Welcome to The
Transit Coalition weekly newsletter! Our organization
participates in meetings with key decision makers
and community leaders and we aim to keep you informed
on the latest developments in the transportation
scene across Southern California.
Event /speaker: Tuesday,
January 24, 2006. Plan on joining us for
our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting Tuesday
- 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original,
1001 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA. 90012. Join
us for a special presentation by Neil Garcia-Sinclair,
President of CyberTran, on an automated Ultra-Light
Rail Transit system that utilizes five ton, 20 passenger
rail vehicles to move people. The system was designed
to lower capital and operating costs and vehicles
can be scheduled according to demand or frequency,
or a combination. ( Map;
minutes.) See you there!
Public transportation and the "smart growth"
it aims to encourage are on the minds of many. The
American Public Transportation Association released
figures showing strong use of subways, light
rail and buses despite a drop in gas prices after
Hurricane Katrina (although gas
prices have been rising in California). For
bicyclists, the Los Angeles County Flood Control
District is set to build bike
lanes across the flood basins of San Gabriel
River and Rio Hondo.
On the "smart growth" front, the San Gabriel
Valley Economic Partnership held a forum
last Friday discussing this concept. The Los
Angeles Downtown News shared
their opinion about the new Planning Department
chief Gail Goldberg. Meanwhile, Patt Morrison of
the Los Angeles Times laments the lack
of accessible public parks in Los Angeles.
With expansion of the 405 Freeway approved,
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned his focus
onto his bond proposal, now in the hands of state
legislators. The governor desires to take advantage
willingness to fund traffic fixes and emulate
the vision of former Governor Pat Brown. Republican
lawmakers are aiming to ease
or eliminate several environmental review requirements
for these projects. Some remain skeptical
about his push for "design-build" methods
(where a firm both designs and builds a project).
Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa has given
his support of the proposals, as reported Saturday,
January 21, in the LA
Times and Los
Angeles Daily News.
Others hope this will be an
opportunity to complete the 710 Freeway between
Alhambra and Pasadena, even as the possibility of
building this controversial project underground
is under study. Funds to improve
the existing stretch of the 710, as well as
money to widen
highways in remote areas across Southern California
will also be sought. Meanwhile, transit and highway
advocates alike hope to gain a greater share of
funds for needed projects from the reestablished
Proposition 42 fund. Amidst the frenzy, Chris
Weinkopf of the Daily News had this
Concerned about increased auto traffic between Los
Angeles and Las Vegas? Even Las Vegas Mayor Oscar
Goodman is frustrated. For the last several years,
governments in California and Nevada have been promoting
Desert Corridor, a high-capacity highway that
would link Palmdale with Victorville and thus bypass
the congested Cajon Pass on Interstate 15 between
San Bernardino and Victorville. Improvements along
Interstate 15 have also been discussed. Funds, however,
have been slow
to come. It is worth adding that rail service
between Los Angeles and Las Vegas via the Amtrak
Desert Wind ended in 1997 and has yet to come back
despite the efforts of both states that would have
to fund it.
Speaking of Amtrak, according to the National Association of
Railroad Passengers (NARP), President George
W. Bush nominated James S. Simpson to be the Administrator
of the Federal Transit Administration, Tyler D.
Duvall to be the Assistant Secretary of Transportation,
Transportation Policy, and Roger Shane Karr to be
the Assistant Secretary of Transportation, Governmental
Affairs. Duvall in particular has been critical
of Amtrak, contending in a recent passenger rail
conference "we'll never see ‘cool' new services
in rural America under the present model."
Here is a list reviewing other recent developments:
January 17: The Los Angeles County Board
of Supervisors approved
a recommendation to the Los Angeles City Council
to lure airline flights to airports other than LAX.
The package aims to reduce parking cost and landing
fees at Van Nuys, Ontario and Palmdale airports
and require a minimum number of flights so as to
airline passengers and cargo to these airports.
Palmdale Airport in particular is considered by
airlines as too inconvenient for viable operations,
as shown by the recent
departure of its only flight service, Scenic
Airlines, so this
plan would be of great help. The plan is expected
to reduce passenger traffic and automobile congestion
at LAX. The following day, the Los Angeles City
Council approved a final
settlement with the Board of Supervisors and
other plaintiffs over LAX expansion and will work
ideas to modernize the airport. Transit Coalition
friend Denny Schneider has a full
January 18: State assembly members who investigated
last year's deadly Metrolink crash
near Glendale recommended
that commuter railroads stop pushing trains from
the rear with locomotives, a widespread practice
that some experts fear leads to more severe accidents.
Rail officials on the other hand contend that push-pull
operations are already safe and that improvements
such as building turnaround tracks and purchasing
"cabbage cars" would be costly
and needless. Other recommendations included
improved crossing gates and more aggressive education
Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl recommended
that the county ask voters to raise
its transit sales tax to fund crucial transportation
projects. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
promised to come out against the measure if it comes
on the ballot.
A Daily News column
by Mariel Garza described a new amenity for Metro
Bus: On-board television. These screens have been
installed on about 1,000 buses across the city and
feature news headlines, weather and advertisements.
Transit TV furnishes
the screens to Metro at no cost, while Metro expects
to receive as much as $6.7 million from advertising
January 19: The Metro Executive Management
& Audit Committee voted to work with Los Angeles
World Airports to install a new FlyAway service
at Los Angeles Union Station. The new service would
be modeled after the successful Van Nuys FlyAway
and provide a direct connection between LAX and
Metrolink, Amtrak, Red Line and Gold Line services.
Kevin Roderick reports
in LA Observed that the Airport
Commission (item 18, page 78) approved this
service to start by as soon as March 15. The Metro
Board will vote on this and other items on Thursday,
January 26. A report
on this and other Metro Committee meetings is now
The Orange County Transportation
Corridor Agencies voted to postpone
a decision on adopting a toll road route through
San Onofre State Beach. The project has widespread
opposition from environmental groups, park users,
state officials and three nearby cities.
County Transportation Commission voted to study
rail service between Santa Clarita and Ventura
on existing railway paralleling State Highway Route
126. The line would serve as a bypass of Los Angeles-bound
rail lines, serve the communities of Fillmore and
Santa Paula, and connect Ventura County residents
with job centers in Valencia and Metrolink trains
near Newhall. However, the project would require
numerous track upgrades as well as reconstruction
of removed track in Santa Clarita. Transit Coalition
Executive Director Bart Reed was quoted in a Daily
News article and expressed support for the study.
Meanwhile in Port Hueneme, a plan to build an upscale
vehicle off-loading site near a little-used freight
rail line has lit
the ire of local residents, who took offense
at the threat of eminent domain from harbor officials
and wish for a housing subdivision on the plot of
Also, Metro formally announced
a new express
service on the Metro Gold Line. The service
will stop at five stations (Union Station, Highland
Park, Mission, Del Mar and Sierra Madre Villa) and
shave off five minutes of travel. The service debuts
Monday, February 13.
The Daily News published an editorial
questioning the need to raise the county sales tax
to fund the Red Line Extension to the Westside as
recommended by Rosendahl. State law requires that
such a raise in sales tax must be approved by 2/3
of voters in the county. Internal polling conducted
by Metro showed only 61% of voters would approve
it, well below the 2/3 needed for the measure to
Other Announcements: Metrolink has
taken delivery of four train cars leased from Altamont Commuter Express
(ACE), the Northern California commuter rail service.
The cars intend to bring relief to overcrowded trains
on the Metrolink system and will be distributed
onto different lines. The cars are undergoing testing
and new signage will be installed. The cars will
enter service in seven to fourteen days. Also, Metrolink
will release its new combined schedule timetable
in two weeks.
Mayor Villaraigosa appointed
Transit Coalition Vice-President Jerard Wright to
the Metro Westside/Central Governance Council. Congratulations!
Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, January
24 - 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original,
1001 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA 90012. ( Map;
minutes.) We hope to see you there!
Meeting: Thursday, January 26, 9:30 a.m., Board
Room, Metro Hdqtrs., One Gateway Plaza (adjacent
to Union Station), Los Angeles.
RailPAC invites you
to meet Amtrak Acting President and CEO David Hughes
at a reception to honor the bipartisan efforts of
legislators and advocates in supporting Amtrak and
passenger rail in California, Thursday, January
26, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., Room 317 in the State Capitol,
(Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, January 27,
10 a.m. SCAG Conference Room, 12th Floor, 818 W.
Seventh St., Los Angeles.
RailPAC Annual Meeting:
Saturday, January 28, State Rail Museum, Sacramento,
CA. Call 888-508-2640 for information.
Rail Users' Network Bi-Monthly
Meeting: Saturday, January 28, Metropolitan Transportation
Authority Hdqtrs., 347 Madison Ave., New York, NY.
Call 207-776-4961 for information.
Faster Freight Cleaner
Air: Monday, January 30 – Wednesday, February
1, 2006, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach,
CA. A summit on North American goods movement and
air quality sponsored by the Port of Los Angeles,
the US Environmental Protection Agency, Air Quality
Management District, and California Environmental
Protection Agency Air Resources Board.
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee:
Thursday, February 2, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter
office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
Rail Corridor Agency Joint Powers Board Meeting:
Wednesday, February 8, 11:30 a.m. Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
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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.
As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions
to allow us to pursue our important work. Add yourself to our mailing list and
please donate to help us grow.
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