Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 38
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.
Forget: Next Tuesday is our Transit Coalition monthly meeting,
where we will announce an exciting new campaign that aims to improve public transportation
throughout Southern California. (You can get
a sneak peek of our campaign on the California
Rail News, page 4, courtesy of Train Riders' Association of California.)
Mike McGinley, retired Metrolink director of engineering and construction, will
discuss this major improvement with attendees. See Upcoming Events below for details.
So, once again, Los Angeles and Orange
the worst traffic congestion in the nation, according to a recent report by
the Texas Transportation Institute. However, Ventura
and the Inland Empire are rapidly catching up,
with congestion growing at a faster rate. The report is available online.
Columnist Steve Hymon once again tackles the question of the "Subway
to the Sea". This time, he learned of a novel way to fund the project: Tax
increments. In essence, taxes from property along Wilshire would be directed
to a fund that would provide money for a subway. Such taxes would increase with
the sale of property, which triggers a tax increase on the property. (Hymon also
took a look at L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and his recent worldwide travels.)
Right now, it is all good times for Metrolink southeast of Los
Angeles . Santa Fe Springs will launch
the design phase of its efforts to create a "quiet zone" in Southeast
Los Angeles County
. Railroad crews worked on installing
additional track in Santa Ana
, which required cancellation of Metrolink and Amtrak services over
the weekend. A letter
to the editor clarified that Metrolink ridership is not merely made up of
Do you like change? Some change can actually be good
for you, according to this Whittier Daily News editorial,
which summarily asks SoCal residents so accustomed to suburban growth patterns
to embrace "smart growth" principles. Indeed, even though the region
is known for its culture of single-family homes, Los
Angeles was in fact a quiet
pioneer of dense living and smart growth. Mixed-use developments were more
abundant and even promoted through public policy, though on a smaller and more
individual scale than today.
With high speed rail in California
treading along, some environmentalists are concerned that it might
current concerns by creating entirely new ones. In the Stockton
area, one route would run through ecologically sensitive wetlands,
home of various endangered species. HSR could also spurt growth in Central
Valley cities, which would consume farmland and open space. Proponents
claim that growth will remain within existing cities. Meanwhile, a public hearing
on the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of
HSR will be held at the State Capitol. See Upcoming Events below for details.
Both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News took
on the issue of walkability in the City of Angels
. The Times article dealt with proposed
policies that would make the city more friendly and safe to pedestrians. The
city Urban Design Studio presented a "
walkability checklist" that would assess what works and what doesn't
work when it comes to the pedestrian experience. On the other hand, the Daily
News expressed concern that no less than 1,000 San Fernando
Valley pedestrians have been hit
by vehicles since 2006, with 30 killed since 2002. However, improvements are
slow to come, as city staff is thinly stretched and street designs often encourage
speedier car travel.
A brouhaha brewed over the week when an exposť compared
the conditions of the Chandler
bike path that runs through the Cities of Los Angeles and Burbank.
The bike path bas built over former rail tracks and connects the North Hollywood
Metro station with central Burbank
. While the Burbank portion features
well-kept greenery and dog cleanup stations, the Los
Angeles portion, which has yet to open, is overgrown with
weeds and graffiti. The Daily News invoked the writing spirit of famed
poet Robert Frost in its editorial
decrying the situation.
Help! If you have not done so yet, we invite you to donate and join The Transit Coalition. A monthly subscription to Moving
Southern California comes with your membership. Visit our new and improved
to explore other options. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
the Sunset Junction southeast of Hollywood
becoming more "bourgeois", parking becomes increasingly scarce.
Thus, merchants are asking L.A.
city officials to add
parking meters on major streets in the neighborhood. However, some long-time
residents are interpreting the move as another step towards gentrification, while
others fear it would make the area less "hip". Of note, most dwellings
in the area were built in the early part of the century with only one garage,
and the long defunct Red Cars on Sunset and Santa Monica Blvds. provided adequate
public transportation for their needs.
Despite a tight timeline and a
tighter race for state money, the San Bernardino Associated Governments voted
to delay ranking their high priority projects. The Orange County Transportation
Authority is grappling
with delays on Garden Grove Freeway improvements. Letters to the editor gave
ideas on how
to unclog carpool lanes.
Further south, SANDAG continues to receive
comments on its Regional Transportation
Plan, of which the
public is invited to participate. Two Del
Mar residents are
on a mad dash to stop a double tracking project under their community that,
under the Plan, would be built no earlier than 2021. Also, learn about its Independent
Taxpayer Oversight Committee, which was the subject of an article
in the North County Times.
The Los Angeles Times takes
a look of its own at
the financial challenges of the Las Vegas Monorail. Despite modest ridership
gains last year, revenue growth remains anemic, to the point where the bonds that
funded its construction are likely to default in the near future. Stations on
the monorail are distant and hard to reach from the casino floors, and the $5
fare is a major turn-off. Some tourists actually find it cheaper to call a cab
and faster to walk between stations. Despite these problems, the monorail operator
seeks an extension to McCarran
Airport , which promises
a boost in patrons.
Commuters are just itching
to use a tunnel connecting Orange and Riverside
Counties , even though it
is nowhere near the construction phase. However, the proposal faces many challenges.
Tunneling under the mountains will be a daunting feat of engineering. Researchers
are currently collecting rock samples and water table data along the proposed
corridor. It has already been recommended that, due to financial constraints,
the tunnel should be built as a toll road. Apathy from local politicos is also
At the State Capitol, labor unions successfully killed
a bill that would have required construction firms to retrofit their vehicles
so as to reduce diesel pollution. Labor feared that the requisite would increase
construction costs and eliminate jobs. Political analysts interpreted a move as
a creeping rift between unions and environmentalists, both of which traditionally
have been supporting of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
a bill that would prohibit teenagers from using cell phones while driving.
With the march of time comes many innovations to make transportation better.
For example, Burbank will
repave several streets with asphalt
made of recycled rubber tires. However, software glitches will delay
testing of the TransLink "smart card" on Bay Area rail services.
Worse yet, the LADOT received condemnation
for shutting down operations of a pedicab because it did not apply for certain
Nationally, Congress is closer to approving a massive transportation
bill. The long-sought Second
Avenue Subway in New York City
will be among the many projects to be funded. Sadly, funds for the
High Desert Corridor, which would connect the Antelope and Victor
Valleys , did
not make the cut. Also, with Amtrak ridership and
fuel efficiency growing, the current six-year reauthorization bill chugs along
but lacks the financial push for high speed rail, a concept sorely
lagging in the United
of which, Alex Kummant celebrated his first year as Amtrak president with a
Airport in Orange
County is becoming a
victim of its own success. Passenger numbers are increasing, and its gates
are some of the busiest in the nation. However, growth is extremely limited, largely
because efforts to expand it have been quashed by residents in nearby cities.
County residents also voted 5 years ago to turn the former El Toro Marine base
into a park instead of another airport. For the moment, a third terminal now under
construction should address some of the growth.
Los Angeles Supervisor Mike Antonovich gave his support to LA/Palmdale Regional
Airport in a letter
to the editor. Antonovich expressed that transportation improvements, including
additional rail service from Los Angeles
, would make the airport a more enticing alternative to LAX. However,
an Antelope Valley Press editorial
noted that officials from Los Angeles are more
interested in expanding LAX, despite agreements promising not to do so, than developing
. Regardless, LAX will move forward with a $7.5
million landscaping project near the 105 Freeway.
Here is a list
of other recent developments:
10 : The California Public Employees' Retirement System
board of trustees voted to invest
up to $1.5 billion over the next year in building critical infrastructure
statewide. Under the pilot program, CalPERS will create a new investment category
where funds would be spent on transportation, energy and other government projects.
Funds would be bundled in a mix of other investments, with the intent of getting
a return on investments at a rate of at least 8% a year.
Integrated Transportation System made
its public debut at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Traffic
Management Center in Alhambra
. With this technology, controllers can immediately tweak the timing
of traffic signals to clear traffic. 51
intersections in the South Bay will be controlled in such a fashion, with
the expectation that the county
Board of Supervisors will
vote for its expansion to all of the county.
12 : A study released by The Los Angeles County Economic
Development Corporation revealed that overseas
flights at LAX added 363,700 jobs and $82.1 billion to the Southern California
economy last year. However, the report concluded that other airports are competing
for such flights, leaving LAX in the cold. In order to stay competitive, the group
called for major upgrades of the airport, of which some in fact are already underway.
(Somewhat related, Denver
overtook LAX as the nation's fourth busiest airport.)
14 : The Ventura County Transportation Commission hired
David Kettle as its new
executive director. Kettle is currently the director of freeway construction
for the San Bernardino Associated Governments, but will take his new position
on October 16. The Commission also considered launching a vanpool
program for farm workers.
To Close : The Transit Coalition would
like to congratulate all those who participated in the 33rd annual
Metro Bus Roadeo, where skilled drivers from across the region compete by
driving their buses through obstacle courses. Among the participants included
"Mimi" Pereira, who hails from North Hollywood
and has driven buses for Metro and its predecessor agencies for 23 years.
Upcoming Events: SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force: Wednesday, September 19, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh
St., 12th floor, Los Angeles
Committee Meetings: Wednesday, September 19 and Thursday, September 20, Board
Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
Angeles . (
and Programming Committee, Wednesday, September 19, 1 p.m.
and Budget Committee, Wednesday, September 19, 2:30 p.m.
Congestion Pricing Committee, Wednesday, September 19, 3 p.m.
Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, September 20, 10 a.m.
Committee , Thursday, September 20,
Committee , Thursday, September 20,
Westside/Central Governance Council :
Wednesday, September 12 Thursday, September 20, 5 p.m., La Cienega
, Sunset Room, 325
S. La Cienega Blvd. , Beverly Hills
C onsider attending our monthly
Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, September
25 - 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!
High Speed Rail Authority Board: Wednesday, September 26, 9 a.m., State Capitol,
Room 112, Sacramento .
A public hearing on the draft environmental document for the Bay Area to Central
Valley portion of HSR will follow.
Citizens Advisory Council: Wednesday, September 26, 6:30 p.m., Board Room,
Metro Headquarters, One Gateway
Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los
Rail 2020 Conference: November 2 thru 4, various locations in Old Town
San Diego. Early registration is $55 for TRAC members, with $20 surcharge for
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Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications
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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