Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, October 25, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 43

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.

Make it so: The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting tomorrow, 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 27. (Note: 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.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas had a Jekyll and Hyde week for public transit advocates. On Wednesday, the County Supervisor joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, USDOT Staff and a handful of Congresswomen to celebrate a $546 million, interest-free loan from the federal government announced as part of the TIGER grant program. These funds will help get construction advanced for the Crenshaw Line. Here is a video of the speakers on Streetsblog. (Note that Metro will host another round of workshops for the Crenshaw Line starting October 28. Dates and locations are in Upcoming Events below.)

Work continues on the Expo Line.
However, a motion by Ridley-Thomas would empower communities in the battle over rail-crossing issues. Ridley-Thomas claims that his motion would create a "subjective" analysis in determining whether or not a crossing would be at-grade or below-grade. Critics worry this resolution, if passed by the full board this Thursday, would empower NIMBY's to stop light rail lines around the county, effectively crippling Measure R.

We've waited since 1953 to ride the Expo Line, which is expected to open around August 2011. If you don't want to wait, you can ride the line in this YouTube video, along with memories of the past. In the present, another wrench may be thrown in the works for Expo Phase II. A proposed labor agreement that the Expo Construction Authority Board could authorize, would allow only unionized workers to work on the project, which has irked some non-union supporters. The matter was the subject of the Metro Transit Business Advisory Council meeting on October 7.

In some transportation news briefs, the Supplemental EIR/EIS for the Pasadena-to-Azusa Gold Line, which mainly concerns itself with select bridges on the right-of-way that could be replaced, is now complete and out for public review. A public hearing on this will be held on Wednesday, October 27. A summary of the efforts to bring rail transit down Wilshire Boulevard is available courtesy of The Transport Politic. Ontario Mayor Pro Tem Alan D. Wapner had an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times about his desire to see LA/Ontario International Airport returned back to Ontario.

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Is Los Angeles truly following the principles of noted parking expert Donald Shoup? This StreetsblogLA entry argues otherwise. Los Angeles fails on all three basic principles of market-based parking pricing. The article also reminds us that simply jacking up parking rates does not in any way exemplify this concept. It certainly doesn't help if the city is also not reducing off-street parking requirements. This has led to dangerous misconceptions of pricing road space, where misinformed opponents are twisting the issue as class warfare. Ryan Snyder effectively tackles this criticism that parking policies would hurt low income people. Also, is the era of the old-fashioned parking meter coming to an end?

Vancouver at night.
Considering that Baby Boomers grew up in an environment almost exclusively tailored to the private automobile, how will their fast-aging ranks maintain mobility when their physical functions deteriorate? A New York Times opinion piece suspects that new technologies that assist driving must come to the majority of cars soon. Focus was also given on creating age-ready communities close to transit. The Federal Highway Administration is taking it one step further by requiring municipalities to replace capitalized signage with lower-case signs, which are easier to read.

By contrast, more and more young people (at least in Canada) are opting for a denser, more urban way of living that revolves around personal technologies and a greener way of living. As speculated, many of these so-called Millenials find value in experiences, not material items, thus seeing car or home ownership as an albatross. Automobile companies are not lost on this fact, which threatens their very viability.

This piece of news can only bode well for California, an ostensibly auto-centered state that is also striving to build a high-speed rail system. Despite lots of criticism directed at the High Speed Rail Authority for its suspiciously rosy ridership estimates, low operational costs and high revenue projections (not to mention its failure to keep track of who paid for their trips to foreign lands), the system could very well be a success in other ways.

Indeed, remember that discussion some months back on establishing high-speed rail that would serve the entire West Coast from Seattle to Southern California? Apparently, the Canadian province of British Columbia wants to jump in on the action. Specifically, province Premier Gordon Campbell wants to ask his federal government to invest substantially in their part of the Vancouver-Seattle route. Washington State received some cash to improve its leg of the route as part of a larger HSR grant to increase speeds between Seattle and Portland.

In the meantime, changes for the better are coming to the Amtrak Coast Starlight. Effective with the national timetable changes on November 8, the Los Angeles-Seattle train will stop at two additional and existing Amtrak stations: Burbank Airport, which will offer rail-to-air connections, and Richmond, which directly serves BART. (The Emeryville-Chicago California Zephyr will also stop at Richmond.) Travel time will also be reduced by 15 minutes. Could someone high up be reading the Coast Starlight Communities Network's white paper on how to improve the long-distance train? In any case, here is the new timetable with the changes. Also, Amtrak will be able to refinance its debt and save taxpayers $162 million. Metrolink also initiates some major weekend changes simultaneously.

Novotopia 2010 Election Guide

A nationwide highway paint shortage has halted several highway projects throughout the country. Two major Inland Empire commuter corridors, Route 91 through Corona and the Ortega Highway (State Highway Route 74), for example, are due to have new striping; however, the paint shortage has dictated that they'll have to wait up to 12 weeks. Unlike most paints sold in hardware stores, the material used for lane striping is made especially to adhere to roads, resist wear, and reflect light.

The DesertXpress high-speed rail project appears to be moving forward as DesertXpress Enterprises recently revamped its web site and gave the rail line a brand new logo and identity, but not everybody is supporting the proposal. The rail line is proposed to bypass several cities and Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone is exploring ways on how these intermediate desert and Inland Empire cities can benefit from expanded rail transit as tourist traffic is expected to decline in already cash-strapped cities like Barstow and Baker.

Unlike the California High Speed Rail project where there will be both skip-stop express trains and local trains, DesertXpress is proposed to stop only in Palmdale, Victorville, and Las Vegas. This has infuriated Barstow officials and Baker business owners, prompting them to oppose the project.

It's worth noting that there are numerous other rail proposals which aim to connect Southern California to Las Vegas including: The X-Train, Z-Train, and CA-NV Maglev HSR. The Future Vision of Inland Empire Transit illustrates a corridor-based rail link between the Inland Empire and the Victorville HSR station. Like the Japanese Shinkansen HSR and CA HSR systems, Ventrone envisions in the long term both high-speed express and intercity local trains for the I-15 corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas.

The California Highway Patrol.
We've talked a lot about different ballot propositions and their impact on transportation, but last week Times columnist Steve Lopez examined the impact that Proposition 19 would have on safe streets. First, he smoked pot provided by the California Highway Patrol. Then, he flunked a driver's test. No, you're not the only one who thinks this demonstration sounds stupid.

This Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee will hear a report from the City Attorney responding to a motion from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl on cyclists' rights. The C.A. is recommending that the law be changed to empower cyclists who file civil lawsuits against drivers who injure or harass them. The motion will also be heard by the Public Safety Committee, where the chair is offering tepid support.

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Advocacy in Action: Transit Coalition Boardmember Stephen Box was at the Metro Planning and Programming Committee meeting last week, where the Hollywood and Vine " Hollywood Bike HUB" picked up an endorsement, along with a recommendation that it serve as a "demonstration project" in the establishment of transit oriented development (TOD) standards. Next stop is the Metro Board on Thursday morning for final approval.

The Hollywood Bike HUB is a bike shop for locals where cyclists can work on their bikes as well as store them in a secured environment. The Bike HUB would also offer a Bike Share for TOD residents and a Bike Rental for tourists. In addition, the Bike HUB would serve as a Visitor Center for tourists who simply need information on the neighborhood. The Hollywood Bike HUB is good for cyclists, good for residents, good for tourists, good for business and great for transit, offering Metro passengers a "last mile" option.

The Transit Coalition Service Development Team of Carlos Velasquez, Faramarz Nabavi and Bart Reed again met with the Operations Service Planning and Development group at Metro to work on service adjustments in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Bob Hope Airport.

The US Department of Transportation announced a second round of competitive grants for innovative transportation projects that addressed economic, environmental and travel issues. The 75 projects under the TIGER grant program, funded by $600 million in the USDOT budget, meet a broad array of challenges.

Los Angeles area projects include $20 million towards the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project and $16 million for the Port of Los Angeles West Basin Rail yard, which is a $126-million project to add on-dock tracks at key shipping terminals and promises to add jobs and remove 2,300 truck trips a day from the roadways. Other seaport projects that received grants are in this release. The complete list of capital and planning grants are also available .

Transportation for America and its partners support linking the spending of federal dollars to the objectives projects will achieve as a critical reform in the next federal transportation bill.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is considering a new sticker design to be placed on "for sale" cars. The sticker would give environmental information for the car such as fuel economy and savings in gasoline purchases per mile. There is a disagreement on what those stickers should look like between environmentalists and car dealers.

An example of a so-called naked street in Drachten, Holland. Photo by Jerry Michalski.
Could you imagine a road without traffic lights, or any traffic control devices for that matter? A town in England experimented with turning off a traffic signal at a busy and frustrating intersection with surprising results: Capacity through the intersection increased without sacrificing pedestrian safety. The trial was so successful that the town made it permanent. Many of these "naked streets" can be found across Europe, where removing traffic control devices have increased mobility.

Want a conservative argument in favor of public transportation? Take a gander at this interview by William Lind. Among the highlights are: Lind revealing that the so-called choice riders who prefer rail are largely conservative voters; that other forms of transportation are graciously subsidized by all levels of government; and finally that rail transit boosts property values. The thorny issue of race was also brought up, but Lind believes that the problems of perception are more cultural than racial.

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 South Bay Metro Green Line Extension Project Public Meetings (all meetings start at 6 p.m.):

  • 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)
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 9 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.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, November 8 and 22, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

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. CANCELLED

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.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board and Committees Meetings: Friday, November 12, 10 a.m., SCAG Board Room, 818 W. 7th St., 12th Floor, Los Angeles.

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

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, November 17 and 18, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), 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 501[c](3) non-profit whose 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.

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