Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 11

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.

Just a Minute: The Transit Coalition will hosts its monthly Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 23, featuring a presentation on the Metrolink Simplified Service Plan proposal and a review of the Metrolink service cut plan. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Action Alert: Metrolink is one of the Southern California agencies proposing drastic service cuts to nip a $17 million budget shortfall. The Ventura County Star and the Los Angeles Daily News have provided coverage and editorials. Transit advocates have been meeting with Metrolink staff and directors to propose cost efficiencies by linking the spoke and hub train system into a series of corridors. For Ventura County and Antelope Valley Line riders that want to help save the service, you may join the TTC campaign, as we need volunteers aboard the trains to circulate line specific post cards linked above. Contact TTC to help.

The California Transit Association.
Most of us are aware of the state budget impact on transit in our own neck of the woods, but how is the rest of the state faring? The California Transit Association has stepped in and compiled a running tally of the dismantling of public transportation up and down California. Fare hikes and service cuts are coming to Muni Metro up in San Francisco. In San Diego County, 23 Sunday bus routes were eliminated. In many cases dwindling tax revenues and the elimination of state transit funding is to blame. Though transit agencies have received federal money, much of it must be allocated to capital expenditures. What good is a new bus route if you do not have the money to operate it?

Transportation For America and TransForm published an opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee discussing the recent shutdown of federal transportation programs and the impact on California. James Corless and Stuart Cohen opined, "Californians who rely on public transportation know our agencies are bleeding right now. Up and down the coast and into the Valley, officials are reducing routes, raising fares and cutting workers at a time when we need every possible job. For the first time in memory, employees at Sacramento's Regional Transit are bracing for layoffs, and many commuters already have seen their routes to work cut and their fares increased as RT struggles to cut $36 million."

Just a day earlier, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the potential of federal/local partnerships, such as a National Infrastructure Development Bank, to help solve our transportation woes. The hearing was one in a series that began earlier this month to discuss key issues in the federal reauthorization bill.

The 30/10 plan from Mayor Villaraigosa is not only gaining support from politicians, but also support from Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten. The plan is to leverage tax revenue generated from Measure R to secure a loan from the federal government to pay for all these transit projects we've been screaming about. To justify the plan, its backers claim it would not only be a major assault on congestion, but generate badly needed jobs in the construction sector. It would also end the fight, according to Rutten, over which transit projects are prioritized in what regions. Instead of bickering over, say, the Foothill Line versus the Wilshire Subway, the 30/10 plan gets those projects funded within 10 years, so that everybody enjoys the benefits of a variety of projects. The mayor talks about testifying in support of the 30/10 plan at the Huffington Post.

The little funicular railway that is being called the Shortest Railway in the World has finally reopened in Downtown Los Angeles. Since being closed due to a fatal accident nine years ago, Angels Flight has been restored and its safety problems are said to be resolved. Some Internet pundits have decried the restoration as a waste of money, but as the cable cars do for San Francisco, Angels Flight adds a touch of culture and history to a rapidly changing Downtown LA.

A depiction of monorail down Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica needs a monorail rather than $5.6 billion subway to nowhere (if Downtown LA is nowhere, then Santa Monica must be the moon). Who in their right mind wants to be in a subway tunnel during an earthquake (or I-10 for that matter)? No, the subway only put a lot of money into certain people's pockets (and monorail money is donated to charity?). Nobody noticed a drop in traffic when the subway started running (but USC researchers noticed an increase in traffic when it stopped running). Above-ground light rail only takes lanes away from cars (because moving cars, not people, is why God put traffic engineers on this planet, you understand). Monorail travel is fun, safe and quiet (which is about the only thing this guy got right in his opinion piece). If it is good enough for amusement parks and zoos, then it must be good enough for our cities.

The Expo Line Construction Authority has responded to the lawsuit by opponents claiming that the light rail line environmental review was not performed properly. The response outlines the studies completed and meetings held with the public that resulted in the final route decision to use a century old rail corridor for its originally intended purpose. The blog dialogue between the Expo activists and the opponents continues to be spirited and a Friday afternoon Curbed LA posting continues with an extended life.

An OCTA bus equipped with bike racks.
The Night Owl service that former OCTA CEO worked so hard to implement in Orange County is now just a past dream. The end of the Night Owl service has prompted many former late night riders to bum rides, bike or walk to their jobs in order to keep the economy going after hours, and in many cases, clean up after the rest of us. Riders now risk being hit by drivers in the dark (who are apparently more deserving of subsidized transportation infrastructure) or being the victims of crime during the late night commute. Former Night Owl riders can only hope that another Art Leahy takes the reigns of the OCTA someday and re-implements this vital service.

The Dodger Trolley will be back for the 2010 season, courtesy of a $300,000 air quality grant. Buses will run every 10 minutes from 90 minutes prior to the game until the third inning. During the bulk of the game buses will operate every 30 minutes. After the game, buses will head to Union Station once they are full and never look back! In 2008 Dodger shuttle buses were packed to the gills, but the atmosphere was lively and fun. Too bad those Dodger owners can raise ticket prices for the games, but refuse to pay for transit, even though they jacked up parking prices.

The Crenshaw Corridor study area.
Drill, baby, drill! No, not for oil, but to analyze soils in anticipation of light rail construction. Exploratory drilling for the 8.5 mile long Crenshaw Line has begun. The line will connect the Crenshaw Expo Line Station with the Green Line Aviation Station. While it is not a direct airport connection (a people mover or a shuttle bus would have to take riders the rest of the way), the line will provide a much needed transportation option to those who live and work along the Crenshaw Corridor. This process is just the first step of many in bringing the light rail line to fruition.

The North County Transit District in San Diego County has been discussing the prospect of selling off the naming rights to stations as a way to generate revenue for the rapidly imploding transit agency. Maybe the trend will spread to other transit agencies and we will someday see, "Pepsi Presents: The Metro Blue Line." Hoo-boy.

A Ford Crown Victoria used by LAPD.
Say goodbye to the LAPD Crown Victoria police cars as they are being phased out over the next few years. Ford introduced a new law enforcement vehicle called the Police Interceptor at an event in Las Vegas. Though it's unclear whether cash-strapped police departments will be able to afford the new vehicles, the Crown Victoria will only remain in production through late 2011. The new police car is basically a heavily modified Ford Taurus that will offer better fuel efficiency than the current model, but be more expensive to fix after a collision.

Where were you when you realized that $3 per gallon for gas was normal? Gas prices rose slightly last week and one analyst implies that drivers are getting off easy. Barring any major problems worldwide or natural disasters, the analyst goes on to explain that the current price is within the expected for the year. The recession has blunted demand, but as the economy recovers and drivers resume their three-hour commutes, will gas prices soar once more? That is one question analysts cannot seem to agree on.

Gas refiners have attempted to temporarily cut back on production in order to raise prices. The new plan being lobbed about, however, is to permanently cut back on production. Aside from shutting down refineries energy companies are pondering layoffs and pulling out of some regions entirely. A dwindling economy discouraged drivers to hit the road and encouraged more of them to buy fuel efficient vehicles, lowering demand. While oil companies posted record profits a few years ago, Valero found itself $2 billion in the red at of the end of last year. Consumers allege a conspiracy. Gas companies are playing the victim. Our advice is to take the bus or train instead of driving and avoid the gas price drama completely.

Transit Coalition chair Ken Alpern explains what is wrong with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation in his latest LA CityWatch article. More specifically, he tackles the dangers of "cut-through" streets and the LADOT's inability to temper the practice. The main purpose of the LADOT, Alpern concludes, is to move cars at any cost.

The Los Angeles Marathon is this Sunday. Going north and south across the LA basin is going to be a challenge.

The Street Summit is coming this Thursday ( pre-registration) to Los Angeles following the national summit in DC, where the idea of federal bike aid has been floated. Our pal and bike editor Damien Newton has moved out of Los Angeles and into the world capital of NIMBYland, the Westside. Watch out!

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 Committee Meetings: Wednesday & Thursday, March 17 & 18, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

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.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, April 8, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

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

SCRRA (Metrolink) Committees Meetings: Friday, April 9, 10 a.m., SCRRA Offices, 700 S. Flower St., 26th floor, Los Angeles.

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

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, April 10, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, April 12, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee (TAC): Wednesday, April 14, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, April 14, 5 p.m., 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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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