Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, March 22, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 12

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.

Lest Ye Forget: The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting this 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 proposing drastic service cuts to nip a $17 million budget shortfall. Transit advocates have been meeting with Metrolink staff and directors to propose cost efficiencies by revamping the hub and spoke 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 Ventura County Star and the Los Angeles Daily News have provided coverage and editorials.

Is the Farmdale Expo crossing issue finally resolved?
The grade crossing fights on Phase 1 of the Exposition Light Rail Line may be drawing to a close, as the Public Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision on the Farmdale Ave. crossing from the Administrative Law Judge. The proposal is to build a new station at Dorsey and all trains would stop at each platform prior to reaching the crossing. There is no tunnel, no bridge, nor a closed intersection. Not a good sign for the Phase 2 opposition.

Despite criticism from some really clueless local pundits, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been really working the halls of Congress. The Move LA 30/10 proposal has caught fire even with the Los Angeles Times editorializing support as the Mayor was in Washington, D.C., again, to continue to push for the proposal. At one point this week it seemed as though the plan might have hit a road block when Senator Dianne Feinstein told the Times that she never heard of the plan; but she quickly corrected the record. The new story? She was always in favor of the plan, she just was clueless that it was called 30 in 10.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Columnist Joel Epstein does understand 30/10 and the need for transit to get students to schools in his recent CityWatch column.

Last week was a big week for transportation on Capitol Hill. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new policy directive in line with comments by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the National Bike Summit, that requires bicycling and walking to be considered equal forms of transportation with other modes. Secretary LaHood has a blog entry, complete with a video clip of his speech and a link to the new policy.

On Tuesday, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced legislation to provide emergency operating assistance to transit agencies, in line with the House measure introduced by Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri last year. The bill would allow metropolitan areas with a population over 200,000 to use a percentage of federal transit funding for operations, which they are currently prohibited from doing. Now, a new fight seems to be brewing over greater flexibility being allowed for transit agencies to use federal dollars to fund operations. The American Public Transit Association has a longtime position that federal dollars should be used to fund operations, but that they should not come out of the federal Transportation Trust Fund. However, the legislation does just that.

The House of Representatives set out to "fix" the jobs bill passed by the Senate. Unfortunately, that fix resulted in a net loss of $192 million dollars to California. Those funds were dispersed to other states such as Texas and Kentucky.

President Barack Obama signed the HIRE Act last Thursday, which included an official extension of SAFETEA-LU until December 31. 2010. Later that same day, Senator Boxer and the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on rural transportation needs in the federal transportation authorization bill.

Among those offering testimony was Mayor John Robert Smith, T4 America campaign co-chair, whose comments were backed up by a white paper on rural transportation released the same day. Rural transportation issues have repeatedly arisen in the discussion of federal transportation spending, as some in Congress criticize the Administration's new livability issue as biased towards urban areas. We think that allies in Humboldt County and the Central Valley would disagree.

Bikes are the cause du jour at the LA StreetSummit 2010.
The big event for Livable Streets advocates was the L.A. StreetSummit2010 and the keynote speech given by NYCDOT's groundbreaking Commissioner Janette-Sadik Khan. Hundreds of people packed an Occidental College auditorium to hear her call to action on Thursday night, and the reviews were great. Streetsblog, Curbed and LAist all raved about the event. Streetsblog also offered full audio of her speech.

And perhaps the StreetSummit came just in time. Frustrated cyclists in the Department of D.I.Y. struck again last week. This time, they posted "Sharrow Signs" on traffic signal equipment boxes and other places asking drivers to pass with care. The signs first appeared on Tuesday night, but more seem to go up every day. Is the LA City Attorney going to go after this safety graphic?

Speaking of cyclists, an incident between a Metro Bus driver and a cyclist left a bike destroyed and relationships frayed between the two groups. It makes you wonder why LA does not have a video such as this one, by the Chicago Bicycle Coalition, about how buses and bikes could share the road?

Volunteer Opportunity: Here is a chance to help out on a sustainability study that is focusing on the Metro Orange Line Bus and Bikeway. Metro is interested in better understanding how many first mile/last mile auto trips are being replaced by walk and bike trips because of the transit facility's superior bike/ped orientation. Metro is conducting the study this Wednesday and Saturday, and volunteers are needed to help hand out surveys and count bike riders and pedestrians, especially on Wednesday, March 24.

We are the Friends of the Orange Line, often known as FOOL.
Bus Rapid Transit advocates will be glad to hear that a study concludes that the City of LA and Metro should consider a median busway along five miles of Van Nuys Blvd. A recommendation of a possible subway extension from the North Hollywood Red Line Station to the Sylmar Metrolink Station are also suggested. The Orange Line from Chatsworth to Canoga Park is expected to open in 2012.

Transit Coalition chair Ken Alpern explains his thoughts on San Fernando Valley transportation politics in his latest LA CityWatch article, "Orange You Glad We Got a Busway in the Valley?" More specifically, he tackles the lack of cohesiveness and advocacy by Valley leaders as to what they are for. As for the Eastside, Ken also offers his opinions on a rail network there.

It is never a good sign to lose political support for a transit project. The magnetic attraction has shifted the fortunes of the California-Nevada Super Speed Train, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has re-directed $45 million in seed money that was allocated for the Anaheim to Las Vegas project to fund an Interstate connector.

The Greyhounding of the domestic mainland airline industry is now complete, as Continental Airlines announced that passengers will have to pay to eat. We understand that pay toilets will be introduced next as another revenue source. Puddle jumpers are the next disappearing airline service as trips to locales such as Oxnard as well as 70 other hotspots are terminated.

One industry that isn't going away or getting cheaper is the cost of parking. The Times Sunday column "LA Then and Now" examines the history of parking meters, starting with the initial installation in North Hollywood, near the present Red Line Station.

In New York City, the Transit Authority has figured out a novel way to increase revenues. Police officers are now citing riders for seat hoggery. And you thought we were joking about pay toilets on airlines.

Why does the pensioner cross the road? You've probably heard about those chicken jokes about crossing the road, but what if you are a frail, 89 year old, partially blind pensioner? Why, you take a 14-mile bus ride, when your village has no pedestrian crossing. And to think, some in LA go crazy if they can't get a parking space within 25 feet of the store they are going to.

Gaze in awe at the failure of Brutalism. Los Angeles has been known for unusual tours. Now you can take a 2-1/2 hour excursion through a seascape full of concrete and metal. Enjoy the gritty highlights of rusty warehouses, bask in the remnants of failed Brutalism, and even contemplate the nuances of the former Terminal Island prison. The aim of the Urban Ocean Boat Cruise is to ply the compromised waters of Southern California.

Not everybody loves the internet and we aim to please from those of us at Transit Coalition world headquarters. In addition to our weekly electronic newsletter, we also publish a monthly print edition. Just in case you don't get enough transit news, we do not repeat material from the weekly, as we give you fresh and in depth coverage.

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 Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Station & Maintenance Facility Planning Workshops:

  • Tuesday, March 23, 6 p.m., Ascension Lutheran Church Hall, 5820 West Blvd., Los Angeles.
  • Wednesday, March 24, 6 p.m., Westchester United Methodist Church, 8065 Emerson Ave., Los Angeles.
  • Thursday, March 25, 6 p.m., Saint Mary's Academy School Gym, 701 Grace Ave., Inglewood.
  • Saturday, March 27, 10 a.m., Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 3303 W. Vernon Ave., Los Angeles.
  • Wednesday, March 31, 6 p.m., Lula Washington Dance Theatre, 3773 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.
LOSSAN Joint Powers Board: Wednesday, March 24, 10:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), 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.

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.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting and Service Reductions/Fare Increases Public Hearing: Friday, March 26 April 2, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., 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.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, April 12 and 26, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

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 1:30 p.m., San Diego Association of Governments, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego.

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

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday & Thursday, April 14 & 15, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

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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