Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 50

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.

Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle! The Transit Coalition will host its monthly Dinner Meeting in Jaunary 2011. We hope to see you there. The December, November, October and September 2010 issues of Moving Southern California are now available online with new features and news, as are past issues. Here is coverage of our November, October and September meeting and a review of our August meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

A rendering of a station in the proposed Florida HSR train.
A self-imposed transportation tragedy has occurred in Wisconsin and Ohio: The USDOT reallocated nearly $1.2 billion dedicated to conventional passenger rail funds in those states. The funding will go elsewhere for the same purpose. California will get more than half of the reallocation, which would be enough to bring its nascent HSR further south to Bakersfield or north to Merced. In any case, it's sweet sweet federalism at work.

But even as one obstacle is undone, another one gets in the way. An alliance of minority businesses lodged a formal complaint against the California High Speed Rail Authority, alleging that said businesses have been awarded too few contracts. The group threatens to pressure the federal government to deny funds for the agency and its project. Not helping matters is a report by a watchdog group concluding that the Authority must be fixed in order to continue the project in a timely and organized fashion.

After much wrangling, the Metro Board voted to bring peak-hour bus lanes to Wilshire Blvd. However, the contested segment between Selby and Comstock was scuttled. Such preferential treatment was condemned by the LA County Bicycle Coalition, which wrote this open letter to the Board. Streetsblog interpreted the decision as a slap to the face for Metro staff. The Board also stalled an effort to price the proposed 710 Tunnel and voted to pay $28.5 million to an Expo Line contractor for delays incurred, much to the consternation of Boardmember Gloria Molina, who was not present. The Board also voted to approve a measure allowing students to ride free during non rush-hour periods on Metro buses and trains for field trips.

Here are some friendly reminders for Metro users: Seniors and disabled transit users must switch to the Metro TAP card by December 26. Also, new schedules and cancellations for certain bus routes are now in effect. Finally, for the unaware, you can now go to Go511.com to find transit departure times from your location.

Help us out. Please donate!

LA Weekly writer Gene Maddaus and Friends4Expo co-chair Darrell Clarke made their case regarding cost overruns on the Expo Line during a roundtable on AirTalk. Maddaus continued to chastise the negotiated design-build method used to build the line. Clarke reiterates the fact that much of the costs were borne out of new items added to the design of the line as well as stonewalling from the LADWP regarding utilities relocation. Despite clear documentation, folks that run the Weekly insist on twisting and distorting the truth.

The Expo Line Phase 2 versus Neighbors for Smart Rail environmental trial takes place next Tuesday in Norwalk. Unless there is another delay or postponement, this matter could be resolved quickly. Stay tuned or attend.

A rendering of a TOD at the future site of the Gold Line station in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the Foothill Gold Line is going full steam ahead. The Montclair City Council approved a residential development, called Arrow Station, which would bring 129 units to the site of a possible future Gold Line station. The city already approved another similar development called The Paseos earlier this year. Also, the eponymous authority has been working on a new website. Monrovia received a state grant to design and construct a transit-oriented development next to the proposed Gold Line station.

Onto bike news: CicLAvia is mulling over modifications to its route on both its east and west ends. Also, a new segment of the LA River bike path opens in Elysian Valley. This brings the length of that particular trail, ending at the north side of Griffith Park, to 7.2 miles.

How do you pay to clean up contaminated groundwater? Bob Hope Airport decided on one way to do it: Raising parking fees by a dollar. Specifically, the raise will serve as a stopgap measure to pay for the actual cleanup, even as the airport continues its quarrel with Lockheed Martin on how the costs of remediation should be divvied up. This means that the airport's parking fees will be slightly higher than that for LAX.

A person pumps gas.
Despite heightened interest to increase the federal gas tax, a survey reveals that Americans don't want it raised. Respondents believed money for such things would be better achieved by reducing the federal workforce, despite persistent unemployment levels and drivers paying the lowest gas tax rates in decades. The AAA believes that the Highway Trust Fund, which the federal gas tax feeds, should be dedicated solely to highways, to the exclusion of transit.

This doesn't bode well to other federal programs, like Build America and keeping the current tax credit for transit users, which are also in jeopardy. However, one possible winner in all of this is the creation of a national infrastructure bank. A recent hearing on the matter focused on the benefits of such a bank but also cautioned on possible sources of abuse and ways to keep them in check.

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Unless extended before the end of this month the Build America Bond (BAB) program will ride off into the sunset raising the cost of borrowing to invest in infrastructure for cities. The government started this program, which includes a 35% interest rate subsidy from the federal government on taxable bonds issued by municipalities. Many had hoped that the program would be extended. However, the program was not included in the tax compromise agreement hammered out between President Obama and congressional Republicans last week.

The program has been a critical source of low-cost capital for cash strapped governments to invest in needed infrastructure and create jobs. Without the BABs cities will have to raise the interest rates on the bonds they issue in order to attract investors. Since its inception in April 2009 as part of the stimulus more than $165 billion of these bonds have been issued. Other proposals coming forward have been modeled after its success including one of the federal programs being proposed for LA's 30/10 Plan QTIBS or Qualified Tax Credit Infrastructure Bonds. It is unclear what implications the expiration of the Build America Bond program would have for establishing this similar program.

The 405 flyover ramps at Wilshire Blvd.
Also, if you weren't aware, part of the I-405 carpool lane project entails building two flyover ramps for Wilshire Blvd., which aims to remove dangerous weaving that was caused by an obsolete cloverleaf design for the interchange.

The City of Los Angeles released a new Draft of its three-years-in-the-making bike plan. This plan brought the largest surprise of all... cyclists actually liked it! While the devil could still emerge in the details, the plan was praised by the Bike Coalition, Bikeside and other prominent activists in the community.

The Inland Empire's newest transit center had its grand opening celebration last week. The Chaffey College Transit Center, located in northern Rancho Cucamonga near Alta Loma at the base of Mount Baldy will cater to local Omnitrans buses and future sbX bus rapid transit service. A local bus route connecting this region south to the Corona Transit Center and a commuter express line to the Montclair Transcenter are also envisioned in the Transit Coalition Inland Empire Future Vision.

Advocacy in Action: After seeing how key transportation projects can come to a sudden halt following an election, Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone wants to make sure that the planned transportation projects in Temecula maintain local support and continue to move forward, given that these projects will address both critical safety issues and mobility. Project: Safe Transport aims to maintain the local support and will to develop several planned transportation projects in the Temecula area while proposing trip generators for existing RTA bus lines. The campaign aims to eliminate lengthy vehicle queues on local streets that spill over onto I-15 Freeway, which in turn can cause hazardous driving conditions with stopped cars in 70 MPH freeway lanes.

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, January 25, 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 Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority: Wednesday, December 15, 7 p.m., Arcadia City Hall, Council Chambers 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia.

LOSSAN Board Meeting: Wednesday, December 15, 1:30 p.m., Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Riverside Transit Agency: Thursday, December 16, 2 p.m., Board of Supervisors Conference Room, County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon Street, 1st floor, Riverside.

Foothill Transit Executive Board: Friday, December 17, 8 a.m., 100 S. Vincent Ave., 2nd floor, West Covina.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, January 5, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority Board Meeting: Thursday, January 6, 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, January 6, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Ventura County Transportation Commission: Friday, January 7, 10 a.m., Camarillo City Hall, 601 Carmen Dr., Camarillo.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, January 8, 1 p.m.

OCTA Board Meeting: Monday, January 10 and 24, 9 a.m., OCTA Headquarters, 600 S. Main St., Orange.

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council Meeting: Monday, January 10, 5 p.m., City Hall East, 11333 Valley Blvd., El Monte.

Metro Westside/Central Service Governance Council Meeting: Wednesday, January 12, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Metro Gold Line Phase 2B (Azusa-Montclair) Meetings (All meetings start at 6 p.m.):

  • Wednesday, January 12, Ganesha Community Center, 1575 N. White Ave., Pomona.
  • Thursday, January 13, Glendora Teen and Family Center, 241 W. Dawson Ave., Glendora.
  • Wednesday, January 19, Oakmont Elementary School, 120 W. Green St., Claremont.
  • Thursday, January 20, Ekstrand Elementary School, 400 N. Walnut Ave., San Dimas.
Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council Meeting: Thursday, January 13, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey.

Metro South Bay Governance Council Meeting: Friday, January 14, 9:30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

Metro Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, January 19 and 20, Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, January 27, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

SCRRA (Metrolink) Board Meeting: Friday, January 28, 10 a.m., SCAG Board Room, 818 W. 7th St., 12th Floor, Los Angeles.

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