Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, July 23, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 30

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.

EMERGENCY MEETING: State legislators axed all of the $1.3 billion from the Spillover that would have gone towards public transportation operations. After lengthy negotiations, the State Assembly voted to move the $1.3 billion towards unrelated programs, after previously setting aside $550 million for transit. Also, the new budget cut funding for high speed rail from a previously negotiated $55 million to a useless $15 million , which was strongly opposed by county Supervisor Mike Antonovich. The budget will be debated at the state Senate this week, where more cuts might occur. The Transit Coalition monthly meeting to be held this Tuesday will discuss strategies that can restore these vital transportation funds. See Upcoming Events below for details.

No one involved with public transportation is happy with the recent shenanigans at the State Capitol. The Los Angeles Times expressed discontent at the "bait and switch" tactics employed during the recent budget negotiations. Subsequent letters to the Los Angeles Times expressed outrage at the development. The Los Angeles Daily News editorialized its contempt towards tax breaks for the film industry at the expense of mass transit. Transit Coalition President Kenneth S. Alpern also had nothing nice to say about this duplicity.

How You Can Help: You can still call your state Senator and express your desire to see all of the Spillover directed to public transit operations. The following members are important to contact: Don Perata 916-651-4009 Sac. District 510-286-1333; Speaker Fabian Nez 916-319-2046, District 213-620-4646; Alex Padilla 916-651-4020, District  818-901-5588; Bob Margett 916-651-4029, District 626-914-5046; Alan Lowenthal 916-651-4027, District 562-495-4766; Jeff Denham 916-651-4012, District 209-726-5495; Bob Dutton 916-651-4031; Dave Cogdill 916-651-4014, District 209-599-8540; Gil Cedillo 916-651-4022, District 213-612-9566.

Is the San Fernando Valley ready to house the region's largest mall? Westfield plans to build a new mega-mall that would bridge its existing Topanga and Promenade malls in Warner Center . An environmental assessment for the project was filed last week. Traffic will be a major concern for the project. Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed suggested that a peoplemover could connect the project with the Orange Line and other Warner Center points of interest. The Daily News published an editorial that emphasized the need to mitigate traffic for the project.

In absence of a "Subway to the Sea", some folks doled out ostensibly well-meaning, if puerile, ideas on how to improve transportation along Wilshire Blvd. One contributor to the Times suggested banning cars on Wilshire altogether and bringing the subway out of the ground and onto the street. Monorails and simply giving up also feature prominently as solutions.

The OnTrac debacle has yet to end for Placentia . A briefing between state Assemblymember Todd Spitzer and Caltrans officials revealed that the city may owe millions to the state transportation department. Placentia would teeter the brink of bankruptcy should Caltrans ask for a lump sum repayment. Meanwhile, Orange County bus drivers are back at work after a weeklong strike.

Elsewhere, Sacramento Regional transit will test regenerative braking on its light rail trains. The technology sends energy used to decelerate trains, which is otherwise lost in the form of heat, back to the electrical grid. Also in Sacramento , the leader of an important planning commission is pursuing more pedestrian- and transit-friendly growth in the region. San Diego County residents are demanding more Coaster service as part of an ongoing transportation plan. SO.CA.TA Public/Legislative Affairs Director Kym Richards disseminates why the Bus Riders Union failed to stop fare increases. The GreenLAGirl blog also expressed annoyance at the inflexible anti-rail stance of the BRU.

In light of a growing population, what should California look like in 2020? Ventura City Manager Rick Cole opined how transit should be the centerpiece in turning development away from disconnected suburban patterns. Cole acknowledged that the next generation of city dwellers may have to take the lead in such changes, since much of the baby boomer generation is entrenched with the suburban way of life. Urban life like the one somewhat contemplated by Cole can be seen in Hollywood , where mixed use development is flourishing.

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.

Caltrans announced tomorrow as the opening day of the final segment of the 210 Freeway in Rialto . While the new and completed freeway promises to bring a speedy alternative to the parallel 10 Freeway, some in the San Gabriel Valley are concerned that it will bring new traffic onto an already burdened 210 through their communities.

Other developments have enveloped the road world. Ramps connecting Ventura Blvd. with The 405 and 101 Freeways will be opened in late August or early September, while Foothill Blvd. and Sierra Hwy. , site of 25 deaths by car accidents this year, will get a much-needed traffic signal. Caltrans has committed $150 million to install carpool lanes on the 101 Freeway between Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties . Also, the Los Angeles Dodgers rolled out a new communications facility that intends to update drivers on stadium traffic.

However, it does not bode well for crosswalks near Los Angeles schools, where 33 dangerous intersections have yet to be upgraded. Repeated acts of road rage during construction are forcing Caltrans to entirely close a portion of State Highway Route 138 in the Victor Valley . Santa Monica rejected demands made by Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl to mitigate traffic resulting from a future reconstruction of the California Incline.

In our human interest section, we go back to Sacramento , home of the California State Railroad Museum . Avid railroad buff Paul Hammond was named the new museum director last month. Hammond comes from a family of transportation experts, including his father, who worked in the Apollo program.

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).

Here is a list of other recent developments:

July 9 : The San Fernando Valley Business Journal published an op-ed piece by Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed, blasting Metro bus cuts that have harmed the commutes of Valley employees.

July 19 : Virgin America announced the launch of five round trip flights between LAX and San Francisco International Airport, starting August 8. For a low cost carrier, the airline will fly new Airbus A319 and A320 planes with economy and first-class seating. In the economy section, each leather seat will be equipped with 9-inch video screens offering on-demand movies, and 18 television channels including ESPN and CNN, and video games.

New York State lawmakers struck a deal with New York City leaders that would create a commission on congestion pricing. This means that NYC will stay in line to receive up to $500 million of federal grants for the concept. The compromise was the fruit of several missteps by the city administration in outright implementing a congestion charge.

July 22
: South Pasadena hosted its first clean-air car show and film festival. More than 20 alternative energy vehicles will be on display, including a solar-powered Toyota Prius and a natural-gas powered Honda Civic, a fuel-cell powered Honda FCHX2, and an electric-powered ZAP car. Of note is the emerging plug-in hybrid technology, where a recent study concluded that these vehicles would reduce greenhouse emissions without overloading the electrical grid.

Upcoming Events : Please attend our Emergency 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!

Metro Orange Line Canoga Transportation Corridor Meetings:

Thursday, July 26, 7 p.m., Chatsworth High School , 10027 Lurline Ave. , Chatsworth.

Monday, July 30, 7 p.m., New Academy of Canoga Park , 21425 Cohasset St . , Canoga Park .

Metro Board Meeting : Thursday, July 26, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles .

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, July 27, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building , 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St. , Los Angeles .

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority : Thursday, August 2, 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, August 2, 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 .

Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting
: Monday, August 13, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St. , Orange

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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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