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Transcript: Meet Friends for Expo Transit

JIMMY SMITS: Transportation expert Darrell Clarke is currently leading a campaign to rethink Southern California public rail transportation.

DARRELL CLARKE: Smooth, comfortable, fast, we're not fighting traffic. It's all about quality of life. So much about driving in Los Angeles, well, is how is the traffic gonna be? It's gotten to be there's so many places, you just don't go there because you know the traffic is gonna be that terrible.

MAN IN TRAIN: Because all the freeways are very crowded and I find it a lot easier and more comfortable to get around on the train.

GRANDMA WITH BABY ON TRAIN: I like the train, I really do. I enjoy it and my great granddaughter is going to enjoy it too you know. Because now she enjoy it. It's Mr. Roger's train, whoo, whoo, right?

DARRELL CLARKE: This is the Holly Street Apartments, which was actually built before the light rail line was built. The whole idea is you can live here, you can ride the train to downtown Los Angeles. You're within a couple of blocks. You can walk to old town Pasadena for dinner. You're a couple of blocks from where they rebuilt the old indoor mall into a nice outdoor new urbanist thing. It's just all about that kind of quality of life in downtown Pasadena where you don't need a car to do everything.

JIMMY SMITS: In Santa Monica, a group lobbies for a new light rail line.

PRESLEY BURROUGHS: Well, Friends for Expo Transit is an all-volunteer organization that is charged with building light rail on the Exposition right of way between downtown Los Angeles and the beach of Santa Monica.

DARRELL CLARKE: We're here on the Exposition right of way owned by the MTA since 1990. It goes from downtown Los Angeles up to Santa Monica. Originally built for a railroad to Santa Monica in 1895 and now it gives us this great opportunity.

JIMMY SMITS: Despite already owning the right-of way, this much needed transit line continues to be bogged down in 21 years of red tape and struggle.

DARRELL CLARKE: Best case according to the MTA would be to have the first half running as of 2010, worst case 2015 which is considering 1989 even to 2010, well it's 21 years is a long time to wait for half a light rail line. A lot of times I have the feeling of getting knocked down, picking myself up, dusting myself off. I've put too much into this to stop now. I just have to keep going and keep trying.

PRESLEY BURROUGHS: We're an all-volunteer organization. We have no money. As you may have seen, we pass a hat for donations.

DARRELL CLARKE: But we keep trying because it matters too much not to and we need Exposition to Santa Monica. That's just one step. We really need to come up with a network that works so more and more people can have an alternative to being stuck on that freeway.

PRESLEY BURROUGHS: One could be born, one could go to the hospital, one can go to elementary school, one can get a Bachelors degree in the finest institutions in America all along this line. It is a ladder for upward mobility along this line. It's not just transportation from east to west. It is a ladder for upward mobility. And that's why I'm here, to help build that ladder.

GRANDMA WITH BABY ON TRAIN: It's Mr. Roger's train, whoo, whoo, right?

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© 2007. All Rights Reserved. Published January 2, 2007
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