Weekly Transit eNewsletter
June 25, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 26
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.
Requested: This Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition dinner
meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.
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.
is making the rounds on YouTube. In it, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
is asked by a student about the Exposition light rail line to Santa Monica . In
answering the question, Villaraigosa revealed that the detour route on Venice
and Sepulveda Blvds. would cost some $300 million more than if it stayed on the
The Pasadena Star News published an editorial promoting
transit-oriented development. Pasadena ushered in a new era in planning when it
encouraged mixed-use projects along the Gold Line. This has prompted other cities
along the future Gold Line to Montclair to sprout TODs of their own. One major
selling point is that many of these TODs are exempt from pricey parking regulations.
LA County Supervisor Don Knabe announced that paratransit services in
Marina del Rey and elsewhere in his district will be funded through FY 08.
The California Transportation Commission doled out $70 million for transportation
projects in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties , which includes $11 million
to study and design a second track or siding north of Gaviota. Burbank Bus received
$3 million to replace its fleet
and launch a hybrid electric fuel cell bus. The Gateway Cities of southeast LA
County will soon build various transportation
improvements, including new bicycle lanes.
Transit agencies across
the nation are implementing their own improvements. Atlanta MARTA takes final steps in
implementing TAP technology at its train stations. Chicago police officers on
patrol will soon be able to tap into video systems
aboard buses instantly.
Carpool lanes in California are facing criticism
from the federal government. Many of the lanes are clogged on a regular
basis, which in turn slows the lanes down. Some say increased usage by hybrid
vehicles is to blame, while Caltrans argues that population growth is the culprit.
Some solutions might
be in order, including upping the minimum amount of persons in a car to 3
at certain hours. The matter prompted an editorial from
the Los Angeles Daily News.
Thank you for your donations! We
would like to express our gratitude for your donations, which help us prepare
materials and educate elected officials, community activists and business leaders
on transportation issues. If you have not done so yet, you can still 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.
California State Assembly approved three bills aimed at holding oil companies
accountable for gas price hikes. Two of those bills ( AB 1610 and AB 1552) would
require companies to hand over information on refinery shutdowns and supplies
at the request of state regulators. A third bill would commission a study into
how heat expansion by gasoline affects what the consumer buys. Also, a fourth
bill, AB 118, would charge
an estimated $130 million a year
in additional vehicle fees for alternative-fuel research and other clean-air
The bills come as a response to increasingly ineffective
probes that get more attention than answers. Critics blasted the bills as
exploitative of public antipathy towards gas companies. Perhaps because of said
antipathy, Californians are buying less fuel
for the second year in a row. Increase in purchases of hybrids, more carpooling,
and less driving in general are cited as reasons for the decrease.
Los Angeles Times is running an expose on safety issues regarding U-Haul
trucks. Customers were more than happy to describe their horror stories when operating
U-Haul equipment. "Trailer sway," as the company calls it, is the leading
cause of accidents, and many shattered lives
have resulted. The towing company regulates its own fleet,
thanks to efforts in the '60s and '70s to fight federal safety controls. Last
year, a California judge ruled in favor of customers that the company had engaged
in " unlawful and fraudulent
business practices" by rejecting reservations because equipment is unavailable.
Research by the Times revealed that many of the trucks have high mileage
and need long-overdue safety
checks. U-Haul argues that, statistically, drivers are less likely to get
into an accident when using their trailers than by towing nothing at all.
Chairman Edward J. "Joe" Shoen went so far as to drive Times reporters
while using one of the ubiquitous trailers. If anything, Shoen claims, driver
error is the cause of many trailer accidents. (Here is a brief summary about
Are self-controlling cars
in our future? It's possible, according to the Stanford Racing Team. Their
driverless Volkswagen Passat wagon named Junior will take part in the 2007 Urban
Challenge. Whereas past competitions focused on speed, the total of 52 entrants
will also employ technologies that would make the automobile a self-driving "robot".
About $2 million in prize money will be given at the competition, which will occur
Looks like the Punta Colonet megaport project is back on track.
The Mexican federal government claims it will start searching for bids on its
construction before this December. Federal, state and Ensenada city officials
recently held a meeting discussing developments. Officials say they are also listening
to property owners and community members around the area of the proposed port.
Back home, tractor dealers see new regulations on seaport trucks as
a boon for sales.
One dealer informs that truckers are increasingly on the lookout for models that
meet new standards from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 16,000 trucks
would have to be replaced in the next five years, should the Ports of Long Beach
and Los Angeles adopt the new regulations. Some truckers may be able to take advantage
of credits towards cleaner tractors.
In our human interest section,
the former El Toro Marine Base is home to one of the largest
RV parks in the nation. People come from across the country and around the
world to experience the area, while locals take advantage of one of the few places
where they can park their RVs. Rent fees are used to pay for the ongoing Orange
County Great Park project. With construction progressing, the lease on the land
used to house the RVs will expire this September, a matter that is troubling users
who cannot find a space for their RVs in other towns.
Los Angeles Department
of Transportation and Metro lost out on a share of $1.2 billion to implement "congestion
charging" and tolling schemes on its roads. How could that happen? Times
columnist Steve Hymon explores the situation
: The Thunderhead Alliance
is an organization dedicated to providing bicycle and pedestrian advocates the
tools necessary to carry out and win campaigns. The Thunderhead Training
seminar, an intense curriculum on how to effectively fight for improvements, is
coming to Los Angeles on August 24-26. Here, you can learn from expert coaches
and each other through Thunderhead's proven curriculum on choosing, directing,
and winning campaigns and to promote complete streets, where walking and bicycling
are safe and commonplace. You can view the schedule or
register for the event
(the latter form features registration fee information).
is a list of other recent developments:
20 : The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
approved H.R. 2701, the Transportation Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation
Act of 2007 (the "climate change bill"). The bill would provide
$1.65 billion over two years for grants to transit agencies that reduce fares
to encourage commuters to switch to mass transit, and $200 million over four years
to encourage the use of "green" locomotives that emit less carbon dioxide.
In relation to said bill, Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) introduced, and summarily
withdrew, an amendment that would have made Amtrak's right of access to railroad
lines subject to route-by-route findings by the U.S . DOT secretary that Amtrak's
right was not increasing highway congestion, fossil fuel use, air pollution or
greenhouse gas emissions by delaying freight trains. Freight railroads and Amtrak
opposed the amendment. The National Association
of Railroad Passengers (NARP) expressed their opposition in a letter. Amtrak President
Alex Kummant sent a letter to the Committee saying that the amendment would have
negative impacts on the entire Amtrak network outside of the Northeast Corridor.
June 22 : The California Air Resources Board voted to implement
measures to regulate greenhouse gases. A new low-carbon fuel standard, the
control of do-it-yourself automotive refrigerants and use of more sophisticated
trash dump technology were the three measures approved, out of a mandated 32 measures.
( Some of these initiatives
were spelled out by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a recent meeting with
U.S. mayors.) Also staff was ordered to come back in six months with an analysis
of concerns raised during six hours of public hearings in Los Angeles .
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted
to support the California high speed rail project. Transit Coalition Executive
Director Bart Reed and Student Member Justin Walker testified before the Council
on the importance of backing a nearly $10 billion bond to partly fund the project.
Afterwards, Reed and Walker presented transit briefings to the staff
of Councilmember Wendy Greuel and Council President Eric Garcetti.
June 23 : Rialto hosted a ribbon-cutting festival
for the 210 Freeway. The family event featured go-karts, skateboarding, and plenty
of food. The Rialto portion would be the last after a 40-year
struggle to complete both the 210 and the 30 Freeways through Southern California.
Officials were mum as to when exactly the freeway would open, though many hinted
that the target date was in August.
: Al Langer, founder of the world-famous Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant,
died on Sunday,
June 24, at the age of 94. How is this related to transportation? As it so happens,
the restaurant, which is famous for its hot pastrami, is located at 7th and Alvarado,
near the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro Red and Purple Lines station. While other
businesses moved away, Langer's stayed behind and showed faith in its community.
Langer's celebrated its 60th anniversary just two weeks before.
Events: 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
Meeting: Tuesday, June 26, 6:30 p.m., Poor House Bistro, 91 S. Autumn St., San
Jose (two blocks from San Jos e Diridon station).
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 .
Orange County Transportation
Authority Board Meeting: Monday, July 9, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main
St. , Orange .
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.
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About The Transit Coalition:
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