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.
Chance: This Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting.
Also, The Transit Coalition and Metro will participate
in the annual RailPAC meeting on
Saturday, March 17, at Metro Gateway Headquarters. See Upcoming Events below
Plans from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to slash and burn
transit funding in the state continue to receive ire from local officials. Metro
hoped that the estimated $100 million they would receive could be used to wipe
out a looming structural deficit. One
place that stands to lose greatly from the plan is Ventura County. For example,
of the six counties that Metrolink serves, Ventura County stands alone in not
having a local transportation sales tax to fund service. Fortunately, officials
see hope in Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who chairs the Assembly
Transportation Committee and has expressed opposition to the proposal.
Steve Lopez columns regarding Westside traffic has garnered quite an interest
from the reading public. The Los Angeles Times published a mere morsel
and horror stories that legions of readers fed up with traffic sent in. Some
respondents took a swipe at recent plans to build two
47-story condos in Century City. (Two readers opted to write letters
to the Times instead.) Residents are already dreading the greater gridlock
that would result from a
proposed luxury hotel at the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards.
As part of his crusade, Lopez took a shot against the LA Mayor's transit
advisor who drives a Hummer. Lopez also took the time to connect some dots
and see how campaign
donations from developers have directly contributed to the traffic crisis.
One Santa Monica resident countered
several of Lopez's claims while also offering solutions of his own.
the missed potential of the Green Line, a group of South Bay and Westside leaders
sent a letter to Metro urging
them to build a Green Line extension to LAX, a development praised by Transit
Coalition President Ken Alpern, who was one of the signatories. The Burbank City
Council approved applying for a grant to study an Orange
Line-style bus link between North Hollywood and Pasadena. Down south, the
San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System is moving to replace
part of its aging bus fleet with new buses totaling $25 million.
Bus Riders Union redux? Local activists in the San Francisco Bay Area have accused
the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees regional transportation
projects and BART, of shortchanging poor and minority bus passengers while funding
suburban rail lines that attract more affluent commuters. MTC officials retort
that much of the subsidies to services such as Caltrain are for capital projects
that were ignored in the past and have only now been addressed. Officials also
noted that, like Los Angeles, a certain amount of revenues from voter-approved
taxes must be spent on commuter rail.
cards" are growing more popular for both transit passengers and the agencies
that employ them. Atlanta will expand its smart cards for use on another bus system,
while a select group of Seattle and Los Angeles transit users are experimenting
with versions of their own. (They are known as TAP cards in Los Angeles.) However,
the trial smart card program in San Francisco has hit
a snag as a result of problems with the cards when used on AC Transit.
Across the Colorado River, a columnist takes a look at how the California
government intends to reduce
harmful emissions by building more mass transit and what the State of Arizona
can gain by steering away from car-centered planning.
matters, the San Diego Association of Governments will soon charge
a fee to drivers who own FasTrak transponders but don't use them. Caltrans
nominated a carpool lane project for northbound I-405 between the Westside and
Valley for bond funds, but
not a similar project for the I-5 between Routes 134 and 170. Also, a recent
study concluded that telecommuters were less
likely to advance their careers than their office-commuting counterparts.
testing has begun for a study of a proposed highway tunnel between Irvine
City planners and Westside restaurateurs squabble over the
causes and problems of "
phantom parking." In order to get approval for major expansions, merchants
often submit a false number of parking spaces they claim to provide. With these
expansions come customers who drive to the restaurants only to see that parking
is nonexistent. Meanwhile, columnist Steve Hymon continues his crusade with what
he dubbed "
Metergate", while also bringing updates on the Wilshire subway and a
boutique hotel near MacArthur Park.
Representatives from the Reason Foundation
wrote how tolls, innovative construction methods and private financing could magically
alleviate road congestion by building more roads in urban areas. The Wall
Street Journal published a discussion
between USC professor Peter Gordon and UCLA professor Matthew Kahn regarding the
role of economics in transportation and land use. The former contended that drivers
in this country experience "comparatively little congestion (…) in spite
of both policy failures and growth in population, income and travel."
State lawmakers are warming up to hybrid vehicles. 39 of the 80 Assembly
members and 13 of the 40 Senators have opted
to drive hybrids. Legislators are also seeing hybrids as an image
statement: Conservatives use the vehicles to demonstrate how they save taxpayer
money with the gas savings they incur, while liberals value them for their environment-friendly
properties. Lawmakers aren't the only ones going green: Union Pacific rolled out
its fleet of clean-burning
hybrid locomotives it intends to use at ports and yards across the Los Angeles
Basin and elsewhere.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe is eyeing
more yard space down at the ports, and residents are not happy about it. BNSF
claims that their Hobart Yard in the City of Commerce will reach capacity, leading
them to pursue the Southern
California International Gateway project. Community activists and environmentalists
showed concern that the new yard would add to current traffic and pollution woes
at the ports. Port officials will unveil at least 10
projects to address capacity at the ports for public review this year and
noted that a single project will not be enough to address future trade.
Onto land use matters, the area west of the I-5 in the Santa Clarita Valley, often
known as Stevenson Ranch, will become the
subject of a study to explore cityhood, though some would rather have the
area annexed to the City of Santa Clarita. To the west, Ventura County is hailed
as a model of "smart growth", a point county Supervisor Kathy Long took
pride in when interviewed
by The Planning Report.
Bicyclists will be happy to know that
a study for a bike
path in a flood control channel in Costa Mesa is underway. The "community
trail" leading into Upper Newton Bay would feature granite that would top
channel levees and unlocked channel gates, giving bicyclists a trail without obstructions.
Similar bike paths have been built across Orange County in the past.
United, American and Continental Airlines filed
a lawsuit against the Los Angeles City Airport Commission, the latter having
raised terminal rents recently. Airlines charge that the hikes are a direct violation
of their leases and would force them to pass the rise in fees onto passengers.
Meanwhile, Bob Hope Airport officials discussed finding $750,000 to design
a taxiway extension and study rental-car lot consolidation. In San Diego,
one Encinitas resident envisions a floating
airport on the Pacific Ocean as an apt replacement for the growth-limited
What can a six-cent-per-gallon increase in gas taxes
get you? Apparently
too much for the Ohio Department of Transportation. With the agency now awash
with cash, ODOT is embarking on major highway projects, including a controversial
plan to replace all highway signage with more reflective materials despite no
federal mandates to do so. Some, however, charge that the agency fosters a "pay-to-play"
system where contractors with the best connections get the meatiest contracts.
Critics also note that the new tax came at the expense of funding for the State
Highway Patrol, since legislators opted to take away some $190 million a year
in gas tax money from the patrol's budget as an exchange for a new gas tax. Meanwhile,
Cincinnati leaders are pondering a streetcar
system as a means to bring any sort of rail transit in a town with
strong anti-rail factions.
Regarding Amtrak, President Alex Kummant stated
trains will continue to play an important part of rail transportation, though
he also claimed that state participation will be even more important for the future
of intercity rail.
What do legislators, planners and officials think
about the state infrastructure bonds that voters approved in November? Metro
Investment Report printed a sample
of opinions on how these bonds could prove beneficial for the state. Oh, and
if you are still in the dark about the bonds, read
this Q&A to catch up!
Oddly enough: A
third study regarding future traffic in San Pedro concluded that traffic from
a 2,300-home development in San Pedro could be mitigated with signal synchronization
and other improvements to Western Avenue (State Highway Route 213). Leaders of
three Los Angeles neighborhood councils in San Pedro blasted the study, one which
the three neighborhood councils themselves commissioned and paid for and
was independently studied. The City of Los Angeles and the developer each provided
one previous study on the same subject and arrived at the same conclusion.
Congratulations! Metrolink welcomes two
new Board members: City of Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian, who replaces
former Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts; and City of Baldwin Park Councilmember,
Anthony J. Bejarano, who replaces retired Los Angeles City Councilmember Hal Bernson.
Here is a list of other recent developments:
LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl was named
chair of the recently revived Southern California Regional Airport Authority.
Rosendahl pledged that he would bring more organizations together to find regional
solutions to air traffic.
Rancho Mission Viejo, a major developer in
southern Orange County, filed
a lawsuit against the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which oversee the
toll roads. The suit contends that the TCA violated an agreement where the developer
provided undeveloped property for the proposed San Onofre Toll Road in exchange
for adopting a more eastern route. Instead, TCA opted for another route, which
would run through a conservancy and endanger oak woodlands, which would in turn
jeopardize the environmental obligations of Rancho Mission Viejo to the area.
January 18: Westside civic leaders celebrated the completion
of the Santa Monica Transit Parkway Project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in
Century City. Officials hope that traffic delay times would be reduced by as much
as 40%. The City of Los Angeles, which took over the former state highway from
Caltrans, started work in 2003. Erroneous construction materials, the discovery
of unmapped utilities and heavy rains pushed the opening date from late 2005.
The San Bernardino Associated Governments Commuter Rail Subcommittee voted
a possible Metrolink station in Highgrove during their March meeting, after
local activists asked for a chance to produce more information about the station.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission recently voted to stop further
consideration for the station.
January 21: City officials unveiled
plaque at the site of the 2005 Glendale Metrolink crash, which killed 11 persons.
About 100 residents and city officials from Los Angeles and Glendale took part
in the dedication.
Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, January 23 - 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!
South Orange County
Major Investment Study Stakeholder Working Group Meeting: Wednesday, January
24, 10 a.m., Mission Viejo City Hall, Saddleback Room, 200 Civic Center, Mission
Board Meeting: Thursday, January 25, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters,
One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
(Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, January 26, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference
Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.
High Speed Rail Authority Meeting: Monday, January 29, 10:30 a.m., State Capitol,
Room 112, Sacramento.
Exposition Metro Line
Construction Authority: Thursday, February 1, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall
of Administration, Board of Supervisors Hearing Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St.,
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, February 1, 7:30 p.m.
Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, February 12 and 26,
9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.
RailPAC Annual Meeting:
Saturday, March 17, Metro Gateway Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to
Union Station), Los Angeles. Featured speakers: Gerald Francis, Metro Rail Operations;
Alex Kummant, Amtrak President.
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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
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