Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 26

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.

¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.... The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, July 27, featuring a presentation from Dennis Allen, Executive Director of LA Streetcar. 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.

The Farmdale crossing question is soon to come to its explosive end.
The proposed at-grade crossing at Farmdale on the Expo Line has been tentatively approved by a California Public Utilities Commission hearing officer. It will feature speed restrictions, numerous and redundant safety features and a full service station. Expo Line supporters hope that the ridership generated by nearby Dorsey High School will outweigh the loss of riders put off by the decreased speeds and extra stop. Despite all of the compromises made, the Expo Line opposition has not backed down on its "grade separated or nothing" approach. The contested crossing will get an official decision in about a month.

Shout it from the roof tops: Metrolink is operating special service for the Fourth of July holiday on the Antelope Valley Line! The holiday trains, which will operate on the day the holiday is observed, Monday, July 5, represent a perfect opportunity to show friends and family what Metrolink is all about. Thank Metro for the extra trains, who managed to find $16,000 in the couch cushions to pay for the service. If the service is deemed a success, we may see more special trains on future holidays. Now it's up to you to use the extra trains you have advocated for if you live along the Antelope Valley Line.

John Fenton attends a Transit Coalition meeting.
The move is part of Metrolink CEO John Fenton's " Mission to Excellence," a customer-focused roadmap to commuter rail success. While past management at Metrolink was content to rest on their laurels and refused to look into ways of making the service more efficient or attractive to riders, Fenton is looking to the future with a sense of zeal not often seen in public transportation. Since arriving at Metrolink, Fenton has stopped the practice of letting locomotives idle all weekend, preventing thousands of gallons of fuel from being consumed. Originally suggested by The Transit Coalition, Fenton pushed to get the special Fourth of July service approved. It is refreshing to see a transit CEO so open about his plans and receptive to ideas from the transit riding public.

Also, Metrolink is running special service to Angel Stadium for the All-Star game on July 13. If you missed our last Transit Coalition dinner meeting, you missed our guest speaker Metro CEO Arthur T. Leahy. Don't fret! You can watch the entire thing on YouTube.

Help us out. Please donate!

A California state assemblyman, Bob Blumenfield of Woodland Hills, wants to make it more difficult for companies like French railway operator SNCF to do business with the California High Speed Rail Authority. He has introduced a bill that would enable the CHSRA to refuse to do business with the French train company if the Authority feels that SNCF has not atoned for actions taken under a different management over six decades ago. During World War II, France was ruled by a collaborationist government that openly cooperated with Nazi Germany.

Thousands of Jews were forced onto trains operated by France's national railway and sent to concentration camps in Germany. After the war, many of these collaborationists were tried and executed. Past attempts to seek reparations from SNCF have been fraught with difficulty, as SNCF maintains that it was forced to do what it did, a fact many judges have agreed with. If atrocities of the past should rule out doing business with a corporation generations later, perhaps it is foreign companies that should refuse to do business with the United States. After all, at one point during World War II, Los Angeles Union Station was used to load Japanese Americans onto trains to be sent to internment camps. Let's think about this like adults for a second, shall we?

Lawmakers busting a move on state high-speed rail.
Another California lawmaker is drafting less insane legislation that would bar California High Speed Rail Authority board members from serving on local transportation boards or holding elected office. The legislation is targeted at Curt Pringle of Anaheim and Richard Katz, who also serves on the Metro and Metrolink boards. Both board members say that their positions help foster cooperation among local governments and the CHSRA. Lowenthal says that the two CHSRA directors should represent local interests, not statewide interests. There are letters to the editor on this subject, too.

LA Metro Rapid buses are equipped with transponders that give them signal preemption at intersections and several of the Metro Rapid lines have been a smashing success with the faster travel times. How will this signal priority fare for Riverside County? RTA staff is currently working with city officials to test this system along dense transportation corridors in Riverside and Moreno Valley for its BRT project.

Like Metro Rapid, transponders will be installed on the traffic signals, and transmitters will be mounted to the buses. The communication between the bus and the traffic signal will permit the bus to hold green lights. RTA's proposed BRT is proposed to function very similar to the Omnitrans sbX BRT system. Buses through the highest density corridors will travel in bus-only lanes or guideways (like the Metro Orange Line) where other portions will travel via general purpose lanes (like Metro Rapid).

The Inland Empire leads the nation in car-pooling. Census Bureau stats put the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region on the top of 50 largest metros for car-pooling, with 16.1% of all auto commuters sharing rides to work.

What happens to commuters when they enter San Diego and environs?
So, if people from the Inland Empire don't mind ridesharing and working in areas such as Rancho Bernardo, Kearny Mesa and other spots in San Diego County, why are very few of them using the RTA express commuter route which runs down I-15? Could it be possible that's due to a lack of practical connections to major destinations and that many commuters do not go all the way to Downtown San Diego from Temecula? Interagency transfers? Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone gave RTA some suggestions on how to improve this line which currently takes in less than 2 passengers per hour along with other suggestions to improve bus service in the Inland Empire.

While we're on the topic of better bus service, Transit Advocates of UC Irvine stressed that BRT and a highly productive local OCTA bus line which would connect to the planned Anaheim Intermodal Transportation Center should be extended to the university. The group has also concluded based on demographics that OCTA should move a bus transfer hub in Newport a few miles north to UCI.

railLA is still looking for good ideas to showcase at their exhibition on July 29 in Downtown LA. The organization is an up and coming rail advocacy group. Check all the latest happenings at their blog.

Help us out. Please donate!

The question that dominated the discussions of cyclists last Friday was, " What's going to happen at Critical Mass?" After a contentious conflict between cyclists and the LAPD at the May Critical Mass, the police volunteered to ride with cyclists for this month's ride. What would a heavy police presence mean for the rolling protest?

The police presence made for a memorable ride on Friday night. The police left the mass to its own devices and did what they had to do to keep the ride safe and together. While Ridazz and the LAPD had a bonding moment, ride organizers sounded stunned and jubilant after the ride was over.

What happens to commuters when they enter San Diego and environs?
Speaking of car-free parties, CicLAvia announced the route for the car-free, open-streets event planned for September 12. The route will run seven miles through East Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights. For a detailed outline of the route, check out the CicLAvia blog. CicLAvia also debuted a video on Kickstarter to try to raise more funds for the project.

Joel Epstein, king of all 30/10 supporters, is boosting for Los Angeles' transit future in the Los Angeles Business Journal. Epstein describes 30/10 in detail and then makes the case for supporting it. Expanded mass transportation is a better way to travel than sitting in traffic in your car and inching along on the freeway.

Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern discusses the Wilshire Subway in his latest LA CityWatch article. While everybody is rabid about a Subway to the Sea, a Subway Toward the Sea is probably more realistic. Measure R only funds the Purple Line extension to about the 405 freeway. Still, Alpern believes that simply having the opportunity to figure out where to put the new Purple Line terminus is a reason to celebrate.

Metro Gold Line Authority
Moving from the Subway to the Sea to the Light Rail to the Boondocks, the Gold Line Foothill Extension broke ground last weekend. The official ceremony took place at Newcastle Park in Arcadia and featured local politicians holding shovels in front of a big mound of dirt. Read about all the action at the extension's official propaganda blog.

If you are riding a train or a bus in Southern California, remember to bring some extra spare change Thursday, as the fare increases take effect.

The Economic Policy Institute Study (EPI) released a report on June 24 that illustrates the strong job creation potential of a federal transportation bill that emphasizes the creation of a 21st century national transportation network that includes significant investments in mass transit, fixing and maintaining bridges, roads, and highways, expanding bike lanes and pedestrian access, and creating an efficient, environmentally friendly freight transportation system.

The study found that a federal bill modeled after the platform advocated for by Transportation for America, its Los Angeles partners, and partners across the country would support 400,000 more jobs than SAFETEA-LU, the existing federal transportation law, if it were funded at the same $500 billion level. These jobs would be critical nationwide and in the Los Angeles region where unemployment levels are still stubbornly high at 9.7 and 12.1 percent respectively.

High-speed rail comes to South Africa.
Just in time for the World Cup, South Africa has opened a 100 MPH rail link between Pretoria and Johannesburg. The rail line, like any large infrastructure project, is seeped in controversy. Critics of the line say that the train is only for the elite, unaffordable for the poor. They may have a point, as under-funded transit service in the region has caused riots in the past. Others say that the rail link is a symbol of South Africa's progress and meant to relieve the crowded highway along the route. South Africa's transit system is underdeveloped as it is, and it may have been smarter to start with a Bus Rapid Transit network instead, such as Curitiba's now mature system. As far as vanity projects go, the Gautrain is one slick-looking rail line, though.

The Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal Blog has a three part series featuring a Q&A with Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman. Boardman discusses Amtrak's record ridership, defends train fares on the Pacific Surfliner and what's in the future for the intercity rail operator. Parts two and three are here and here.

A couple weeks ago we borrowed a photo of a Turbo Train taken at LA Union Station, which was taken by railfan Chris Guenzler. Thank you for helping document our railroad history!

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, July 27, 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!

JUST ANNOUNCED! Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project Update: Wednesday, June 30, 6 p.m., Lula Washington Dance Theater, 3773 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.

Metro Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project Meetings (A draft EIR/EA document for this project has been released): Wednesday, June 30, 6 p.m., Felicia Mahood Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

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

  • 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. 

California High Speed Rail Authority Meeting: Thursday, July 8, 9 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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.

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

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.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, July 22, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, July 22, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, July 23, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

LOSSAN Joint Powers Board: Wednesday, July 28, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, July 30, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

Get the Print Edition of Moving Southern California, our monthly newsletter. Request a sample copy.

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.
Add yourself to our mailing list and please donate to help us grow.

Visit our Discussion Board for the latest dialogue on transit.