Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, May 21, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 21
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.
Succumb to Temptation:
This Tuesday is The Transit Coalition Dinner
Meeting. Join us and listen to our guest speaker, Expo Line Construction Authority
CEO Rick Thorpe. See Upcoming Events below for details.
and High Speed Rail Must Be Saved: Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his revised budget proposal,
which includes a
further slash of transit funds, cutting $1.3 billion statewide. Metro stands
$230 million under the proposed budget, which could trigger steep fare hikes
and hit the most vulnerable transit users. (A chart comparing
the proposed budgets released in January and May is available.) Please read
and benefits of the Spillover account courtesy of Cal-PIRG, and learn how you
The governor also plans to hamstring the budget for the California
High Speed Rail Authority. Though the development threatens further development
of HSR, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle expressed
hope in the project even as his city looks to build a major transportation
center that would accommodate it. Take a look at this letter
in support of HSR, courtesy of Bay Rail Alliance, so that you can inform yourself
on the importance of this project and write your letters to elected officials.
Transit agencies across the state are bracing for a major cash crunch. Sacramento
RT is already thinking about raising
fares and cutting bus service should funds prove unavailable. Some deem his
transit-slashing actions as an act
of hypocrisy, given his otherwise friendly stance towards the environment
and his intentions to reduce greenhouse emissions in the state. The cuts threaten
construction of much-needed carpool lanes on the 10 Freeway between the 605
and 57 Freeways. The chief budged analyst for the state Legislature concluded
that many of the short-term fixes proposed in his budget may actually worsen
In turn, Los
Angeles officials took
part of the annual lobbying trip to the Capitol, with the sole goal of attaining
needed funds for transit, among other priorities. Los Angeles City Councilmember
and Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel expressed her discontent
and promised to fight the cuts. Columnist George Skelton scolded the governor
these numbers in various ways, among them transferring Spillover funds to
school buses that his budget considers "public transportation".
Do not forget that this Thursday, May 24, is the Metro Board public meeting,
where Board members will vote whether to increase bus fares
as proposed. The Southern California Transit Advocates released their official
position on the increases.
In response to the massively popular but
unfortunately crowded Orange Line, Metro will roll out with a 65-foot
articulated bus in June. With the extra five feet in comparison with the current
60-footers, the prototype bus can hold an additional 14 passengers. Should the
trial succeed in relieving the crowds, Metro will phase in these longer buses.
Transportation consultant Richard Stanger released an evaluation
of the Orange Line. While the report praised the busway for easier boarding, environmental
mitigation and state-of-the-art buses, the report also faulted the line for its
lack of signal preemption and slow end-to-end trip times. The evaluation concluded
that light rail would have provided more capacity while traveling at an average
of 29 miles per hour (including stops) versus 20 miles per hour for Orange Line
As Congress becomes increasingly reluctant to raise the federal
gas tax, states are scrambling to find new
sources of revenue for transportation projects and maintenance. Most will
aim for new sales taxes, while others are looking into toll roads as a source
of revenue. Some states have opted to peg their gas taxes to inflation. In particular,
a gas tax that rises according to the price of gasoline. When the Highway Trust
Fund was set up in the 1950s, gas was at 30 cents a gallon and the excise tax
was 3 cents per gallon. Had such a rate continued, current federal gas tax would
be about 34 cents, instead of 18.4 cents frozen since 1993.
winding down on the 22 Freeway, focus now turns to landscaping.
15,000 shrubs and 1,500 trees will be planted to beautify the freeway while providing
a noise barrier for neighbors. A bill in the state Legislature would devolve highway-naming
back to Caltrans. The federal Environmental Protection Agency released new
criteria that would allow only the most fuel-efficient hybrids to use HOV
Cities in Ventura
County are trying
to cope with gas price increases. Thousand
Oaks will wind up paying as much as $460,000 just to fuel
their fleet of maintenance vehicles. Even as cities usually receive discounts
on fuel, the point becomes moot when prices rise with or without discount. The
increases are particularly painful for smaller cities like Santa
Paula , which buy their fuel from local gas stations using
a business account, instead of buying in bulk like other cities.
Meanwhile, columnist Bill Lascher expressed
his appreciation for public transportation and alternative forms of commuting
in Ventura County
. Of note is the VISTA bus system, which connects Ventura
County cities with one another.
Also, the county
announced that it is working with Union Pacific Railroad to build a pedestrian
crossing at the Metrolink Camarillo station that is friendly
to people using walkers.
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. A monthly subscription to Moving
Southern California comes with your membership. Visit our Donations page
to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Bike To Work Day : Bicyclists celebrated the occasion on Thursday,
May 17, with a rally at Hollywood & Western that featured a Bike Ride to City
Hall to "Bang the Drum!" Roughly 60 cyclists took part in this event.
Pictures of the event are provided at blogdowntown
the latter also featuring a video of the event. Caltrans Director Doug Failing
and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Larry Frank awaited folks at City Hall and expressed
the importance of variety in transportation options. The event was coordinated
by Illuminate L.A.
Our PowerPoint presentation regarding
one-way streets is now
Here is a list
of other recent developments:
8 : The Placentia City Council and its Planning Commission approved
an environmental report for a Placentia Metrolink station in a joint meeting.
The vote paves the way for the city to bid on the $30 million project, $16.5 of
which will be covered by the Orange County Transportation Authority. The OCTA
Board may release $2.1 million for the project this June.
14 : Santa
Barbara health officials and local politicos held a meeting
of the newly formed "Coalition for Community Wellness," a task force
that intends to receive input on the health
effects of urban sprawl. Officials agreed that poor planning that is centered
on automobile use can increase obesity and diabetes cases. Some called for increased
dense development in downtown Santa
Barbara as one way to solve the problem. Dates for future
meetings are available at www.youplansb.org.
May 15 : A federal judge ruled in favor of low-cost and
international airlines using LAX, saying that fees imposed by the Los Angeles
World Airports on these carriers was "
unreasonable and discriminatory". The airlines in question contended
that the fees at Terminals 1 and 3 were unfair since airlines that were leasing
terminals kept their lower rents, thus placing them at a competitive disadvantage.
LAWA argued that the fees were necessary to reduce what they believed were subsidies
to the airlines. LAWA intended to use the fees for airport improvements and security
The American Automobile Association called on the U.S.
Senate to investigate why oil companies are reaping in massive profits while
gas prices climb due to refinery glitches. Oil companies contend that increased
demand for gasoline, especially in California
, and the lack of capacity to refine oil are driving prices up. Some
noted that the gas refining business is unique in that production troubles actually
17 : Representatives from dockworkers unions and shipping
companies reached an agreement
for early labor talks. This is a change of pace from 2002, where a major impasse
led to an 11-day lockout for port workers. Current contracts expire in 2008.
The state Assembly approved a bill that
would make it easier to install electronic
advertising billboards next to highways. Assemblymember and bill author Fiona
Ma believes it is time to promote new advertising technologies that can also inform
motorists on emergencies when necessary. Officials, however, claim that electronic
billboards are a major distraction for motorists, citing a notorious billboard
at the Oakland
that has been the source of numerous driver complaints.
Upcoming Events : Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, May 22 - 7 p.m. to
8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original, 1001
N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA
90012 . Expo Line Metro
Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe will be the speaker. ( Map.)
We hope to see you there!
Subway Community Outreach Meeting: Tuesday, May 22, 6 to 8 p.m., Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822
Wilshire Boulevard , Westwood.
Metro Special Board Meeting: Thursday, May
24, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles
. This is your opportunity to express your concerns about the proposed
Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Tuesday, May 29,
9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600
Main St. , Orange .
San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, June 6, 6:30 p.m., Marvin
Center , 6262
Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.
Exposition Metro Line Construction
Authority : Thursday, June 7, 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,
June 7, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire
Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles.
South Bay Governance Council: Friday, June 8, 9.30 a.m., Carson
Community Center , 801
E. Carson St. , Carson .
Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday,
June 9, 1 p.m., Angelus
Plaza , Rm. 422, 255
S. Hill St. , Los Angeles .
Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council
: Monday, June 11, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near
El Monte bus station), El
Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, June 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega
, Sunset Room, 325
S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills
Gateway Cities Governance Council : Thursday, June 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240
Firestone Blvd. , Downey .
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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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