Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, July 2, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 27

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.

Action Alert: The state Budget Conference Committee allotted $40 million from the $1.1 billion Spillover towards high speed rail. Add $15.5 million from Proposition 116 funds, and HSR received a total of $55 million. $710 million was allotted for transit, while the remaining $551 million will go to transportation for the disabled, Proposition 42 and debt repayment. However, the budget must now go to the desk of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, where a line-item veto remains a threat. At this time, please direct your emails towards the governor's office, expressing your support for full funding of this critically important project and the transit dollars needed to keep buses and trains moving.

Better yet, do any of the following:

(1) Call Governor Schwarzenegger at 916-445-2841;

(2) Fax the Governor at 916-327-1009;

(3) Call Senator Don Perata at 510-286-1333 or 916-651-4009;

(4) Contact Assembly Speaker Fabian Nez at 916-319-2046 or Speaker.Nunez@assembly.ca.gov;

(5) Contact Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman at 916-651-4033 or http://republican.sen.ca.gov /web/33/feed.asp; and/or

(6) Get your friends and family who live in the Central Valley/Fresno area to contact Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines at 916-319-2029.

(Contact information courtesy of BayRail Alliance.)

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Zev Yaroslavsky has been at the forefront of transportation improvements in Southern California. His efforts to improve public transportation were the subject of an interview with Metro Investment Report. Yaroslavsky revealed that much of the traffic headaches can be found on the Westside. While options such as converting Olympic and Pico Blvds. are considered (it being the subject of a recent town hall meeting ), rapid transit will still play a major role in Westside mobility. "In looking at the long term, the extension of the subway offers the most promise," Yaroslavsky concluded.

Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties get ready for two major transportation projects: A widening of the 101 Freeway and 2 new sidings along the Union Pacific Coast route. Placentia got some train horn relief when a "quiet zone" through the city went into effect last weekend. Similarly, work begins to reroute Union Pacific train tracks in Pomona, which promises relief from train noise and vibrations.

Amtrak and GrandLuxe Rail Journeys (formerly American Orient Express) are teaming up to attach seven special GrandLuxe cars to regularly scheduled Amtrak trains. More than 90 departures are scheduled from November to early January. The new service, dubbed GrandLuxe Limited, will be available on the California Zephyr from Emeryville to Chicago and on the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago .

A recent study on how transit-oriented developments in Los Angeles affect travel behavior revealed disappointing results : Few people who live in them actually use the transit system. Worse yet, the amenities that come with them tend to attract more traffic. The Los Angeles Times performed its own survey of TOD residents that concluded most of them still used their car to work, largely because rail lines do not reach desired destinations and job centers are moving away from transit centers. Nevertheless, proponents believe TODs will be a crucial element to rein in growth and mobility from now on.

So how does it feel like to commute between the Inland Empire and Orange County ? Take a look at this article from the Riverside Press-Enterprise. One particular Metrolink commuter revealed that driving from her home in San Bernardino to her work in Stanton would take 3 hours, whereas taking Metrolink for part of the trip reduces the travel time to 2 1/2 hours.

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 new and improved Donations page to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

Would you like to drive down the Santa Monica Freeway, without actually handling the steering wheel? If you can't find a chauffeur, perhaps the " smart car" would suit you. Scientists are studying ways of completely automating car travel. Engineers believe Intelligent Transport vehicle systems can solve numerous ailments of driving, from road capacity management to accident prevention.

As if it wasn't common knowledge already, the Reason Foundation would like you to know California drivers deal with some of the worst traffic in the nation. Their ostensibly reliable report concluded that only six other states have traffic worse than here. However, most believe that the expense and difficulty of obtaining right-of-way makes freeway expansions prohibitive. In response, some believe congestion pricing ( perhaps at LAX ) can help ease existing road capacity, while others believe public transportation is the way to go.

Los Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl mulls a motion to ask Santa Monica to mitigate any traffic in Pacific Palisades resulting from construction of an upgraded California Incline. Snazzy credit card parking meters went up on the curbs of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills , even as Los Angeles considers doing the same. Caltrans is finishing up work on 29 projects in the state that promise immediate congestion relief. Readers respond to concerns (and a Daily News editorial) that carpool lanes in Southern California are clogging up. ( Map)

South Bay Representative Maxine Waters introduced a bill in Congress that would prohibit the relocation of the northernmost runway of LAX.   Residents have long opposed the controversial proposal since it would bring the runway hundreds of feet closer to Westchester. Rosendahl stalled the proposal earlier this month by demanding a review of runway safety that would take new technologies into account.

Officials from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach delayed consideration of its Clean Trucks Program, which offered sweeping changes to port operations including banning owner-operators from entering the port. The Clean Trucks Program would allow only trucks that were licensed concessionaires, driven by company employee drivers and would have to meet 2007 emissions standards by 2013. Any truck built before 1989 wouldn't be allowed onto the port after January 1. To promote cleaner rigs, 27 truckers staged a convoy down the Harbor Freeway, with little recognition from passing cars.

Meanwhile, shippers and their clerical workers continue labor contract negotiations. A walkout, which has been authorized by laborers, threatens to shut down the ports. Further south, a proposed megaport in Colonet , Baja California , could act as a safety valve that could give ports north of the border some relief form burgeoning Asian imports.

The recently adopted FY 08 budget for Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority reflects a booming business for the below-grade freight rail route. Cargo volumes through the Alameda Corridor have increased to more than 54 freight trains and 13,600 twenty-foot containers daily, twice the amount from when the railway opened in April 2002.   ACTA estimates it will collect more than $95 million in user fees and container charges next year, in addition to government grants. The budget also forecasts $27.1 million for capital expenses and $80.4 million for debt repayment.

One of the most ubiquitous cars on the planet can be found in droves on the streets of India . The Ambassador is not exactly a car that screams luxury and high class, with its derby-hat-like design and all. Nevertheless, the car has been an iconic figure in the subcontinent for the last 50 years. Indeed, white-colored, window-tinted versions of the car are often used to transport political figures, to the point where some say that India is governed in the back seat of an "Amby".

Shameless Plug : 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).

Announcement : The Riverside Transit Agency is offering express beach bus service, departing from Temecula and Murrieta shortly before 9 a.m. and arriving at Oceanside an hour later, for a round-trip fare of $3.75.The bus offers riders free satellite television and wireless Internet access. There are three buses each way during the week.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

June 26 : Union Pacific submitted a modernization plan for its Intermodal Container Transfer Facility to the Port of Los Angeles . UP plans to replace 10 diesel-powered gantry cranes with 39 electric-powered, railmounted cantilever gantry cranes. The new cranes will enable the company to remove 71 of its 73 diesel-powered truck tractors. The remaining two diesel trucks will be replaced with alternative-fuel vehicles, according to the company.

June 27 : A Los Angeles Superior Court judge refused a request by the Bus Riders Union, Labor/Community Strategy Center and Natural Resources Defense Council to prevent Metro from raising fares. The request was submitted too late, according to the judge. Additionally, the petitioners did not adequately explain how the increases would go towards rail projects. Metro argued that the increases would only pay for transit operations.

June 28 : The Metro Board adopted the FY 08 budget, which forecasts slightly increased bus service, eight new Rapid Bus lines, and a rehabilitation of subway cars and replacement of Blue Line light rail cars. Board members also voted to study "fixed guideway" options for three transit corridors, including Wilshire Blvd . The Board also voted to study congestion pricing, since Metro and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation lost out on a major federal grant that would fund implementation of such a scheme.

July 1 : Metro, the Big Blue Bus , and Omnitrans increased their fares. Most users expressed resignation at the fare increases. A Los Angeles Daily News editorial expressed disenchantment, but also believed car travel was actually becoming a cheaper alternative to public transportation. In other news, fees to use the 91 Express toll lanes in Orange County also increased. Go figure.

To Close : Would you ride this to work? If this is the future of public transportation, then keep us in the loop! (Persons with heart, nervous or other bodily problems and those who are nursing should probably not board.)

Upcoming Events : 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 .

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, July 9, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte .

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Monday, July 9, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center , 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. , Van Nuys.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council : Wednesday, July 11, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center , Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills .

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council : Thursday, July 12, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd. , Downey .

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, July 13, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center , 801 E. Carson St. , Carson .

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committee Meetings: Friday, July 13, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St. , 26th floor, Los Angeles .

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, July 14, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza , Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St. , Los Angeles .

C onsider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, July 24 - 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!

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

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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.

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