Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 20
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.
You Know You Want To:
Next Tuesday is The Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting,
featuring Expo Line Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe. See Upcoming Events
below for details.
Spillover and High Speed Rail Must Be Saved: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
unveiled his revised budget proposal,
which includes a
further slash of transit funds, cutting $1.3 billion statewide. Metro CEO
Roger Snoble signaled that this would force the agency to scale
back on capital projects. Metro stands to lose
$230 million under the proposed budget. Snoble and other officials will head
to Sacramento and
lobby to restore the funds. (A chart comparing
the proposed budgets released in January and May is available.) Please read
and benefits of the Spillover account courtesy of Cal-PIRG, and learn how you
The governor also plans to increase the budget for the California
High Speed Rail Authority to a mere $5 million, despite recently expressing a
change of attitude toward the project. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune published
supporting the project. Take a look at this letter
in support of HSR, courtesy of Bay Rail Alliance, so that you can inform yourself
on the importance of this project and write your letters to elected officials.
Fuel prices are reaching record
highs across the nation. Southern California
motorists had some relief with a small drop in prices, but overall they are still
12 cents higher from the same time last year, standing at an average of $3.45.
Worse yet, gas expands with heat and thus inflates the amount of gallons purchased.
Motorists this summer will actually pay
more for even less fuel than what was paid for. Drivers in California
could be paying as much as an additional $480 million due to this
phenomenon. The increases are already placing a
strain on the budgets of low-income families.
Have you noticed how
state legislators are largely mum on the issue? According to an op-ed appearing
the Los Angeles Times, many elected officials collect campaign
funds from oil companies. Schwarzenegger alone amassed a total of $665,000
from Chevron, according to advocacy group oilwatchdog.org. In
any case, motorists are responding
by increasing their use of public transportation, motorcycles and bicycles.
So, once again, interest turns to alternative fuels. Would you believe that
you can already purchase a natural gas car and fuel them at 1,500 locations across
the country? Yet no
one is buying these cars. Consumers have largely ignored them, while corporations
and governments who buy the cars do not go far in promoting them. Meanwhile, air
regulators and Rio
representatives gathered in Diamond Bar to display
Metro continues to absorb much
criticism for its fare increase proposal.
However, this time around, criticism also turns towards the Bus Riders Union,
who denounced the increases in a previous
letters to the Los Angeles Times blasted the BRU for needlessly adding
race and class issues to the discussion, while another one acknowledged that a
fare increase is long overdue based on experience. Metrolink CEO David
the BRU for making race-based claims against the commuter rail system.
Advocates of Bus Rapid Transit believe their technology is being drowned out by
rail projects. Proponents claim that BRT offers the same comfortable ride with
buses that are more environment-friendly than electric rail and costs far less.
According to advocates, they are being out-lobbied
by rail proponents, citing that there is a lot more money to be had from rail
projects than from BRT.
Grade crossing regulations threaten
to hinder plans for transit-oriented development in Santa Clarita. Long
Beach will decide whether to explore building
a streetcar system that would connect its downtown with Cal State Long Beach.
, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will deliver a transportation proposal
out rail, a move that may erode his support. In Houston
, anti-rail sentiment remains strong as officials try to replace
voter-approved light rail proposals with BRT.
Amtrak Coast Starlight
sleeping car passengers from now through the end of summer can enjoy complimentary
digEplayer XT devices. These portable screens allow users to view movies and
play games. The pilot program will form part of major Coast Starlight enhancements
Donate and Join
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to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Some San Gabriel
and Inland Empire officials wish to form their
own council of governments to bring home funds for local projects. Some are
particularly disappointed that the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is
giving too much attention to the 710 Freeway tunnel. Efforts would include lobbying
for the Gold Line to Montclair
, according to proponents.
U.S. Congressmember Susan Davis
(D-San Diego) plans to offer a military bill amendment intended to stop
the San Onofre Toll Road (State Highway Route 241). Specifically, the amendment
would undo a previous decision that allowed the Navy, which owns the land but
leases it to the state for use as a park, to grant toll road operators easements
within the park. Fellow Congressmember Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) offered
support for the amendment, which drew
the ire of the road-centered Orange County Register editorial board.
The Daily Breeze gave a summary
of the progress made in stopping the toll road.
Detouring onto environmental
issues, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveils a proposal
to reduce carbon emissions 35% below the 1990 level. Automobile use is one
of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases in the region. Much of the plan
proposes reducing its use by expanding the regional rail network and developing
areas around transit hubs. However, the plan did not outline how it would fund
the improvements. Meanwhile, researchers revealed that smog
increases the threat of wildfires, since increased nitrogen from the air accelerates
plant growth while other pollutants stem root growth.
President George W. Bush announced that he has taken action to reduce
gasoline use by cars by 20% in 10 years while regulating emissions. The development
comes as the Supreme Court recently decided that carbon dioxide is a pollutant
that can be federally regulated. Critics believe this is a stall tactic to delay
by virtue other states) from employing their own regulations.
in Santa Monica remain
divided over how to provide parking for businesses. Rialto
residents and business leaders are eager
to benefit from the completed Route 210 Freeway, which will open later this
year. (If you wish, come to a ribbon-cutting event on Saturday, June 23, where
you can walk
on the freeway before it opens. Visit Play on the 210 for
details.) Nationally, Los Angeles is spared from
housing the rudest drivers in the country: That dubious
honor goes to Miami for the second year in a row.
Santa Fe unveiled
a revised design for their Southern California
Intermodal Gateway in the Port
of Los Angeles , which calls
for the purchase and use of newer and cleaner tractors, creating an "urban
forest" and building soundwalls. Residents are taking the proposal with
a grain of salt, believing that pollution would be worse if more trucks hit
the road. BNSF argues that the new plan could take as many as 1 million trucks
a year off the roads. Meanwhile, the Long Beach Press Telegram published
an article summarizing the 95-year history
of the Port of Long Beach.
What seems like something straight out
of a telenovela, the head of a business group who claims mineral rights
in Punta Colonet , Baja
California , accused the Mexican government of threatening
him and his family to drop his claim. The federal transportation undersecretary
refuted the accusations, believing claimant Gabriel Chavez is trying to get a
better deal for the site of a proposed megaport.
In our human interest
section (quite a change from that last paragraph, eh?), the Los Angeles Times
took a sentimental
journey to the Grizzly Flats Railroad in San
Gabriel . Acclaimed Disney animator Ward Kimball built
and maintained the miniature railroad, which inspired Walt Disney himself to build
a railroad around his theme park. With the passing of Kimball in 2002, however,
the Kimball family is dismantling the tracks while donating the trains to outfits
such as the Orange
a list of other recent developments:
7 : A bill that would expedite Metrolink service to
in the state Assembly Transportation Committee. Assemblymember John J. Benoit
pulled the bill after it became evident that the Committee would vote against
it. The bill would have allowed the Riverside County Transportation Commission
to allow one firm to design and build the project, yielding time and cost savings.
Union representatives opposed the bill. Metrolink, which already has the authority
to issue design-build contracts, will move the project forward. You can learn
more about the project at www.perrisvalleyline.com.
May 8 : A grand jury faulted the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)
moving swiftly enough to improve grade crossings in time for 30-minute Metrolink
service in 2009. The grand jury also noted the agency still has no policy to establish
"quiet zones". The panel recommended the OCTA to launch a rail safety
program that would educate the public before the train expansion is completed.
The LA/Palmdale Airport held an open
house that featured the first landing ever of a commercial jet liner at the
airport. United will fly two roundtrips a day with the aircraft between Palmdale
and San Francisco International Airport, where travelers can connect to dozens
of domestic and international flights. Palmdale Mayor James Ledford took part
in the ceremonies, which served mainly to promote
the service among Antelope
Valley residents. Service
on United will start on Thursday, June 7.
May 9 :
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed
Gina Marie Lindsey as the new executive director for the Los Angeles World Airports.
Lindsey has managed airports in Seattle and Anchorage
, Alaska , before she became a lobbyist in Washington
other things, Lindsey handled a controversial, $3 billion airport modernization
: Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed
testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee in Sacramento
on the value and importance of funding CA HSR. There were a number
of leaders who joined in key testimony to support the rail project. The committee
graciously listened to testimony of the various groups and officials and expressed
thanks for showing support of the project. The group of supporters then adjourned
to the hallways for a quick caucus and members left to educated various elected
officials and their staff.
Reed adjourned to the offices of Jo Linda
Thompson, a legislative advocate heading the statewide support coalition for high
speed rail, where he was briefed on the latest efforts and strategies to get the
project funded in FY 08 budget. Following the briefing session, Reed returned
to the capitol for a series of meetings with staff of numerous elected officials
to discuss project merits and potential funding concerns for the upcoming budget.
The federal government awarded $15
million to boost security at the Ports of Long Beach and Los
Angeles . Grants totaled $445
million nationally for infrastructure, including $200 million for ports.
May 11 : The Metrolink Board unanimously voted to increase
fares on the commuter rail system. Part of the adjustments included scrapping
the existing zone-based fare system and replacing it with distance-based fares.
The increases will take effect on July 1 of this year, 2008 and 2009. Visit the
website for the new prices and more information.
14 : Reed and RailPAC President Paul Dyson attended
the Orange County Transportation Authority
Board meeting. Both spoke to the board about the importance of the upcoming 30-minute
rail service in Orange
County . The two also had
discussions with CEO Art Leahy about a Board action requesting the consolidation
of the three rail operators along the LOSSAN corridor and giving consumers more
options. Also, the Board voted to spend $1.2
million for a study on congestion relief for the I-5 south of El
The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council featured a discussion
on the upcoming Metro fare adjustments, featuring Metro Board member Richard Katz,
who gave a brief background scenario and told of numerous efforts to avoid fare
increases. Katz called upon audience member Bart Reed to clarify and elaborate
on questions asked by the audience.
To Work Week : This week, MyGo inaugurated
a rebate program for users of electric bicycles and Gold Line trains in Pasadena
, just in time for the festive week. This Thursday, May 17, is Bike
To Work Day. Metro will offer rides
at no cost to those who use a bike (or at least bring a helmet) to the bus
or train. LADOT Commuter Express, Beach Cities Transit, Commerce Municipal Bus
Lines, Gardena Municipal Lines, Long Beach Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk
Transit, Santa Clarita Transit, Torrance Transit, and Whittier Transit also will
offer no-cost rides to bicyclists who use transit for part of their commute day.
To cap it off, CityLites
will host the 4th Annual Inner City 21 and 5-Mile Bike
Tour Festival and Carnival in Jesse
at Century Blvd. and Western
Ave. on Saturday, May 19. Call (323) 280-0288
or see this
flyer for more information.
Events : Downtown Regional Fare Forum: Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m., Board
Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
Consider attending our monthly Transit
Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday,
May 22 - 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe
The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles CA
90012 . Expo Line Metro
Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe will be the speaker. ( Map.)
We hope to see you there!
Metro Special Board Meeting: Thursday, May
24, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One
(adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles
Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Tuesday, May 29,
9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600
Main St. , Orange .
Exposition Metro Line Construction
Authority : Thursday, June 7, 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,
June 7, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire
Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles.
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The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a 501[c](3) non-profit
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by mobilizing citizens to press for sensible public policy to grow our bus and
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