More Fun on the Metro

Some you you may have noticed that the links to LACMTA maps cited in an earlier post are no longer active. The bus map link has been replaced by a system map (But still not much when you consider the detail available from my other examples) – someone must be reading my posts, or am I flattering myself?

The new “TVs” are in place on some lines. The one I viewed recently on Line 38 is probably representative of what is in our near future. The broadcasting entity is called TTNet (Transit TV Network). I watched, en español, a brief Fidel Castro biography, “Compita con el reloj” (compete with the clock) crossword puzzle fill-in and A Guess the cinema quote “game”, featuring a quote from “Risky Business”. Another segment had insurance tips, read advertisement. Most of my fellow passengers seemed to be ignoring TTNet, I would have ignored it too, but I wanted to include my experience here. I see this as just another “service”, provided by a LACMTA marketing division that is overstaffed in relation to their contributions, which contributions are frequently cosmetic . I would rather ride in relative silence.

You can read about what the LACMTA board thought about TTNet. To me, their expectations that an estimated $67 million will accrue to the LACMTA over the life of the ten year contract, which apparently was signed, is a pipe dream. I can hear them now – “It costs nothing and we will earn $6,700,000 year!” Want to bet that it won’t?? :-) :-)

Unfortunately, the typical bus rider is not part of a demographic which is highly desired by most advertisers. The way this would work in a typical advertising arrangement is that $X is paid by an advertiser, let's say “Stan's Stock Brokerage” to TTNet. Then, TTNet pays the LACMTA a percentage of the sum of the amounts paid by all the Stan's, after subtracting expenses. Let's assume, that TTNet is VERY generous and agrees to pay the LACMTA twenty percent of profits in the LACMTA's area of operations. In order for the LACMTA earn $6.7 million per year then TTNet would have to make a profit of $33.5 million in the LACMTA's area of operations. Booking a profit of $33.5 million in the LACMTA's territory, using a conservative profit factor of ten percent (10%) and allowing 90% of gross to be allocated to expenses, TTNet would have to book a gross of $335 million in our hometown and its environs. I will on an oft repeated reminder - “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be TRUE”. One factor making big profits difficult is TTNet's claim that only 15 minutes of each hour will be devoted to advertising – I wonder how long that plan will last?

My own unsolicited advise to the LACMTA is to charge TTNet for each ad, each time it is broadcast as if it were a chargeable transit ad like the overhead advertising posters or the specially painted buses – e.g., the buses with Z advertising for the October 28 opening of, what will probably turn out to be yet another, Zorro movie.

Recently, I rode on bus number 7701 driven by operator 23770 who listened to his loud portable radio during the short portion of my trip (between Rosemead and the stop nearest (nearest means at least a 5 minute walk at a fast pace, when I obey traffic signals) the Sierra Madre Villa station. I used the elevator at the Sierra Madre Villa station as part of the trek to the platform. The number 2 elevator (from the left, when facing the elevator bank) was malfunctioning – the door would not fully close and it cycled open and closed. I used elevator number 3, which – like most of the elevator bank had deep scratches in the stainless steel interior and paint based graffiti on the windows.

I made a transfer from the Red Line at “Metro Center”. All of the sixteen (16) TV monitors were either turned off or out of service. Usually, this best of the 1980s technology, on the Red Line platform, is showing the platform (normally platform 2) of the next Blue Line train. When this “service” is in operation it might be of some help IF anyone would search out these fugitives from Pong and IF they had some idea of where platform 2 or for that matter, platform 1 is located. Today there were six “security officers” (four LACMTA Fare Inspectors” and two sheriff's deputies) cluster, er.. ah, grouped together. Busy chatting, paying only, at best, casual attention to the crowded platform, and then only in a limited area, and inspecting no fares in the ten minutes, or so, that I waited for my train. On board I noticed the new posters: “Orange Line, It's the bus that acts like a train”, how about that for setting expectations? The train operator made the usual hard to understand announcements, those that were understandable e.g., “The next station stop is Civc Center”, why not simply, “Next, Civic Center”? You know, just like in the big city? Or my favorite, “Our last and final stop, Union Station, this train is going out of service”, why not - “Union Station, end of line”?? Apparently hed dosen't know that he could string "ultimate" onto his "last and final" synonyms. The out of service announcement is of interest to people attempting to board at Union Station and is communicated by the “Not in service” displayed on the exterior of the train. But what can one expect from an organization whose staff has nothing to do with public transportation outside of working hours?

Today, I rode to Pasadena around 16:00 (4PM) on the 780 Rapid Line, aboard bus number 7144, which runs between Hollywood and Pasadena as far as Pasadena Community College. Near the end of the trip I noticed the red latch, on the left side of the bus, towards the rear, which opens the emergency window exit was in the released position – this is not an infrequent occurrence on buses. Usually something has vibrated loose and the latch, which seems to be held in place by friction, will not stay in the normal position.

I have reported this situation to other bus drivers, who understood that a child could easily fall out of the bus by pushing where a child is most likely to push, near the bottom of the window. I attempted to make a report to this driver whose operator number is 25016. At first he simply ignored me – always a good feeling. When I repeated the report, he gave the slightest form of acknowledgment that it is possible for one human being to give another – an almost imperceptible head movement along with a vocal response of perhaps, 2 milliseconds. Now, I am very much a supporter of the LACMTA drivers(except for their refusal to wear seat belts) – they do a difficult job well and the majority of whom are great people, but this guy was an exception.

I hope that there is never an accident involving this bus but if there ever is this report should establish the the driver in question and the LACMTA will be guilty of contributory negligence. The lesson learned here is that you can not always expect a “Thank you”, for reporting problems to your “friendly” driver. But I do encourage making reports to the operator and at.

Which link is not that easy to find which I read as an attempt to confuse users and
thereby reduse the number of complaint. Typical web sites have either a near top of page or extreme bottom of page "Contact Us" link, but not our friends at the LACMTA.

I wrote to the bus manufacturer, a portion of my letter is included here:

I find the 7000 series (the LACMTA's designation) e.g., the Rapid 720 line on Wilshire Blvd., to be rough riding and seemingly without shock absorbers. As a result, fittings (seat mounts, emergency window exit release levers and etc.) seem to vibrate loose and cause a noisy environment for the passengers.

Of special concern, is the above mentioned loose emergency window exit levers, which present a hazard to children who might inadvertently push the window open and fall out of the bus.

Could you please advise me as to whether this is a result of faulty construction on your part or improper maintenance on the part of the LACMTA ?

Don't hold your breath waiting for an answer, I'm not.

Speaking of maintenance or rather the lack of it, earlier this week I rode Rapid bus number 7019 on line 780 from Pasadena to Glendale. The bus had a loose seat which rattled noisily until someone sat on it. On that trip I exited the Red Line at the Civic Center Station. The up escalator was (thankfully) in operation. Near the top, the up escalator began emitting groans, squeaks and scraping noises. My background in engineering analysis tell me that this is because the escalator is uncovered and exposed to the elements, as are many escalators throughout the system, the top part is exposed to heating by the sun and expands causing a loose fit when the portions of the tread way which do not have time to expand travel over the expanded sections.

I noted on another trip that bus number 7189 had an inoperative left side stop signal cord AND a strip of molding hanging down from the ceiling, with two screws dangling, about ten feet back from the front of the bus.

Again, the LACMTA has the bus system mentality when it comes to maintenance, well, sometimes anyway.

Next week: First, you have to get their attention

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