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TA Legislative Newsbrief #1 - May 8, 2000

Southern California Transit Advocates 3010 Wilshire Bl. #362 Los Angeles CA 90010
(213) 388-2364 - -

As part of its mission, Southern California Transit Advocates will on an occasional basis
prepare and distribute a Newsbrief on key regional transportation issues for legislators.
This issue is devoted to state issues and oriented toward Los Angeles county.
freeways. SO.CA.TA has several
*no maglev system has operated
After 7 years of poor oversight commercially in revenue service.
and ongoing lack of consensus it is clear Therefore estimates of costs or
the current configuration of the Los feasibility are hardly more than
Angeles County Metropolitan educated guesses.
Transportation Authority Board of *freeway alignments (curves, elevations)
Directors needs to be rethought. One are not engineered for vehicles moving
idea that merits consideration is to have at 150 miles an hour.
the MTA Board directly elected. *time advantage is minimal for 100 mile
Thomas Rubin, former SCRTD trip lengths on high speed maglev versus
Controller-Treasurer and currently a an upgraded Metrolink. Metrolink could
consultant to the plaintiffs who brought provide nearly identical performance by
the federal civil rights lawsuit that being electrified and grade separated for
resulted in the consent decree, outlined a fraction of the cost of the proposed
why this option deserves serious maglev.
consideration in a presentation he made *with station spacing of 15-20 miles,
to the State Senate Transportation huge numbers of passengers from a wide
Committee in January 1997. SO.CA.TA area will need to access the stations if
will be glad upon request to share this ridership is to ever approach SCAG’s
paper with interested legislative staff via projections. SCAG claims instead of
an e-mail attachment or traditional “snail driving to the stations (which would
mail”. In our view it makes a strong case entail huge parking lots) passengers will
for an elected MTA board. get to and from them using smart
shuttles. Smart shuttle is a relatively new
MAGLEV MANIA transportation concept. Demonstration
smart shuttle routes in Los Angeles
The Southern California operated during the past 3 years have not
Association of Governments provided clear-cut proof that it is viable.
(Metropolitan Planning Organization for This reliance on an unproven concept
Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San adds uncertainty to an already uncertain
Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial proposal.
counties) has made a cornerstone of its *to anticipate private funding for a risky,
1998 Regional Transportation Plan (aka expensive project seems wishful
Community Link 21) a regional high thinking
speed magnetic levitation passenger *the German government recently
transportation system in the medians of canceled the proposed Hamburg to

Berlin maglev line due to worries about include at least one alternative planning
cost and viability (this despite its having scenario that reflects “smart growth”
invested billions in developing maglev principles, a reform that is long overdue.
technology) The bill is currently in the suspense file
of the Assembly Appropriations
We urge contacting Barry Samsten of Committee.
SCAG to learn more about the status of
this proposal: (213) 236-1918 or CLEAN FUEL VEHICLE - SCAG’s FUNDING
Regional Transportation Plan can be
seen at: Current efforts to mandate clean fuel Compressed Natural Gas buses in
htm the South Coast air basin by AQMD
(proposed rule 1192) will create
EL MONTE BUSWAY financial hardship for many public
transit agencies (especially those with
Jan. 1, 2000 Senate Bill 63 smaller fleets) due to the greater capital
(Solis) went into effect. It reduced for and operating cost involved (per the
18 months (until July 2001) from three recent GAO Report “Use of Alternative
to two the number of persons a carpool Fuels in Transit Buses”). We urge that
must contain to use the El Monte that the state make available monies to
busway (an high occupancy vehicle lane facilitate the transition to clean fuel
on the I-10 San Bernardino freeway vehicles. For more on AQMD rule 1192
linking El Monte and downtown Los see:
Angeles). This change has adversely
impacted express bus passengers as the _Home.htm - GAO report can be seen
busway overloads at rush hour (see L.A. at:
Times Jan. 22, 2000, “Easing of Carpool
Rules Backfires as Lanes Jam”). We /aces160.shtml (search report number
urge that consideration be given to the “RCED-00-18”).
introduction of amending legislation to
resume the 3 person rule. ECHO PARK BYPASS
For further information contact Andre PROPOSAL
Colaiace of Foothill Transit at (626)
967-2274 or Echo Park , a community northwest of Also see: Downtown Los Angeles, has coped for 30 years with heavy levels of peak hour
sb63busway.htm traffic on Glendale Blvd. as commuters
attempt to reach the downtown business
LEGISLATIVE ALERT district from the end of the Glendale
Freeway (rt.2). Residents have long
We strongly support Assembly dreamt of addressing the problem by
Bill 2140 (Keeley). It invigorates the closing the short stub of the Glendale
process of drafting Regional Freeway south of the Golden State
Transportation Plans by mandating they Freeway (I-5) which extends into their

community and creating park and ride
lots nearby served by express buses to BRIEF BITS TO PONDER
downtown. Caltrans has expressed
reluctance to support this concept due to Current transportation planning is too
the lack of alternative access by road parochial. How can we facilitate a truly
into downtown if the stub was closed. integrated regional transit system?
Recently the Echo Park Community Further, should we move toward a
Action Committee has revived a comprehensive statewide transportation
moribund proposal to construct a bypass planning process? At least to establish
to address the commuter access issue. key principles to guide local/regional
Caltrans has expressed some interest in decisionmaking?
this Downtown North Civic Center
Freeway Access proposal (aka the Intelligent Transportation Systems are
Alameda By-pass) , a grade separated proposed to increase the capacity of
extended off ramp linking I-5 and the freeways. But this avoids the question:
Union Station area skirting Chinatown after it exits the freeway, what then?
Yards . The concept has been presented How would unintelligent surface streets
to the Southern California Association of handle the huge volume of increased
Governments as a regional priority. For traffic that ITS would facilitate?
further information contact Judith
Raskin, chair of the Echo Park MTA geotechnic experts have concluded
Community Action Committee, at (323) an extension of the Red Line along the
663-6767 or Wilshire corridor (mid-city to
Westwood) is feasible. Tunneling safely
S.F. VALLEY RAIL NEEDS in a methane zone is possible with
STUDY modern construction methods. It has
been long acknowledged that Wilshire is
Why is MTA only studying a busway for the heaviest used urban corridor in the
the Burbank/Chandler right-of-way in U.S. that lacks rapid transit service.
the San Fernando Valley? If light rail
deserves to be studied along Exposition FINAL THOUGHT
Blvd. to Santa Monica (as is well
documented by Expo Rail advocates, see The best time to deal with transportation ) problems is now, not after it reaches a
doesn’t it also deserve to be studied crisis of perpetual gridlock. Things may
along Burbank/Chandler from North be bad now but they will get worse
Hollywood to Warner Center? Despite without bold forward-looking
exaggerated claims made about the leadership.
applicability of busways for Southern
California that follow the so-called In consultation with community groups
Curitiba model, most experts agree throughout the state the Surface
different conditions make the Brazilian Transportation Policy Project has
city’s experience not easily transferable. prepared a statement that identifies
The new rapid bus demonstration MTA additional needs that hopefully can be
will begin in June will apply the lessons addressed by the legislature as it
of Curitiba in a workable framework.

considers the governor’s transportation
funding plan. We have reproduced the
statement on p.4. For further information
contact Gloria Ohland of STPP at (213)
629-2043 or