Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, June 21, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 25

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.

That is an absolutely existential pass by Elano. The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting tomorrow, 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 rendering of a high-speed train traveling down the beach, paralleling a road.
The California High Speed Rail Authority expects bids from ten train manufacturers as early as late-2011. This is contingent on environmental work being completed by September 2011, which would allow construction to begin in the first quarter of 2012, according to Authority officials. Whether the manufacturer will be Chinese, Japanese or French remains to be seen. Last month, transportation secretary Ray LaHood encouraged Japanese bullet train makers to set up factories in the United States and compete for contracts. The implication here is that the plants would employ U.S. workers. However, a sneaky gut-and-amend bill by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield attempting to set international policy could cut the French out of the action in a dirty pool move that one could perhaps judge as vengeance from a High Speed Rail Board Member.

Metro Red Line subway contractor Tutor-Saliba sued Metro 15 years ago because Tutor believed Metro owed them $16 million. The legal battle received a new spin recently when it was discovered that Metro has spent $34 fighting Tutor-Saliba while Metro only hopes to collect about half of that. Now Metro is accused of witness tampering. Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl believes that officials at the Transportation Authority tried to prevent a subcontractor's employee from testifying, and has sent the case to the attorney general for further investigation. Metro officials say they disagree with the judge's conclusions and that they are cooperating fully by forwarding all required documents to the attorney general's office. Is this lawsuit really worth it?

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Speaking of the Red Line leg of the subway, it has been 10 years since service reached the San Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles Daily News did three stories on this widely accepted and valued infrastructure project, though Supervisor Antonovich is still putting out negative energy on something that is widely admired by most Angelinos. First, the Red Line has finally gotten some love helping move other transit projects to be on tap for the region and there is evidence that the Red Line has absorbed some of the volume of the 101 Freeway traffic and is a handy way to avoid costly downtown parking lots.

Expo Line opponents claim that at-grade crossings will put West Los Angeles streets in a permanent traffic crunch from which there is no escape. Their literature states that trains will traverse at-grade crossings as often as every two and a half minutes for 22 hours per day. However, in a worst case scenario, trains will only be crossing streets every two and a half minutes for 5 1/2 hours per weekday. During the rest of the day, trains will cross streets every five minutes for 7 1/2 hours, every seven and a half minutes for 2 hours and every ten minutes for 5 hours. It's not exactly the doomsday scenario that opponents want you to believe. Soon, the California Public Utilities Commission will issue a proposed decision for the challenged Farmdale crossing.

If there's one thing we know about the Gold Line Foothill Extension, it's that the stations are going to need plenty of parking, especially if there is to be development surrounding the stations. The Foothill Extension will be dealing with commuter rail-like distances in relatively low-density suburban neighborhoods. The City of Azusa is planning to build a parking structure with the capacity to hold 500 vehicles. Officials say they are about a year away from beginning construction on the structure. First, they have to figure out where to actually put it. Has anyone considered Automated Parking?

An event to promote the 30/10 plan.
Metro held a media event at Union Station on Thursday to trumpet 30/10, a plan to get Measure R projects done in a single decade rather than three. Mayor Villaraigosa and Metro's Pam O'Connor spoke in front of an abstract model of Los Angeles. Also unveiled was a version of the current Metro Rail route map with all of the 30/10 projects included. The Source has a short video of the event highlights. Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist Tim Rutten opines that should LA pull off the 30/10 proposal, it will be become one of our nation's most significant public infrastructure projects. Joel Epstein reviews the recent Urban Land Institute Conference and was happy to hear Senator Barbara Box help the 30/10 Initiative.

Will Empire Building ever stop? RailPAC President Paul Dyson reveals that the San Diego Coaster wants to waste precious taxpayer dollars to build a dispatch center that will end up costing huge amounts over what is currently paid to Metrolink and make dispatching more convoluted.

Could single-tunnel boring bring the Purple Line to the Westside more quickly?
Metro is currently exploring a new way to bore subway tunnels that may be less disruptive than current methods. Instead of creating two tunnels side by side, Metro is currently exploring whether digging a single giant tunnel would be a better way. The trains would be stacked one on top of the other within that tunnel. Instead of a single platform, station platforms would also be stacked. These tunnels would be deeper than the current subway and pose less disruption to utilities and city streets. Deep stations would require the use of elevators, which may or may not hold up to heavy crowds.

The Orange County Transportation Authority held meetings last week to inform residents of proposed transportation improvements in Central Orange County. First, there are some ideas that have been taken off the table entirely, such as a new freeway above or under the Santa Ana River, freeway widenings and Bus Rapid Transit with dedicated lanes. Most of the proposed projects include street improvements and freeway interchange improvements. The Bravo! Rapid Bus idea has also been resurrected sans signal pre-emption. Instead, the OCTA is proposing bypass lanes for buses at intersections. These lanes would be given a special signal to allow buses to cross the intersection before the rest of traffic is allowed to proceed, giving bus riders a "head start," so to speak.

A diagram of a grade separation of two streets.
One idea from the OCTA meetings that needs to be highlighted is the grade separation of local streets, also known as arterial interchanges. Major intersections would be elevated in order to minimize the need for drivers to stop at stoplights, possibly looking something like the concept design to the right. Unknown is what the terrible effect this would have on cyclists, bus riders who need to transfer and pedestrians. Here is a clue: The Harbor Transitway.

Another project that needs a closer look is one that proposes a long connector ramp from the 22 freeway to Downtown Santa Ana via the Pacific Electric right of way. This project would effectively shut down the proposal to construct light rail from Los Angeles to Santa Ana. All this discussion has led the OCWeekly to ask, "Will trains or lanes connect Santa Ana to LA County?" Community meetings on the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor wrap up this week. The flier shows all technologies except for MagLev. The Orangeline Development Authority, which has some serious involvement in this study proposes MagLev as a solution, as clearly shown on their website. Why is that technology omitted from the SCAG invite? RailPAC President Paul Dyson is concerned about the multiple technologies being offered and sent this letter to the Bob Hope Airport Authority.

Those with disabilities who travel on ships have a reason to celebrate. In 120 days, a new rule that extends ADA protections to disabled riders of passenger ships and ferries will take effect. Disabled riders will not be required to furnish their own attendants and cannot be charged extra for accessibility-related services. A few questions remain, such as whether or not emotional support animals will be allowed onboard, but everyone has an opportunity to submit public comment on these issues and more.

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Buyers of electric vehicles will be eligible for a free home charging station courtesy of the Obama administration. The stations will also be installed at workplaces and in public areas. In exchange for the free charging stations, the U.S. Department of Energy will collect data from the stations in order to analyze how electric cars are charged and driven. The project hopes to make clear how to best encourage widespread use of electric vehicles. Using stimulus funds, the total amount of home stations to be installed will be 15,000, each valued up to $2,000.

Though the Great Recession probably has a lot to do with it, air pollution from the Port of Long Beach is down for the third year in a row. Shipping is down about a quarter since 2005, but air pollution from diesel particulate matter is down 52%. The decrease won't be as dramatic when the economy picks up again, but according to port officials, clean air initiatives have had some positive effects in curbing pollution.

The US Conference of Mayors released a report on the economic benefits of high-speed rail in four major metropolitan areas Los Angeles, Chicago, Orlando, and Albany. The study found that robust systems in each area would contribute almost 146,000 jobs, a $7.7 billion increase in earned income, and more than $17 billion in increased business sales. This increase in employment and income would have long-term positive economic development impacts including promoting compact, high-density development and high-tech clusters concentrated near the rail corridors.

In the wake of the ongoing BP oil spill Peter Lehner, Executive Director of NRDC on Thursday, June 17 championed federal transportation reform as a critical component of transitioning to a clean energy future. Current federal policy maintains the status quo of an inefficient transportation framework that funnels the majority of our transportation dollars to our massive network of highways and freeways. Get and Insert Oil Photo here.

Groups such as Transportation for America, the largest and most diverse transportation group made up of organizations such as National Association of Realtors, the American Heart Association, The Transit Coalition, and many others is advocating for a new vision in its platform called the Route to Reform. It emphasizes the construction of a national transportation system that would seamlessly link rail to bus, to bike, to foot and be clean, efficient, and reliable. One of the goals is to eliminate the possibility of another BP disaster by diminishing the need for offshore drilling.

At long last, the City of Los Angeles finally released the Proposed Bike Plan, a mere half year after its original due date. Because the plan was released late Friday afternoon, not a lot is known about it yet, but the early reviews are that this version is a lot better than previous drafts.

Another overdue bike project is the painting of shared-lane markings, aka Sharrows, on some city streets. The LADOT selected six streets for a pilot project with these markings, to see how both driver and cyclist behavior is effected by the street paint. No sooner were the first Sharrows on the ground on Fountain, when some professionals and cyclists criticized the placements of the markings. Sharrows are supposed to be painted a certain distance from the center line, but the city painted them from the curb on Fountain leading to an uneven route for someone following the chevrons. We've already received inquiries from a number of Personal Injury Attorneys as the Fountain Sharrow misplacement is going to cost the City of LA taxpayers multiple millions. Sharrows also appeared on 4th Street in the Mid-Wilshire area.

Following up on a spate of terrible publicity following the filmed attack of some cyclists in Hollywood during the monthly Critical Mass bike ride, the LAPD decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The Friday Critical Mass ride will have some new Ridazz....

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 Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project Meetings (A draft EIR/EA document for this project has been released):

  • Tuesday, June 22, 6 p.m., Good Samaritan Hospital, Moseley Salvatori Conference Center, 637 Lucas Ave., Los Angeles.
  • Tuesday, June 29, 2 p.m., Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
  • Wednesday, June 30, 6 p.m., Felicia Mahood Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., 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.

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

  • 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.
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 Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, July 14 and 15, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

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.

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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