Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 23

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.

...It is now! The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, June 22, featuring a presentation from Arthur T. Leahy, the Chief Executive Officer of Metro. Also, the June 2010 issue of Moving Southern California is now available online with new features and news, as are past issues. Here is  a video clip of our last meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Metro 30/10 In The Works
In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that he is committed to exploring the 30/10 plan, an ambitious proposal that would allow Measure R projects to be built much sooner. LaHood also alluded to 30/10 working not just in Los Angeles, but around the country. 30/10 would speed construction of the Crenshaw Line, Foothill Extension, Wilshire Subway and more. The plan calls for a kind of federal pay back with Measure R funds. Aren't you glad Measure R passed? Talk about leverage.

While everybody is buzzing about the Wilshire Subway, don't forget about the Wilshire bus rapid transit lanes! The draft environmental report on the bus lanes will be released next week, which examines the potential impacts of the project. The Wilshire bus lanes will not be completely dedicated lanes. During rush hour, only buses will be allowed full use of the lanes. Drivers making right hand turns will also be allowed. Buses will be able to leave the lanes to pass other buses or drivers. Outside of rush hour, the curbside lanes will return to normal. The bus lanes are a much needed short-term project to speed up commutes on Wilshire as we wait for the subway to be built.

High school students cross Jefferson Blvd. At Farmdale.
Every weekday, Dorsey High School students leave school and cross a maze of streets to get home. Without fences or crossing arms, students manage to safely navigate crosswalks that rely on drivers of heavy personal automobiles to stop when signaled to do so. Students are trusted not to jaywalk, and for the most part, do not. For years, when the situation consisted of students crossing roads, there was no push for the roads to be reconstructed underground to mitigate the risk of accidents, hit and runs and pedestrian fatalities.

I'm still not convinced: Is a solution to the Farmdale crossing at our grasp?
So naturally, it has become puzzling to proponents of the Expo Light Rail Line that a single at-grade crossing in the middle of Central Los Angeles has become and remains a target of unrelenting opposition. The tunnel or nothing crowd is at it again, putting the fear of light rail into the hearts and minds of local residents as the "last battle at Farmdale" rages on. Farmdale Avenue is the last Expo Line crossing waiting to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The current proposal includes plopping a station at Farmdale, which would require trains to stop before entering the intersection. As an additional precaution, trains would not be allowed to exceed 15 mph when crossing the street. This is not enough for opponents of the crossing, as some fear that a derailed light rail train could kill teenagers. Such is the current situation as proponents and opponents alike await the CPUC's decision.

New standards have been adopted for the Metro Rapid system, which will lead to the scaling back or cancellation of some Rapid lines. While the bright red buses have been successful, Metro initially took a one-size-fits-all approach to rapid bus service. Demographics along Rapid Bus routes were not always taken into consideration, leading to situations where local service for seniors and the disabled that were only traveling a few blocks was worsened. This fresh look at Rapid will identify those routes in which local service is a better fit and lead to a higher frequency of service for many local lines. However, the proposed December service cuts will result in a net decrease in bus service hours.

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The City of LA Commuter Bus and DASH system are soon to undergo service and line cuts as well as a fare increase following a vote of the City Council. So far, there is no word of any hunger strikes or any demonstrations at City Council Chambers.

The Gold Line Foothill Extension breaks ground in a few weeks amidst news that many of the transit-orientated development projects that would be built near the stations have been scaled back or are in danger of being scuttled completely. State raids on local development funds and an unstable market have put the brakes on several projects, including the Station Square project, which may see some scaling back before the line opens. Phase 1 of the Foothill Extension is expected to go to Azusa by 2013, phase 2 to Montclair by 2017 and phase 3 to Helena, Montana by 2020.

Regardless, the show must go on! The Foothill Extension will have its groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, June 26. There will be food and fun for the entire family, while donations are solicited to resurrect some of that ambitious TOD stuff. Just kidding, of course!

Traffic along the 405 Freeway.
David Lazarus, the Los Angeles Times Consumer Columnist is usually right on when it comes to daunting issues such as dealing with credit card, cable, cell phone, internet, insurance, health care firms and internet service providers, but he has proven to be almost absolutely clueless when confronting issues of mass transit. In his latest CityWatch article, Ken Alpern, Transit Coalition Chair, explains about how someone can get so carried away that they think they own the central idea on the magic formula to fix traffic, while they miss the operational details. The transit group Southern California Transit Advocates will feature Lazarus explaining his reality of public transit this Saturday at 1 p.m. ( See calendar). Ken Alpern discusses the above average communication effort in regard to the 405 freeway project in another recent LA CityWatch article.

Metro and several other transit agencies are holding a contest to find the best videos promoting mass transit. Anyone with a camera can enter and the grand prize is a free EZ Transit Pass that lasts for a full year. Submissions will be judged on originality, believability and how well the video convinces others to try transit.

Metro has announced a promotion and a new hire. Lonnie Mitchell is now the Chief Operations Officer and Martha Welborne is the new Executive Director of Countywide Planning. Good luck to the both of you! And best wishes in the future job hunt for those Metro employees recently separated in the large reduction of force.

An old cartel advertising a Union Pacific passenger train to Las Vegas.
A new challenger has entered the high-speed rail race between Southern California and Las Vegas, and no, it's not another "Xtreme Vegas Train." This time, Genesis High Speed Rail America is looking for $35 million to conduct a study of what it would take to run 200 mph electric trains between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. It would be the fifth high-speed rail proposal that might serve Vegas, not including our idea consisting of boxcars filled with water for the ultimate scuba train experience. In what would ultimately look like a giant "T," Genesis proposes the route would run adjacent to the Colorado River and U.S. 95 South of Vegas, meeting up with the Phoenix Line at Interstate 10. Palm Springs is also in the mix to be served. Genesis may be a little late to the party and might find it difficult to secure funding for their study. With all of these high- speed rail proposals lining up, we are reminded of the Elvis lyric, "A little less conversation, a little more action please."

railLA is a new organization whose mission is to build awareness of high-speed trains in California. The organization consists of a collaboration between the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association. They are currently calling for ideas and submissions that showcase the positive benefits of high-speed rail in American cities. There is a $2,500 prize for the top 5 submissions.

Out in the Coachella Valley, the SunLine Transit Agency is working to make SunBus trip planning easier as the agency revamped its web site with plans to launch an online trip planner through the popular Google Transit.

A postcard showing the old Perris railway station.
The Metrolink Perris Valley Line has certainly faced its share NIMBY obstructionism to the point where a proposed train station at UC Riverside got pulled from the EIR. However, east of UC Riverside residents and even some local school officials are demanding even more changes before they retract their firm opposition to the line.

Speaking of the Perris Valley Line, can the Perris and Moreno Valley regions also be a part of the Transit Coalition Metrolink Max/Simplified Network campaign with the upgraded tracks owned by RCTC? Check out the MetrolinkMax campaign website for an updated map, benefits of productive, corridor-based rail lines and links to videos.

Also in the Inland Empire, the Beaumont City Council authorized service reductions to the Pass Transit bus system, which provides bus service for the Beaumont, Banning and Cabazon areas. As one of the most circuitous bus systems in Southern California, the Transit Coalition and the local Transportation Now chapter have been campaigning to streamline the bus lines as Riverside Transit Agency staff agreed last year to study the area to make the local routes more productive.

As Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess, we have little action on the Hill to report. However, here in California, the Urban Land Institute released an SB 375 Impact Analysis Report last Friday, which says that SB 375 could "accommodate growth in ways that are economically sound, environmentally responsible, and socially beneficial." ULI, a developer-backed research group with 30,000 members worldwide, released the report at a TOD Marketplace event in Los Angeles. The report finds that SB 375 will "help California meet the shifting market demand for housing, allocate public resources more efficiently, and ensure a better quality of life."

Meanwhile, the Federal Transit Administration is seeking public comment on how to change the way major transit project proposals seeking federal funding are rated and evaluated. This builds on the policy shift announced earlier this year that rescinded budget restrictions issued by the Bush Administration in 2005 that focused primarily on how much a project shortened average commute times in comparison to its cost. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) is available from the Federal Register.

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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, June 22, 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!

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee (TAC): Wednesday, June 9, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles Thursday, June 10, 11:30 a.m., SANDAG, 8th Floor Conference Room 9A, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, June 9, 5 p.m., 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, June 10, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, June 11, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, June 12, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, June 14 and 28, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Monday, June 14, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.

Metro Westside Subway Community Update Meetings (All meetings start at 6 p.m.):

  • Monday, June 14, LACMA West, Terrace Room, 5th Floor 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Spanish & Korean translation will be provided.
  • Thursday, June 17, Plummer Park Great Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Russian translation will be provided.
  • Monday, June 28, Westwood United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 3rd Floor, 10497 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Spanish translation will be provided. (This meeting will be broadcast live at metro.net/Westside.)
  • Tuesday, June 29, Beverly Hills Library Auditorium, 2nd Floor, 444 N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills. Spanish translation will be provided.
  • Thursday, July 1, Santa Monica Public Library, Multi-Purpose Room, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. Spanish translation will be provided.
Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, June 16 an 17, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, June 16. 7 p.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

Colloquium V: "Transportation Planning - Follow The Money!" Saturday, June 19, Huntington Library, Overseers' Room, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Coffee and Reception: 9:30 a.m.; Colloquium: 10:00 a.m. Presented by the Los Angeles Region Planning History Group in cooperation with the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

Metro Quarterly Governance Council Meeting and Conference: Monday, June 21, 9 a.m., Gateway Conference Room, 3rd floor, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

LOSSAN Joint Powers Board: Wednesday, June 23, 11 a.m., Santa Ana Orange County Transportation Authority, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, June 24, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, June 24, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, June 25, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, June 25, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Groundbreaking: Saturday, June 26, 10 a.m., Newcastle Park, 101 W. Colorado Blvd., Arcadia.

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

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

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, July 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:
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Mina Nichols, Legislative Analyst

Zach Gutierrez, Communications
Damien Newton, Editor
About The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501[c](3) of the Internal Revenue Service. Our 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.

As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions to allow us to pursue our important work.
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