Voters will finally have a chance to protect and firewall those transit funds, should an initiative that is currently being circulated qualify for the November ballot. If the constitutional amendment does qualify for the ballot and passes in November, transit funding will be somewhat stabilized.
Los Angeles is among the top metropolitan areas that are losing jobs. Between November 2008 and November 2009, 194,900 jobs in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area were eliminated. By cutting transit funding, the California budget misses a crucial opportunity for recovery. The Progressive States Network argues that transit investments generate more jobs than highway investments. Also, investments in transit operations yield 72% more jobs than transit capital outlays, according to the site. Politicians, however, find it difficult to stage a press conference at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for increased bus service, preferring instead to flaunt high-profile sexy projects such as high-speed rail.
While jobs might be on the downswing, other indicators are moving up. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles might report an upswing in imports in a report due out next week, but the trends suggest improvement. At the same time, the next milestone of the Clean Trucks Program was implemented on January 1. Trade deficits are on the increase and at the highest level in 10 months. Gas prices are also sharply up. So, we are probably going to see the era of open freeways disappear, as congestion increases.
When the big transit ridership spikes happened in Summer 2008, reporters couldn't understand why transit agencies couldn't just instantly add buses and rail cars. Metrolink has at least 10 leased NJT cars that were never used. Now, as the transit subsidies are getting cut and indicators show improvements in the economy, the operators are in the process of service cuts, and if gas forces motorists back, look out.
For those who still need to ride weekend trains on the LOSSAN Corridor, use coupon code V611 to shave 25% off all Pacific Surfliner fares with a three-day advance reservation. This special runs until March 31.
The doctor who hit bicyclists in Mandeville Canyon received a five-year prison sentence and has lost his home. Meanwhile the County of LA has started a secret bike program.
Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus is planning several community meetings to receive input on various projects. To be discussed are bus stop redevelopment, fare restructuring, Tide Ride redevelopment, website redevelopment and new hybrid buses. The meetings will take place between January 20 and February 2.
Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern muses about the Green Line to LAX in his latest CityWatch piece. Alpern is calling for a possible LAX People Mover connection to be studied and funded now, and federal money may just be the answer.
According to the legislature's financial analyst, California's high-speed rail plan is flawed. Specifically, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) failed to adequately address what would happen if the trains end up being a flop and fail to attract ridership. Analysts called the high-speed rail business plan incomplete and inappropriate for a project this large. The CHSRA responded to the report by saying that all risk will be addressed in the future as the Authority negotiates contracts with private firms.
With transit cuts making headlines across the nation and unemployment still at 10% nationally, Transportation for America is calling on the Senate to improve the Jobs for Main Street Act passed by the House of Representatives in December. The Jobs for Main Street Act provides $27.1 billion for the Surface Transportation Program (STP) versus just $8.4 billion for Public Transportation, even though a new AP analysis shows that road and bridge spending hasn't impacted unemployment numbers. Transit spending, however, could keep bus drivers and train conductors at the helm, and help commuters save money that they'd otherwise be spending on gas. A report released in late 2009 by TransForm shows that the average California household could save over $5,000 per year if everyone had access to the transit choices enjoyed by people living in the most transit-friendly communities in the state. Let your Senators know that you'd like to see jobs funding directed towards transit - particularly transit operations - to save jobs and boost the economy in 2010!
Should traffic fines be scaled based on income? That's how they do it in Finland. MetroRiderLA explains how a Nokia executive got slapped with a $103,600 fine for doing 47 MPH in a 31 MPH zone. Traffic violations in the United States have long been criticized for being a slap on the wrist for rich folk, their paltry fines unable to deter BMW drivers from speeding down the freeway. Income-based fines might level the playing field a little.
Finally, The Transit Coalition soothsayers have released the 2010 Year in Transit. What a year it will be!
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, 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, featuring OCTA CEO Will Kempton. We hope to see you there!
Metro Ad-Hoc Sustainability Committee Meeting: Wednesday, January 13, 10 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Wednesday, January 13,
Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, January 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, January 14, 2 p.m., Downey City Hall Council Chambers 11111 Brookshire Avenue, Downey.
Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, January 14, 1:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Board of Supervisors Hearing Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles.
Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday, January 20, and Thursday, January 21, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, January 25, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.
Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, January 28, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, January 28, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.
Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, January 29, 10 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.
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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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