Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Robert Cruickshank of the California High Speed Rail blog slammed the Los Angeles Times for reporting on HSR controversy rather than facts. However, he agreed with CHSRA board member Richard Katz that the rail authority's numbers should be "scrubbed," and predicts that a new ridership study would benefit the project. The HSR booster also supports moving the CHSRA more directly into the state government.
Bike news was highlighted by a "Town Hall" (actually a meeting of the City of LA Council Transportation Committee) between LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and the cycling community. The Times reports that Beck talked the talk in promising a new day, but cyclists are waiting to see if he can walk the walk before celebrating.
Before the hearing, nearly two dozen cyclists rode to LA City Hall in a small mass to draw attention to the City's refusal to prosecute the woman who ran down Ed Magos, then drove away. Beck promised that the City Attorney's office is going to review the case again before declaring it dead.
Not all of the bike news was generated in the City of LA, as Claremont and Covina opened two bike stations, including a place for cyclists to freshen up and store personal items near their Metrolink stops, and the City of Long Beach installed road signage best suited to direct cyclists to the safest routes to take.
The Metro Expo Construction Authority announced some steps to advance project construction on the agenda for the Thursday Board meeting.
Neighbors for Smart Rail held an almost secret meeting a few Sundays ago at the Palms Park Recreation Center in Cheviot Hills. At the meeting an anti-Expo resident of the area claimed that Expo officials deliberately "fudged the baseline" in order to avoid a below-grade option. Terri Tippit, president of NFSR, pointed to accidents on the Metro Rail system as evidence that the Expo Line will be a detriment to the public safety. NFSR apparently believes that a massive grid filled with thousands of drivers equipped with various levels of driving ability and 4-ton vehicles acting independently of each other on busy at-grade roads is far safer than any at-grade rail line.
James Corless, campaign director of Transportation for America, said in a statement: "The problem is not simply that one Senator was able to thwart a crucial, timely vote. That lone Senator was able to shut down our nation's transportation program only because Congress has left this essential underpinning of our economy on life-support for far too long. This is not a backburner issue, even if Congress has been treating it as one."
Meanwhile, a new effort to pass a climate bill may include a carbon tax on transportation fuels, to be allocated towards transportation expenses. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), one of the three Senators behind the ongoing effort, told the New York Times, "Cap and trade as we know it is dead, but the issue of cleaning up the air and energy independence should not die -- and you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon." Will a climate bill help solve the funding crisis that continues to delay the transportation bill? Perhaps, but both efforts face an uphill battle in this gridlocked Congress.
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is calling for a review of Metro's grade crossing policy and attempting to put on hold any grade-crossing decisions until the review is complete. Ridley-Thomas says that relatively high-income areas tend to have higher automobile traffic than low-income neighborhoods, and therefore tend to qualify for grade-separated crossings. This creates a cycle, he explains, where at-grade light rail hamstrings attempts to attract development to low-income areas. Robert Leabow has an analysis that tears the Ridley-Thomas op-ed apart like string cheese.
Metro has unveiled a fully underground option for the Downtown Regional Connector, and it appears to be pleasing stakeholders in Little Tokyo. However, a fully underground alignment would also cost about $200 million more and may result in one less station built on the 2 mile light rail link.
LAX is planning a consolidated car rental facility but is having trouble paying for it. The facility is designed to curb the use of rental car company shuttles that circle the airport looking for customers, causing traffic and congestion. A central location would make it easier for airline passengers to find rental car locations and switch to another if their firm is giving them guff. A $10 fee imposed on car rentals has only raised $47 million of the $800 million in funding required to build the new facility. If LAX ever raises that cash, it might be more worthwhile to get the Green and Crenshaw Lines to the airport as soon as possible! Mayor Villaraigosa has assigned a deputy full time at the airport to do exactly that.
Never mind the car rental facility, LAX has bigger problems. A new J.D. Power survey gives the airport below-average grades on parking, check-in and security. According to the survey, California has some of the worst airports in the nation. Only Newark International was more pathetic than LAX. We may sound like a broken record here, but could light rail to the airport help a bit with those ratings?
Gas prices are expected to rise in the next few weeks due to a number of factors. An increase in driving, the annual switchover to the summer gasoline formula and a refinery strike in France may send gasoline to $3 per gallon soon and over $3.50 by the Fourth of July, according to analysts. By then many transit service cuts should have gone into effect, making escape from summer gas prices that much harder.
Recent storms have caused mudslides to spill into foothill neighborhoods. The good news is that the mud is being hauled away as we speak. The bad news is for Sylmar residents who get to deal with the trucks hauling the mud, which is creating all kinds of headaches for area residents. A convoy of 300 trucks has been tasked with moving the muck, and they have been lining up in residential neighborhoods just to drop their cargo at a May Sediment Placement Site. Some Sylmar residents are upset that mud from a city with a median income of roughly $120,000 is being trucked to a community where the median income is less than half that.
The LA Times has profiled a young woman, a self-described snob, who has become a bus rider through circumstance. Laid off and unable to make the payments on her Jetta, she turned to the 720 bus route on Wilshire to travel from her Brentwood apartment to her new retail job in Beverly Hills. Now she sees the world in a different light and writes a blog. It is the feel good story of the year.
The United States Postal Service wants to run its mail trucks on electricity. Contracts have been awarded to a few California firms to help them do just that. According to AC Propulsion, postal trucks are ideal for conversion to all electric vehicles since they start and stop frequently and idle at low-speed. The first prototypes will be delivered to the USPS in June or July and deployed in Washington DC.
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Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 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!
LADOT Public Hearings on Service Cuts and Fare Increases: Wednesday, March 3, 5 p.m., Ramona Hall Community Center, Community Room, 4580 North Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (You may also address your concerns by internet at ladotlbl.tmdinc.net, by a phone message at 213-455-0880, or by mail to Philip M. Aker, Hearing Officer, LADOT, 201 North Los Angeles St., #18-B, Los Angeles, CA 90012.)
Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, March 3, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.
Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, March 4, 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, March 4, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.
Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, March 5, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.
Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, March 8, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.
LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting: Wednesday, March 10, 1:30 p.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.
Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, March 10, 5 p.m., 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.
Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, March 11, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.
Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, March 12, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.
SCRRA (Metrolink) Committees Meetings: Friday, March 12, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., 26th floor, Los Angeles.
Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, March 13, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.
Metro Committee Meetings: Thursday, February 18, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.
Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, March 25, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.
Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, March 26, 10 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.
SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, March 26, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.
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