As design and construction moves forward for the state high-speed rail project in Fresno, opponents and property owners continue to express resentment at the prospect of seeing the project actually happen before their very eyes. Much of the resentment is borne from previous muddled attempts by the CAHSR Authority to communicate about the project to Central Valley residents and businesses, a problem even current CEO Jeff Morales admits has contributed to increased opposition. Proponents believe that the project will give a shot in the arm to the local economy in the short term and provide better connections to economic opportunities in Southern California and the Bay Area in the long term.
While construction continues on the Pasadena to Azusa segment of the Foothill Gold Line extension, the segment further east to Claremont remains unfunded. To wit, officials from the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority are asking Metro to add the project to a list of projects that a proposed new sales tax measure could possibly fund. While the Authority is also looking into obtaining state and federal funds, CEO Habib Balian believes that funding the project locally through a ballot initiative is the best way to move forward. Balian believes construction could begin as early as 2017 if funding is secured. Gold Line officials are also discussing possible station designs for the second segment of the line.
Regarding the other end of the Gold Line, Whittier officials are anxious to have the line brought from its present terminus in East LA to their community. Metro is currently reviewing two optionsfor such a Gold Line extension, to either Montebello or Whittier. The Metro Board is expected to select one of the two routes next spring. However, even with Measure R money, construction would not begin for another 15 years. Not lost on this fact, the Whittier City Council voted to hire a lobbyist that would educate Metro, in anticipation of a route vote, on the merits of bringing the Gold Line to Whittier.
The Transit Coalition’s A Better Inland Empire project has a new website. We invite you to visit the site and check out some of our Inland Empire campaign work. The website address and links to individual campaign pages and media files remain the same as the previous site, but the new site has an upgraded interface, is easier to navigate, is less cluttered, interacts with social media sites and readers can post comments and questions directly to campaign pages.
The site includes:
- Direct links to Inland Empire campaigns complete with more user features.
- Easier methods to post questions and comments.
- Direct links to government fact sheets and studies which provide the data for our campaigns.
- Links to Transit Coalition blogs, discussion board, our weekly e-Newsletter, and the option for readers to share their stories.
- A link to ABIE’s Facebook page and ways for readers to “Like” or subscribe to Inland Empire happenings.
Again, your donations and volunteer service help us build up these campaigns to get Southern California moving. Please make a contribution so that our work continues undisturbed.
The Los Angeles City Council considered challenging a recent state ruling that legalizes ride-sharing services such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar (now dubbed “transportation network companies”) across the state and establishes regulations to that effect. This was done despite a veto threat by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supports such services. Ultimately, the City Council voted not to appeal the new rules. The city has been under pressure by existing taxicab companies to eliminate these new and innovative services. However, the state Public Utilities Commission makes a clear distinction between services hailed curbside (which is in the purview of municipalities) and those hailed through other means (which is under the jurisdiction of the CPUC). This disparity in enforcement should be fixed at the state legislative level, according to an editorial in the Los Angeles Times.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, however, will have none of that. As with most people and businesses in California who try to thwart progress, Koretz is resorting to the accusation thatthe CPUC violated CEQA, believing that in trotting out rules that ride-sharing services must abide to, the CPUC ignored the environmental impacts of enabling such services, even if they are regulated.
In other transportation news, the ever-adventurous entrepreneur Elon Musk purchased a prop car built for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me and plans to convert the prop into a real submarine car. Letters to the editor take note of the new ethical dilemmas that would stem from the availability of self-driving cars. Finally, the end to the last in a series of rules placed on air travel to and from Dallas Love Airport may mean increased number of flights by Southwest Airlines, which operates out of the airport, leading to increased competition and lower fares.
The Transit Coalition’s A Better Inland Empire has updated its long term Future Vision of Inland Empire Mass Transit based on data from updated feasibility studies, long range transportation plans, short range agency proposals, the media, growth patterns, and public feedback. On top of what we advocate here in Los Angeles, here’s a rundown of the long term vision of transit for the Inland Empire:
- New urban bus rapid transit lines throughout the Inland Empire for dense corridors including Magnolia Avenue and University Avenues in Riverside, Perris and Alessandro Boulevards in Moreno Valley and Perris, and numerous corridors in San Bernardino County. BRT would emulate the Metro Orange Line with dedicated lanes through the high density development areas and Metro Rapid elsewhere with high service frequency and early morning to late night service span.
- Transit gaps closed in between regions from early morning to late night, 7 days per week.
- Metrolink MAX: Increased, frequent, and corridor-based Metrolink service combined with the possible return of Class One high-speed intercity rail service, including late nights and weekends, for potential combined 30 minute frequency between trains with additional peak-hour runs.
- High Speed Rail done right: Separated rail grade crossings with electrified passenger rail service to get regional and intercity passenger trains up to high-speed standards.
- Local infrastructure and incentives for private intercity bus lines to stop their buses at public transit stations and policies that strengthen competition for improved marketplace service and lower fares.
- 5-10 minute timed transfers between major routes at transfer hubs and stations. Enhanced bus and rail scheduling at transfer hubs to minimize waiting time.
- High occupancy carpool and express toll lanes that support free non-transponder 2+ or 3+ carpooling with rapid express bus transit infrastructure and stations placed within a few blocks from the freeway with park & ride amenities. Local usage policies that designate corridors for high occupancy vehicle and transit travel to maximize the number of people traveling through per hour.
- Noise and weather protection for bus and rail transit stations along or near freeways.
- Additional park-and-ride locations and expansion of overflowing parking lots.
- Policies that will entice commercial airlines to better use the Ontario Airport with competitive fares.
- Improved rider safety, security, and teams of volunteer transit ambassadors at major hubs and onboard transit vehicles.
It should be noted that the Inland Empire will also remain the nexus of freight movement in Southern California and the rest of the nation for the foreseeable future. However, the ongoing widening of the Panama Canal could affect the growth in the regional logistics industry, and any disruption could hit the Inland Empire in ways that have yet to be calculated. While the widened canal would allow ships to circumvent the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles entirely, estimates as to just how much cargo would go elsewhere vary wildly. Much of the damage could be mitigated if West Coast ports improve their facilities so that they can harbor the next generation of large cargo vessels.
The GRID SuperDock could dramatically increase container throughput and mitigate the challenges from the Canal widening.
If you’ve driven or cycled on the road, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve broken the law. It is not surprising to Damien Newton, founder and editor of Streetsblog LA, who is also a bicyclist. He owns three of them, and also has a car. Newton is happy with the new state law mandating drivers to keep a distance of three feet from cyclists. Newton moved to Los Angeles in 2008 from the east coast and became involved in advocating for cyclist causes by hounding city council members. Since moving here, Newton has seen the improvement in the city’s bike-friendliness with an increase in bike lanes, among other things.
Two USC professors won $1 million from the Israeli government for their work in alternative fuels. George Olah and G.K. Surya Prakash looked into replacing fossil fuels with methanol for a variety of purposes, such as ground transportation. The prize will be awarded next month at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit in Israel.
Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. plans to sell its minority stake holdings in the Middle East and North Africa areas to increase shareholder value. The company is one of the country’s largest oil producers. Occidental Chief Executive Stephen Chazen said, “Our goal is to become a somewhat smaller company with more manageable exposure to political risk.” Occidental is also looking into selling part of its stake in the Plains All-American Pipeline LP for $1.3 billion before taxes, as well as oil interests in the Williston Basin, Hugoton Field, and Piceance Basin.
The Transit Coalition needs your financial support. With our various initiatives to advocate for public transportation improvements (including those from the CSUN Transportation Tiger Team), we need critical funds to continue preparing and distributing our weekly and monthly newsletters. Our October edition of Moving Southern California is ready to print, but without funding that is postponed. Many of our readers enjoy and depend on these news sources to learn about transportation policy that affects Southern Californians in real and tangible ways.
As a result, your help is needed to achieve our fundraising campaign goal of $5,000, which will go towards preserving this eNewsletter and resuming printing of our monthly newsletter. If we do not reach our fundraising goal by Friday, November 8, we will have no choice but to suspend publication of both newsletters. Please help us reach our goal by making a donation. Your contributions are greatly appreciated!
Efforts by the Tiger Team to improve mass transit include enhancing transfer connections between Metro Bus and Metrolink, connecting Sylmar and Northridge with Metro Rapid service, improving Orange Line service, and advancing other potential projects. Meanwhile, The Transit Coalition continues to bring renowned transportation experts and officials to speak at dinner meetings and inform attendees on projects and developments. The Transit Coalition has also succeeded in advocating expansion of Metrolink weekend service, one of the critical tenets of our Metrolink MAX campaign. These and other Transit Coalition initiatives would also be in jeopardy without your continued support. Please don’t hesitate to make a contribution so that our work continues undisturbed. Thank you for your continued support.