Long after the defeat of Measure J in November, pundits continue to figure out what went wrong. The Los Angeles Times performed its own analysis and concluded that opposition from traditionally anti-tax South Bay voters was largely responsible for the defeat. However, support from South Bay voters eroded considerably since Measure R was approved in 2008, which among other things funds a Green Line extension to Torrance. Support also soured in communities with a high number of fiscally conservative voters. Despite this setback, state lawmakers continue to press for a lower threshold on transportation taxes.
The fight to move (or not) the northern runways of LAX is heating up. For those out of the loop, an LA City airport panel recently approved a plan to modernize LAX, which includes moving the northernmost runway further northward by 260 feet. Now, two powerful Congressional Democrats are at odds over the issue. Rep. Maxine Waters has been an adamant opponent of moving the northern runways, while Rep. Henry Waxman has gone public in supporting the relocation. Waters accused Waxman of wafting between two opinions in order to let observers conclude that he was still undecided on the issue when his mind was already made up. Needless to say, Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern, a Westside resident, is not pleased with Waxman’s stance.
Not to be left out of the discussion is mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, who is also against moving the northern runways. Instead, Garcetti offered his support for other alternatives as part of the study, one of which includes building a peoplemover connecting LAX with rail transit. (This was the subject of a previous Transit Coalition dinner meeting.) Opposing candidate Wendy Greuel has skirted the issue, stating she will meet with both neighborhood and business groups to discuss the proposal. The Los Angeles City Council is expected to make a decision on the matter later this year.
After a brief hiatus, LA City Councilmembers revived a bond proposal that would fund street repairs. The previous call made earlier in the year was aborted since the neighborhood councils expressed concern that the proposal was hastily prepared with no public input. This time, however, Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander are also adding public meetings so that the 95 neighborhood councils can weigh in on the issue. The public is also invited to give their two cents on the matter. Could this proposal serve as a Trojan horse to bring complete streets as well as repaved streets?
The Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone has continued to solicit public opinion and feedback regarding the campaign We want Toll Lanes done right, which advocates for free non-transponder carpooling on Southland high occupancy toll lanes. Many support the Coalition’s position. Carpoolers especially like it. Non-HOV’s who are willing to buy their way out of traffic and frequently use the 91 Express Lanes also support maintaining FasTrak as an option. Therefore, HOT lanes which support free non-transponder carpooling continues to gain steam.
However there were some commuters who questioned the 3+ occupancy requirement for carpool for the 91 Express Lanes instead of a typical 2+ HOV. Pictures such as this one show concepts of the Express Lanes with a 3+ HOV or FasTrak usage policy. So, can the 91 support dual high occupancy toll lanes in each direction with a 2+ occupancy requirement instead of three? Short answer is: Not quite. Here are the facts:
- Much like Interstate 10 east of Los Angeles, the 91 corridor through Anaheim Hills has more carpool demand than a single 2+ HOV lane can supply at most times during the day. The HOV lane through Corona is consistently congested in both directions.
- What about 2 sets of HOV 2+ or FasTrak lanes? Currently, where the eastbound 91 Express Lanes becomes a single 2+ HOV lane near Highway 71, there is a mile long buffer with two lanes dedicated to 2+ HOV’s or FasTrak traffic (set of 2 carpool lanes, FasTrak ok). These lanes are consistently high in volume, but to be fair, they sustain acceptable speeds most of the time.
- The 91 experiences surges in traffic congestion during the weekends and holidays. Most through-travelers are 2+ HOV’s.
- Other corridors like the I-10 east of LA and the Oakland Bay Bridge which have such high demands for 2+ carpools without the infrastructure to support it also have the increased occupancy requirement for carpool as 3+.
- With an overwhelmingly high HOV market demand in the area shown by the congested carpool lanes and filled park & ride lots, the focus may already be incentives to convert 2-person HOV’s into 3+ HOV’s.
To be fair, the 3+ occupancy requirement on the 91 could be lowered to 2+ during off-peak hours once future infrastructure and additional lanes are built out, but it is far too early to support such a change. Therefore, the 91 through Anaheim Hills between the 55 and I-15 Freeways would fare better under with 3+ HOV’s for its HOT lanes until additional data can be collected from the new infrastructure.
The Inland Empire’s Pass Area which includes Calimesa, Beaumont, Banning and Cabazon, will have its transit system analyzed, courtesy of the City of Beaumont. This is welcoming news for Calimesa as this small town between Yucaipa and Beaumont currently lacks through-bus service; its residents are urged to take an active part in the study. However, the fact that Beaumont taxpayers are footing the bill for the study remains questionable.
The transit corridor linking Beaumont through Calimesa into Yucaipa has a history of major route changes. The Riverside Transit Agency once operated bus Route 36 which previously served the City of Calimesa and directly connected the region with Yucaipa to the north and Beaumont to the south. RTA is mandated by the Riverside Transportation Commission to meet productive performance standards for its bus lines. Route 36 did not meet several of them and the line was proposed to be canceled in the summer of 2009.
The corridor was studied once before. RTA’s 2007 Comprehensive Operational Analysis recommended that the transit corridor connecting the Pass Area into San Bernardino be Omnitrans-operated and connect directly with major points in San Bernardino. However, the recommendation was never adopted. Instead, the City of Beaumont agreed to launch the Pass Transit Express Routeon June 22, 2009, connecting central Beaumont to central Calimesa to replace Route 36. Unfortunately, a multitude of problems became clear as one looked at the Express Route bus schedule and map. One fundamental flaw was its limited coverage. Following another restructure, the express route now serves as a peak-only CommuterLink Route 120 with direct service to the San Bernardino Metrolink Station. However, RSVP’s are required and the last morning bus out of Beaumont is 5:00 am.
Under the 2007 RTA COA, The Transit Coalition envisions an all-day regional bus connector for the Beaumont-Calimesa-San Bernardino corridor with hourly headways, paid for by Pass-area cities and San Bernardino County and operated by Omnitrans. An up-to-date study will further assist The Transit Coalition in restoring productive public transit for Calimesa. Let’s hope officials adopt its recommendations this time around.
Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) has introduced a bill to direct cap-and-trade funding to investing in expanding public transit, increasing biking and walking, and increasing affordable, energy-efficient housing near transit. The bill states that the 20% of households with the most robust transit service in California’s most populous regions emit between 27 and 42% less greenhouse gases than typical households. The bill specifically proposes the Sustainability for All Program to combine transit, bicycle and pedestrian, and affordable housing investments from cap-and-trade to further reduce greenhouse gases and promote sustainable economic growth and health. Here is the bill language for AB 1051.
Is there any logic to parking signage on LA public streets? Observers believe such signage only serves to confuse drivers and trap them into a likely parking ticket. Worse yet, different streets have different restrictions, with no criteria directing said restrictions. Thus, one street may very well be regulated up to the hilt, while a cross street may not have any restrictions at all. On top of that, much of the signage is hardly legible from a distance. The abundance of curb colors doesn’t help, either. Of course, any little detail that escapes the would-be parker will lead to a stiff fine or even vehicle impoundment.
Thanks to sequestration, the skies may be a little less safe for traveling as 14 air traffic control towers in Southern California may cease operations on April 7. These particular towers serve as an extra set of eyes and ears that inform pilots of traffic conditions in the air, reducing the risk of collisions and airport approach issues. Meanwhile, American Airlines is testing a boarding process where those without any carry-on luggage may board early, as a means of saving on costs related to passenger boarding.
In other news, the Fullerton City Council approved an agreement with BNSF worth $15 million to build 4 grade separations within the city. Both bicyclists and businesses took aim at a proposal by LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge to partly divert proposed bike lanes on Lankershim Boulevard onto Vineland Avenue instead, believing that Lankershim is too trafficked for bike lanes to be safe.
LA Times Architecture Reviewer Christopher Hawthorne looks back at the history of the street that essentially defines Los Angeles: Wilshire Boulevard. Much of the city’s architectural experiments lie along this street, as have many public transportation dreams of the past. At least one of those dreams will be realized through the advancement of the Purple Line subway, which will run mostly under Wilshire Blvd.