Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 33

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.

Ohayou gozaimasu: The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting next Tuesday, August 24, featuring an update on the Los Angeles-Sylmar segment on the state high-speed rail project. Also, the August 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 June meeting with Art Leahy and the latest July video featuring Dennis Allen, Executive Director of LA Streetcar. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Los Angeles City Hall
Democratic politicians and union boosters held a jobs rally at Los Angeles City Hall in which 30/10 was a focus. Speakers took turns taking shots at Republican candidates for their platforms on jobs. Republican critics, on the other hand, criticized Barbara Boxer for actually attending the rally in her official capacity. As candidates duke it out in advance of the November election it's important to note that 30/10 is not just a conduit for jobs but an ambitious and sound transportation roadmap for the future of Los Angeles that will result in very real improvements to the capacity of our regional transit system.

If 30/10 becomes a reality the initiative would accomplish the construction of 12 major transit projects in 10 years rather than 30. To do this, however, LA County needs two programs - a federal loan program and a federal transportation infrastructure bond program - to be passed into law by our DC lawmakers.

A bullet train.
On a national level such innovative financing programs would allow regions and cities that have passed tax measures to finance public transportation infrastructure, effectively speeding up projects with upfront loans that would be repaid with tax revenues. As a model for possible projects 30/10 would generate over 166,000 jobs and reduce congestion, air pollution and dependence on oil. Transportation for America is actively working with partners in Los Angeles to push national scale legislation to put in place these lending programs.

The Transit Coalition wants to see the California high-speed rail system done right, as does an active transit blogger in Riverside. According to the writer's point of view, placing a HSR station in the outer fringes of a major city instead of the central portion generally doesn't make sense. How far stations are situated from cities has been a focal point in the high-speed rail debate with some supporters claiming that trains should serve dense downtown areas to maximize the attractiveness of the system per the Japanese model. Other supporters say that trains should serve suburban stations to minimize environmental impacts and cost according to the French model.

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To get a look at some alternatives for the Palmdale to Los Angeles section of the high-speed rail project, consider attending one of three upcoming community open houses. The first will take place at the Chimbole Cultural Center in Palmdale on August 23 at 7 p.m. The second will take place in Burbank at the Buena Vista Public Library at 6:30 p.m. on August 25. The third will be held in Santa Clarita at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex at 7 p.m.

The Blue Line car shop.
Metro recently received some criticism when it posted an explanation on its Facebook page about why so few of its employees appear to take transit and then deleted it. Metro then explained why it did what it did. A more thorough response was posted at Metro's official blog. The issue was initially pressed by the The Bus Bench, a blog where issues related to race, gender and transit often intersect. The post claims that because Metro is managed so poorly, even its own employees will not take transit. Lost in the controversy is context. What bus would you take to get to division 8 or 15 in the San Fernando Valley to report for work at 4 a.m. in advance of the morning commute? Would those who demand such service at a time when most people are sleeping be willing to pay higher fares or taxes to fund that service?

It's bad when a transit-dependent worker can't rely on the bus. It's worse when connector roads are shut down. It's even worse when a natural disaster strikes in regions where the roads are not found on a map. This is the case in Pakistan where some of the poorest villages are connected by unmapped roads that have been destroyed due to severe flooding. OpenStreeMap.org volunteers have once again taken the charge to trace the satellite imagery provided by Yahoo! and other data sources for these little known outer villages to help with the flood relief efforts.

The Mayor after a bike crash.
When a careless driver caused Mayor Villaraigosa to fall off his bike and break his arm, the mayor was criticized for not using the incident to foster a teachable moment about road safety. Since then, the mayor has come to embrace cycling as a viable mode of transportation after ignoring the issue during most of his time in office. He has pledged to do this by increasing total bikeway miles from 372 to 1,600 miles by 2015. The mayor made the announcement at a bike summit this Monday. LAist also covered the very crowded event. The mayor's new attitude is a far cry from one Colorado town, which has banned cycling from its major streets

The western end of the Orange Line.
Farmers Insurance is moving into Woodland Hills which may present an opportunity for Metrolink's Ventura County Line and Metro's Orange Line to pick up some new riders. The Farmers office, which employs about 1,200 workers, will be moved from Simi Valley and be placed near the current Orange Line terminus. By the summer of 2012, workers will be able to take Metrolink and transfer to the Orange Line at Chatsworth. At least one employee is already planning on taking the Orange Line to work, according to the Daily News. Just imagine what it would be like for commuters from east of downtown LA and the OC, if Metrolink could get you to Chatsworth on a one-seat ride with the Orange Line completing the trip!

Amtrak has purchased 130 passenger railcars from a Spanish train builder named CAF. The new cars, which will be built in New York, will be used on long-distance routes and replace part of Amtrak's aging fleet. The bill is about $298 million.

There are two weeks left to visit railLA's " LA Beyond Cars" exhibit. It runs through August 28. railLA is also holding an " alternative transportation party" on Wednesday, August 18 at the City National Plaza in Downtown LA. The celebration starts at 7 p.m. If you attend this party, the entrance is actually at 524 S. Figueroa. So much for good pedestrian directions. The street address given is great for motorists parking under the building, but this is a good example of poor ped wayfinding in our vast metropolis.

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As alternatives to the personal automobile become more popular, so do cell phone applications that dispense bicycle and transit information. With the advent of Google Bicycle Maps, accessing information about bikeways and bike paths is a simple affair with smartphones such as the iPhone and Android devices. On transit, phones are slowly becoming a regular method of finding bus routes and schedules. Remember, you can't text and drive, but you can text and ride!

An audience of Simpsons characters grumble and praise.
America wants its transit systems back, but according to Tom Downs, they don't want to pay for it. Downs explores our reluctance to raise the gas tax and its impact on transit systems across the nation. Sometimes our national debate over the gas tax resembles an episode of The Simpsons.

Passenger traffic is down at Bob Hope Airport, but the most recent figures are still exceeding expectations. In June, passenger counts were 2.4% lower than a year prior. Between 60 and 70 percent of seats have been filled on average over the last three years. Next week, the Burbank City Council is expected to make a decision on the fate of a proposed regional transportation center. Council members want to be assured that it remains a transit center and not used for another purpose by the airport.

There's good news and bad news at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The good news is that international trade is up from the dismal numbers posted last year. The bad news is that the holiday surge that shippers and dock workers reliably counted on in the past may not materialize this year. The ports just had their best July ever, but consumers continue to remain skittish about the economy and retailers are worried that holiday shoppers won't be shelling out their hard earned cash for brand name products at low, low prices later this year. This translates into fewer opportunities for work down at the docks.

A prominent transit advocate and lead figure in the opposition to the Expo Line is alleged to have abused his girlfriend. The arrest is said to have happened on May 9 when the LAPD picked him up for cohabitant abuse.

And finally, an increasing number of business travelers are being forced to fly coach by their employers. Sounds like a horror movie to us!

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, August 24, 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!

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, August 23, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, August 25, 7 p.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

Metro Measure R Project Delivery Committee: Thursday, August 26, 10 a.m., Board Room, Metro Gateway Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, August 27, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, August 27, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, September 1, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, September 2, 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, September 2, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Metro Westside/Central Service Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, September 8, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Thursday, September 9, 11:30 a.m., Metro Gateway Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council Meeting: Thursday, September 9, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

Metro South Bay Governance Council Meeting: Friday, September 10, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

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

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, September 11, 1 p.m.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council Meeting: Monday, September 13, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station) City Hall East, Council Chambers, 11333 Valley Blvd., El Monte.

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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