Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 16

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.

Mark Your Calendars: Next Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner meeting, featuring Metro Rail Deputy CEO Melvin Clark. See Upcoming Events below for details.

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. Columinst Daniel Weintraub, however, offered a counterpoint argument stating that local transportation districts should not depend on state dollars to fund their operations. 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.

A study conducted by the City of
New York revealed that the Big Apple produces nearly 1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The study also revealed that each New York City resident produces less than a third of the emissions generated by the average American. This was attributed to their dependence on an extensive mass transit system, which cuts down on emissions.   Other methods of reducing emissions, such as energy-saving traffic signals, green buildings, and alternative fuel vehicles, have helped, according to the study. Locally, a growth blueprint for San Bernardino County may be thrown out because it fails to adequately address emissions resulting from future increases in population.

A showdown is looming between the Expo Construction Authority and the state Public Utilities Commission over grade crossings for the future light rail line. The Authority fears that intervention this late in the process could add delays and millions of dollars to the project. Residents are taking their plight to the Commission, while County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke believes efforts would be better spent on finding funds to elevate the line at Dorsey High School .

Grumbling continues for the much-loathed "controlled zone" parking system at Dodger Stadium. April 15 was Jackie Robinson Day, which guaranteed near-record crowds for the two weekend home games. One veteran parking attendant noted an increase in aggressive driving and obscenities directed at attendants. Particular scorn went to owner Frank McCourt, himself a parking magnate. Stadium and transportation officials nevertheless believe the program will improve the traffic situation if fans give it a chance. Another letter to the Los Angeles Times suggests restoring shuttle service between Metro Rail and the stadium.

Reader opinions abounded elsewhere. A Redlands resident chided at the suggestion that bus drivers should be exempt from getting tickets for red-light violations. Letters to the Times expressed appreciation to a recent article on public art at Metro Rail stations. Some expressed disdain at the barrage of advertisements cropping up at these stations. One letter reprimanded the writer for suggesting that subways are dangerous during an earthquake, while a later letter suggested that elevated portions of the rail system are more susceptible.

Santa Clarita is spending $2 million to build and beautify bus stops in their community. The improvement would do away with bench advertising and instead bring public art to bus stops. Rides on the Sprinter rail line between Escondido and Oceanside may have higher fares than its bus counterparts when it opens this December.

The price of gasoline continues to escalate. As a result, Californians purchased less gasoline in 2006 than the year before, breaking a years-long trend to consume more. Increased use of public transportation, more hybrids on the road, and simple conservation played major factors in the decline. Officials assure that gas prices will be lower on average than last summer. Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods Inc. are coming together to produce biodiesel from animal fat. A delicious development indeed.

Feeling achy and tired? Blame your commute. Research shows that the more time you spend in traffic, the more likely you will develop high blood pressure and back problems, among other maladies. Motorists cannot even spend time to exercise or take part in physical therapy because of their time-consuming commutes, according to doctors. Leaving early to work is also becoming less effective in beating traffic. Meanwhile, transportation theorists ponder quick-fix solutions to the traffic crisis.

Donate and 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 please donate and join 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. However, volunteers may go to Washington or Sacramento to speak with elected officials, but without your support, we might not have money to bring them back. 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 road news, progress rolls along for a widening of the I-10 in Redlands . The Press Enterprise editorialized their anger at Assemblymember Pedro Nava, who is fronting a bill that would make Caltrans the sole planner for highway projects. The conservation group American Rivers added The San Mateo Creek, which goes through the San Onofre State Beach, to their annual list of endangered waterways due to the threat of a possible toll road through the park.

The state has embarked on an inventory of seaport terminals to determine which are the most dangerous. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are major handlers of petroleum products, and officials believe disastrous spills would occur if dock upgrades are not performed. Indeed, one incident last August had the potential to bring such a disaster to the two ports. Meanwhile, the two ports released a plan that would introduce cleaner diesel tractors while phasing out the current system of independent truck operators.

The U.S. Senate launched hearings on a bill of rights for airline passengers. Amidst increasing delays and horror stories, the Department of Transportation prepared an audit last year revealing that only five of the 12 airlines that signed a voluntary 1999 customer service commitment had systems in place to meet their promises. Critics believe that market forces alone would yield improvements.

Onto airport matters, the Los Angeles City Airport Commissions could face a lawsuit from two parking companies. The commission awarded a contract to a third company that is worth $120 million over 5 years. Also, a security enhancement project at LAX is encountering major delays and will cost more than 2 times the estimates. Flights from the East Coast are also experiencing delays, mainly because of an intense Nor'easter that kept planes grounded.

Up north, AC Transit brought a pair of highly controversial buses to a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission of the San Francisco Bay Area. Officials released a plan that aims to make Oakland more bicycle-friendly by 2012.

The Sacramento Bee complimented Assemblymember Dave Jones of Sacramento for scripting AB 842, a bill that would encourage compact development, schools and jobs near transit and within walking distance. The editorial noted that the increased driving times for California counters state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier, letters to the editor covered various transportation and planning issues in the Sacramento area. Nearby, Placer County officials mull about bringing a sales tax measure for transportation to voters.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

April 10 : The National Transportation Safety Board urged the Federal Aviation Administration to allow air traffic controllers more rest between shifts. The Board cited the Comair plane crash in Lexington last year and several recent close calls where fatigue played a role. One challenge is that many of their working schedules are established by controllers themselves. Another challenge is the lack of controllers, which in turn forces existing controllers to work overtime.

BART General Manager Thomas Margro announced his resignation after serving the rail agency since 1996, the longest tenure by a general manager to date. An engineer by profession, Margro oversaw extensions to the East Bay and San Francisco International Airport , as well as seismic improvements to the system. Margro will leave the post on June 29.

April 11 : The Riverside County Transportation Commission voted to set aside $77 million for rail crossing grade separations. One official, however, believes a sales tax would be necessary to pay for a backlog of other key crossings. The Commission identified 18 projects, of which 4 are fully funded and are in the design stage.

April 14 : Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed spoke to the Transportation Committee of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils Congress. Reed provided an overview of the past, present and potential future of rail transit in LA County, including subways, light rail, Metrolink and Amtrak.  He explained why some projects have not fulfilled their promise, what is being done today to fix those challenges and what still needs to be done.

April 16 : The state Assembly Transportation Committee almost unanimously approved AB 889, which would create a Green Line construction authority. Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed testified before the committee on how the bill, if enacted, would expedite construction of the Green Line through LAX and beyond. Also present was Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, an ardent supporter of the Green Line extension who testified his support for the bill. The bill will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Local government next Wednesday.

Also, Reed met with Dan Leavitt of the California High Speed Rail Authority and briefed him on local transportation developments.

A Los Angeles County study concluded that converting Olympic and Pico Blvds. into one-way streets would increase road capacity by 20%. Some believe that the idea could supplant desire to bring the subway to the Westside. Others, including LADOT General Manager Gloria Jeff, oppose the idea. Residents are concerned that such a setup would increase traffic on residential streets.

Upcoming Events : California High Speed Rail Authority Scoping Meeting: Tuesday, April 17 , 6 p.m., Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, 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 . ( Supplemental agendas.)

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, April 23 and May 14, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St. , Orange .

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 . Metro Rail Deputy Executive Officer Melvin Clark will be the speaker. ( Map.) We hope to see you there!

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, April 27, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building , 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St. , Los Angeles .

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

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority : Thursday, May 3, 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, May 3, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles .

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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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