Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, April 23, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 17

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.

Are You Game?: This Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner meeting, featuring Metro Rail Deputy Executive Officer 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. The Los Angeles Times printed an editorial that suggested doing away with the "Spillover" account, believing that a gas tax raise could supplant it. 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.

Metro announced Thursday, May 24 as the date for a public hearing on fare increases, which the Metro Board will attend. This has raised the ire of Bus Riders Union leader Eric Mann, who blames the increase on rail projects. The Los Angeles Times voiced their concern in an editorial, believing such a draconian raise would bring about another costly consent decree. Meanwhile, Burbank Transit tries to cope with surging demand for bus service to the North Hollywood Red Line station.

Columnist Dan Walters took exception to the North Coast Rail Authority, which has garnered numerous public subsidies while not actually improving the tracks or launching any sort of passenger or freight service. (You can view their recently updated Strategic Plan.) Meanwhile, the state Legislative Audit Committee took a look at the lengthy process of grade separation approvals. Letters to the Times came out against attempts by the state Public Utilities Commission to review grade crossings on the future Expo Line, a move that threatens to delay its opening according to officials.

Bicycle valet services are growing in California . The Long Beach Bikestation, which is next to the Blue Line Transit Mall station, opened in 1996. Since then, similar services have opened in San Francisco , Santa Barbara and Berkeley . Pasadena will soon have one next to a Gold Line stop, while Santa Monica features a valet service during its farmers market. Many include bike repair shops and offer classes for riders.

To resolve the resulting traffic crisis at Dodger Stadium, operators opened the fifth parking gate, which leads traffic onto Scott Avenue towards Glendale Boulevard and State Highway Route 2. The gate was closed by then-owner Peter O'Malley in 1996 amid complaints from neighbors. Residents are leery of the "pilot program", which would open the gate as an exit when attendance reaches 40,000 or more. This is a stark contrast to other baseball parks, in particular newer ones, where public transportation plays a meaningful and important role.

SUVs in recent years have served as scapegoats for a wide array of maladies, particularly when it comes to fuel consumption. However, concern is growing on how these vehicles may deteriorate roads on account of their weight.
Some of the most popular models weigh well past 6,000 pounds and are in excess of what some roads can tolerate. A Hummer may weigh as much as 8,600 pounds. For comparison, the Pasadena Freeway (State Highway Route 110) prohibits vehicles in excess of 6,000 lbs. The Caltrans website provides a list of truck routes and weight limits on state highways.

In light of an unseasonably dry winter, concern grows that Caltrans is not doing enough to clear brush next to its freeways. Fire inspectors from the City of Los Angeles have repeatedly asked the agency to take care of overgrown brush along its properties. Caltrans counters that it must also deal with other concerns, such as water runoff and erosion.

Even as its northern neighbor touts toll roads as the wave of the future, Mexico is picking up the pieces of its fast crumbling toll road network. Throughout the 90s, the federal government has had to bail out two dozen privatized highways to the tune of $14 billion. Worse yet, most of the highways were built on the fly and with shoddy materials. Many of the operators walked away from maintaining the highways upon the end of their short concessions, leaving behind a deteriorated plant.

In other road related news, the San Bernardino Associated Governments will soon complete signal synchronization on streets paralleling Interstate 10 and the 60 Freeway. The Los Angeles Downtown News editorialized their desire to see improvements for the Sixth Street cascading ramps that spill traffic from the 110 Freeway onto Downtown L.A. streets. Meanwhile, Dear Abby takes a shot against inattentive drivers who eat hamburgers while steering with their elbows. In Washington state, lawmakers are trying to put a stop at driving while texting on cell phones. The L.A. Times expressed initial approval of further studies for a proposal to turn Olympic and Pico Blvds. into one-way streets.

Onto airports, LAX is moving forward with several upgrades that promise to restore its position as a world-class travel center. The next executive director for Los Angeles World Airports would oversee these improvements while also resolve disputes about concessions, leases, and accommodations for mega-jets. Meanwhile, the Long Beach City Council may move forward with a plan to upgrade Long Beach Airport . See Upcoming Events below for details.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram advises that no-votes from two port commissioners on a port container fee should serve to encourage discussion between lawmakers and commissioners on how to use said fee to maximum environmental benefit.

In our humor section, "smart growth" opponents are now claiming that high density development can actually be bad to your health. Specifically, they charge that many of these developments are in downtown areas that are surrounded by freeways, a major source of air pollution.

An update on Eastside Gold Line construction is now available.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

April 17 : The Glendale City Council voted to extend a contract to operate Glendale Beeline buses for another 15 months. MV Transportation, who has operated Beeline buses for the last five years, will continue to do so until June 2008 at a cost of just under $11 million. Some believed the contract should have been extended for a shorter period of time, since the operator has not been forthcoming in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

April 22 : Venice and Santa Monica residents held a rally at Santa Monica Airport to protest an increase in jets using the airport and the ensuing pollution. Members of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution expressed worry that the airport does not have a buffer zone that could make adjacent homes less vulnerable to plane crashes and noise. Assemblymember Ted Lieu recently introduced a bill that would obligate the state to study air pollution from jets using the airport. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl believes the jets should instead use Van Nuys Airport or LAX.

April 23 : The Orange County Transportation Authority approved studying an extended Costa Mesa Freeway (State Highway Route 55) from its current end in Costa Mesa to State Highway Route 1 in Newport Beach . The move came after decades of lobbying by local officials to extend the freeway from its current end, a source of frequent bottlenecks according to leaders. An extension from I-405 to Mesa Drive opened in 1990, and another, shorter extension to 19th St . opened in the mid 1990s.

Upcoming Events : Long Beach City Council Meeting: Tuesday, April 24, 5 p.m., Council Chambers, City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd. , Long Beach . The City Council will consider authorizing the city to prepare a final design, along with a financing plan and space allocation details, for the terminal improvement project for Long Beach Airport .

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 .

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center , 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.

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 .

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, May 9, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center , Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills .

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council : Thursday, May 10, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd. , Downey .

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, May 11, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center , 801 E. Carson St. , Carson .

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, May 11, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St. , 26th floor, Los Angeles .

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, May 12, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza , Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St. , Los Angeles .

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

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.

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.

Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue on transit.