Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 25

Welcome to an 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.

Mind the Gap: Next Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Action Alert: California high speed rail is still under the guillotine! Although the state Legislature restored some funding for the High Speed Rail Authority during the budget process, the budget is now in a conference committee where last-minute changes are possible. A line-item veto by the governor also remains a threat.

Please keep the pressure on the governor's office as well as your state Senator and Assemblymember, expressing your support for full funding of this critically important project. If possible, you can also come to a BayRail Alliance meeting in San Jose to learn about the project and what is necessary to keep it alive. See Upcoming Events below for details. Still not convinced on its merits? Check out this recently completed study on the Ohio Rail Hub, which features elements of high speed rail.

Despite an increase in fuel imports, gas prices will stay high for the duration of summer. At a recent U.S. Senate hearing, energy officials blamed refinery problems, as opposed to maintenance, for the strained supplies. Meanwhile, California is scrambling to meet reduced-emissions deadlines as fast as it can, though many acknowledge it is not enough. State air quality regulators recently voted to increase the ethanol content in fuel. Congress legislators are working to stop tax brakes for oil companies and reinvest the new money in renewable fuels, while other legislators abandoned efforts to block states from placing their own emissions standards.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators continue to wrangle over the fate of high speed rail in California . Schwarzenegger proposed giving only enough funds to keep the offices of the California High Speed Rail Authority Open. The governor says he is a proponent of HSR, but wants private investors to supplement the $10 billion in public bonds, which requires a public vote that he wishes to postpone indefinitely. After the congressional delegation urged him to keep HSR on the table, Schwarzenegger retaliated by asking them to fight for federal funds to build it.

Also, a recent op-ed makes a case for sea-borne public transit along the Southern California coast. BART voted to increase night and weekend service, against expectations that the state will not fund it. The Los Angeles Downtown News gave praise to the ArtWalk shuttle that transported art lovers around the event.

Given the lack of transit projects in the pipeline, developers are building transit-oriented development where there is no transit. Rebranded as "transit-ready developments", these projects are built at suburban communities that desire a more urban feel. However, such projects can cause trouble in particular ways. A project in Rolling Hills Estate that relied on these elements was recently voted down after residents complained of the additional traffic it would bring.

Tarzana residents will not have to worry about such. Their Neighborhood Council recently proposed building a TOD at the Reseda Metro Orange Line station. Also, a public meeting to discuss TOD at the Universal City Metro Red Line station will be held in Van Nuys on Monday, June 25. See Upcoming Events for more information.


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. A monthly subscription to Moving Southern California comes with your membership. Visit our Donations page to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

 


Would you drive a car that's 104 inches long? The two-seater smart fortwo is half the size of a typical SUV and in turn relies on a reinforced steel cage, four air bags and anti-lock brakes as protection. The cars are very popular in Europe , largely because of their fuel economy, but manufacturer Mercedes-Benz had to retool the car to suit American drivers reluctant to give up roomier cars.

Rialto residents are itching to try out the last segment of the 210 Freeway. Even though its grand opening is still months away, you can come down and walk on the freeway at a ribbon-cutting event this Saturday, June 23. See Upcoming Events below for more information. On the other end of the spectrum, the price tag to redo Interstate 15 through northern San Diego County may increase to $1.29 billion, according to officials.

A battle is brewing over the expansion of the 405 Freeway in Brentwood. Angry residents are mobilizing to fight what they see as wanton property acquisition and community desecration. Particular anger goes to a proposal to widen each lanes to the federal standard of 12 feet, which would require 30 additional residential properties.

Meanwhile, prices at selected off-ramps on Orange County toll roads will rise on July 2. Inland Empire officials are urging the state to release Proposition 1B funds quickly to start work on critical projects in their area. Pasadena attempts to buy parking space at the Del Mar Metro Gold Line station and thus increase public parking for Old Town Pasadena patrons. Santa Clarita moves to remove billboards along major thoroughfares.

Traffic congestion threatens to hamper commerce in Southern California. Efforts to increase output at the ports have been controversial. Residents fear it would increase traffic on the worn 710 Freeway, while environmentalists remain dissatisfied with proposed mitigation measures. The Los Angeles Daily News editorial board hopes that this threat will give politicos the impetus to fight for mobility improvements, if only to safeguard local jobs and businesses.

Down south, interest wanes on a megaport in Baja California . Private parties that once vouched for a new port in Punta Colonet now say they are no longer interested. Lack of federal participation also proved fatal to the proposal. Now there is concern that, without any additional capacity elsewhere, local ports will be needlessly overwhelmed with increased cargo.

The fight for and against runway reconstruction at LAX continues. A Los Angeles city panel voted to conduct more studies on moving the northern runway 340 feet north, citing safety concerns. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl believes that pilot error is a greater concern, to which the airport should look into new guiding technologies. Still, Westchester residents are gearing up for a fight to stop what they believe is an undue expansion of the airport. The issue threatens to hurt the credibility of Rosendahl, who came into office promising to stop expansion but has recently suffered a string of setbacks in other political matters.


In our human interest section, the Orange County Register published a short interview of Dennis Disinger, bus driver for the Orange County Transportation Authority. Disinger has driven buses for 33 years without a single accident.

RailPAC President Paul Dyson offers updates on intercity rail, including progress on future Coast Daylight service between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the " final draft" of the LOSSAN Corridor Strategic Business Plan, and hybrid technology on diesel locomotives and diesel multiple units (DMUs).

Also, Bombardier launched a new educational website extolling the virtues and benefits of rail transport, at www.theclimateisrightfortrains.com.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

June 13 : The U.S. Census Bureau released statistics showing that 77% of American commuters continue to drive alone to work. Mass transit moves 4.7% of commuters, while carpooling accounts for 10.7%. 74% of Los Angeles residents drive to work alone, while 10.3% of commuters in Los Angeles use public transportation. However, Central Valley cities rate highly when it comes to carpooling and telecommuting. The Census Bureau website provides additional statistics.

June 14
: The Los Angeles World Airports inaugurated LAX FlyAway service from Westwood. Specifically, the bus stop is located on university property on Kinross Ave. just north of Wilshire Blvd. and one block west of Gayley Ave. adjacent to UCLA Parking Structure 32. Buses for the third FlyAway line depart every 30 minutes to the airport for $4 one-way. However, passengers can ride at no cost from June 14 to June 30.

June 15 : A federal judge ruled that an increase in terminal rent fees at LAX was unfair and discriminatory towards low-fare airlines. The judge also acknowledged that some of the increases were justified to keep up with expenses. Nevertheless, Los Angeles World Airports must refund some of the fees. The airlines expressed that this may encourage a new round of talks regarding rent fees.

Announcement : The Topanga Beach Bus will start service on Monday, June 25, offering a transit connection to the beach via Topanga Canyon Blvd. (State Highway Route 27). This year, the seasonal bus line will also serve the Warner Center Metro Orange Line station. Adult fare is 50 cents each way. Also, the Big Blue Bus will soon launch MiniBlue shuttle service in Santa Monica .

Upcoming Events: Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, June 20 and Thursday, June 21, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles . ( Supplemental agendas.)

Planning and Programming Committee, Wednesday, June 20, 12 noon.

Finance and Budget Committee and Public Hearing on FY 08 Proposed Budget, Wednesday, June 20, 2:30 p.m.

Executive Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, June 21, 9 a.m.

Construction Committee, Thursday, June 21, 10:30 a.m. CANCELLED.

Operations Committee, Thursday, June 21, 12 noon.

BayRail Alliance
Meeting: Thursday, June 21 and 26, 6:30 p.m., Poor House Bistro, 91 S. Autumn St., San Jose (two blocks from San Jos e Diridon station).

Metro Special Board Meeting on Call for Projects: Wednesday, June 20, 1 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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

Universal City Metro Red Line Station TOD Scoping Meeting
: Monday, July 25, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center , 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys. Hosted by Thomas Properties Group.

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!

California High Speed Rail Authority Meeting
: Wednesday, June 27, 10 a.m., San Mateo County Transit District Board Room, 1250 San Carlos Ave. , San Carlos.

Metro Board Meeting: Monday, June 28, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles .

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, July 5, 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, July 5, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles .

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, August 9, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los Angeles. June and July meetings cancelled.

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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