Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, December 21, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 51

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.

A simplified Metrolink system would increase ridership.
The Transit Coalition is currently formulating a plan to help Metrolink streamline its operations in order to raise revenue without increasing costs. Metrolink does one thing and does it well: Provide service that caters to rush hour commuters. Unfortunately the current service offerings miss customers who need to travel through Union Station. Riders who attempt to travel from say, Anaheim to Santa Clarita, often have to endure long transfers at Union Station and user-unfriendly schedules. It is our belief that Metrolink could attract new riders, without additional costs, by streamlining the routes it offers.

Enter the Metrolink Simplified Service Plan. Routes would be connected in order to increase the amount of station pairs that are possible on a one-seat ride. Where routes cannot be connected, timed transfers would be used to offer riders a more convenient trip. Here's the kicker. Some trains already run through Union Station but they just aren't advertised as such. The plan is currently in its infancy, but we are working diligently to get a concise, clear and reasonable plan to Metrolink as soon as possible. More on this as it develops.

Yes on Measure R
The push for federal funding for the Wilshire Subway and the Downtown Regional Connector is on and the battle lines have been drawn. Metro officials have put in a request for $77.6 million in federal dollars for preliminary engineering work on both projects for the 2011 fiscal year. When Metro CEO Art Leahy spoke at a Transit Coalition dinner meeting a few months ago he said that Los Angeles is in a good position to vie for federal money since we currently do not have any projects in the federal pipeline.

Not everybody thinks the subway and the light rail connector are the best projects to compete for federal money with. Previously, a coalition of 14 Southern California representatives say that submitting the subway and the connector for federal funding puts the county at risk for being thrown out of the New Starts funding queue for years.

The Metro Orange Line will run late on New Year's Eve.
After a story on the front page of the Los Angeles Daily News admonished Metro for not including the Orange Line in its plan to run 24-hour service on New Year's Eve, Metro has decided to include it after all, making the editorial board happy. As with the Metro Rail lines, the Orange Line will operate every 20 minutes on New Year's Eve and into New Year's Day. Rides will be free between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The Final Environmental Impact Report for the Expo Line Phase 2 has been released. The report recommends that the Overland and Westwood crossings be constructed at-grade. If both were built as trenches or bridges, the end result would be increased costs for little benefit. Also, engineering issues such as the fact that the area is in a flood hazard zone would be difficult and costly to tackle. The entire report can be viewed on the Expo Line's official web site.

California's deteriorating roads are costing drivers almost $2,500 a year. 92% of major roads in California are in poor or mediocre condition. This stems from a $10 billion transportation budget shortfall. $3.6 billion in economic stimulus funds will help the situation, but when federal stimulus money is simply replacing state dollars, one can't expect much stimulating to be happening. The report also stressed public transit as an avenue to economic growth.

The state has until April 1 to figure out how to pay back transit agencies for funds they stole from the State Transit Assistance fund, according to a Superior Court ruling. On Monday the state was ordered to pay back $1.2 billion in stolen transit funds. Whether that actually happens is still up in the air.

LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson took umbrage with the Los Angeles City Council at a meeting of Neighborhood Council representatives last weekend. Robinson blasted the Council as "out of touch" and complained that they have "Reality Deficit Disorder" for not recognizing the real impact of upcoming budget cuts. The political newsletter CityWatch praised Robinson for her courage in speaking truth to power, while Streetsblog blasted the outburst as another example of the LADOT bureaucracy showing its out-of-control arrogance. Robinson's speech concerned itself with why the LADOT couldn't afford to have a more open relationship with the neighborhood councils.

While in Copenhagen, Mayor Villaraigosa gave an interview to KPCC that discussed the need to make L.A. more bike-friendly. The mayor's comments were seized upon by cyclists, some of whom took particular interest in his comments about CicLAvia, a proposed closed-street festival that takes place on weekends. Meanwhile, Long Beach officials mull educational efforts to stem a spike in bicycle accidents.

Sharrows in Glendale
Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road that drivers do. Unfortunately, some drivers feign ignorance and pretend that cyclists belong on the sidewalk (remember, drivers took a state-administered test that proved they know this stuff!). That's where sharrows come in. These are painted markings on the street that are meant to clear up any confusion about where cyclists can and cannot ride. The newest round of sharrows just went down in Glendale on Grandview Avenue. In a perfect world sharrows would not be necessary, but the more of these we put down the closer we get to peace on the streets.

Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern is asking whether the hubbub over putting rail lines underground is an issue spurred by environmental justice or just-us sentiments. Alpern explains that a dollar spent putting a portion of the Crenshaw Line underground is a dollar not spent on other projects throughout the region. Metro in its capacity as a transportation planning agency is, according to Alpern, "not interested in hurting anyone's quality of life—in fact, quite the opposite—but are interpreting legal, technical and budgetary constraints that prevent them from making all parties happy."

Alpern also had a letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times pointing out that the Expo Line wasn't intended to go to LAX despite commentary from LA Times cartoonist Ted Rall.

The long-awaited redraft of the High-Speed Rail Authority business plan was published on December 15. Notable changes include a near-doubling of proposed fares from $55 to $105 and a decrease in projected ridership from 117 million to 41 million. The business plan highlights station ridership for the first time, with surprisingly high figures for Merced, Gilroy, and Anaheim. Despite the multi-billion dollar double-decking of Los Angeles Union Station (which Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed blasted in a CityWatch article), Gilroy is projected to equal its attraction of inter-regional high-speed boardings, to about 3800 daily. That is equivalent to about 6 fully loaded Metrolink trains. Despite these shortcomings, speculation that the project is among four finalists for federal HSR dollars runs rampant.

Transportation Equity Network
When the Great Depression hit, the effects were devastating but disproportionate. Unemployment rates among African-Americans were 50 percent higher than white workers in many cities. When the economic situation began to look grim, black men and women were let go first both because of discrimination and the fact that blacks disproportionately worked in service sectors that were the hardest hit. As we have learned throughout history, the marginal worker is hardest hit by an economic crisis. That's why the Transportation Equity Network called on those who care about economic stimulus to call their representatives and ask that a portion of stimulus jobs be set aside for those who are hurt the most: low-income workers, women and people of color. Take a look around the rest of the site to see what you can do to help.

Official stimulus job-creation reports prepared by states suggest that a billion dollars worth of investment in transit creates more jobs than an equivalent investment in road construction. A $1 billion investment in transit creates 16,419 job-months compared to 8,781 job-months created by a billion dollar investment in roads and highways. A job-month measures the work of one person over the course of a month. No matter how you measure the impact of job creation, transit comes out ahead!

For your entertainment, everybody loves it when the camera catches someone doing the wrong thing. One such series called People Behaving Badly catches people breaking various laws in the act in San Francisco, many of which are traffic violations. Whether news reporter Stanley Roberts is filming drivers, cyclists, or bus riders, someone is screwing up! His pieces run on KRON4 news in the Bay Area but are also posted on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Jobs for Main Street Act to spur job creation, which includes nearly $37.3 billion in transportation spending. The amount is split into $8.4 billion for transit, $800 million for Amtrak, $27.5 billion for highways, $500 million towards airport improvements, and $100 million for maritime projects. Riders of public transportation systems all over the U.S. will benefit in particular from the provision allowing large transit systems to use 10 percent of the $6.15 billion in formula funding for operations, a critical provision during this crisis in transit funding. Importantly, passenger and freight rail projects would be eligible for the $27.5 billion set aside for highway projects.

The Senate can make meaningful changes that will focus investments in a more responsible way towards projects that create the most jobs in the most diligent fashion and build for the long-term health of our economy. Transportation for America will be pushing for additional provisions in the Senate version of the jobs bill that would ensure the $27.5 billion allocated to the traditional highway program goes towards projects that restore our transportation networks to a state of good repair; include funding for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the Department of Transportation's high-speed rail and TIGER programs; and include workforce development provisions to target new transportation construction jobs to the people who need them most.

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, January 26 (No other TTC meetings in December), 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles. We hope to see you there!

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

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, January 7, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, January 8, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, January 8, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board and Committees Meetings: Friday, January 8, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., Suite 2600, Los Angeles.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, January 9, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, January 11 and 25, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, January 11, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Monday, January 4 Wednesday, January 13, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, January 14, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Board of Supervisors Hearing Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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

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.

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