Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 24

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.

They were on the same side, werenít they? Never mind.... 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.

A curious locomotive with train set makes a stop at LA Union Station.
Before California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office, he wants to see high-speed trains operate between Los Angeles and San Diego... sort of. It is being called a high-speed rail demonstration project. What we know so far is that while the demonstration runs wouldnít involve trains traveling at 220 mph, it would cut the trip between the two cities down to about two hours. Today, the same trip via auto takes three hours to complete. The Federal Railroad Administration is currently reviewing the proposal.

There are, of course, some hurdles standing in the way. The governor did not outline who would pay for the demonstration runs, how long they would last and what type of equipment would be used. If European electric trains are used, they would have to be hauled by diesel locomotives, but this would give Californians a taste of what these trains would look like whisking through their backyards. Critics of the proposal say five months is not enough time to plan and execute such a demonstration and that the governor only wants to create a legacy for himself using the demonstration run as a kind of last hurrah. This isnít the first time a new type of train has been put on display in California. The Turbo Train visited Los Angeles Union Station in 1971 (pictured). Obviously, jet powered trains didnít quite catch on.

Pacific Electric Railway.
Metro, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the Southern California Association of Governments is currently studying the feasibility of transit on the old Pacific Electric right-of-way between LA and Orange Counties. The corridor, officially known as the West Santa Ana Branch, may someday see light rail, bus rapid transit or some other mode of transportation depending on the results of an alternatives analysis report currently being prepared by the three organizations. The project would connect the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center in the south to the Metro Green Line in the north. Several community meetings about the project are coming up soon, the first of which is being held on Tuesday, June 15 in Garden Grove. While this planning is going on, another group, the Orange Line Development Authority continues to promote a MagLev line for the same corridor. Burbank City Council has just told OLDA that the City will remain a non-member and Palmdale has recently let their membership lapse.

The OCTA wants to know what you think about a myriad of proposals to improve traffic and transit in central Orange County. The survey solicits opinions on the Central County Corridor Major Investment Study. Among other things, the survey asks about what should be done with the Pacific Electric right-of-way between LA and Orange County and whether BRT would be a good idea for central county streets.

Desert Xpress planners are hoping to start construction on the Victorville to Las Vegas high-speed train sometime during 2011. Of all the Las Vegas rail proposals, Desert Xpress is the furthest along. While the project is promoted as a privately funded venture, a federal loan is also being pursued. Costs are being kept down by terminating trains in Victorville, but there may be potential to allow through-trains to Los Angeles using the California High Speed Rail tracks. This would require coordination between the two organizations in order to decide on compatible equipment.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a sensationalistic piece of poverty porn about the Metro Blue Line. This week, a reader rightfully points out that it is hyperbole to say that drama occurs so often on the Blue Line (the article detailed public urination and gambling), and that instead it is mostly normal people doing normal things, such as going to work or school. For riders, it is often the negative events that are remembered, and for newspapers, it is sensationalism that draws eyeballs. By the way, gangbangers drive. And despite NIMBY claims, big screen TVs get hauled away in Suburbans, not light rail trains.

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Bunker Hillís funicular railway Angels Flight has only been open for three months and is now facing criticism from the federal government. This time, the National Transportation Safety Board wants the railway operator to install emergency stairs for its entire length. Angels Flight Railway says that the addition of a stairway would actually make the short line less safe as it would encourage riders to cross the rails in an emergency. In any case, the California Public Utilities Commission is disappointed by the NTSB assessment and will be issuing a reply.

Metro will be holding public hearings on the upcoming Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project. The meetings will be held June 21 to June 30 and take place at various West Los Angeles locations. Public comments on the draft environmental report will be accepted through July 26.

San Bernardino Omnitrans.
As an extra incentive to try transit out in the Inland Empire, Omnitrans is offering coupons good for a free all-day pass on June 17, Dump the Pump Day. Coupons can be downloaded at Omnitrans' website. Likewise, RTA is offering a contest to those who Dump the Pump. Riders can send their validated Day Pass, 7-Day or 30-Day passes to RTA and those riders who rode on the 17th will be entered in the drawing for a free RTA 1-Day, or better yet, a free 30-Day pass.

Speaking of RTA, Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone is rounding up feedback and comments for better bus service in Riverside County that will be turned over to RTA this week. Look for the statements in the next eNewsletter!

Check out railLAís latest newsletter. The organization will be sending several speakers to the US High Speed Rail Association Conference in Universal City on June 17 and 18. Mention railLA and get $300 off your entrance fee. Also, railLA is still seeking high-speed rail ideas.

A BART train approaches MacArthur station.
In what is sure to become a shining example of government waste, Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, has spent $800,000 to figure out what the words "major service change" mean. The expense comes after the federal government withheld $70 million in stimulus funds for the Oakland Airport Connector project because the agency hadnít considered what kind of impact a "major service change" and fare hike would have on low-income and minority riders, a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Not being in compliance with Title VI might mean the loss of $100 million in future funding for the airport connector. However, some transit advocates believe that the wasteful project should be canceled altogether. BART is already considered the epitome of waste in public transportation considering its broad gauge, proprietary train systems and gold-plated stations, and the Oakland Airport Connector is just the icing on the cake.

The Port of Los Angeles has had its second-best May ever in what is hoped to be a signal that the economy is turning around. Imports in May increased 12.5% over a year earlier. The Port of Long Beach experienced even higher gains: 27% for imports and 14% for exports. The growth is being explained as retailers who had previously slimmed down inventories and are ordering new product in anticipation of higher sales. There is still a long way to go before trade volume returns to pre-recession levels.

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Senator Barbara Boxer appeared at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Summit at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, delivering Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's endorsement of the LA 30/10 plan, fanning the flames of optimism for the future of LA's transit network. The TOD Summit drew cheers from some for its robust array of breakout sessions covering everything from NIMBYs to non-profits to the Money Train. The Summit also drew jeers from others for emphasizing the big picture while failing to acknowledge the need to deliver on the unique and personal experience of the individuals who walk, ride bikes, shop, rest, socialize, live, work, ride mass transit or otherwise use a TOD project.

A diagram demonstrating sharrows.
Cyclists in East Hollywood have been tweeting, texting and blogging the news that the LADOT Bikeways Department is finally implementing LA's nascent sharrows program on Fountain Ave. between Western and Vermont. The initial news was celebrated in response to the long overdue status of the sharrows program. However, the cheers turned to jeers when cyclists noticed that the installation of the sharrows was heavy on exuberance and light on engineering. Rumors that the LADOT has ordered copies of " Measure Twice, Cut Once" in bulk were unconfirmed.

A simple Twitter, Facebook and MySpace campaign calling on the new Trader Joe's at the Metro Hollywood and Vine Transit Oriented Development to add bike racks to their facility resulted in a full blown boycott that started at their ribbon cutting celebration. The campaign went to Metro, CRA, the City of LA, the Developer and to Trader Joe's corporate office and resulted in the installation of several beautiful bike racks. Applause was heard round the Twitterverse.

Let there be no doubt, sharrows and bike racks are great but what the cyclists in Hollywood really want is a bike hub, that is, a bike storage facility that offers basic support for repairs, secure storage, bike-share, bike-rentals, information, education, encouragement, and a strong reminder that transit-oriented development must always have facilities for cyclists and a " last-mile" commitment for all mass transit passengers.

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!

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

  • 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. Friday, June 18, 8 a.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., 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee (TAC): Thursday, July 15, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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