The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
Strangely, there has been almost no LACMTA coverage in the local newspapers this week.
The Mole Rides Again - so that you can listen to XM radio in the car
Two faced cameras have begun to appear on some buses. One lens takes a picture of the driver's view through the windshield. The other, is aimed at the passenger area. So, smile and give a big shout out to those who monitor these devices. Don't expect it to be seen though because, my incomplete understanding of the mechanism at this time is that they are inertially triggered. That means that it is not recording at all times, and that if the driver breaks hard then the devices will start recording. It's purpose seems to be two fold: (1) to determine fault in the case of an accident and (2) to see if those “oh, my neck, whiplash” claims have any validity. It would seem to have only limited security functions, other than after the fact. I will try to find out more detail and pass it on when I do.
Ah, the yellow signal cords. Yesterday, I saw a woman input as much force into the cord as Ray Mysterio jerk pulling himself to the top rope so that he can execute some kind of diving maneuver. I can imagine that her model of the cord was that it physically signaled the Taj Mahal (LACMTA Headquarters at Chavez and Vigness) which in turn sent out a signal to the on board “Stop Requested” sign. In fact, like many of the on board systems, this one too need work. If people don't pay good attention during the fleeting life of the “Stop Requested” sign and it's attendant “Stop Requested” announcement, they may think that no stop has been requested. So, they pull the cord. Nothing happens. They pull the cord again harder. This cycle repeats until other passengers call out “It's gonna stop!” as they did the the woman with the Ray Mysterio force. What should happen is that the “Stop Requested” sign should repeat without the audio. The ADA (Automatic Door Announcements) continue cheerily (I think) announcing the mostly wrong – a minimum of 50% of the announcement is wrong on either the bus number or destination or lots of times both
The mole rode the Big Blue Bus Rapid number 3 to LAX the other day. Nice ride! The driver told your mole that these smooth riding, quiet machines were made by “New Flyer”. I can only guess that somebody's brother-in-law is the salesman for NABI, which company makes the bone jarring, ear irritating, rattling Rapid buses used by the LACMTA. This, again, presents an opportunity for the NABI field engineering staff to turn these bucking broncs into smooth rolling advertisements for their product. A Mole source tells me that it is the fault of lack of maintenance by the LACMTA on the Rapid buses, either by plan or lack of funding to keep the equipment in proper order. The 720 line Rapids still do not have AVA (Automatic Voice Announcement) of stops on many buses at this late date – months and months after system wide introduction of the feature. Yet they have instituted a new line 720 stop at Park La Brea. A more thoughtful and consistent LACMTA would allow the 745 Rapid to stop at Arroyo to allow a connection with the Gold Line Memorial Park Station. Speaking of the Gold Line, “tests” for the new express trains are now underway. The express service is scheduled to go into effect on 13 February. Makes me wonder though, why one month is needed for testing? It would seem to this Industrial Engineer that at least some “test” trains could carry passengers, instead of running empty, and at the same time see if the stations chosen for express stops are the right ones. But there is the right way, the wrong way and the LACMTA way.
Orange Line Cost-Benefit Analysis (Cont. I.)
Th LACMTA refuses to give any hard statistics on Orange Line (Line 901) ridership. The buses have no fare boxes which drastically limits their use on other lines in the system. And they don't provide any ridership counts either. The propaganda arms of the LACMTA and other county agencies with a stake in the matter are all busy telling us how great the Orange Line is as a means of justifying their $350,000,000 investment. That works out to $ 7.10/”boarding” using a ten (10) year amortization period on the capital investment.
To develop that ($7.10/”boarding”) value, I invoked Python (a Linux scripting language) and used 4,160,000 annual week day ”boardings” (16,000 * 5 *52) and 832,000 annual week end ”boardings” (8,000 * 2 *52) for a total count of 4,992,000”annually. Regarding the 8,000 weekend count: I pulled the figure from just where the LACMTA gets their values – well, almost anyway – I got mine out of the air. Then I divided the initial $350,000,000 investment by 10 to get an annual cost. I divided that quotient by the total annual passengers to develop the cost for ”boarding”. Now, IF and only if, the LACMTA is truthful about the daily “boardings the daily loss generated by a “boarding” buying a day pass would be $4.10 or $10.10 if two boardings equals a round trip passenger (see Disclaimer, below). Now on an annualized basis, using the $4.10 loss per “boarding”, this amounts to $17,888,000 or $178,880,000 over the ten year period. But wait, there's less! If we could figure out how many “new to public transportation boardings” resulted from building the Orange Line then we could figure out their marginal costs – likely to be astronomical because the LACMTA already admits that many Orange Line users were already using the Metro before the Orange Line was built. So the LACMTA is moving the same people around for a lot more money. The LACMTA serving you, by spending the public's money, not always is the smartest way!
Disclaimer: I didn't factor in maintenance costs for either the buses or the roadway, fuel, driver costs, possible additional legal costs and funds to settle claims for future accidents and a whole lot of things that really need to be considered. Importantly, I considered a “boarding” to be a person. That is very likely not the case. The 16,000 daily boardings could be the actions of as few as 8,000 people making a round trip. In which case the cost per person would double to $14.20 with the attendant $10.00 loss per passenger cited above!
Your Mole is on a business trip so he may miss a posting or two.