Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 42

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.

What the Frak!? The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting next 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 variable route of the Westside Subway to Westwood.
Metro staff released route recommendations for the Westside Subway. Some of the more controversial aspects of the route, such as the location of the Century City Station, will be further studied in the final environmental study, should the Metro Board vote to pursue it on October 28. Beverly Hills already sent a letter stressing its " strong preference" for a Santa Monica Boulevard alignment. Sadly, the branch to West Hollywood would be left out, although one blogger hopes that something akin to it may be considered for any northward extension of the Crenshaw Line. Even more pathetic, LA Weekly reporter Patrick Range McDonald goes 3-for-3 as he writes yet another libelous invective against the project. Nevertheless, advocates are stirring up support at UCLA for the project.

Don't forget that, apart from the meetings for the South Bay Extension, Metro announced new meetings focusing on individual stations on the Crenshaw/LAX project. It was announced that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa secured a $546 million loan from the federal government to build the light rail line, making it the first project in the 30/10 Plan to successfully receive such a loan. The Los Angeles Daily News offered a gracious editorial on the subject. Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern weights in about light rail coming to LAX, while Mark Lacter of LA Biz Observed is in complete denial and is clueless about how this all works. See Upcoming Events below for times and locations.

Dialogue is also beginning on the Los Angeles-Santa Ana corridor project. Yes, these are exciting times indeed for transportation in Southern California.

Famima!! is now open at Union Station.
Not to be outdone, however, is what is sure to be one of the greatest transportation developments of the year: Famima!! is now open at Union Station. This quirky and peculiar convenience store is just one of the many long-sought amenities to the historic and increasingly busy station, with other food establishments coming online in the next few months.

In other transit developments, the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus is now on Google Transit after much campaigning from advocates. Amtrak ran a special two-day service from L.A. to the Mojave Natural Preserve called the Kelso Flyer this past weekend to rave reviews.

Guy Heston of Long Beach Transit announced his retirement from the agency after 30 years, sparking a shift in leadership. Metro has recently adopted the LBT lead and is finally moving to convert the bus fleet to three bike racks, rather than two.

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Good tidings continue to come for that other great transportation development of the year: CicLAvia, which was held on Sunday, October 10. Dan Turner of Los Angeles Times enjoyed himself while at the event, as he revealed in an editorial. CicLAvia organizers also expressed thanks to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for supporting the event. With the event described as a rousing success, you just have to ask yourself: Where were you that Sunday?

Advocacy in Action: Transit Coalition Boardmember Stephen Box continues to push Metro to implement Flagship standards at the Hollywood & Vine Red Line Station Transit Oriented Development. Built for two-thirds of a billion dollars, the W Hollywood / 1600 Vine TOD opened eight months ago, but with no accommodations for cyclists.

A proposal is headed to the Metro Board that will clear the way for the Hollywood Bike HUB, a facility for long- and short-term bike storage, bike share, and minor bike repairs. Metro currently has more than four dozen TOD projects in development but no TOD standards in place that would provide for open space, pedestrian access, bicycle facilities, community benefits, public space, and neighborhood connectivity. Joining Box in the campaign to develop TOD standards for Metro are Ron Durgin of Sustainable Streets, Glenn Bailey of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, Enci Box of Bikeside and Jeremy Grant of the LA Bike Working Group.

The Transit Coalition Service Development Team of Carlos Velasquez, Faramarz Nabavi and Bart Reed have been meeting with the Operations Service Planning and Development group at Metro to work on service enhancements and adjustments in the Northeast Valley.

A rendering of a DesertXpress train.
Onto high-speed rail developments, Nevada Senator Harry Reid reiterated his support for the DesertXpress project that would bring HSR to Las Vegas. The project is looking for federal loan guarantees before it tentatively breaks ground next year. However, resentment continues over the fact that the line will start in Victorville, CA, many miles away from Los Angeles. Back in California, the state HSR Authority will give a presentation to the San Gabriel City Council tonight, while Kern County officials are drumming up support for an HSR maintenance facility in Shafter. Marc Haefele opines that high-speed rail will finally knit California together.

An effort by the city to traffic calm Wilbur Avenue is running in to sharp opposition from the local City Councilmember, motorists, and other speeding traffic advocates. Last week, the mainstream press jumped in to the fray and decided to present the battle as "cyclists" vs "drivers" because the Road Diet included some bike lanes. NBC decided to mention that residents of Wilbur Avenue are overwhelmingly supportive of slower traffic on their local street, which the bike lane allows.

Novotopia 2010 Election Guide

Speaking of slowing traffic, members of the previously unheard of band Imperial Stars used their tour bus to lock-up the 101 Freeway on Monday. Somehow the stunt was supposed to help hungry people. Sadly, the problems of poverty and starvation were not solved by this bizarre publicity stunt.

Give Me 3.
While some have found the posters associated with the "Give Me 3" campaign to be somewhat underwhelming in their placement, the campaign urging drivers to give cyclists a safe comfort zone when passing moves on. Mayor Villaraigosa revealed a new Public Service Announcement on his YouTube account that will hopefully run on stations throughout the Southland reminding drivers to "Give Me 3."

The city also made good on its promise to address the bike parking problems in immigrant communities. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition City of Lights program and Councilman Ed Reyes were on hand to help drive in the spikes themselves as new bike racks were placed next to the CARECEN day labor center.

The academic smackdown over public parking between CATO Institute Fellow Randall O'Toole and UCLA Parking Guru Donald Shoup continues. In this installment, Shoup challenges O'Toole and CATO to stop subsidizing parking at CATO headquarters. Speaking of Shoup, the Los Angeles Times profiles the professor in a flattering piece, while detractors (road warriors and congestion stalwarts) smacked back in CityWatch and the Times letters.

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The TIGER II grants are coming! Late last week several cities around the country received news that they have been awarded federal funds to carry out smart, innovative investments in our transportation infrastructure. The projects were evaluated on a competitive basis using criteria that include increasing economic competitiveness, improving environmental sustainability, enhancing safety, and making communities more livable.

Tomorrow, October 20 the remaining $370 million in TIGER II grants will be announced. These grants are emblematic of the types of projects that campaigns such as Transportation for America and its partners want to see funded in the next federal transportation bill. T4A will be working to publicize projects in the Los Angeles region that receive the funds. Contact Ryan Wiggins, the T4 Southern California Organizer, if you are involved in or of know of a project that will receive funds so we can support projects that invest in our future!

Lack of coordination of major projects in a single area often have unintended consequences, and officials in Riverside County have recently discovered that two major highway projects in the Temecula and Murrieta areas would create a 3,500-foot freeway bottleneck gap on the southbound I-215 freeway! RCTC is looking to plug in the gap. Comments on the referenced article showed that maps and graphics of the area would have been helpful and TTC is already on board with this.

A sinkhole partly destroys a secion of the Angeles Crest Highway.
The Times did a piece on Gustavo Ortega, a geologist from Caltrans who is working to reopen the Angeles Crest Highway (State Highway Route 2). So far, the task has been daunting, with one large sinkhole nearly destroying the road near La Cañada Flintridge. Although Caltrans believed the road would open this summer, now they say that it will open this December.

Regarding other highway news, Caltrans opened carpool lanes on the Pomona Freeway (State Highway Route 60) this week. The 91 Freeway toll lanes can now proceed thanks to a state law that permits a design-build approach that would expedite their construction. Also, community members in the Inland Empire are discussing the future of the I-215 corridor.

And finally, Rio de Janeiro will soon open a gondola that intends to offer another transportation alternative across town.

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

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.

Metro Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Project Stations Public Meetings (all meetings at 6 p.m.):

  • Thursday, October 28, Inglewood City Hall, Community Room, First Floor, One W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. (Florence/West Station)
  • Thursday, November 4, LADWP Crenshaw Customer Service Center Auditorium, 4030 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles. (Crenshaw/MLK & optional Crenshaw/Vernon Stations.
  • Saturday, November 6, Faithful Central Church, The Living Room, 400 W. Florence Ave., Inglewood. (Florence/La Brea Station)
  • Tuesday, November 9, Crenshaw High School, Library, 5010 11th Ave., Los Angeles. (Crenshaw/Slauson Station, Park Mesa Heights Alignment)
  • Tuesday, November 16, Westchester Senior Center, 8740 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles. (Manchester (Optional) & Aviation/Century Stations)
  • Thursday, November 18, West Angeles Church, The Crystal Room, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles. (Crenshaw/Exposition Station)
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.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council Meeting: Thursday, November 4, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

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.

LOSSAN Technical Advisory Committee: Wednesday, November 10, 11:30 a.m., SANDAG, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego.

Metro Westside/Central Service Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, November 10, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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