed editor Robin Rauzi opts to free herself from the car during Lent.

Repercussions of the 2005 Glendale Metrolink crash continue to reverberate across the nation. When Denver residents voted for FasTracks in November 2004, the Regional Transportation District hoped to launch commuter rail service on freight rail tracks. Since the accident, however, railroads became increasingly reluctant to do so, to the point where they wish to shield themselves from lawsuits arising from such use. The reluctance threatens to stall implementation of a portion of FasTracks in Denver .

Join The Transit Coalition!
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.

The Brooklyn Bums were given a Bronx cheer when fans experienced the new parking program in place at Dodger Stadium for Opening Day. Fans who drove to the game gave positive and negative marks to the "controlled zone" parking plan, where drivers must enter and exit the same gate and are directed to parking spots. Traffic jams were reportedly larger than usual, with people reporting that it would take as much as half an hour to exit the park. Others praised the increased presence of parking staff that gives a better sense of security. It didn't help that the Dodgers lost to the Rockies , either. But some good came out of Opening Day: People loved the new all-you-can-eat Pavillion on right field!

A recent report by the Gateway Cities Council of Governments revealed that so-called "independent owner-operators" who drive trucks to and from the ports earn about $12.13 an hour after expenses and often must work well past 50 hours a week. The report will give port officials a better idea of how much money these truckers may need to spend in order to purchase cleaner tractors. While newer rigs cost $150,000, port truckers with little cash can purchase older models for as little as $2,000.

Completion of the 210 Freeway through Fontana is slated for late this year. Progress moves along, with major paving work completed. Meanwhile, residents of the Ventura County hamlet of Somis continue their fight to prevent the widening of Route 118 from two lanes to four. The county Planning Commission handed them a partial victory by recommending to the Board of Supervisors that the project be scrapped from their general plan.

Up north, San Francisco Muni will replace some of their oldest and sootiest diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids. Despite five years of pressure by the San Francisco Board of Directors, Muni was reluctant to purchase the buses because they feared they would not perform well on hills. Since then, Muni successfully tested one hybrid bus on hills. 86 buses will come to the agency over a period of weeks as it joins the growing number of agencies switching over to cleaner buses.

Interest continues to grow for the Lautenberg-Lott bill in the U.S. Congress, which would reauthorize Amtrak. An op-ed in the New York Times noted that the bill would give more power to the Surface Transportation Board in enforcing track rights on private railroads and thus improve on-time performance. Op-ed contributor Steve Hallock reasons this provision alone could improve reliability on Amtrak trains without having to increase funding.

Internationally, Associated Press reporter Ingrid Rousseau wrote about her 15-minute trip on the record-breaking French TGV, which hit 547.8 kilometers per hour during its test run.

In our requisite celebrity section, singer Hillary Duff commented on her song titled "Where's Your Dignity". Contrary to rumor, the song was based on her seeing would-be passengers in Los Angeles waiting in the rain for their bus. Duff concluded that "public transportation is pretty cool anywhere else, but in Los Angeles it sucks."

More 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 Ave. 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 this flyer for more information.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

March 28
: Montclair Mayor and Gold Line Construction Authority Member Paul Eaton gave a State of the City address. Eaton outlined efforts to bring Gold Line service to Montclair and building transit-oriented development in anticipation of the line.

April 9 : San Francisco Muni launched weekday service on the new T-Third light rail line. Several kinks were still evident at the opening, but officials hope to iron them out in the next few weeks. Some lamented the loss of a connection between several Muni lines under Market Street with the Caltrain Station. Residents of the southeast neighborhoods of San Francisco hope the light rail line will bring vitality to the otherwise gritty neighborhood, though some fear it will push lower-income residents out by attracting wealthier residents.

The Orange County Transportation Authority Board endorsed a plan to let solo drivers use carpool lanes on all freeways during off-peak times. The Board also asked Caltrans to see whether they could remove exit restrictions on the lanes and allow drivers to enter and exit wherever they wish, in the style of the newest lanes on the 22 Freeway. Caltrans will review both requests.

Once Again : For those caught unawares, The Transit Coalition has a new discussion board at transittalk.proboards37.com. Come and share your experiences and ideas with us!

Upcoming Events : California High Speed Rail Authority Scoping Meetings:

  • 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 .
  • 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.
  • Tuesday, April 17 , 6 p.m., Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles .

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

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, April 12, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los Angeles .

Metro 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 .

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, January 12, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center , 801 E. Carson St. , Carson .

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

Metro 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!

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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