Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 42

Welcome to  The Transit Coalition weekly newsletter! Our organization participates in meetings with key decision makers and community leaders. Our goal is to keep you informed on the latest developments in the transportation scene across Southern California.

Does Everybody Know What Time It Is? That's right, next Tuesday is our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting, featuring Metro Rail General Manager Mike Cannell. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Rail2020 Conference: Don't miss out on this excellent opportunity to stay appraised on statewide passenger rail matters. The event will be held November 6-8 at the Crowne Plaza, 450 E. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura. Seats are still available at $89 if you purchase before October 25. (Non-members add $25.) This includes continental breakfast and luncheon.You can also purchase a separate excursion on the rare-mileage Santa Paula Branch of the Fillmore and Western Railroad at the special rate of $99.

A vision for the Los Angeles River.
Two visions are on a collision course in Los Angeles, California high-speed rail and the LA River revitalization project. Proponents of restoring the Los Angeles River say that high-speed rail would encroach on efforts to build more green space along the "river". It puts transit advocates, many of whom generally support both projects, in a difficult position. Hopefully, both visions can find a way to peacefully coexist with each other.

Several tunnels have drawn the ire of Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern. In his most recent LA CityWatch article, Alpern tackles the proposed tubes and trenches for the Wilshire Subway, the 710 completion through South Pasadena and the Expo Line. Previously on CityWatch, he outlined five things politicians can do for transportation in Southern California.

Is this the version of the Long Range Transportation Plan that the Metro Board may finally approve on Thursday? Metro has delayed approval of the plan for months now. Haven't we had enough time to get our transportation priorities straight?

Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus has purchased 11 new 60-foot articulated buses with federal stimulus money. Ten more buses will be purchased as soon as the funding is available. The new 60-footers will be used to replace older diesel burning buses and expand services on the Rapid 7 line, Big Blue Bus' busiest route.

A virtual tour of the Expo Line is now available.
The Expo Line may be falling behind schedule, but you can take a virtual ride on the Westside rail route right now. The rendering simulates a short portion of the line currently under construction. It's not entirely accurate though. In real life the trains will stop at the stations.

A new report about TAP was obtained via a public information request and it turns out that Metro is in way over its head. The report found that Metro does not have enough staff to implement the universal fare system and the agency's standards are inadequate when compared to the rest of the industry. TAP is not quite ready for primetime.

Attention LADOT Transit Users: LADOT has begun an analysis of all of its transit services to respond to the significant budget shortfall facing its transit services program, with focus on underperforming routes with low ridership and services duplicated by other agencies. LADOT is slated to reduce or eliminate service to where it may not be needed. Riders are encouraged to submit their suggestions at  http://ladotlbl.tmdinc.net or by mail to: LADOT, 201 N. Los Angeles Street, Space #18B, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Cycling advocates are sick and tired of waiting for the city to draft a solid bike plan. The recent draft of the Los Angeles Bike Plan was so poorly written that cyclists have decided to simply make their own plan. Can they do it better than the so-called professionals? See for yourself. The first Bike Working Group was held in Hollywood last Saturday. The next meeting will take place on October 31st at 1PM. More information can be found at the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan web site. Dates for the public hearings are listed in Upcoming Events below.

The LAX FlyAway Bus system continues to expand, this time into Irvine. Twelve trips a day will service LAX to and from Irvine Station. The one-way fare is a little pricey at $25, more than double the cost of other FlyAway bus routes. However, FlyAway users may take advantage of up to 30 days of free parking at Irvine Station. How about a discount for travelers not driving to the train station?

Renderings of the future rework of the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Even if the bus is a little pricey, a new terminal and amenities will greet international travelers at LAX by 2012. The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has awarded $1.3 billion in construction contracts to renovate the Tom Bradley International Terminal. New gates will be built to accommodate a new generation of super-sized aircraft. The terminal has not seen any upgrades since 1984.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue their long spiral into oblivion, but then again what isn't these days? The ports have released their worst combined import statistics in almost a decade. Despite the fact that September is usually the best month for imports, port traffic is down 16% from this time last year. Go back two years and the losses are even more staggering at 27%. While analysts are predicting a recovery, the only question is, When?

A project to widen a portion of Interstate 10 in Baldwin Park has begun. Just over two miles of carpool lanes will be added to both sides of the freeway in the heavily congested corridor. We usually frown on freeway expansion around here, but this one may be a good thing. Currently, the carpool lanes end after the El Monte Busway diverges from the freeway. In the future, busway trips could continue onto the new carpool lanes, allowing Metro and Foothill Transit to offer a wider range of services. Let's hope these new lanes aren't just for cars!

The Los Angeles City Council and Department of Transportation are jointly asking private event holders to pay for their own traffic enforcement. Due to the city's budget crisis, the LADOT's budget for traffic enforcement at special events was slashed from $6 million to $2 million. Now that the money is gone, the city is telling venues like Dodger Stadium to pony up the cash instead. The Dodgers, who balked at continuing last year's free shuttle bus program to the ballpark, were congratulated for embracing the plan.

Traffic calming.
Drivers often love to see wide streets because the streets invite the drivers to go faster. The opposite approach, removing lanes to reduce speeds and increase safety, is often balked at. Burbank transportation officials are experiencing just that after they revealed their traffic calming strategy. The proposal includes removing a lane in each direction on Verdugo Ave. and striping a bike lane and a center turn lane. Proponents of the plan hope that speeds will be reduced enough to prevent accidents in the future. The plan's detractors say that inviting cyclists to use the street will cause even more accidents. Just slow down, then!

Gasoline prices appear to be defying the law of supply and demand. Despite a weak demand and ample supplies, the price of oil is much higher than it should be. What's going on? According to an energy analyst, speculators are driving up the price of crude oil. With so many other issues at the forefront of America's consciousness right now, commodities trading reform is not likely to be a priority anytime soon.

With a few strokes of the governor's pen, a new state agency has been created. The California Transportation Finance Authority has been born in order to issue revenue bonds for transportation improvements across the state. The most dramatic change the bill created is that the new agency will, "greatly facilitate the use of tolls by creating a legal means of imposing them without direct approval from the state legislature or from voters," according to a USC study. Tolling has become increasingly popular amidst backlash over proposals to raise fuel taxes. If we can't get drivers at the pump, we'll get ‘em as they enter the freeway via a transponder on their dash!

The Washington DC Metro.
You can't quite wear out your Blackberry throughout the Washington D.C. Metro system yet. Only the 20 busiest underground stations feature platform cell phone coverage from the likes of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The hardware was installed by the wireless phone companies at no cost to DC Metro. Hey cell phone companies, Los Angeles has a subway too!

Is there an upside to traffic? That's the question Wired is asking this week. Traffic can encourage drivers to give up on the freeway and try bus or rail options instead. But should public transportation simply aspire to just be a bit better than driving in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, or should it strive to be a viable alternative to driving any time of day, any day of the week? Perhaps the goal shouldn't be, "Traffic sucks, so I'll try transit," but to invest in a system that makes people say, "Transit is great, so I'll cut back on or stop driving." There's a world of difference between the two attitudes.

Donate to The Transit Coalition!Donate and Join! 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 Donations page to explore other options. Please include The Transit Coalition in your will, trust or estate. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, October 27, 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles.( Map) Mike Cannell, Metro Rail General Manager, will speak. We hope to see you there!

San Diego North County Transit District Mobility Plan Public Workshop: Wednesday, October 21, 5:30 p.m., San Marcos Civic Center, Community Center, 3 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos. (Alternatively, you can take their online survey.)

Harbor Subdivision Alterntives Analysis Study Public Meetings:

  • October 20, 6 p.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.
  • October 21, 6 p.m., Jackie Robinson Academy Auditorium, 2750 Pine Ave., Long Beach.
  • October 22, 6 p.m., Hyde Park-Miriam Matthews Library, 2205 Florence Ave., Los Angeles.
Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, October 22, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, October 22, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan Update Meetings:
  • Thursday, October 22, 5 p.m., Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave., San Pedro.
  • Saturday, October 24, 10 a.m., Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles.
  • Monday, October 26, 5 p.m., Marvin Braude-San Fernando Constituent Services Center, Conference Room 1B, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys.
  • Wednesday, October 28, 5 p.m., Felicia Mahood Multi Purpose Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
Metro Westside Subway Extension Station Area Information Meetings, an opportunity to discuss station locations and entrances, easy connections to and from the stations, and other issues. All meetings begin at 6 p.m. and each will discuss specific stations listed next to the date:
  • Thursday, October 22 (Wilshire at Bundy, 26th, 16th & 4th Street), Santa Monica Public Library, Multi-Purpose Room, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.
  • Monday, October 26 (Wilshire at Crenshaw, La Brea & Fairfax), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – Terrace Room, 5th Floor, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
  • Tuesday, November 3 (Hollywood/Highland, Santa Monica Boulevard at La Brea, Fairfax & San Vicente, and Beverly Center), Pacific Design Center, Conference Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood.
  • Wednesday, November 4 (Wilshire at La Cienega & Beverly), Beverly Hills City Hall, Municipal Gallery, 455 N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills.
  • Thursday, November 5 (Century City, Westwood/UCLA & Westwood/VA Hospital), Veterans Administration, Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
Metro Service Sector Governance Council Annual Meet and Confer: Friday, October 23, 9 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, October 23, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, October 23, 10 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, October 26, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Tuesday, October 28, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Bicycle Advisory Committee: Tuesday, November 3, 100 S. Main St., 9th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, November 4, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, November 5, 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, November 5, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, November 6, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.

TRAC Rail2020 Conference: November 6-8, Crowne Plaza, 450 E. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

OCTA Bus System Funding Solutions Meeting: Monday, November 9, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, November 9, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.

Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director

Mina Nichols, Legislative Analyst

Zach Gutierrez, Communications
Damien Newton, Editor LA Streetsblog

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.

Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue on transit.