The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to

This piece(1) covers, among other things, how Zev “Father of the Orange Line” Yaroslavsky foreclosed on the use of sales tax revenue as a source of funds for subway construction. This when $300 million per mile is needed to push the Red Line out from Wilshire and Western. Funding, always tight, is crucial these days. Perhaps, we can get the money from Beijing, after all, our consumers will have to get to the store to buy the products produced by their workers – you know, people with production jobs. Ms Horn makes a nice case for subway vs bus along the Wilshire corridor. She also covers the financial position of the LACMTA, in a word (mine) strapped.

The Mole Rides Again, so that you can see how the other half lives

An early bus: a man on his cell phone gestures a lot and also repeats himself. He asks “Do we have cheese?” and later, reminds the someone to “take the hamburger out of the refrigerator.

At Sierra Madre Villa Station. Two elevators have strips of tape, labeled “Do Not Enter”, affixed diagonally across the doors. This slows up the ride to the station. The elevator which finally arrives has even more graffiti scratched on the walls and window as well as some writing in ink. The floor is wet, leaving one to wonder what was spilled. The plastic buttons in my elevator, which are used to select the destination floor are charred and partially melted. It appears as if the vandals are using cigarette lighters to sabotage the elevators. Overloading the heat sensors likely put the elevator out of service. The LACMTA would rather be trapped in a “Groundhog Day” like repetitive loop of vandalization rather than install security cameras or have the premises guarded. Over the long run this is extremely bad economics.

Some Gold Line operators (drivers) close the train doors while waiting for departure at Sierra Madre Villa Station. Passengers wishing to enter can press an outside button to gain access. This reduces the 210 Freeway noise considerably and on these cold mornings make it more comfortable. The operator this morning is not that type, so, many of us shiver in the noise. One day the train left from the southerly tracks and although the driver left the doors open, the open doors were on the North side, away from the freeway so it was a little quieter. It seems to me that the LACMTA should establish a policy that doors will always be left closed, to mitigate the noise levels and to conserve heat in winter and maintain air conditioning levels in the summer. The loads originating at Sierra Madre Villa Station are light, only four people sit in the two cars in my section today – so few will be inconvenienced by having to open the doors themselves. Which doors, then automatically close.

A man on this bus is reading aloud, an article about the demonstrations in Pakistan incited by the US missile attack which killed Pakistani civilians. He obviously has “issues” and is punctuating his reading with lots of “Oh, Wow”s.

Orange Line revisited

The LACMTA refuses to provide us with any hard statistics on on Orange Line ridership. Or, it is also possible that they lack the intellectual ability required to develop proper statistics. We do know that they “estimate” daily boardings at 16,000, which absent any clearer explanation, translates to 8,000 round trips daily. We know that there is neither a fare box nor is any passenger tally taken on-board the buses. So what we are left with, should we choose to believe the LACMTA (I don't believe them because, frankly, I think that only self serving statements emanate from the Taj Mahal) is that there are 8,000 daily round trip users of the orange line. So let's assist the LACMTA make some better estimates of the NEW users of the Orange Line. As you saw last week I don't agree with the Los Angeles Times idea that the Orange Line is reducing traffic on the 101. If the Times continues with this weak line of reasoning, I will have to declare them an adjunct to the LACMTA's propaganda group. Oh, and an important point: The LACMTA has already conceded that many Orange Line riders were already public transportation users.

As step one, I checked 06-1085SYY which is the LACMTA publication which is entitled “Metro Bus and Metro Rail System Map”. Then I looked at bus lines which are near and roughly parallel to the Orange Line. Running south of the Orange Line, is the 750 Rapid from the Hollywood-Highland Red Line Station to Warner Center. The 750's main route is on Ventura BL. The 363 Express bus which runs north of the Orange Line is another possibility. It operates from the North Hollywood Station to West Hills. Today, few would select the 363 over the Orange Line from the North Hollywood Station, but it would be have been a good alternative in the days before the Orange Line began operations. It covers a long section of Sherman Way.

What we want the LACMTA to tell us is: What was the average weekday ridership of lines 750 and 363 for the period, for the months which correspond to the months of Orange Line operation and for the same period one year ago. In other words, how many people rode lines 363 and 750 during the period November 2005 through January 2006? Then, how many people rode lines 363 and 750 during the period November 2004 through January 2005? I submit that the ridership of these two lines would show a drop from the pre-Orange Line figures. We can then subtract one-half of the drop (reduce the value to individuals) from the 8,000 people who now use the orange line. The remainder are not necessarily new public transportation users, but we would have some idea of the potential siphon effect of the Orange Line.

I also offer the idea that, in paying the big bucks to Berkley Phds, the Los Angeles Times, like the LACMTA, is wasting money. What it could have done was exactly what I did, study the free maps and then, request the actual ridership values from the LACMTA, under FOI (the Freedom of Information Act), if necessary. I believe that the only expenditure required in that case are nominal photocopying fees.

(1) Horn, Katherine “Rev on the Red Line” CITYBEAT 19~26 Jan. 2006:9

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