Category Archives: California

San Clemente approves plan to turn historic Miramar movie theater and bowling alley into events center

Orange County Register via California Rail News

A plan to renovate San Clemente’s historic Miramar Theater property – shuttered since 1992 – has won the approval of the city’s planning commission.

Commissioners voted 6-0 Wednesday, June 7 to approve permits so the owners can incorporate the former movie theater, built in 1938, with an adjacent former bowling alley built in 1946 as a single project – an events center with restaurants.

Both buildings occupy the 1700 block of North El Camino Real. The city designates them as historic landmarks in the city’s North Beach area.

The plan is to turn the former 7,836-square-foot cinema into a 435-seat performance and events center and convert the former 5,200-square-foot bowling alley into five specialty-cuisine restaurants with shared seating.

There would be 50 restaurant seats indoors and up to 150 seats in a landscaped outdoor dining area facing El Camino Real. The restaurants could cater for the events center.

The difference between the NEC and other regional corridor services.

M.E. Singer opinion from California Rail News

The premise of regionalization of passenger rail should be incorporated to ensure the viability of any national infrastructure program in the US. Although the California JPAs have created from scratch a spectacular inter-connecting regional program; the Northeast Corridor merely picked-up from where the Pennsylvania, New Haven, and New York Central left off, their remains a void of far too many unserved potential regional corridors.

However, unlike California and the NEC, their is little linkage between other regional states, despite their past history of being well served by a network of passenger rail operated by the private railroads. The issue today is how to incentivize the Class 1s, Amtrak, commuter, and the individual states to work together, as the markets are there, unserved by rail; forced to accept clogged interstates and expensive, infrequent air service–all inhibiting economic growth and tourism, due to a lack of mobility. The answer is not by operating but a daily long distance train, but frequently scheduled, convenient regional trains, capable of quick turnarounds, rather than languishing in yards all day.

Such markets just in the Midwest include: Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison; Chicago-Milwaukee-Green Bay; Summer seasonal services Chicago Wisconsin and Michigan; Chicago-Milwaukee via UP North Line thru Evanston-Waukegan-Racine; Chicago-Champaign-Springfield-Peoria; Chicago-Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh; Cincinatti-Columbus-Cleveland; Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines. Even The Milwaukee Road utilized its new bi-level commuter cars in the 1960s to operate weekends Chicago-Wisconsin Dells. Also, in conjunction with commuter lines, what about Special Trains for the vast number of football events throughout the Midwest? With two run-thru tracks at Chicago Union Station, the stub-end terminal concept should not prevent enhancing schedule convenience and true regional inter-connectivity by run thru services. (In 1972, even Amtrak operated two run thru schedules between Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis.)

The successful California JPA model appears to be the best formula to follow, given how the JPAs control marketing (routes, services, frequencies, fares, advertising), with Amtrak providing T&E crews, staffed depots, and maintenance. LOSSAN JPA has wisely extended schedules from San Diego to run thru LAUPT to serve San Luis Obispo; it is a matter of time before reaching San Jose. San Joaquin JPA acknowledges market potential to schedule day trips between Fresno-Sacramento. Capitol Corridor JPA provides true regional connecting service running from Sacramento thru Emeryville (Oakland) to San Jose, with plans for further route expansion.
What stops the continued growth of these JPAs is the acute shortage of equipment and the Amtrak cost methodology for state services. Given the near breakeven of LOSSAN, even under the current higher cost formulas, perhaps it is appropriate to consider full takeover of all passenger services; to serve as a Beta site for the other JPAs; eventually other regional/state consortiums?

Union Station’s Fred Harvey Room is officially restored

LA Curbed via California Rail News

Just off of Union Station’s South Patio, an elegant sign hangs from a gorgeous wall of brass-paneled windows, stating simply “restaurant.”

That restaurant—a Harvey House that, during World War II, became a popular waystation for soldiers shipping out of the railway station to their posts—shuttered more than five decades ago.

Today, stepping through the glass doors and into the airy Art Deco space, known as the Fred Harvey Room, feels like traveling back in time.

It’s a feeling that’s all the more pronounced now that its neglected mezzanine has been meticulously restored

One of the last restaurants operating in a chain once ubiquitous at railway stations, Union Station’s Harvey House closed in 1967, but continued to host the occasional private event or film shoot, including a music video for Fiona Apple’s 2009 song “Paper Bag.”

Public-Private Partnerships Will Not Save U.S. Infrastructure

Streetsblog USA via California Rail News

Although the White House has been talking up private infrastructure investment as a replacement for public funding, a panel of experts told Congress that, even with perfectly executed public-private partnerships, the federal government still needs to provide its own support — especially for projects, like transit lines, that aren’t guaranteed to generate toll revenue for profit-seeking investors.

This morning, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao appeared before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee. Chao didn’t reveal much, but she did say that the White House will release a statement of “principles” about infrastructure later this month before handing off an actual infrastructure plan to Congress sometime later this summer.

Whether that’s actually going to happen is anybody’s guess. So far, the administration has given two substantive clues about its infrastructure agenda. One is a budget proposal that guts transit programs. The other is a campaign white paper that recommends using tax cuts to promote private financing of public infrastructure projects.

Featured image: Virginia’s HOT lanes were held up in the U.S. Senate this week as an example of public-private partnerships done right. But is this what you really want out of the transportation system?

5 Ways To Get Around Orange, CA Without A Car

The Panther via California Rail News

The MetroLink station is behind the Marion Knotts Studios at 194 N Atchison St. The schedule and route maps are available on the MetroLink website.

The MetroLink train costs $6.75 to the Los Angeles Union Station and $13.50 for a round trip. From the Los Angeles Union Station, you can continue using public transit by hopping on subways and buses to the location desired. If you’re looking for something cheap and accessible for a longer trip outside of Orange, the MetroLink is one of your best options.

Transportation is high up on the list of what a college student needs. Orange is a central spot for all things Southern California. There’s the beach, San Diego, Los Angeles and everything in between. The only downside to it all is getting there, especially for Chapman students without a car.

“Coming into Chapman, I was so excited about all the places I could go with all the new freedom I have, but then I realized I didn’t have a car to get there,” said Charlotte McDougald, a freshman creative writing major.

Here are a few tricks some students use to get around without a car.

Southern California Metrolink Trains Now Allow Surfboards

US News & World Report via California Rail News

Catch a wave — after you catch a train.

Surfers can now bring their boards along when taking Southern California’s Metrolink train service to the beach.

The railroad said Thursday it has added surfboard storage to cars that previously were designated for bicycles.

Metrolink says every train on all lines will have a bike-and-board car, each with room for five surfboards

LA Purple Line Construction Gets OK to Proceed

Curbed LA via California Rail News

There was no big showy shovels-in-the-dirt ceremony for it, but the next phase of the Purple Line extension has hit a milestone, says The Source.

Tutor Perini/O & G, the contractors working to build the the second section of the extension, have been given an official “notice to proceed,” allowing them to begin work on Beverly Hills’s Wilshire/Rodeo station and the Century City/Constellation station.

The Source says that major construction will begin next year. (Pre-construction has been underway and will continue through the year.)

Students Ditch The Limo And Hop On Train To Get To The Prom

Los Angeles Times via California Rail

In  the run-up to prom, Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita made its students a special offer. Whoever won a raffle would get to ride in a school-sponsored limo with their friends while the rest of the class took a Metrolink train.
It didn’t go as planned.
“It was hard just to sell the raffle tickets,” said Vincent Wheeler, an administrator at Golden Valley. “The students were like, ‘This is great, but, uh, we want to take the train.’”

Say what you will about Southern California’s car-obsessed culture, but for two high schools in L.A. County, public transportation was the vehicle of choice for that most American of rituals.

Two trains packed with glitzy commuters sporting corsages and boutonnieres departed for Union Station on Saturday evening. One carried more than 500 students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana. Another ferried about 500 Golden Valley students who made their connection to the red line and traveled on to Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

Here’s why the future of the Caltrain Corridor is so important

From SF-Curbed

The connection between new housing and transportation is too close to ignore

When California Republicans convinced the Department of Transportation to hold off on a $647 million federal grant for the transit corridor’s electrification plan, they did more than stall transportation progress for the region. The delay would put thousands of new jobs and much-needed housing projects on hold indefinitely. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the future economic growth of California stands in peril.

Caltrain gets $100M from budget deal: Support hinges on approval from Trump administration

From San Mateo Daily Journal-May 2, 2017 via California Rail News

The bipartisan congressional budget deal reached Sunday could provide some much-needed fuel for Caltrain’s plans to modernize the Peninsula’s heavily used commuter rail system.
The $1 trillion federal spending plan outlines $100 million for the electrification project and while there’s contingencies to those funds actually being allocated, Caltrain supporters say it’s a positive omen nonetheless.

The 2017 budget proposal includes nearly $232.8 million for new projects that are geared toward increasing capacity and which are expected to receive approval this year — a short list in the Federal Transit Administration’s pipeline that includes Caltrain. While hurdles remain before actual funding is offered, being explicitly recognized in the budget bodes well.