To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, February 1, 2013

AQMD votes to increase environmental oversight of Los Angeles, Long Beach ports


By Brian Summers, February 1, 2013

Over the objections of officials at Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, a regional air quality board moved Friday to increase its environmental oversight at the nation's largest port complex.

By a vote of 8-3, the South Coast Air Quality Management District board advanced a so-called "backstop measure" that would kick in only if the ports don't meet their own emission-reduction goals. Officials with both ports had argued that they could control their pollution levels without regulatory intervention.

Management district staff members will now create a reduction plan that the ports would follow if they fall short of reaching their long-standing emission-reduction goals.

"This is an added insurance policy to a voluntary effort that has been proceeding very well and is successful," said Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the management district, the pollution-control agency for Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino County. "It just ensures residents of the port areas and all of Southern California that the ports are going to honor their commitment to continue to clean the air."

Arley Baker, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles, said port officials were concerned with the ruling and were evaluating their options.

Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, said port officials were disappointed with the board's action.

"This is clearly over-regulation, unnecessary and counterproductive for encouraging future voluntary efforts," Wong said.

Morgan Wyenn, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, called Friday's meeting significant because the regional management district has not historically regulated the ports.

"Today what the board did was it said they are going to regulate the ports as indirect sources under the Clean Air Act," she said. "As an environmental advocate fighting to clean up this region and who understands the consequences of what the board did today, I will definitely remember this as a significant step in the right direction."

Federal regulators issue the bulk of rules relating to the ports, but local management districts are charged with making sure entities in their areas follow clean-air standards, Atwood said.

Of particular concern, Atwood said, are levels of tiny pieces of matter produced at both ports, often by diesel ship and truck engines.

"These are particulates that basically come from burning fuel of any type," Atwood said. "They are so tiny they get into your lungs and sometimes your bloodstream. They cause serious health affects."

The ports have moved to substantially reduce their harmful emissions in recent years. They worked together to create a San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan in 2006.

From 2005 to 2011, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach slashed air pollution by roughly 75 percent, according to port officials. The ports have forced companies to haul goods using cleaner, newer trucks. They've also pushed shipping companies to slow down their vessels as they reach the harbor and have started making cleaner electric power available to ships in port.

If more pollution-curbing efforts by the ports continue to be successful, it could make Friday's vote by the management district essentially moot, Atwood said.

"The ports simply need to carry out what they have already committed to do," he said

Construction begins on $75.9 million railroad underpass in El Monte 


By Steve Scauzillo, February 1, 2013


ACE begins construction of the four-lane roadway underpass with a double-track railroad bridge at the railway crossing at Baldwin Avenue in north El Monte, near the Temple City border.

 EL MONTE - Authorities finally broke ground Friday on a $75.9 million railroad underpass at Baldwin Avenue that has been beset by delays and eminent domain battles.

The Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority kicked off a four-lane underpass to be spanned by a double-track railroad bridge. The Union Pacific-owned line carries freight trains from Los Angeles, across the San Gabriel Valley, into the Inland Empire and to the East Coast. Completion of the underpass is expected in 2015.

More than a dozen elected officials - from city halls to Sacramento and Washington D.C. - gathered at the tracks to praise the project as both an economic boost and a way to reduce air pollution from vehicles no longer idling at the grade crossing.

The underpass will be built at Baldwin Avenue and Gidley Street - roughly between the 10 and 210 freeways. The intersection sees 20 freight trains per day on average and 28,000 vehicles daily, according to ACE. The underpass will speed trucks and cars along Baldwin through El Monte, Temple City and Arcadia, while creating 1,370 jobs, according to ACE board chairman and San Gabriel Councilman David Gutierrez.

"This project is a long time coming," Gutierrez began. He thanked ACE partners Metro, which committed $700 million to ACE overall, the Federal Highway Administration, the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans.

The project was 10 years in the making, said Rick Richmond, ACE chief executive director. ACE had to relocate between 30 and 40 businesses, including a noodle factory which moved to South El Monte, and residents from an apartment building that was bought and razed. ACE had to go to court for an eminent domain hearing in order to buy the Mipco property, he said.

After designs were completed in 2003, the state pulled the funding, Richmond said. "We were on hiatus for three years," he said.

At the ceremony, few mentioned the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, which oversees ACE. In a preliminary hearing this week for former COG executive director Nick Conway, charged with felony conflict of interest, Conway's lawyer told the judge that his client said ACE was racking up too many cost overruns and was frequently over budget.

Richmond called Conway's assessment of ACE "an inaccurate report to begin with," and added, often the COG board didn't understand the ACE budget, which is now about $1.4 billion. The COG's budget is only about $1 million.

Although the underpass did have many delays, that may have lowered the cost. "The bids on this project came in under," he said.

Many politicians who spoke did not address the delays.

State Sen. Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, mentioned the recent start of a $336.5 million grade separation project across from the San Gabriel Mission.

"ACE is just moving forward very quickly. It shows together, we can makes things work," she said.
Metro board member John Fasana said El Monte is quickly becoming the Valley's transportation hub. In addition to the Baldwin underpass, the city already has a brand new $60 million bus station, a Metrolink station and a previous underpass at Ramona Boulevard.

The movement of freight by train from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles up the 19-mile Alameda Corridor creates an almost endless string of freight trains running easterly across the Valley. The trade corridor accounts for 60 percent of the containers moved from the ports by rail.

Such goods movement is important to the local and national economy, said Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte, who said her bill adds $500 million to the national transportation bill "for projects such as this."

But the train and vehicular traffic has changed the Valley's character, from agricultural to suburban enclaves to a bustling metropolitan region.

"The city of El Monte has seen the roar of the lion replaced by the roar of the train," Fasana said, referring to the area's historic lion farm from the 1920s and 1930s.

"I've been familiar with this site for 37 years," said Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina. 

"See that green patch," he said, pointing to the land just south of the tracks. "That was where my family's first home used to be.

"We take the brunt, as the cargo comes through the ports and much of that goods movement comes through here."

ACE has 17 grade separation projects either completed, under construction or ready to start, according to its project budget.


Villaraigosa says he plans to stay on the job until his term ends


February 1, 2013


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said today that he plans to stay mayor until his term ends June 30, greatly reducing the likelihood that he would become President Obama's secretary of Transportation.

"I have said many times that I will be focused on my job as mayor of Los Angeles until 11:59 and 59 seconds on June 30, 2013," Villaraigosa said in a prepared statement. "I am flattered and humbled by the speculation that has included my name for a possible cabinet secretary position, but I am firmly committed to remaining in L.A. and finishing my term."

710 Freeway in Alhambra to shut over weekend for filming


February 1, 2013

A mile stretch of the 710 Freeway will be shut down this weekend in Alhambra to accommodate a movie crew, Caltrans says.

The closure affects the 710 Freeway between the 10 Freeway and Valley Boulevard, where the 710 ends.

 Northbound lanes will be closed from 5 a.m. to noon, and southbound lanes will be closed from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

(This is one way that Alhambra can get 710 traffic off their streets. Hollywood to the rescue.)

One of the Worst Mass Transit Commute Horror Stories You Will Ever Read


 Sommer Mathis, Febraury 1, 2013

One of the Worst Mass Transit Commute Horror Stories You Will Ever Read

Complaining about Metrorail has long been a popular pastime here in Washington, D.C. The aging system's slow but seemingly steady decline had certainly been the subject of scrutiny before the horrific 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people, but it's come into sharper focus in the years since. Since WMATA General Manager Richard Sarles took over the transit agency in 2010, ensuring passenger safety has been goal number one, and an undeniably worthy one. D.C.-area residents have mostly been willing to put up with the jerky stop-and-starts of manual train control, months-long escalator repair projects, and epic track work-related weekend train delays that have been the result of WMATA's long-term plan to upgrade and ensure that nothing like what happened that awful day in June ever happens again.

WMATA's present and future reputation suffered a major setback on Wednesday night, after a fire near the Anacostia Metro station stranded multiple trains underground, without power, for several hours. Sarles, to his credit, has already issued a mass apology to riders, but details of the ordeal are just starting to come out today, and they are the stuff of nightmares. The excerpt below, from an account submitted to local websites Unsuck DC Metro and DCist, contains the kind of details that could be enough to make even the most stalwart mass transit loyalist to reconsider her commuting options. Bold emphasis ours:
I boarded my first train at Foggy Bottom around 4:45 p.m., transferred at L'Enfant Plaza without incident. Once I got on the platform at L'Enfant Plaza, the signs said to expect delays. I waited about 15 minutes for the train to come. By this time, the platform was absolutely packed with people. Everyone crammed into the train. We went one stop, and the train operator announced the train was going out of service, and everybody would have to get off at the next stop. This had apparently happened to two other trains as well, so the platform hardly had room for us to get off the train. It was pretty damn unsafe. The train operator kept announcing to board the next train on the opposite side of the track, and it would take us in the direction we were headed due to them single tracking around a track fire.

The next thing that happened, and I wish I had this recorded was—the station announcer came on the PA system and starting announcing, “At this time, the station manager KNOWS NOTHING, I repeat, the station manager KNOWS NOTHING.” This was very unsettling to the mob on the platform. Then a train arrived on the same side we just got off on, and announces it was going our direction. At the same time, the train came, the station manager was on the PA stating no trains were heading in our direction and they have no information on any trains going in our direction, so we should all exit the station and get a bus or a cab. That train left, I was nowhere close to getting on. There were three trains worth of pissed off people all pushing and shoving to get on it. I stayed out of the way. The next train came and announced it was going in our direction, as the station manager once again comes on the PA system saying no trains are heading in our direction—UNBELIEVABLE.

I got on that train, we went maybe a mile and the train went dark--all power was shut off. The train drifted along the tracks with a ghostly, eerie silence until it came to a powerless stop. One light came on in the car I was in. It was packed with probably a few hundred people. We were standing face to face, practically on top of one-another. The train operator said, he was not sure what happened and was calling into central. We had emergency battery power on, which had enough power to keep emergency lighting on but no air circulation.

The next two hours were spent in the dark on the train. An hour in, panic started to set in. In our car, one woman had passed out. We heard people pounding on windows in other cars, we heard glass breaking and people screaming. More than two hours in, folks in our car forced open the emergency door to get some air into the car. Some to actually exited and walked the tunnel. Mind you, we were in the dark somewhere under the Anacostia River. Inside the temperature was close to 90 degrees. Most people managed to get their coats off, and in some cases, even shirts came off, I was dripping with sweat, but tried to keep breathing and conserve my energy and keep calm. I did not talk much, and kept my eyes closed while standing face to face and body to body with the other sweaty passengers.

About two and a half hours, someone threw up in our car. The car also smelt of urine. I’m certain more than one person had pissed themselves. The car smelt rank, and the situation was getting out of control. Multiple emergency doors were forced open, and now passengers were wondering around in the train tunnels in the dark. The train operator came by our car, asked us to help him get the door closed and said not to open it again. He said several other doors were open and had to be closed.  He had police and firemen with him. They were trying to round up everyone and get them back on the train before the fire department would give permissions to the power company to restore power to the third rail.

Once the train operator got all passengers back on train and all doors closed, the power came on. The train operator said we would be moving forward, but at a very slow pace, as there might be stray passengers wondering around in the tunnel.

They took a good 30 minutes to get everyone off who needed medical assistance.  I got home close to 9 p.m. that night.
On a day when we're talking about why commuters so often choose to drive solo even when mass transit would serve them better, D.C.'s most recent Metro horror story serves as a blunt reminder. Intellectually, we know that driving is far more dangerous than bus or rail travel, but cities and the transit agencies that serve them face an uphill battle every time something like this happens.
Will a Smooth Blue Line Ride Finally Come to Long Beach?


By Brian Addison, February 1, 2013

 The City Council endorsed the submission of a grant funding application to Metro in the "Call for Projects." To read the full application, click here.

It is the wrong way to be advertising the use of public transportation–and to experience this egregious advert, one simply has to take the Blue Line through Long Beach. And if you’re lucky, you’ll only hit one or two lights as you watch individual commuters putt-putt past you while the entire Metro trains halts.

The gripe of Blue Line commuters coming in and out of Long Beach wrests on the fact that it’s the only stretch which doesn’t have a signal preemption system–that is, controllers for the movement of traffic that gives preference to Metro trains rather than street traffic (and not to be confused with signal priority technology used for buses).

When the line was first implemented, it had been foreseen that the train would be given priority signalization–in other words: a guaranteed green light. The system however failed countywide, eventually prompting the City of Los Angeles to score a grant in which it developed its own traffic signal priority system.

The Blue Line has not only faced signal pre-emption issues in Long Beach, nor have the other lines been exempt. Through the previously mentioned grant, LADOT finally provided signal priority on Washington Street in 2011 after a multitude of complaints and three years of studies. Much to the chiding to this day of public transit commuters that preemption was not implemented since signal priority attempts to either hold a green light longer or give a green early rather than providing a guaranteed green for trains.

However, Long Beach’s home stretch is often times absurd, adding 20 minutes to a Downtown LA commute if you happen to hit reds at a multitude of the 32 signals paralleling the Blue Line. So why, precisely, not just adopt the Los Angeles system? Well, of course, that would be too easy and the Universe loves to mock: we use an entirely different traffic signal system than L.A. and the software provider for L.B.’s system was unable to make the transition work–effectively abandoning the project.

But there is (not a traffic) light at the end of the tunnel.

Dave Roseman, City Traffic Engineer for Long Beach, admittedly said this is not the first time he has had to deal with this issue (he even received a complaint through the Mayor’s Office last week). And though there is light, he is still blunt:

“There isn’t a simple solution,” he said. “And it’s not that we’re refusing to at least synchronize the traffic signals. It seems like a simple problem–but in fact, it is not.”

Given that two trains travel in two directions, Roseman pointed out that the pedestrian cannot be “short changed” by being left in the middle of a crosswalk while trains pass on both sides of him/her. And according to Roseman, the key to solving this is by adopting L.A.’s system–and apparently, Long Beach has begun that process.

Thanks to funding from Boeing, 165 traffic signals surrounding the airport have been successfully converted to the Angelino system over the past two years, prompting an agreement between Metro and the city to convert the 32 Blue Line signals.

“The only issue for us is funding,” Roseman said. “Making the conversion is likely to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.”

But once again: light. Earlier this month, the City Council endorsed the submission of a grant funding application to Metro to cover the majority of the cost of the conversion project.

“We have high hopes that Metro will fund the project and we can begin the process of upgrading our systems by the end of this calendar year,” Roseman said. “We should know in about 90 days if Metro will be awarding us the funds we have requested and just when those funds will be made available to us.”

You’re not the only with high hopes, David.
Comments to the Pasadena Sun article "710 Freeway Coalition faces growing efforts against linking the route to 210"


The Pro 710 Coalition has engaged in a campaign of disinformation & deception to push the agenda of corporate interest that see the billions of taxpayer dollars to be had. It is appaling at the deafness Mike Antonovich has displayed to the concerns of 'THE PEOPLE', but very receptive to mega corporations like CH2M Hill, that has been hired to write the EIR & possibly in line to also build the tunnel. Since 2000, CH2M Hill has been cited in 11 instances of contracter misconduct & fined in the a total $4M.

As Joanne stated, our group is organized, knowledgeable, committed to stop the waste & fraud Metro & Caltrans are curretnly engaging in. Frank Quon speaks nostaligic of his years in El Sereno & his old alma mater, but does he contune to live here, the answer is no! The Pro 710 Baldwin and Flint folks have the support of the cities that have thrown El Sereno, with a majority Mexican American population, under the bus because they don't want these project trhough their communities. These action rise to the level of Environmental Racism in conflict with the Envronmental Justice directives that Caltrans & Metro have agreed to follow as result of the previous lawsuit filed almost a decade ago. A Metro Project Mgr brings in 'ringers' to speak to NBC News as concerned 'Altadena residents' in favor of this tunnel, but there is no disclosure that the husband is an executive officer of a water transfer company that does regular business with tunnel drilling companies. No on 710 activists have proven to be prolific in 'data mining' to locate actual Caltrans & Metro documentation that contradicts current arguments in favor of a tunnel. Our side has presented nothing but the facts & has not engaged in deception. No on 710 groups have been presented in a negative light by news articles that question our organization, our true motives & appear to be only pushing a one sided presenation of this struggle. With the thousands of dollars that have been throw at these front groups to push this tunnel, the No on 710 folks have produced & distributed media material & videos with our own personal resources. Youtube videos have shown No on 710 represenatives throwing Metro consultatnts off script to reveal the wizard of Oz behind the curtain blowing smoke. I am from El Sereno. Our community faces greater destruciton than any of the nothern cities in this battle with will suffer. The northern citites have embraced El Sereno now that they see we have more to lose. Neighbor watch out for each other & the citites that have expressed support a tunnel have exhibited a moral failure to do what is just & fair for their neighbors. (Joe Cano)

As a NO 710 advocate, I can attest that the pro 710 groups are actively lobbying in favor of the tunnel option. This idea that they just want the EIR to be completed is a bunch of hooey. There is nothing fair about this process. It is plain and simple politicians and their lobbyists pushing through a project that they THINK will benefit them. What they don't realize is that it will do nothing to ease traffic congestion in this area, it will make it worse, along with hefty tolls and pollution. (Jane Demian)

I think the 60 member estimate of the No 710 Action Committee is a low-ball figure. That might be the number of people who are active leaders, working every day in their area of expertise. There are 100s more in the background working behind the scenes and supporting the cause. We are truly grassroots and receive NO financial support from ANYONE. We just believe that transportation leaders need to make responsible decisions for everyone in the region and want to help with the process. (Susan Martin Bolan)

growing opposition? this plan has been fought by residents and others since it was first proposed forty or fifty years ago by successive bunches of yahoos who have been hell-bent on shoving this down everyone's throat. a ridiculous and stupid idea at that. (Cal Tecke)
Keeping LA Afloat

Government, business and labor must row together to keep port's cargo and economy moving


 By Geraldine Knatz, January 21, 2013

 As executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, one of
my recurring nightmares is waking up to discover that
the Western Hemisphere's busiest port has ground to a
halt. Unfortunately, that nightmare became a reality for a week
last month due to a labor dispute. Cargo operations essentially
ceased during the strike. It was a stark reminder of the enormous
economic impact the San Pedro Bay port complex has on
the Southern California region and what's at stake in the future.

What I found remarkable is what happened when the strike
ended. The nation's busiest port sprang back to life immediately.
Linesmen, pilots and tugboats were dispatched within an
hour of the announcement of a tentative deal, and ships started
moving. By daybreak, thousands of workers, dozens of trucks
and billions of dollars of infrastructure investments proved
that we have the bandwidth and resources to recapture a
week's worth of backed-up cargo very quickly.

No trade gateway in North America can move so much cargo
so efficiently. That's why it is essential that business, labor and
government unite to make certain that this port complex remains
the leading global trade gateway in North America. We cannot
afford to let other ports chip away at the jobs and economic
vitality that is so critical to Southern California.

Based on a recently updated economic analysis, the ports
of Los Angeles and Long Beach in 2011 had a $310 billion
impact on the economy. That translates into 900,000 jobs in
Southern California and more than 1.2 million jobs statewide.

It's been well publicized that the widening of the Panama
Canal is only two years away, a project that could result in
the biggest ships passing us by to serve America's heartland
from East Coast ports. That's our market! As America's port,
more than 40 percent of our cargo goes east, most of that to
the Chicago area. Less known is the increased competition
coming from ports in the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada
and Mexico.

Our largest terminal operator has broken ground, with
plans to spend nearly $1 billion, on a container terminal at the
Port of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico. Where do you think the
 cargo will come from that will fill that terminal? Simply put,
competition is more intense than ever.

So how do we maintain and grow market share when the San
Pedro Bay port complex has a target on its back? The Port of Los
Angeles adopted a five-year strategic plan in April that is a blueprint
for responsible growth and job creation. It focuses on competitive
operations, strong relationships and financial strength.

The foundation of the plan is built upon our commitment
to maintain and develop our world-class infrastructure. With a
five-year, $1.2 billion capital improvement plan, the port is
investing about $1 million a day to deliver terminal, wharf and
transportation projects on time and budget.

The port recently completed deepening its main navigational
channels and basins to a 53-foot depth, ensuring that we
can accommodate ships of all sizes for decades to come.
We're expanding and modernizing container terminals, about
to break ground on a rail yard and have several projects under
environmental review. All of this is taking place while air pollution
from port-related sources has been reduced by as much
as 76 percent over the last five years.

Because of our size, regional warehousing resources and
speed-to-market connectivity, our customers achieve an economy
of scale that makes it competitive to do business here.
When the recession hit several years ago, some of our customers
began consolidating their shipments through the Port
of Los Angeles. We need to keep that cargo on our doorstep.

 Even with the investment being made by the port to remain
competitive, factors beyond our control will dictate whether we
win or lose. Our railroad partners, who have invested in heavily
upgrading their facilities and equipment, must keep their rates
competitive. Cargo terminal operators and labor need to have a
stable relationship because customers demand certainty and reli
ability. If we cannot assure our customers the reliability of unin
terrupted service with competitive rates, we will lose them.
After the 2002 labor dispute shut down ports along the West
Coast, it took years to convince our overseas customers that we
could be a reliable port. We can't afford those questions today.

We're fortunate to have business groups such as the L.A.based
Beat the Canal initiative, the Los Angeles Area
Chamber of Commerce, the Central City Association and Job
First Alliance advocating for our capital development projects
to move forward expeditiously. It's this kind of partnership
and understanding of the port's importance that will allow us
to maintain our competitive advantage.
More.than ever, our future in Los Angeles is tied to our

engagement in the global marketplace. The Port of Los
Angeles is blessed with what I refer to as the "L.A.
Advantage." For everyone's sake, let's work together to make
sure we keep it.

Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Port of
Los Angeles.


China Transportation Briefing: 5 Trends to Watch in China’s Urban Transport in 2013 (Part Two)
By Heshuang Zeng, February 1, 2013
 More cars in China is not the solution. Photo by anastas. More cars in China are not the solution.

Could Chinese cities develop more sustainable mobilities? Today we explore China’s biking renaissance and multi-modal integration.

Trend 4 – Biking Renaissance

The past two decades have seen the decline of biking and pedestrian infrastructure in many Chines cities, but in 2013 Chinese cities may regain the momentum of moving people on bikes. In September 2012, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development released policy to promote biking and pedestrian systems in cities. This announcement also launched a 45-percent target to be reached in cities by 2015 for biking and walking.

The rapid scaling-up of bikeshare in China and a new “greenway” project in Guangdong points to this as a real possibility. Over the past five years, bikeshare systems have exploded in growth nationwide, fueled by the Hangzhou’s successful system launched in 2008. Today, over 60 Chinese cities have public bike sharing programs and China has more bikes shared than the rest of world combined. Wuhan and Hangzhou are now running the world’s largest and second largest bikesharing programs with 90,000 and 64,000 bikes respectively. More cities are building or planning to introduce public bike programs.

With the bikeshare movement, some cities revised their surface space priorities deferring to cyclists and pedestrians. The Guangdong province leads this trend. Its cities – such as Guangzhou and Foshan – have constructed “greenways” – biking and walking corridors paired with landscaping, alongside the development of bikesharing programs. Guangzhou is now the role model for Chinese pedestrian-cycling infrastructure, with over 1,000 kilometers of greenway connecting key attractions and mass transit hubs.

Greenway construction has also spurred grassroots NGOs to promote urban cycling, a rarity in China. BikeChina, one such cycling NGO has been promoting Guangzhou cycling for two years, engaging with the public, international think tanks, and government to make the city more bikable.

Trend 5 – Multi-modal Integration

Multi-modal integration is key in China’s transportation planning and will become a principle of future transportation development.

Currently, multi-modal integration is most often included in the design of hub stations. In the current 5-Year Plan alone, 100 multi-modal transport hubs will be created by 2015. Multi-modal integration at city-level is still facing challenges, mostly institutional fragmentation. However, cities like Guangzhou and Hangzhou present best practice of multi-modal integration for the rest of the country.

Guangzhou’s bikeshare system was integrated with bus rapid transit (BRT) throughout planning and implementation while Hangzhou has planned public bike stations in coordination with its bus and metro networks. In terms of fare systems, many Chinese cities provide integrated ticketing, allowing users to access different modes via a single farecard. Hangzhou’s system even places incentives on biking by rewarding riders with an extra 30 minutes of of public bike use with bus transfers. This integrated approach won Hangzhou the Mobi Prize, a global sustainable transport innovation award in 2012. Multi-modal integration is here to stay and grow: Shanghai’s public transport card can be used in six other cities and by 2015, a single farecard could be used in 60 other Chinese cities.

What’s more, the integrated transport information becomes more accessible to users in China with the advancement of technology. Currently, location-based mobile applications providing transport info such as “Shake and Ride” are available in large Chinese cities, helping the users navigate in the cities through public transport. The opening of real time transport data is also foreseeable – Last Nov., Beijing announced that the city would open the real time data of its buses and metro in 2013, and this change might increase the reliability of its public transport system.

Facing the great challenge brought by the rapid motorization and urbanization, China is making great investment to expand the urban railway, and more and more cities would reassess the role of private vehicles. Cities would start improving the quality of public transit by multi-modal integration while preserving or picking up the legacy of the non-motorized transport such as green way project. Innovation from the group also shows up in terms of new grassroot NGOs and the development of mobile applications. With these signs, we have reason to believe that China could make a difference and find a different motorization way to move people.
China Transportation Briefing: 5 Trends to Watch in China’s Urban Transport in 2013 (Part One)
By Heshuang Zeng, January 31, 2013The future of China in transport is not through more cars. Photo by Ol.v!er [H2vPk].
 The future of China in transport is not through more cars.

Our China Transportation Briefing shares interesting news and noteworthy research related to China’s transportation and urban development. The goal is to help people who are interested in solving China’s urbanization and transportation problems understand relevant Chinese policies and trends. Each issue revolves around a particular theme, with content summarized from recent newsletters and magazines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Research Analyst Heshuang Zeng at hzeng@wri.org.
With new leadership in Beijing in 2013, Chinese people may express their need for change to their government, including the need for better urban transport. For cities in China, 2013 will be another year of rapid change, coming with great challenges and opportunities to improve the quality of urban life. The country’s investment-driven economy will keep urban development and public transport infrastructure – think metro and bus rapid transit (BRT) – growing, but still more and more Chinese will buy a car. The challenges of traffic congestion and air pollution from automobiles, already affecting large cities like Beijing, will now confront more second-tier cities.

Could Chinese cities develop more sustainable mobilities? In today’s and tomorrow’s blog we will be look at five trends affecting urban transportation in China: the expansion of urban rail, the fight against air pollution, the automobile ban, a biking renaissance, and multi-modal integration.

Trend 1 – Urban Rail Expansion

On December 30th, 2012, Beijing opened new 70 kilometers of metro lines, surpassing London and becoming – at 442 kilometers – the city with the world’s largest metro system. In 2012 again, three Chinese cities – Hangzhou, Suzhou and Kunming opened their long-awaited metro lines, bringing the total of Chinese cities with a metro to 18.

China’s urban railway will continue to undergo fast expansion in 2013. In China, urban rail systems are widely regarded as a benchmark for a modern, livable city – cities are craving metros to meet this “new normal”. The central government issues strict criteria, only allowing large (population over three million) and wealthy cities (GDP over 100 billion yuan, or $16 bn) to build metros, yet many cities are set to meet these baseline criteria and more urban railways will be seen in Chinese cities. In September 2012, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved subway and light rail lines in 23 cities. This was the largest number of projects ever approved at one time by the NDRC, for a total investment amount in excess of 800 billion yuan, or $128 billion. As of today, over 30 cities have urban rail systems under construction. China plans to add 2,500 kilometers of metro lines during the current 5-year plan (2010-2015), where the total length of metros in operation in 2010 in the country was only 1,471 km.

The ambitious metro expansion plan brings great challenges to finance. For some cities, metro expansion will be at the expense of development of rest of public transport system. For it is not only costly in construction but also in operation. Currently, most cities maintain very low ticket rate due to the price control of the central government, e.g. Beijing subsidized 3.69 billion yuan (US$500 million dollars) on its metro operation in 2012 . And the local governments which is in charge of urban transport development receive half their funding from land sales and from borrowing money. As highlighted in a recent McKinsey’s prediction, this is unsustainable and Chinese cities will start to go bankrupt in 2013.

However, change may come soon. The State Council’s recently announced policy to allow the
capture of the increase in land value around public transportation stations to finance transport development. This new policy may open the doors to new urban rail finance for Chinese cities. They can find inspiration in the Rail + Property Model in Hong Kong.

Trend 2- Battling with Air Pollution

Once again in 2013 Chinese cities will be battling with air pollution. China’s air quality crisis is now nation-wide. On the second week of January, dense smog shrouded Beijing, Shanghai and other cities in China, making headlines around the world and creating serious health concerns. On January 13th, Beijing’s reading of PM2.5 (particular with the diameter of less than 2.5 microns) reached nearly 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, about 40 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization. According to a recent report by Greenpeace, high levels of PM2.5 is predicted to have caused over 8,000 premature deaths in four cities across China in the year 2010.

Admittedly, China has made efforts towards more transparency in air quality public data over the past year. In January 2012, Beijing began releasing its own air quality data. In March, 2012, the Ministry of Environmental Protection revised the air quality standard to include PM2.5 particles along with other pollutants. This year, the national government is making even bigger strides to improve air quality transparency: beginning this month, real-time air quality monitoring data on PM2.5 intensity in China’s 74 major cities will be made available by China’s National Environmental Monitoring Center. The Ministry of Environment Protection (MEP) also announced it will reduce the intensity of PM 2.5 by 5 percent by 2015 (compared to 2010 levels) across thirteen major urban areas covering 14 percent of the country and 71 percent of the nation’s GDP.

At the local level, cities are making great efforts to relieve emissions. Beijing will take some official vehicles off the road on extremely polluted. And Lanzhou, one of the most polluted cities in the world, is considering an even-odd license plate travel policy to help minimize air pollution.

Battling with air pollution will be a long term effort, on a road often portrayed as oscillating between economic development (related to coal fired plants and the automobiles) and environmental protection. Currently, the air pollution issue seems to over shadow other pressing issues like corruption. As vehicle emissions are often the second largest contributor to air pollution in most Chinese cities, the increasing demands of the rising middle class for clean air are likely to drive the government to take more radical actions on cars.

Trend 3 – Private Car Ban

As the world’s largest automobile market, China will continue to regress towards ever more cars, while more cities might operate car restrictions in response to congestion and air pollution. Recent forecasts show that 2013 car sales will be up 8%, slower than the growth rate in recent years. Although China will continue driving one third of the global growth in the automobile market, the trend is more than likely to change with the increase of car restrictions in cities.

Last July, Guangzhou rolled out a vehicle license quota, modeled after Shanghai, Beijing, and Guiyang. With Guangzhou, the three largest cities in China limit vehicle purchases to stem the tide of private auto ownership.

This type of restriction is rarely found worldwide – with Singapore a notable exception. These restriction policies may indicate a tipping point in sight for China’s rate of motorization.

Meanwhile, many other cities have already limited vehicles driving on the roads using travel
restrictions based on vehicle license plate numbers. As of today these restrictions are in place in 7 cities – Beijing, Changchun, Chengdu, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Lanzhou, and Nanchang – where none existed in 2007. Restricting automobiles at the early stages of motorization may lead to a different pathway of urban development and mobility. Along with the continuous improvement of public transit, Chinese cities might simply be able to “leap frog” to a more sustainable urban paradigm.

Rethinking the gas tax: Suddenly it’s the theme of 2013


By David Goldberg, January 31, 2013

Is the per-gallon gas tax going the way of the full-service filling station?images__93121__23754.1348588006.1280.1280
To look at the flurry of proposals coming out lately, you might think so. Since the start of the year, major new proposals from industry leaders, governors and state legislatures have sparked a new debate over the ways we collect revenue collection for transportation — at the federal, state and local levels.

Earlier this month, the outgoing head of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, John Horsley, proposed replacing the per-gallon federal tax with a sales tax on fuel. Although he didn’t specify a level, an AASHTO press release indicated it should be set “at a level that restores solvency” to the transportation trust fund, meaning it would have to take in at least $15 billion more a year just to keep spending at current levels. While some no doubt will deride it as a stealth tax increase, Horsley said, “The cost of the reform to taxpayers would be less than $1 per week, per vehicle.”

At the same time, 2013 already has seen several ambitious proposals for funding transportation outside of the excise tax on gas.  Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in his state of the state address proposed raising his state’s income tax rate from 5.25 to 6.25 percent and lowering the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent, while earmarking sales tax revenue for infrastructure, with a significant share dedicated to public transportation.  Patrick said those moves would raise $1.02 billion in new revenue per year on average for the next ten years – none of it from a per-gallon gas tax.

Last week came a report from Pennsylvania that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is preparing to a release plan to add nearly $2 billion to the state’s transportation funding pot. Though the details are speculative pending a public unveiling next week, he has pledged that the money won’t come from an increase at the gas pump.

These proposals come on the heels of the month’s most controversial, headline-grabbing pitch from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to scrap his state’s gas tax altogether.  Instead, he would raise the state’s sales tax from 5 to 5.8 percent – ironically on everything but gasoline – while increasing vehicle-registration fees and adds an annual $100 charge for drivers of alternative-fuel cars. Those changes would raise an extra $3.1 billion over five years, he said.

At bottom, the recent move away from gas taxes as the go-to source of transportation funds is a nod to new realities: Their earning power is shrinking every year, and car-dependent voters will not stomach increases commensurate with their desire for a robust transportation network.

At the same time, both the highway lobby and environmentalists are seeing their long-held arguments undermined by experience. Environmentalists have contended that gas taxes should rise to slow consumption and speed the transition away from oil. The political reality is that gas taxes can’t be imposed in the U.S. in a way that changes behavior. Behavior now is changing, but for other reasons.

The highway lobby has spent years and millions making the case that gas taxes are “user fees” and are rightly devoted to roads. But with experts like DOT Secretary Ray LaHood predicting that nearly every vehicle will be a hybrid or electric a decade from now, most motorists will be paying little or no such “user fee” absent a major change.

That, of course, says nothing about meeting the needs of the vast majority of Americans who will be living in metro regions too crowded for one-person-per-car travel. State gas taxes certainly can’t meet those needs: 22 states have a constitutional prohibition against spending gas tax revenue on anything but roads, and eight states have similar statutory restrictions.

The reality today, though, is that gas taxes only cover half of the bill for building and maintaining our road network, and that ratio is dropping every year. At the local level, of course, nearly all road and transit costs are paid by sales, property or other non-fuel taxes.

While moving away from the gas taxes, all of the recent proposals — coming from Republicans in VA and PA or Democrats in MA, MN and MD – would amount to asking citizens to pay more for transportation infrastructure. That is something that polls show voters increasingly are willing to do when they understand what the money will be used for.

As we have said since the rollout of our “Blueprint” in 2009, we believe all options to increase funding for reinvesting in America’s infrastructure should be on the table.  Back then, T4 proposed a variety of options including a 20 cent increase in the gas tax, converting the federal gas tax to a sales tax, or imposing a per-barrel fee on imported oil.

The gasoline tax has its merits, but given the lack of political will to raise it significantly, and the
wide range of needs, it’s time to begin thinking of  infrastructure as a basic government function that can, and should be, funded the full range of available revenue sources. Our global competitors, after all, have recognized this for quite some time, and are moving ahead of us in building a 21st century infrastructure.

See also http://www.pewstates.org/projects/stateline/headlines/gas-tax-loses-favor-as-governors-look-for-new-transportation-money-85899447502
We Don’t Want High-Speed Rail Here


By Kevin Hale, General Manager

(See the website to view the video.)
California's High-Speed Rail Authority is still selling their so-called bullet train, by saying they're going to get from Madera to Fresno to Bakersfield.

There's a problem though: Bakersfield city officials don't think the train is going to make it there, because the rail authority doesn't have enough money and they've admitted as much in meetings.

I'd like to hear your Point of View. Send me an email at POV@fox11.com

Here's the reality: they've only got enough money to get from the small town of Madera to the small town of Wasco.

Bakersfield wants out of this mess. City leaders say if it's never going to get to Bakersfield then why pursue it? Why compromise the land values if it's not a reality? The uncertainty surrounding this looming project is hurting this Central Valley town's economy.

Since there is no more money in the foreseeable future, the city of Bakersfield is asking the rail authority to come clean and admit they'll never get there for many, many years..... if ever.

The rail authority would be dead in its tracks if they can't link it to two major cities, because that's the stipulation of using the Federal money they currently have. 
Madera to Wasco doesn't cut it.

No matter how much the rail authority denies it, it truly is a train to nowhere and once again, we ask to see a new plan or to put it on hold until they come up with one.

Thanks for listening.

What do you think? We want to hear from you on this P.O.V. segment. Share your thoughts in the comments section below or email me directly at POV@fox11.com.

Kevin Hale,
Vice President and General Manager
KTTV-TV, FOX 11 News

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.
If Pols Won’t Raise the Gas Tax, How Else Will They Fund Transportation?


By Angie Schmitt, February 1, 2013 

This year, we’ve seen a range of new transportation revenue-raising proposals from Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, where governors are all pursuing options other than raising the gas tax. Welcome to the new paradigm in transportation funding, says David Goldberg at Transportation for America:
What's next? Image: How Stuff Works
At bottom, the recent move away from gas taxes as the go-to source of transportation funds is a nod to new realities: Their earning power is shrinking every year, and car-dependent voters will not stomach increases commensurate with their desire for a robust transportation network.

The highway lobby has spent years and millions making the case that gas taxes are “user fees” and are rightly devoted to roads. But with experts like DOT Secretary Ray LaHood predicting that nearly every vehicle will be a hybrid or electric a decade from now, most motorists will be paying little or no such “user fee” absent a major change.

That, of course, says nothing about meeting the needs of the vast majority of Americans who will be living in metro regions too crowded for one-person-per-car travel. State gas taxes certainly can’t meet those needs: 22 states have a constitutional prohibition against spending gas tax revenue on anything but roads, and eight states have similar statutory restrictions.

The gasoline tax has its merits, but given the lack of political will to raise it significantly, and the wide range of needs, it’s time to begin thinking of  infrastructure as a basic government function that can, and should be, funded the full range of available revenue sources. Our global competitors, after all, have recognized this for quite some time, and are moving ahead of us in building a 21st century infrastructure.
Some of the non-gas-tax options, though, are clearly better than others. Virginia’s proposal to transfer the costs of roadbuilding from drivers to everyone else would be a big step backwards, while institutionalizing the use of value capture to fund transit expansions, as Strong Towns’ Chuck Marohn recently recommended, would be major progress.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Better Institutions considers the pros and cons of using income taxes to fund infrastructure. Charm City Streets reflects on the fact that America seems to be unwilling to ban cell phone use by drivers, even as the death toll reaches staggering heights. And Systemic Failure says the Federal Railroad Administration continues to operate as if blissfully unaware that many of its safety regulations have unintended negative consequences.
LAs Decade of Decline Has Given Us the Mayor's Race We Deserve


 By Joseph Mailander, February 1, 2013

MAILANDER’S LA - The unfinished business of the city—the unfinished business that the city’s next mayor and council will face—is tremendous. The stories behind this unfinished business—this past decade of the decline of the City of Los Angeles—are begging to be told. But you won’t hear any of them told to satisfaction, not even in this election year.
One of the most telling untold stories of the past decade, certainly the most symbolic, is the story of the dead lotuses, the lotus bed, largest such in North America, that once flourishing bed in Echo Park that suddenly died off. We’ve never bothered to learn what happened to them. The bed died off after the reservoir that fed it water, Silver Lake Reservoir, was determined to be contaminated and taken off-line.
Given that the Reservoir was contaminated, with an ordinary but spooky chemical whose carcinogenic qualities have been researched inadequately, there should have been, at minimum, a post-event epidemiological study of the customers it served. Anecdotally, we know so many in Echo Park and Silver Lake contracted cancer at that time … but local media quickly buried the story, and sometime soon a new Echo Park Lake will open with a lovely ribbon cutting that memorializes nothing and nobody.

And management of the City's most renegade proprietary department is not an issue in this Mayoral race. Instead, candidates are courting the DWP union's backing.

There have been so many other cataclysms in city and County, any one of them would have made for extensive civil and even criminal inquires elsewhere. The Station Fire was a natural catastrophe on par with the ’94 earthquake. Its health impacts were felt for years, and perhaps they are still felt today. The report on the inadequate response to it remains unsatisfactory. But because it largely took place behind the mountains, we have drawn the curtain around that mammoth cataclysm too.

The sham of affordable housing and the ruthlessness of the operators of the local "Homeless Industrial Complex" continue to beleaguer and astound. The County's homeless figures only declined by 3% from 2009-2011--or 1.5% a year, perchance the number of homeless we lost to murder, accidents, and fatal illnesses.
We have had affordable housing programs for thirty years, and somehow housing is less affordable than ever, especially for low income renters. We are continuing to build affordable housing and homeless centers but we are not putting a meaningful dent in our homeless population.
This is no accident—it is designed to “work” that way. We treat sheltering the homeless as though it were just another lottery for the poor, the objective to make projects as expensive as we can while housing as few as we can. It’s immoral—but morality doesn’t make for sexy media inquiry these days.

And affordable housing is not an issue in this mayor's race.  Instead, the three candidates who are most beholden to the affordable housing lobby were invited to participate in a "debate" that was more of an informercial on behalf of affordable housing, and the two candidates who are not beholden to this lobby weren't even invited.

The Kinde Durkee scandal will also never be fully explored. She’ll serve out her sentence and that will be that. Those who can connect dots can easily see that it should not have ended with her conviction. But the structure of the grafting apparatus she left behind, the financial shell games she played with various support organizations, remains in play for politicians to adapt, even to refine. Our special tolerance of political lobbies that aren't obliged to disclose their donors to the public enables this.

And Kinde Durkee is not an issue in this mayor's race, even though the consultants who most utilized Durkee's services are much involved in the campaigns.

We are losing students but still building new schools. We are evaluating teachers but not administrators. Media are a willful accomplice to the decimation of what once was our noblest enterprise.

And in the mayor's race, the fact that we are continuing to use funds earmarked by willfully misinformed voters to build, rather than spend those funds on classroom instruction, is not an issue.

We are now told that our metropolitan region's ratio of rich to poor is more typical to a large Chinese city than a large American one. And this is not an issue in the mayor's race.

The fact that LA has fifteen council districts—rather than, say, seventy—makes for mini-mayors with increasingly concentrating power. Each runs a district roughly the size of Newark, New Jersey.
The City's Councilmen are really a league of mayors, who answer to no other council, no checks or balances but themselves. It’s a system that’s gamed for graft, and media do not have resources available to cover it all. It takes a lifetime of work for an ordinary human to expose even one clandestine act. The hidden financing of lobbies makes truth even more difficult to unearth. Corruption is now systemic to LA political experience.

And restructuring City Council is not an issue in this mayor's race.

Our Mayor’s office, Councilmembers, and many department heads employ media relations teams, whose purpose is to ferret out information as stingily as possible. We pay people to keep us as uninformed as possible.

And cutting City Council staffs is not an issue in this mayor's race.

Everyone involved in the city’s decade of decline, from council members to department heads to lobbyists to “not-for-profit” organization heads—everyone except you the ordinary citizen—seems to make around $200,000 a year—more than our US Senators—for delivering all this. The city’s top lobbies are not guided by trained economists, nor trained policy makers—they are guided by land use attorneys.

And land use is not an issue in this mayor's race.  Instead, the candidates are splitting hairs about the length of a runway at LAX.

The future leaders of the city face all this and more. They face a political culture so corrupt and a city in such decline that they will spend their campaign hours talking about anything other than the effectiveness of present policy. They are reticent to admit their failures—a key part of human development. The more they achieve, the less they interact with the public. Those who cast doubt on their judgments, they even actively defame, or use proxy political consultants to do so.

This is Los Angeles in 2013, after a decade of wanton political, social, and economic decline. As long as media remain quiet about these things, and instead act as political publicists, things are not going to change anytime soon.



February 1, 2013

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa created a Transit Corridors Cabinet by executive order last year to help ensure that after he’s gone (hopefully to the U.S. DOT as transportation secretary) a new administration will continue to support the Measure R investment in the transit system.
The Transit Corridors Cabinet meets for the first time with the public at Move LA’s 5th annual transportation conversation, and then takes the show on the road with meetings with the LA Thrives equity collaborative next month and then the Urban Land Institute in June. Here are 3 interesting interviews with some of the key cabinet players:

Global transit and development expert Robert Cervero from UC Berkeley talks about working in LA in the 1970s and thinking it was too late for LA to save itself by building a transit system. Now he is advising the Transit Corridors Cabinet and pretty impressed with the Measure R-funded investment. Read it here.

Bill Roschen is president of the Los Angeles Planning Commission and an architect who has co-chaired the cabinet from the beginning. He talks about the cabinet’s goals here.

Mercedes Marquez is the general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department and deputy mayor for housing. She makes a powerful pitch for focusing public investment along transit corridors here.


Why People Chose Cars, Even When Metro Would Be Faster


By Eric Jaffe, February 1, 2013


People don't always make rational decisions. The entire field of behavioral economics, with all its colorfully named biases and heuristics, is based on our irrationality. If that's not enough to convince you, then let us remind you that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a thing.
Go ahead and add cars to the illogical list too. In an upcoming paper in Transport Policy, a group of Italian researchers report that people show an irrational bias toward automobiles — they call it the "car effect." Instead of considering all travel modes and choosing the one that saves the most time and money, people prefer to drive even when it's not the best objective option:
Our key experimental result is that travel mode is significantly affected by heuristics and biases leading to robust deviations from rational behaviour. …
The main bias pointed out by data is the car effect, according to which individuals exhibited a preference for cars over metro and bus in contrast with their economic interest.
The researchers arrived at this conclusion through a series of rather intricate decision games. A group of players started the game with a certain amount of tokens. In the first game, during each of 50 rounds, the players chose whether they wanted to travel by car or by metro. A "travel cost" was determined for each mode — combining price and time — and paid in tokens.
Now here's the catch: while the travel cost of riding metro was fixed, the travel cost of a car varied. Random events, such as weather, accidents, and road work, influenced the cost of car travel. So did "traffic," which was determined based on how many other players also chose car travel during a given round.
In the best scenarios the travel cost of the car was lower, since it's the quicker mode, but if the traffic reached a certain point then riding the metro made more sense. After each round the players received feedback and could make a new choice. Over time they were expected to learn from their mistakes; there was actual compensation at stake, based on performance, so they had a real incentive to do well.
When the car-metro game ended the researchers ran two more experiments with buses replacing the metro option.
In every game the results pointed to a clear "car effect." In the car-metro game, the rate of car use rarely dipped below 55 percent — the point at which the first "traffic" penalty kicked in (below, left). (The "cong. threshold" depicted here represents the congestion penalties that increased the travel cost of a car.) Although the average cost of taking a car ended up being about 50 percent more than taking the metro, people chose cars nearly two-to-one (below, right):

The car-bus games revealed a similar bias toward the car — in contrast to what a rational observer of travel price should have chosen.
The findings are pretty striking when you consider that players received continual feedback after each round. While some players did respond to high car costs by switching modes, the effect didn't last long. "If regret can play a role in travel mode choice, it does not seem relevant in the experiment," the researchers wrote. Once people chose to go by car, they tended to stick with the choice. (Though, to be fair, most players demonstrated some degree of transport "stickiness," no matter the mode.)
The results are even more striking if you consider the players didn't have to actually, you know, ride the subway. In other words, even in a theoretical setting, with no physical interaction necessary, and real monetary compensation at stake, people couldn't set aside their preconceived affection for cars (or, perhaps, their aversion to transit). When it comes to driving, the researchers conclude, logic goes out the window:
This experimental study shows that, in repeated travel mode choice, available information is not properly processed, cognitive efforts are generally low and rational calculation play a limited role.
The games obviously aren't a perfect representation of everyday travel decisions, but they do offer an important lesson for policymakers. For all the technical and spatial hurdles of implementing an efficient urban transit system, there are significant psychological ones too. Sure, some people will make a rational travel choice, and prefer the efficiency and cost of the bus or the metro. But many others will require an incentive to switch that goes above and beyond what the numbers predict they should need.

Is the Pasadena Weekly's Andre' Coleman Living In the Trone Zone?


February 1, 2013

 Unyque indeed

 Political columnist and in-house salaried pundit Andre' Coleman of the Pasadena Weekly is becoming the gift that just keeps on giving. Rather than letting the Ishmael Trone controversy drop as any truly aware person would do, Andre' is back with yet another column about pretty much the same thing he wrote about last week. With one or two important additions.

All of which is mighty fine with me, because there really isn't much I would rather write about more than this story. It is just too good to let go. And if Andre' thinks that somehow he is helping his friend Ishmael Trone out, well, it is certainly not as much as he'd hoped, I'm sure. Something I believe I will be able show you. Here is what he has blessed us with this week (click here):

At home with Ishmael Trone: Council candidate pursues those he believes tampered with estranged wife's mail after DA confirms residency probe - Pasadena City Council District 3 candidate Ishmael Trone simply could not believe he was the target of a criminal inquiry into his residency. On Friday, after a story about the probe appeared on the Pasadena Weekly Web site (Mod: PW's article showed up 2 days after The Tattler), Trone said he called the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. While he would not say with whom he spoke, he insisted that he was not under investigation for allegedly living in Altadena, outside the district, as reported by the newspaper.

However, during a visit to the East Orange Grove Boulevard apartment Trone says he’s been living in since splitting up with his wife, Juanita, three years ago, the candidate was quickly disabused of that contention. Meanwhile, Juanita Trone and the couple’s daughters, ages 16 and 20, still live in the Marengo Avenue home the couple purchased together in Altadena when they were still together. Anne Ingalls, head of the DA’s Public Integrity Division, who was contacted by phone by the Weekly and spoke directly with Trone in a three-way conference call, confirmed her office is looking into a complaint he lives outside District 3.

In California, it is a crime to for a candidate to run for office in a district in which they are ineligible to vote. Residency within the district is a requirement for eligibility. “I can confirm that there has been a complaint regarding your residency,” Ingalls told Trone in the call. “I can’t discuss it with you any further, and I cannot tell you who filed the complaint.”

Claims that Trone — one of three candidates hoping to fill the council seat vacated by former Councilman Chris Holden after Holden was elected in November to the state Assembly — was back with his wife and living with her and their two daughters began surfacing after photos of mail addressed to Trone in Altadena appeared on the Web site of a private investigator who supports Trone’s main opponent, John J. Kennedy.
Trone's zone?

How the items of mail were acquired, photographed and posted at the blog “Detective Diaries,” operated by Torrance private investigator and journalist Jan B. Tucker, was not immediately known. 

All pretty much stuff we heard last week. But, as you read on, you can see there are also a couple of new ingredients that have been whisked into the mix. 

Ishmael Trone wants you to believe two things. Both are very important to his defense. The first is that the letters and other mail addressed to his Altadena home where his wide and daughters still live, the stuff with his name on it, were stolen. Not plucked out of the trash, not found laying in the gutter, not blowing in the wind, but taken from the mailbox. The mailbox where Trone still gets mail more than four years after he claimed to have moved out of the house. All committed by a cabal of conspirators tasked by unknown forces with wrecking his political career.

The other thing Trone needs you to believe is that he really does reside in Pasadena's Council District 3. And he does this by living in a one bedroom apartment located over the top of his "Unyque Financial Bail Bonds" shop, and has done so since 2009. This in a building that he also owns, which we have pictured here twice. A lifestyle that certainly seems rather Spartan given Trone's relatively well-to-do business owner status. Why would someone live in such relatively hand-to-mouth conditions when he owns a perfectly nice house in Altadena? Or could easily afford to live in better surroundings?

Here is the argument at the heart of Andre' Coleman's attempt to defend Ishmael Trone:

On Monday morning, the Weekly visited Trone’s apartment at 83 E. Orange Grove Blvd., the address in question, to check on his residency.

Trone lives in a spacious one-bedroom apartment above Unyque Financial, the bail bonds business started by his mother, Madelyn, and stepfather Felix and now owned by Trone.

During the visit, the 52-year-old candidate showed utility bills dating back several months that were addressed to him at the apartment, not the business. The address and name on those bills correspond with bills dating back to 2009, which Trone provided to the Weekly in a Jan. 9 candidate interview. A cursory inspection of the property found clothing hanging in the apartment’s closets.

Trone owns the bail bond shop on the first floor, and he also owns the "spacious" upstairs apartment he purportedly has been living in since 2009. Why? Because he owns the entire building. Doesn't it make sense that if the bills for such things as water and electricity for Unyque Financial Bail Bonds are going to this building, the bills for the living quarters upstairs would also go to the same building? Landlords often receive the bills for apartments they own under their own name. Anyone could be living in that apartment and the bills would still go to the apartment's owner, Ishmael Trone.

In the article a conspiracy-burdened Coleman goes on to again blame Trone's opponent for the District 3 seat, John P. Kennedy. He also blames retiring Board of Education member Ramon Miramontes, and darkly implies that both might have been in on the mail sting. He also fingers Jan B. Tucker, the private investigator that first published the news of Trone's residency issues on his blog, The Detective's Diary (click here). Yet Coleman provides us with absolutely no actual proof of any real connections to any of the people he names.

The word we have received here at The Tattler is that Andre' Coleman and now Assemblyman Chris Holden have been closely in touch ever since the Ishmael Trone residency controversy broke. Holden, heir to the Holden political machine founded by his father Nate Holden, has personally selected Trone to take his place on the Pasadena City Council. My assumption would have to be that Coleman's column this week is little more than spin he created along with Holden, and done in hopes of somehow turning the tide against what has become quite a story in Pasadena political circles.

And honestly, couldn't Ishmael Trone have just shown us his driver's license? Rather than having folks over to the apartment above his business to show them his bills? What does the Department of Motor Vehicles say? Do they show an address change in 2009?

The District Attorney's Public Integrity Division is looking into this matter. It is a serious crime in California to run for office in a district that you do not live in. If what we have read in Coleman's column this week is Trone's defense, then it does look like he very well could be in a lot of trouble.

Jan B. Tucker Responds to Andre' Coleman

Here is Jan Tucker's response to the accusations of Andre' Coleman this week:

Andre--regarding yesterday's article on Trone,

1.  I have never met John Kennedy, never spoken to him, and never corresponded with him in any way shape or form.  Nor have I been asked to endorse or support him nor have I offered to endorse or support him.  I am not the average private investigator in that I get asked to endorse and /or support people all the time.  Last Saturday, I personally chaired a committee that interviewed Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, and Kevin James and candidates for other LA city positions who are seeking organizational support from groups I'm involved with as well as my personal endorsement.  So, it is not correct to describe me as a supporter of John Kennedy.

2.  I posted digital photos of mail and of two locations.  If anybody had bothered to check, there is EXIF metadata in the location photos' digital files and none attached to the mail files.  I am affirmatively averring that I did nothing to intentionally alter or delete any of the metadata in the location digital files.  The EXIF data contained in the location digital files happens to contain evidence that I did not take the photos.  

3.  As to the digital photos of the mail, I did not take them or scan the mail and have never had the originals in my possession.  Had I taken photos or scanned the mail, they would have had EXIF data attached to them in the digital files.  Based upon these facts, Trone's allegations are incompetent and demonstrate the lack of knowledge of even basic computer forensics of himself and his advisers, unless of course he is simply spin doctoring what he knows and conveniently omitting relevant information about this matter.

We will continue to closely follow this story.