Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 35

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.

Come and Join Us: The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting, Tuesday, September 28, featuring an update on the latest Metrolink system changes. 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 review of our August meeting, 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.

Metro Westside Subway
One of the last bastions of opposition to the Westside Subway Extension is in Beverly Hills. The Beverly Hills Unified School District is objecting to any route that tunnels under Beverly High. They cite safety concerns and future plans to construct underground parking and foundations for new buildings. At a Board of Education meeting, one attendee stated that it would be better to place a station at Santa Monica Blvd. and Avenue of the Stars and "provide a DASH-type system with golf carts." The more popular station option, however, is believed to be at Constellation & Avenue of the Stars. This fall, the Metro Board is expected to review the draft environmental report to select a locally preferred alternative for the Westside Subway. It is probably safe to assume that some Beverly Hills residents will be there.

Blogdowntown has a brief rundown on the different ways of getting around Downtown Los Angeles, past, present and future. Featured are the never-built downtown people mover and the future regional connector and streetcar projects. In the short-term, DASH bus cuts and stalled efforts to implement pedicabs in downtown have made it a bit more difficult to travel. In any case, Downtown LA still has some of the best transit options in the city and improvements are on the way.

Please TAP here.
MetroRiderLA hates to say, "We told you so," but they do just that in a commentary about TAP and the fare gates. While TAP was a good idea in theory, its implementation has been lacking. Fare gates, the preferred system for those who distrust and fear society at large, are looking increasingly like a waste of time and money. Some transit advocates have called for the program to be discontinued, but Metro is more than likely going to complete the development. Even if TAP is fixed, that leaves many smaller transit agencies, including Metrolink, who are unable and/or unwilling to make the switch, as they still use paper fare media. A Los Angeles Times editorial also comments on the TAP challenges. Metro CEO Arthur T. Leahy replied to the Times editorial in a letter to the editor.

HSR in the Inland Empire.
The debate over where to put high-speed rail stations continues on the California High Speed Rail blog. Guest blogger Justin Nelson suggests that Riverside should resist temptations to build a "greenfield" station in the middle of nowhere. It would be more productive, he says, to place the Riverside station in its rapidly redeveloping downtown rather than the March Air Force Base on the fringe of the city. Critics of downtown stations say that it is simply wrong to route "flight-level zero" trains through downtown areas.

In other high-speed rail news, a UC Irvine study confirms that government spending does in fact generate jobs and economic benefits. While it's true that building high-speed rail generates economic benefits, so does building freeways and digging ditches. The more important point made by the study is that high-speed rail would improve transportation mobility throughout the state, revitalize downtown areas and attract businesses to California.

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Better rail service to LAX took one step closer to reality. A $1.45 million federal grant has been awarded to a proposed transit center at Aviation and Century Blvd. The station will one day serve trains on the Green and Crenshaw Lines, and also provide a connection to an LAX people mover. The total cost of the transit center is $11 million. As Curbed LA puts it, yes, an LAX rail connection may actually happen in our lifetimes.

The initiative that is going to make the Crenshaw Line a reality sooner is 30/10, which is receiving renewed support from Senator Barbara Boxer. Her opponent Carly Fiorina also supports 30/10.

Power lines fall on a bus in Lake Elsinore.
Remember the hot and humid weather last week? Well, Mother Nature took the Inland Empire out on a wild weather ride during the heat wave with high winds, severe thunderstorms and flash floods. But this foul weather didn't stop the Riverside Transit Agency and its bus contractor from taking charge in the event of an unexpected emergency. In Lake Elsinore, lightning struck down a live power line which fell on the RTA Route 7 bus. The bus driver knew to stop the coach right away and called for help. Because the vehicle is equipped with non-conductive fiberglass within the coach, neither the 11 passengers nor the driver were hurt when the live cables came down.

Those little red and white Metrolink trains on rubber wheels (as some call them), better known as the RTA peak hour CommuterLink coaches, have been a smashing success for long distance Inland Empire commuters...Well, almost. Two of the newest lines are lagging and averaging 3 passenger boardings per hour. Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone has been exploring better routing alternatives for these underperforming lines ( Route 212, Route 217) while RTA marketing staff is looking at buying billboard space along the respective freeway corridors.

Walk Score logo
Walk Score has become very popular in recent weeks. The web site uses an algorithm to assign a "walk score" to any address by counting up retail establishments and now transit stops. The tool was tested on future Expo Phase 1 stations. Expo received a mean score of about 80, which means "very walkable." Note that the score will be higher after the stations are actually built. Walk Score is not a perfect tool, and does not take into account other factors that affect walkability, including the width of streets, shade and speed limits. An eight lane arterial is definitely more difficult to cross than a two lane street but Walk Score doesn't know the difference. It's still a fun tool to play around with, though. Give it a try.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about making the streets safer for cyclists, who were given a chance to weigh in on Streetsblog. There was a split decision on whether a "mandatory 3 feet passing law" or changes to the Hit and Run statutes in the California Vehicle Code were the highest priority. A mandatory helmet wearing law trailed very far behind.

The Green Economy Think Tank convened a one day conference in Santa Monica, calling on LA area leaders to work together on green solutions. Apparently the solutions don't include transportation or personal behavior as they only offered parking instructions, no mention of transit, bike parking, car-pooling options or any other transportation solutions.

Mulholland Highway.
Three cyclists riding on Mulholland Highway were hit by an approaching motorist who attempted to turn left across their path. The LA Times somehow saw fit to switch the parties, offering their version as "Three people riding bicycles on Mulholland Highway suffered major injuries Monday when they collided with an 81-year-old Calabasas woman making a left turn, authorities said." A minor distinction, to be sure, but one that lays or mislays a subtle foundation of responsibility as the story is repeated and investigated.

The City of LA Department of Transportation just finished the implementation of its nascent Sharrows Program, consisting of painting sharrows on six streets in diplomatically selected parts of the city. The response was heated, stirring debate all the way to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) Conference in Chicago, but no criticism stung as much as that from the City Bureau of Street Services. Without even a whimper, the brand new Sharrows on Westholme Ave. were covered up when the street was resurfaced. Do these City Departments not talk to each other? (Silos are very popular at the City!)

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The chorus calling for a "3 Foot Passing Law" isn't just coming from cyclists, but also the Mayor's Office. At a Tuesday press conference, the mayor unveiled a new poster that will go up at transit stops asking motorists to "Give Us 3." By Wednesday, the posters were already appearing around the city.

Hey, couture and bikes do mix. As cycling becomes more popular, bike accessories and other gear is becoming increasingly more lucrative. If a guy can make a living selling $100 bike jeans, that bodes well for the future of urban cycling.

Burbank has approved a plan for a new transit center at Bob Hope Airport. The project will bring together rental car and bus facilities as well as provide a moving walkway to the airport. A bridge would connect the new transit center to the Metrolink / Amtrak train station, but that project is not yet funded.

Yogi Berra best said it: The future ain't what it used to be.
The 50th anniversary of the day transit planners in Los Angeles first conceived of a Metro system for LA County has come and gone. The recommended system in those days would have used rubber tires on concrete tracks. Suggested corridors where the transit system would have been constructed largely parallel our current Metro Rail system. The 1960 report went on to say that the recommended system would need to be constructed in 20 years in order to keep pace with Los Angeles' transportation needs. Better late than never, right?

The California Legislature has passed a toll road privacy bill. The bill makes it a crime to share drivers' toll road history for any reason other than billing or ticketing. The original bill would have required companies and government agencies to delete toll road history within 150 days, but toll road lobbyists managed to get the time limit up to four and a half years. If the bill becomes law, it appears that companies hoping to buy and compile data on the travel patterns of Southern Californian toll road users for marketing purposes will be out of luck.

A federal judge has decided to uphold the Port of Los Angeles' clean truck initiatives designed to curb air pollution at the port and surrounding areas. The judge said that it was a business necessity to allow the port to manage its property as it sees fit. Critics say that a provision of the clean trucks program that requires truckers to be employed as part of a trucking company does nothing for air pollution and only promotes union membership. The ruling is expected to be appealed.

Driving is still the preferred method for Labor Day travel because it's so cheap. Could it also have anything to do with the lack of good intercity rail transport? Once-a-day Amtrak trains won't entice many people from their vehicles.

The airline industry is doing better these days, but the fees keep getting piled on. Also, the TSA has a new enhanced pat-down procedure. Now show me on the doll where the TSA touched you.

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, September 28, 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 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 Tuesday, September 14, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 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.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, September 13 and 27, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council Meeting: Monday, September 13, 5 p.m., City Hall East, Council Chambers, 11333 Valley Blvd., El Monte.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, September 15 and 16, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles.

LOSSAN Joint Powers Board: Wednesday, September 22, 11:30 a.m., San Luis Obispo.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, September 22, 7 p.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, September 23, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, September 23, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

Westside Neighborhood Council Meetings on Expo Line Phase 2: 6 p.m., Westside Pavilion, Room A near the Food Court, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles.

  • Thursday, September 23: This meeting will feature representatives from the Expo Line Authority.
  • Thursday, October 4: This meeting will feature representatives from Neighbors for Smart Rail.
Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, September 24, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, September 24, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room, SCAG Building, 12th Floor, 818 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Bicycle Advisory Committee: Tuesday, October 5, 7 p.m., location to be determined.

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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