Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, March 8, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 10

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.

Thanks For The Reminder: The Transit Coalition will hosts its monthly Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 23, featuring a speaker on Metro Rail. See Upcoming Events below for details.

A Metrolink ticket, for which you may have to pay more in the near future.
Metrolink is preparing for another round of service cuts and/or fare hikes. While the last round of cuts focused on trimming weekend service, current proposed cuts appear to decimate the Antelope Valley Line and the Ventura County Line, which may lose eleven and eight weekday trains, respectively. The San Bernardino Line would lose two trains on weekdays and Sundays and four trains on Saturday. The Inland Empire-Orange County Line would see four trains disappear on weekdays, and one train will terminate in Laguna Niguel instead of Oceanside.

Riders may also see a fare increase between 3% and 13.1%, depending on station pairs. Aside from the usual 3% to 6% increase, discounts would be eliminated or tempered for 10-trip and monthly passes, as well as senior/disabled, student, round-trip and weekend tickets. The proposed plan would also see the 80-mile cap on tickets lifted, meaning that the highest fare, Lancaster to Oceanside, would rise from $14 to $23.50. Those who wish to comment on the proposed fare hikes and/or service cuts may do so online at the Metrolink web site or in person at the public hearing on Friday, April 2.

The hub of the TTC Metrolink Simplified Service plan.
The Transit Coalition will once again be suggesting the implementation of our Simplified Service Plan. The plan would preserve the usefulness of the Metrolink system by establishing the practice of running trains through Union Station. For example, someone who lives along the San Bernardino Line would be able arrive at their job in the Burbank Media District without changing trains. The plan would effectively combine the Ventura County and Orange County Lines, and the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino Lines. Some trains already run through Union Station, but riders never know about it since they are not marked in the schedule as such. The challenge, of course, is convincing the Metrolink Board to move away from a hub and spoke system that primarily benefits peak-hour Downtown LA commuters, and focus on making the service attractive to a variety of riders as well as rush-hour commuters. Meanwhile, the new Crash Energy Management cars have arrived, so look for safer, but less service this year.

A flier is being circulated around Cheviot Hills that attempts to set the record straight on some of the flawed assertions being made by opponents of the Expo Line. The flier tackles issues such as the safety of children on Overland, impaired access for emergency vehicles and traffic. The pro-Expo authors say that it is time to accept the at-grade option and work toward integrating the Expo Line into the community. Meanwhile the opponents are just about ready to file the lawsuit.

In the world of traffic justice, two stories captivated the media last week. In one, David Moses Jassy, aka David Monday, was sentenced to "fifteen years to life" for the vicious beating and running over of pianist John Osnes.

In the other less exciting traffic news, the L.A. County Sheriff's office handed out a ticket to hotel heiress Paris Hilton for riding her SUV in a bike lane. OK, that's not all that interesting. However, an interesting debate on whether tickets for rich people ought to be higher than those of lesser means broke out in the Streetsblog forums which was slightly more interesting.

It seems as though the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition have been negotiating on a plan to bring sharrows to Los Angeles forever. However, the LACBC released a timeline, agreed upon by the LADOT, to have them on city streets this June.

A state legislator believes that the state's ban on driving while holding your phone up to your ear ought to be toughened. Part of his legislation includes extending the hands free requirement to cyclists. The San Francisco Bike Coalition disagreed, but for the most part your average cyclist does not seem to mind.

Los Angeles Times columnist Hector Tobar wrote about a day in the life of a bike-riding day laborer. Too often cyclists of lesser means are presented in a light that makes them look powerless or pitiable; however, this feature captures the essence of people who ride because they have to and want to. This just followed another feature about a blogging woman bus rider that had readers just flipping out in comments and letters to the editor.

Finally, this weekend the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council is sponsoring ArtCycle, an event celebrating the combination of bike culture and art culture in Los Angeles. As the name implies, there is a bike ride involved, but there's also a street closure for a block party and a four-day series of events at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.

Legislative Analyst's Office Logo
State analysts have put the brakes on the California High Speed Rail Authority's nearly billion dollar funding request for the new fiscal year, and are viewing its current $458 million funding request suspiciously. The Legislative Analyst's Office has recommended to state lawmakers that only $250 million of that request be approved. The LAO says that the CHSRA has a history of failing to prove that they completed projects as planned and cannot justify why new employees are needed. The CHSRA should submit a detailed plan each September that outlines its budget and recent accomplishments, according to the LAO. Jeff Barker, CHSRA's Deputy Director, agreed with that proposal but says that it would be easier for the Authority to hire its own internal staff instead of relying on a lean staff and many contractors.

The CHSRA has also released a defense of its ridership studies. Recently, it was revealed that ridership coefficients that estimate the number of passengers potentially using the system were changed without public disclosure. However, the CHSRA contends that the big change was only a typo and that any undisclosed changes to the ridership model did not alter the outcome of any decisions made about the high-speed train's alignment to the Bay Area. High-speed rail officials were able to work with Cambridge Systematics, who have now defended the ridership model. The memo is now available for inspection.

How do you make high-speed rail fail? Ignore connecting transit, according to the Infrastructurist. Florida's proposed high-speed rail stations do not allow for any connections between the high-speed trains and SunRail commuter trains. In California nearly a billion dollars was allocated to improve lines that connect to high-speed rail stations.

The Buena Park Metrolink Station
Running high-speed trains between Anaheim and Los Angeles may mean that the recently constructed housing development at the Buena Park Metrolink Station may be demolished. Some blame the incompetence of the CHSRA for being unaware about the property and not coordinating with the city. Others blame low-density sprawl and our habit of pushing developments adjacent to railroad tracks, which makes building rail in sprawling areas even more difficult. For example, we want to serve the Central Valley but the sprawl is 20 miles across in some places, making it difficult to mitigate environmental impacts to residents.

This is ironic, since the sprawl is likely responsible for more environmental damage than a railroad. However, the question remains, who knew what and when did they know it? A similar issue is also happening in Anaheim, where a cluster of affordable housing units that opened very recently will have to be removed to widen the right-of-way. Of course, eminent domain on such a project is unavoidable, so does it matter if the homes are 50 years old or 1 year old? The LA Times article on high-speed rail caused a commotion and generated plenty of letters to the editor and reader comments.

In the last 15 years, 76,000 Americans have been killed while walking or crossing a street. Many of our roads are built for cars only, and walking and bicycling routes are implemented haphazardly as cash-strapped cities build a bike lane here, a crosswalk there. When a bike lane suddenly ends or a street lacks adequate sidewalks, justified safety concerns keep people from pedaling or walking for transportation. Transit riders face these dangers on the way to and from the bus stop or train station, so it is a critical problem for anyone who relies on public transit.

However, help could be on the way. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon recently introduced legislation that would dedicate $2 billion to fund safe networks for biking and walking. This week, over 700 bicycle activists will be visiting the Capitol to advocate for the Active Communities Transportation Act, and we can back them up by sending the same message here at home. Take action by sending your representative a note urging them to co-sponsor this bill and put bikes and pedestrians on the map!

The Reason Foundation Logo
Dead people and lack of equity never get in the way of the perverse logic from the Reason Foundation's Robert Poole who is ranting about the practice of diverting money from the highway trust fund to more worthy endeavors such as transit and sidewalks. Poole, apparently, was born without legs and where his legs should be are rubber tires. Of course, highway money is highway money, the same way that sales taxes levied on restaurant patrons can only be used to fund food safety agencies--oh wait....

It was Winston Churchill who best justified diverting highway money to more pressing needs with this bitingly sarcastic remark, "Whoever said that, whatever the yield of these taxes, and whatever the poverty of the country, we were to build roads, and nothing but roads, from this yield? We might have to cripple our Trade by increased taxation of income, we might even be unable to pay for the upkeep of our Fleet. But never mind, whatever happens, the whole yield of the taxes on motors must be spent on roads!"

Joel Epstein is calling for a renewed investment in America's transportation, education and industrial infrastructure. The columnist laments the decline of cities like Detroit that were once industrial powerhouses. He cites the transit projects being constructed in Los Angeles as a path toward pulling ourselves up from our economic malaise.

Last week we incorrectly stated that the Los Angeles Times is calling on the federal government to support the mayor's 30/10 plan and that is not to say that ultimately the newspaper will adopt that official position. However, we just jumped the gun, as the opinions expressed in that op-ed piece were actually those of LA Times columnist Tim Rutten and not those of the newspaper.

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, 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!

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) Teleconference 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.

  • Planning and Programming Committee, Wednesday, March 17, 1 p.m.
  • Finance and Budget Committee, Wednesday, March 17, 2:30 p.m.
  • Ad-Hoc Congestion Pricing Committee, Wednesday, March 17, 3:30 p.m.
  • Measure R Project Delivery Committee, Thursday, March 18, 9 a.m.
  • Executive Management and Audit Committee, Thursday, March 18, 10:30 a.m.
  • Construction Committee, Thursday, March 18, 12 noon
  • Operations Committee, Thursday, March 18, 1 p.m.
Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, March 25, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), 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.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, April 1, 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, April 1, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Bicycle Advisory Committee: Tuesday, April 6, 100 S. Main St., 9th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, April 7, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, April 9, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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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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