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

According to the Los Angeles Times(1) excessive noise levels along the Orange Line route may require the the LACMTA refit some homes, nine at present count, with double-pane windows in an attempt to mitigate the noise. The paper reports that 41 noise complaints were received by the agency. I suspect that the number will rise as residents see that something can be done about the constant noise - there are 244 bus trips each weekday. The LACMTA spin master and the Times did not print any specific factual DB levels in order to better define“excessive”, so we are left to guess at the meaning of “excessive”.

A Los Angeles Times piece(2) points out, of course, that the usual approach is in operation at the LACMTA. The longer we delay construction of the Red Line along Wilshire BL, the larger the cost projection becomes. And anyway, isn't the sun going to expend its' fuel in the future and we won't really need a Red Line extension then, will we?

Then too, the LACMTA has expended funds on marginal propositions such as the Orange Line and the rail line to Culver City, the so called Expo Line, which I believe means the line which Exposes the LACMTA's inability to plan and/or manage. The subject piece also notes the earlier cost overruns along with other performance failures and is much less than a vote of confidence in the LACMTA's ability to learn from past mistakes.

I believe that the sooner that the Red Line extension is started the sooner it will be completed with the added benefit that the costs can be predicted. Cost control on the extension should be implemented along with contractor penalties for exceeding budget, other performance failures AND a project manager other than the LACMTA. Which agency would have an near impossible task in planning their way out of a wet paper bag!

It might make sense too, to open the extension station by station as they do with subway lines in Japan, so that the value proposition for the line is available to the public sooner.

In some respects, this Los Angeles Times piece(3) on the Gold Line express service gives one the feeling of “piling on” the bungling LACMTA. First of all, in my mind the Gold Line termini do not qualify as express “stops”. So in reality, there are only three (3) stops on the express line which are pretty much clumped together. The article, long in justifiable rider complaints, failed completely to address questions to LACMTA management as to how and why the express stations were selected. On many occasions I ride from Seirra Made Villa station to Lake Avenue, but, Lake Avenue is not, as the article points out, an express stop.

I noticed that no one who was quoted, neither transportation scholar nor Gold Line riders had any suggestions on how to improve the “load factor' on the Gold Line. One transportation expert sounded more like a member of the Bus Rider's Union, dissing light rail. Well, believing that everyone is entitled to my opinion, I do have a suggestion. Ensure that every Gold Line station is serviced by at least one bus line. If you bring them directly to the station, not two or three blocks away, they will ride. This is a system of hubs (Gold Line stations) just begging for the spokes (bus lines) which directly connect to the stations and provide the passengers.

The Gold Line should STOP making the driver reliefs at means of a special stop between stations (Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park and Chinatown). Such relief changes should be made at the Union Station terminus, speeding up those runs, or at least not delaying them by several minutes. Too, the LACMTA should consider increasing the speeds of ALL trains on the free running track so that the average speed increases even when the slower times on the grade crossing sections are considered.

I sat looking at a poster, on board the Gold Line the other day, which read“Door-to-door, well almost.”touting the agency's service. The only active department is in the LACMTA is the marketing department which produce the poster and other such such useless material. If the service is good, word of mouth alone will do the job! The new express line is supported by early twentieth century “software” such as the banners in the bypassed stations announcing that the Express trains will not stop here. What is needed is an upgrade of the electronic signs so that they display such announcements and allow for flexibility in scheduling a different pattern of express stops. This is something that has been done for years on the BART in Norther California and for decades in Japan.

Contrary to an assertion in the article, “The line does not have double tracks, so a faster train cannot pass a slower one.”, the Gold Line does have double tracks. What it lacks is siding at points along the line onto which the slower train could be routed and held until the faster train passed. Even then, with the existing tracks and clever switching a faster train could pass a slower one if the slower one is held at a station.

Could it be that the LACMTA is creating conditions for failure, since this line was forced upon them, not invented by them and even actively opposed by them?

I look forward to the time when the Los Angeles Times holds the LACMTA's feet to the fire rather than publishing such pessimistic, at best, commiserative articles like this one.

The Mole Rides Again - so that you don't have touch the graffito on the seat to see if it is wet, before sitting down

The Gold Line “Express”Service was expected to start operation this week. I intend to ride it soon, but I saw no trains in operation. What happens in a “real” limited service operation, is that regular trains are sidetracked so that they can be passed by the limited. I doubt, actually I pray, given the abilities of the LACMTA to handle the level of complexity involved in sidetracking, that that is not the case here. What will happen is that regular service will suffer as a result of the limited service. The only people to see a limited train pass will be those who are stranded at the stations being bypassed. Of the thirteen Gold Line stations, only three are en route stops. I have seen express service in cities around the world, but never where the stops are so clumped together. Not counting the two termini, the“Express”service stops at Del Mar, Mission and Highland Park.

The latter two being adjacent and spaced from Del Mar by the bypassed Fillmore station. This patter was likely the work of the staff that estimates Orange Line daily boardings at 16,000. Note that there are no central Pasadena stops on the “Express”since both Lake Av and Memorial Park are bypassed.

When I am able to ride the “Express”, I will attempt to determine how many people are bypassed as a percentage of riders.

I rode a 720 Rapid (bus number 8011) to Santa Monica on Thursday, 23 February around 11:00 AM.. Very noisy! It was the driver (29688), a slim black man with short graying hair. He was “preaching” to a woman who made much of the trip standing in front of the yellow line which we passengers are exhorted by signage and verbal orders not to cross, and stood within a foot or so of the driver. He was going on and on and on about why Issac or some other biblical character was or was not counted as dead and a whole lot of other things which were and are of little interest to me (sorry, Mom). This was obviously a guy who took his bible, if not his driving, seriously. Lots of the passengers were becoming jittery trying to figure out how the driver could be so engrossed in a conversation, cite lineage (who begat whom, etc.) and still drive. Not even considering that passengers were not given the choice to be there for the sermon and had no way of avoiding it. His primary audience appreciated his performance enough for the whole bus, with hand clapping and sounds of agreement.

My belief, drivers should check there religion at the door before an attorney rides their bus and begins action calling for a cessation of unwanted religious services.

(1) Writer, Staff.“Homes Near Orange Line May Get Double-Pane Windows” 12 Feb. 2006:B4

(2) Liu, Caitlin. “Subway to Sea Is Far Off at Best” 16 Feb. 2006:B4

(3) Liu, Caitlin. "Express Adds Little Luster to Gold Line”20 Feb. 2006:B1

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