Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 27

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.

...OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... 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 July 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 state HSR project could share tracks with Caltrain.
Whether high-speed rail is going to be a monumental success or miserable failure in California is not known and the High Speed Rail Authority's own ridership studies aren't helping to clear things up. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, the CHSRA's ridership forecasts are not reliable because they are based on a flawed model. There are too many assumptions and not enough solid data, said the report in a nutshell. The model also exaggerated the importance of having frequent service on par with that of urban transit systems, which penalized the Altamont Corridor alternative and made the Pacheco Pass alignment look more appealing. The report, which was requested by state Senator Alan Lowenthal and funded by the Authority, ultimately recommended that a new ridership model be prepared if policymakers wants to accurately forecast ridership for the proposed system.

The report will be discussed Thursday at the California High Speed Rail Authority board meeting, which promises to be a good one. Besides the ridership model, the alternative alignments for the Los Angeles to Anaheim section of the line will be also be discussed. If you'll recall, the CHSRA originally decided on a dedicated HSR alignment to Anaheim, but a joint letter from Metro CEO Art Leahy ( full audio) and OCTA CEO Will Kempton persuaded the board to reconsider the shared track alternative. It's all happening at Metro Gateway Headquarters Thursday beginning at 9 a.m.

A Bus Riders' Union banner.
When you visit the grocery store or your favorite restaurant, you may notice that the prices gradually rise over time. A nickel here, a dime there, prices are slowly but steadily rising to combat inflation. Every single day, the real value of our money is decreasing. When the grocery store raises its prices, there are no hunger strikes or near-riots at board meetings, but when a transit agency raises its prices we are quickly made aware of the injustice a fare increase represents. LA Weekly took the opportunity to lament for grandmothers who will surely go hungry after the fare increase is implemented, but neglected to mention that fares remain frozen for senior citizens, disabled riders and students. That's Measure R at work. Grandma might even be getting a good deal out of all of this. Her social security payments are indexed to inflation. Her bus fare is not. The stories about people being forced to start eating cat food are not going to come true because of this fare hike.

What will affect the little old ladies are the upcoming DASH service cuts. LADOT will be laying off 80 drivers and canceling six routes by August 1. Another 14 routes will see service reductions. The fare increase is a paltry dime for cash fares and a nickel for senior/disabled riders. The service reductions are being implemented to close a $23 million budget gap and increasing fares further and other possible actions were not considered.

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This will make it more difficult for riders who depend on DASH to get to the doctor or the grocery store. If the service is vital for those that need it, is it wrong to expect riders to cover a greater share of the costs required to run the bus? In fact, a combination of increased user fees and examination of city funds (parking fines, parking lot taxes, etc.) could save some DASH service. DASH may not be as large as Metro, but it's an important service whose absence may leave many riders out of luck.

Check out Transit NewsWatch for information about fare hikes and service cuts across the nation.

A Metrolink locomotive.
Bob Hope Airport has begun offering free SuperShuttle service between the airport and the Burbank Metrolink Station. Riders can request a shuttle in advance or on demand. The service is designed to encourage air passengers not to drive to the airport and cut down on traffic in the area. Check out all the details at the official Metrolink web site.

Some Metrolink riders missed the memo about the recently cancelled Ventura County Line trains and were left stranded at the station. However, a Ventura County Line rider said that the service reduction was publicized on the trains with a seat drop flyer in June. This method of informing riders about service changes may be adequate for everyday commuters, but not for less frequent riders. It may be more productive to leave notices at stations that will be seeing fewer trains. It appears that the 5th of July holiday observed experiment offering service on the Antelope Valley Line was successful.

The bill that would require train companies to disclose any ties to transporting Holocaust victims has taken a step closer to becoming law. If the bill passes, French train operator SNCF says it will fully comply with the law. SNCF has disclosed its involvement in several court cases overseas, and says that it was forced by France's Vichy government to do what it did. The Los Angeles Daily News calls the legislation pointless in a recent editorial.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe is the new Chair of the Metro Board of Directors. He replaces Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian. Upon becoming the new Chair, he said that he supports a balanced transportation plan and that we must accelerate our highway and mass transit plans.

Some Beverly Hills residents are rabble-rousing about the fact that subway tunnels may be drilled underneath their homes. There's video at Beverly Hills Patch. One of the speakers looks like Larry David, but not as funny.

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It seems like just yesterday that Santa Monica was considered the most bicycle-friendly city in Southern California. But with the rise of Long Beach and Pasadena, Santa Monica has faded to the background. However, last week Santa Monica struck back. First, the city unveiled bike corrals at the public library. A bike corral is when a car parking space is converted to s parking space for ten to twelve bicycles. Currently, there are no bike corrals within the City of Los Angeles.

Next, Santa Monica placed the shared-lane markings known as "Sharrows" on 14th Street. Unlike the City of Los Angeles which is going stealth with their implementation plan and has screwed it up big time, so the PI attorneys will be having a field day, Santa Monica is shouting about their new paint from the roof tops, or at least the Los Angeles Times.

Now if only they could figure out how to keep sand off the beach bike path.

The 91 Express Lanes.
Inland Empire commuters are clearly showing that they want mobility and are willing to pay steep toll fees for it. Despite being one of the most expensive toll roads around, the Orange County Transportation Authority saw an increase in traffic on the 91 Express Toll Lanes during the afternoon rush hour this last quarter, possibly due to motorists wanting to bypass the construction choke-point at the SR-241 Toll Road combined with the numerous amounts of 3+ carpoolers. Because of the surge, tolls to travel on the dedicated H.O.T. lanes have gone up more.

The Riverside County Transportation Commission
Will these commuters follow the same philosophy through the traffic-clogged Corona portion of SR-91? Will they be willing to buy or carpool their way out of traffic further down the road? Riverside County Transportation Commission officials are paying a private firm a few hundred thousand dollars to find out through a revised financial feasibility study. It may seem like a no-brainer to expand the toll lanes east, but the SR-91 Implementation Plan's price is nearly $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, the state Assembly Transportation Committee has cleared a bill which would eliminate any legal roadblocks against this project.

RCTC finance committee officials are considering selling advertising space at its Metrolink stations to maintain upkeep while the agency deals with sparse public funds. These stations are heavily used by rush hour commuters and summer beachgoers.

It's often a blessing (or a curse) when one sees their transit agency post a "Notice of Public Hearing", which normally occurs once or twice per year per agency: normally one for major service or fare changes, the other to approve budgets. The Riverside Transit Agency has one of the most productive public hearing policies in Southern California and offered over twice as many comment periods in a year's time. Since last August, RTA has held five separate month-long public hearing periods for various proposals. The latest one: Now through July 22nd, RTA is hearing comments on proposed changes (no cuts this time) to four bus lines through the City of Riverside to improve productivity, eliminate wasteful spending and streamline operations, which are all normally good things.

Google Transit was a plus for those pushing to promote public transit. Now, transit oriented development advocates have something to be thankful for. Another online map provider called OpenStreetMap has planned to show off TOD and smart growth communities. Maps, of course, have different colors for different street types.

OpenStreetMap will have one for mixed-use, livable streets called Living Streets. Will other map providers follow this example? Will the future of online maps go from being car-centric to multi-modal? Stay tuned for more information.

With the long summer recess approaching (August 8 September 9) it is time to get in touch with our representatives in the House and Senate and remind them that we need a strong new federal transportation bill that will support Los Angeles in building a world-class 21st century transportation network. It's all about options and every person should be able to walk, bike, ride, or drive their way in a quick, safe, environmentally friendly way to their destination.

Transportation for America, along with its partners and allies, will be working to get this message to our representatives this summer. During the month of July T4A will be setting up meetings with local elected officials all over the state to ask them to join the campaign for a new, reformed federal transportation bill, and we'll be doing the same with our Washington lawmakers as they return home for the August recess. Join us in this push by getting in touch with your representatives and elected officials and ask them to meet with us and lend their voices and influence to the push for a modern, safe, and clean transportation network. Contact Ryan Wiggins to get involved!

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!

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

Metro Ad-Hoc Sustainability Committee Meeting: Wednesday, July 7, 10 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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 12, 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. 8400 Gregory Way, 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.

Measure R Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee of Metro: Friday, July 16, 10 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, July 21, 7 p.m. Friday, June 18, 8 a.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

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.

Los Angeles City Bicycle Advisory Committee: Tuesday, August 3, 7 p.m., location to be determined.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, August 5, 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, August 5, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, 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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