Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 22

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.

The Metro Board approved an increase in bus and rail fares, much to the consternation of transit users. Board members fashioned a more modest proposal that would call for increases over 5 years. Starting Sunday, July 1, day passes are $5 and monthly passes are $62. The cash fare of $1.25 will increase to $1.50 in 2009. Seniors can also take advantage of a special cash fare for off-peak periods, weekends and holidays. Metro has a chart detailing the new prices.

Over 1,500 people arrived at Metro Gateway Headquarters to take part in the fare hearings. Most expressed anger at the Metro proposal. Not surprisingly, the Bus Riders Union came out to protest the increases while claiming "transit racism". In a failed attempt to appease transit users and the BRU, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a 10% increase in fares and passes, a reduction in rail service and the purchase of new buses on credit, a plan the Board soundly rejected. Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed, Vice President Jerard Wright and member Damien Goodmon testified before the Board on the increases, with Goodmon providing his statement online. The increases also, somehow, threaten rail expansion in Los Angeles.

The issue made good copy in the papers. The Los Angeles Times editorial suggested that the two extreme proposals were a red herring to stir up excitement, even though the Board knew it would accept a middle-of-the-road proposal anyway. The Los Angeles Daily News editorial implored the Board to think up of other ways to expand rapid transit while searching for revenue sources other than the farebox. Columnist Steve Lopez reasoned that everyone, including Metro, stands to lose from the increases. Lopez also pondered other sources of revenue for transit operations. The Daily News published an editorial responding to the vote. Letters to the Times expressed subsequent opinions on the increase.

Legislative News: State Assemblymember Ted Lieu wrote an op-ed that faulted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for cutting transit funds for the budget. Fortunately, a state Senate subcommittee rejected the governor's proposal and instead restored the full $1.3 billion into the budget.

In other transit news, the Beach Shuttle that serves Venice and Marina del Rey will add a stop at Fisherman's Village. The shuttle will operate Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as holidays, from Friday, May 25th, to Monday, September 3
rd. Antelope Valley residents took advantage of a special beach bus during the Memorial Day weekend. Letters to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin dismisses recent Foothill Gold Line ridership estimates as too low.

Also, interest grows to convert Broadway in Downtown L.A. into a transit mall. Plans move ahead for a major regional transit hub in Anaheim. To the southeast, a judge ordered the OCTA and a labor union to meet and reach a settlement on wages for bus drivers.

Donate and Join The Transit Coalition
: We have a tough fight, as the Mayor and some media want to kill or damage rail transit. Your financial help is needed to build opposition to these ill informed actions. Do you want to save and 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, as well as this weekly eNewsletter. Visit our Donations page to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

A recent poll revealed that, despite ever increasing gas prices, drivers are not changing their habits. This has forced experts to reevaluate just what price per gallon of gas would trigger a major change of behavior. Increased income and disparate urban planning that encourages car travel are blamed for the inertia.

Meanwhile, the Daily Breeze published a letter forum about a state proposal to ban oil companies from spiking prices during refinery shutdowns. State and federal officials are concerned that gas supplies in California, already offering little slack, could worsen if not prepared for future disasters. And here's a shocker for you: The United States comes in dead last in fuel efficiency. Most holiday drivers showed resignation at the high gas prices, even as interest for smaller cars grows and electric cars stalls.

Somewhat related, the research arm of the American Trucking Associations published a report concluding that increased fuel taxes, and not toll roads or privatization schemes, are the best way to address transportation project financing from the perspective of users. Researchers claimed that collection costs for fuel taxes range from 3 to less than 1 percent of revenue, while toll collection revenue-to-cost ratios exceed 21 percent. Privatization would also hurt rural communities, since private enterprises would not want to own lightly-trafficked though essential roads, according to the study.

Flyover ramps between the soon-to-be-opened 210 Freeway extension and Interstate 215 in San Bernardino will open later than expected due to seismic issues. This prompted the San Bernardino Sun to issue a reprimanding editorial, even though the freeway will otherwise open on time later this year. Plans to improve I-405 could become messy if the two counties that house the freeway do not cooperate early on.

Also, Westside and Sepulveda Pass residents are grumbling at a proposal to add reversible lanes on Sepulveda Blvd., fearing that the street would become a "mini-freeway". Caltrans must perform a juggling act between preserving homes and attaining right-of-way for carpool lanes on the San Diego Freeway. The Orange County Transportation Authority is inviting you to participate in a survey concerning the South Orange County Major Investment Study.

The L.A. Times featured an op-ed by cyclist Will Campbell, who believes that a bicyclist should be given the same rights and responsibilities as drivers according to law. Campbell contends that in doing so, bicyclists would have full access to vehicle lanes and thus not be relegated to striped bike lanes, which in any case are few and far between. Bicyclists wrote various responses to Campbell , though all agreed that the current situation is unsafe and unacceptable.

State air regulators released a study stating that people living near rail yards are at a much higher risk of cancer than the rest of the population. Residents in Commerce are especially susceptible, since they reside next to round-the-clock rail yards operated by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. A meeting at Commerce City Hall attracted irate community members that pressed for action.

The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are gearing up for major expansion. With trade across the Pacific on the rise, the two ports want to stay relevant in light of increased competition from other ports. One potential stumbling block is the need to balance environmental needs and concerns from the community while expanding.

In Oxnard , a freshman councilmember and a local attorney crafted a proposed ballot initiative that would discourage excessive development. The proposal would block certain housing and commercial development projects within five miles of an intersection considered too congested, or whose traffic flow rated by city planners is below a "C". Nationally, Houston residents are disappointed that a recently announced transportation plan did not include enough projects.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

May 21: Transit Coalition President Kenneth S. Alpern and other advocates held a forum in Westchester to explain to interested community members the merits of extending the Metro Green Line to Los Angeles International Airport. Particular focus was given on a bill (AB-889) by state Assemblymember Ted Lieu to create a construction authority that would build the extension, but Metro is trying to kill.

May 23 : The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would declare price-gouging on gasoline a federal offense. The legislation would give federal authorities the power during declared energy emergencies to investigate and prosecute anyone selling fuel at a price that is "unconscionably excessive" or "indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage unusual market conditions." U.S. Congress is trying to placate the livid masses by passing or introducing a flurry of energy bills.

The California High Speed Rail Authority Board voted to pursue an initial operating segment from Anaheim to San Francisco via Los Angeles and Palmdale. San Diego and Sacramento were notably left out while other complications remain. The initial segment could be opened by as early as 2017. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to scale back funds for planning and postpone a bond vote on the matter. Board executive director Mehdi Moshed also noted that MagLev plans in Southern California are also complicating efforts.

Nevertheless, the Assembly appropriated $50 million for the Authority, while a Senate subcommittee voted to give $45.2 million the previous day. Columnist George Skelton gave thumbs down to the governor for repeatedly delaying the project.

Rejoice! Starting Thursday, June 14, UCLA will host FlyAway service to LAX, making it the third location to offer direct airport bus service. Specifically, buses will stop at Lot 32 on Kinross Ave. in Westwood. To celebrate, Los Angeles World Airports will offer unlimited rides at no cost to everyone until June 30, at which point the newly increased regular fare of $4 each way will apply. Buses will operate every half hour from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Upcoming Events Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, June 6, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent 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.

Metro 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 .

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, June 11 and 25, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St. , Orange .

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council
: Monday, June 11, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte .

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, June 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center , Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills .

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council : Thursday, June 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd. , Downey .

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, June 26 - 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!

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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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