Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 41

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.

May the Force Be With You: The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, October 26, featuring Robert Turnauckas, Metrolink Chief Customer Engagement Officer, who will discuss Metrolink marketing. Also, the September and October 2010 issues of Moving Southern California are now available online with new features and news, as are past issues. Here is coverage of our September meeting and a review of our August meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Rail2020 Conference: Don't miss out on this excellent opportunity to stay apprised on statewide passenger rail matters. The event will be held November 12-14 at the Capitol Plaza Halls Conference Center in Sacramento. Seats are still available at $89 if you purchase before October 25. (Non-members add $25.) This includes continental breakfast and luncheon. You can also purchase a separate excursion including lunch to visit the Alstom Plant on Mare Island in Vallejo at the special rate of $99.

The route of CicLAvia through Downtown LA.
One of the City of Los Angeles transportation highlights of the year was last Sunday's CicLAvia. Based on the weekly open street festival (i.e. closed to cars) held every Sunday in Bogota, Columbia, the City of LA closed 7.5 miles of streets from Hollenbeck Park in East Los Angeles to "The Bicycle District" in East Hollywood.

So what happened? The Los Angeles Times estimated that 100,000 people took to the streets to celebrate their city and explore it in a new way. Streetsblog explains why that number could be a low estimate. And... everyone had fun. Picture the best rock concert/sporting event/political rally you ever went to. Then add dodge ball. And a gigantic sense of community from everyone involved.

On top of all that, there were no "major incidents" such as crashes between cyclists or cyclists and pedestrians or a clash between revelers and the LAPD. Even LA Weekly Columnist Dennis Romero, who labeled the event, " Mayor Villaraigosa's Bike Ride Pipe Dream" had to concede the day was a victory for L.A. The only question that's left is: When are we doing it again?

Metro announced that it has received a nearly $48-million grant to build a new bus maintenance facility on Cesar Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street in downtown Los Angeles. With funding of the $95-million Union Division 13 project now secured, bids can go out as early as next January, with construction to start the following June with completion in 2013.

Segments of priority for the South Bay Green Line extension.
Meanwhile, Metro announced a series of meetings on the Green Line South Bay Extension. Dates and locations can be found in our Upcoming Events section below.

As a reminder, Metro is currently accepting official comments on the Draft EIS/EIR for the Westside Subway Extension and the Downtown Regional Connector. The public comment period concludes this Monday, October 18, 2010.

Several cities along the San Francisco Peninsula have joined forces and filed a lawsuit (again) against the high-speed rail project. Representatives of the Cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton contend that the environmental report for the project does not account for all possible negative impacts and shortchanges other alternatives, such as the Altamont Pass route. Curiously, Redwood City, Belmont and Burlingame will not join the list of plaintiffs, citing that they would prefer collaborating instead of resisting the CAHSR Authority to insure that the project is built the best way possible.

While we bid them good luck on the suit, the above-mentioned Authority is having internal troubles. State officials want to ease conflict-of-interest laws so that two knowledgeable transportation officials, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Los Angeles Metro Boardmember Richard Katz, can continue serving on the Authority Board. The controversy came about after "community and high-speed rail activists" complained to the state Attorney General about the issue. Katz took the opportunity to express his belief that appointing local transportation officials to the Board can keep their respective regions relevant on HSR happenings.

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However, fortune continues to smile upon the Authority, as it has been awarded a $194-million federal grant to finish the HSR project's final environmental documents and conduct preliminary engineering. Also, downtown LA residents expressed their opinions, concerns and suggestions at a public hearing on the project held on September 21. Participants were dismayed that the preferred alignment for the trains would require temporary closure of the relatively new Los Angeles State Historic Park.

Bike The Coast - Taste The Coast
For those who want to make good use of Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains, take advantage of the inaugural Bike the Coast - Taste the Coast event on Saturday, November 6 at the Oceanside Pier, featuring food booths and bike tours through the region. Amtrak California announced it is now an official sponsor. Each registered bike rider will receive an Amtrak Free Companion Fare Coupon, redeemable on any Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin or Capitol Corridor when accompanied by a full fare adult ticket.

Some airlines are beginning to install technology to let passengers surf the Internet and send e-mail. However, airborne cellphone calls are another major issue remaining to be tackled.

Onto port news, the harbor commissions of Los Angeles and Long Beach opted to delay adopting an environmental plan that would significantly reduce air pollution from ships and locomotives that frequent the ports. The proposed Clean Air Action Plan proposes reducing carcinogens from these sources by 85 percent before 2020. However, commissioners wanted clarification on certain issues in the Plan and also desired to ask private firms more about the Plan. Also, the Port of Los Angeles will cut import fees for electric vehicles by 15 percent.

Congressmember Laura Richardson recently introduced legislation that would raise the diesel per-gallon tax by 12 cents, which would be spent on freight movement improvements. Unlike previous efforts to raise a gas tax, this one has the full support of business leaders. The American Trucking Association is particularly thrilled that the bill would create a Goods Movement Trust Fund and an office of freight planning within the US Department of Transportation.

Tiny Stormtroopers ready to stop a train.
In the same vein, in an interview with The Hill's Capitol Blog, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took exception to Democrat lawmakers who are not moving quickly enough in producing a new six-year federal transportation authorization bill. LaHood also chastised Republican lawmakers and office candidates for irrationally opposing high-speed rail. Notably, Republican gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin and Ohio vowed to kill in-progress HSR projects in their states if they are elected.

A new report, " Smart Mobility for a 21st Century America", from four leading transportation organizations demonstrates how existing and emerging technologies can squeeze more capacity from over-burdened highways, help commuters avoid traffic delays and expand and improve transportation options, all while saving money and creating jobs.

With President Obama's support for a $50 billion down payment for infrastructure and the real prospect that Congress will move forward on a comprehensive, multi-year transportation bill in the upcoming session, the report makes the case for investing in technology and innovation to help solve our nation's most critical transportation problems and bring jobs.

Studies have shown that intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and other smart technologies are cost effective and quick to deploy, with solutions like synchronized and adaptive traffic signals yielding a $40 return in time and fuel savings for every $1 invested while also reducing CO2 emissions up to 22 percent and travel delays by 25 percent or more. The Government Accountability Office found the benefit-cost ratio of a nationwide real-time traffic information system to be 25 to 1, with a $1.2 billion investment returning more than $30 billion in safety, mobility and environmental benefits.

Novotopia 2010 Election Guide

Those who have shown disdain at the massive ARC tunnel project in New Jersey can temporarily rejoice: NJ Governor Chris Christie called off the project, citing potential cost overruns as the state grapples with budget problems. But US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had a serious conversation with Christie about reversing this decision. The ARC project would build a pair of tunnels underneath the Hudson River to an expanded Penn Station in Manhattan, dispensing with any access to Grand Central station and benefitting only New Jersey Transit trains. Huffington Post columnist Joel Epstein believes Los Angeles should reap in the spoils. $3 billion in federal cash is dedicated to the project, which Epstein believes should be redirected to Los Angeles in light of the project's possible cancellation.

The 405 at Howard Hughes Parkway.
CEOs for Cities came out with a report that revealed the real cause of increased travel times during peak hours on our roads: Many existing metrics only concentrate on congestion, not distance traveled. Implicitly, cities that manage to reduce distance traveled are the ones who enjoy a reduced amount of time driving. LAStreetsblog believes that the study reinforces the need to adjust land use and transportation policies so that people can be closer to their destinations and reduce travel times.

Cutting transit service certainly has its consequences, but when service cuts begin to hamper with public safety, officials know that it's time to draw the line. With local school districts cutting school bus service throughout Southern California, public transit agencies such as the Riverside Transit Agency have been approached to offer alternatives. Locally funded replacement service has become a priority in areas such as San Jacinto where the school bus cuts have resulted in safety issues as students are faced with longer walks.

Officials in the Inland Empire will be taking a trip to the Pechanga Resort and Casino on October 14 for its annual I-215 South Corridor Economic Summit. The all-day agenda includes speeches on economic recovery and improving transportation options along the freeway corridor.

Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone has been busy adding all kinds of transit-friendly data to OpenStreetMaps. Ventrone is also testing the OSMDroid application which connects the GPS functions of Android cellular phones to the free map data. Can such applications serve as a tool for transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians in the near future? Anybody interested in adding multi-use facilities such as footways, bus stops, stations, and park & ride locations to the map should visit the Multi-Modal Mapping service project for more information and links to the OpenStreetMap site. OSMDroid is a free open-source application licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Inland Empire transit agencies have certainly shown interest with The Transit Coalition and the organization's projects and goals. Omnitrans is following what TTC is doing on Twitter! Check out TTC's A Better Inland Empire Twitter page.

Transit Coalition Boardmember Stephen Box was in Sacramento working on the Life Before License campaign, Complete Streets advocacy and Local Assistance issues. Bikeside's LB4L Campaign seeks to change state law so that hit-and-run motorists have their license revoked; it is part of Bikeside's larger StreetLife initiative. Mega-projects such as the 405/Sepulveda Pass and the Gerald Desmond Bridge leave community advocates wondering if the multi-agency teams are clear on the multi-modal concept. Meanwhile, LA's Draft Bike Plan is rushing to the finish line, just in time to beat the CA Complete Streets legislation, which will, as of January 2011, require cities and counties, when updating the part of a local general plan that addresses roadways and traffic flows, to ensure that those plans account for the needs of all roadway users. This begs the question "Why the hurry?"

Meanwhile, state Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, who represents the La Cañada Flintridge region, explains how building the 710 tunnel connecting Alhambra with Pasadena will bring about the end of humankind.

Finally, in our requisite celebrity section, actor Vincent Kartheiser, who portrays Pete Campbell in the award-winning television drama Mad Men, gives The New York Times his reasons why he rides mass transit.

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, October 26, 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 Westside/Central Service Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, October 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Thursday, October 14, 11:30 a.m., SANDAG, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council Meeting: Thursday, October 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, October 20 and 21, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

  • Planning & Programming Committee: Wednesday, October 20, 1:00 p.m.
  • Finance and Budget Committee: Wednesday, October 20, 2:30 p.m. CANCELLED.
  • Ad Hoc Congestion Pricing Committee: Wednesday, October 20, 3:30 p.m.
  • Measure R Project Delivery Committee: Thursday, October 21, 9 a.m.
  • Executive Management & Audit Committee: Thursday, October 21, 10:30 a.m.
  • Construction Committee: Thursday, October 21, 12:00 noon.
  • Operations Committee: Thursday, October 21, 1 p.m.
Metro South Bay Metro Green Line Extension Project Public Meetings (all meetings start at 6 p.m.):

  • Wednesday, October 20, Nakano Theater, 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance. (Served by Torrance Transit Lines 1 and 8)
  • Thursday, October 21, Lawndale Christian Church, 4234 W. 147th Street, Lawndale. (Served by Metro Lines 40 and 125 and Gardena Transit Line 1)
  • Monday, October 25, North Redondo Senior Center, Perry Park, 2308 Rockefeller Lane, Redondo Beach.(Served by Metro Line 130 and Torrance Transit Line 8)
  • Tuesday, October 26, 2010 (6-8 p.m.) Flight Path Learning Center, 6661 West Imperial Highway, Los Angeles. (Served by beach City Transit Line 109)
SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, October 22, 10 a.m., SCAG Board Room, 818 W. 7th St., 12th Floor, Los Angeles.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, October 25, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

LOSSAN Joint Powers Board: Wednesday, October 27, 11:30 a.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, October 27, 7 p.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, October 28, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, October 28, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, October 29, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

Mobility 21 Ninth Annual Southern California Transportation Summit: Friday, October 29, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, November 3, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority Board Meeting: Thursday, November 4, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple, 3rd floor, Board of Supervisor's Hearing Room 381B, Los Angeles.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, November 4, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, November 5, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council Meeting: Monday, November 8, 5 p.m., City Hall East, 11333 Valley Blvd., El Monte.

Rail2020 Conference: November 12 - 14, Capitol Plaza Halls Conference Center, 1025 9th St., Sacramento.

Metro South Bay Governance Council Meeting: Friday, November 12, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, November 13, 1 p.m.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director

Mina Nichols, Legislative Analyst

Zach Gutierrez, Communications
Damien Newton, Editor LA Streetsblog

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.

bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us * The Transit Coalition