One thing the mayor has not been very ambitious about is the quality of LA's light rail vehicles. Luckily, the deal that would see AnsaldoBreda deliver 100 substandard light rail cars (after they finished the first 50, of course!) fell through hours before the deal's Friday night deadline. At the last minute, the rail car manufacturer wanted a cap on daily penalties for failing to deliver their mediocre product on schedule starting in 2013. Metro scoffed at the notion and allowed the deal's deadline to expire. The Los Angeles Times felt vindicated, since its editorial board advised against the deal in July. Now the bidding process starts over. Did someone say Siemens?
The folks at the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) are asking Metro to consider a fifth station option for the Downtown Regional Connector. LTCC representatives want an underground station below the current Little Tokyo Gold Line Station in order to minimize construction impacts in the historic neighborhood. How feasible such an option actually is remains to be seen.
There is no doubt that bike lanes will be a matter of discussion at the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Summit. The focus is not only on bike transit next year, but pedestrians as well. The event's planners are soliciting ideas for speakers or topics to be discussed so head on over to the event's official web site and let them know what you think.
In Washington, another continuing resolution has punted the federal transportation bill to December 18, although the Senate may take up an official extension this week. Yet to be decided is whether Congress will allow 6 weeks or 6 months to consider U.S. Congressmember Jim Oberstar's $500 billion proposal to replace SAFETEA-LU, which expired September 30. Unfortunately, the remaining uncertainty is leading decision makers to debate the when rather than the how of this critical bill. While it's clear that we need serious federal investment in infrastructure to help boost the economy, events like the closing of the Bay Bridge last week demonstrate that repair and maintenance are essential to creating a successful national transportation program.
LA Observed guest blogger Dana Gabbard takes LABiz Observed blogger Marc Lacter to task for his flippant post about the "subway we'll never see." In his post, Gabbard explains how LA is finally taking transit seriously with the passage of Measure R and the emergence of even Beverly Hills residents as supporters of the Subway towards the Sea. If there's one job transit advocates in Los Angeles have, it's chipping away at old stereotypes.
According to a new study, Amtrak lost $32 per passenger in 2008. The marquee moment of the study comes at the expense of the Sunset Limited, which loses over $400 per passenger. Figures in the more appropriate metric of price-per-passenger-mile were ignored by most media. Suspiciously absent from the study is how much freeways lose per driver. And don't forget airlines.
In order to bolster budgets, some state governments have concocted a master plan to sell off public infrastructure to private companies. These companies would then operate the assets, assume the costs and pocket the revenues. Now that the economy has taken a nosedive, those deals are falling through. The plan to sell Chicago's Midway Airport for $2.5 billion failed because private backers could not find enough change in their couch cushions. Now state governments will have to find ways other than holding garage sales to fix their budgets.
Transit agencies have discovered Web 2.0. Metro routes are on Google, Metrolink is Twittering and now SANDAG will be on Facebook. As more and more agencies jump on the social media bandwagon, there is a question of how effective these efforts are. We'll suggest that simply posting marketing materials and other propaganda on sites like Facebook and Twitter has a narrow appeal. For two-way communication between stakeholders and transit agencies to work, the agency must be open, honest and not be afraid to admit when it's at fault. In this respect, the Metro-hosted The Source blog is off to a good start by covering controversial issues that may not cast the agency in a good light.
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 through this special website or by mail to: LADOT, 201 N. Los Angeles Street, Space #18B, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Those waiting for gas prices to drop further should prepare to be disappointed. The decrease in California gasoline prices has slowed while the price of gas has increased by 10 cents on average across the country. Last week, Americans used 96 million more gallons of gas than were produced. Refineries are deliberately cutting back on production in order to raise prices and boost narrow profit margins. What a wonderful industry! Suddenly, that recent acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad by Warren Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway investment firm doesn't look too bad.
Finally, the Fed's big plan to stop distracted driving involves a stick and a carrot. A new distracted driving bill would offer grants to states that enact laws banning the use of electronic devices behind the wheel. States that don't comply don't get grants. As states become more strapped for cash, we would expect plenty of states complying if this bill passes.
Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Wednesday, December 2 (No meeting in November), 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles. We hope to see you there!
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:
Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, November 4, 4:30 p.m.,
City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan Update Meeting: Wednesday, November 4, 6 p.m. Ramona Hall, 4580 N. Figueroa St., 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.
Metro Regional Connector Transit Corridor Draft EIS/R Update Meetings:
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.