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

According to a Los Angles Times piece(1), It would seem that the skids have been placed under Roger Snoble and the greasing process is underway.

Snoble's initial reaction to his $130 million budget shortfall (according to the article), was that nothing could be done about income shortfalls other than a fare increase. Now, he wants to trim, what is for the most part, a minimal presence by Sheriff's Deputies.

I nominate Goofy (the Disney Character) as Snoble's replacement. Even Goofy would recognize that spending money for projects like the “Exposition Line” is senseless.

It is not often that I am in complete agreement with the BRU (Bus Riders Union) but in the case of the ill conceived “Exposition Line” , I do believe that Rapid buses are the better alternative. So in the interim, Snoble would do well to cancel the “Exposition Line” .

In an earlier piece (“No Fare Hikes in MTA Budget Plan” Los Angeles Times 9 May 2006:B1), The Times cites a $131 million budget shortfall, what is the true figure? Or is the LACMTA unable to work at a granularity of less than $1 million?

Here is the main portion of my response to a LACMTA press release announcing public meetings: 'Westside/Central to Hold Workshop on “Metro Connections” South Bay Sector to meet in South Los Angeles'.


Many, if not most Metro riders cannot afford the time and or the attendant costs to attend meetings.

Given that Metro wastes untold thousands of dollars on brochures that remain, unread, on buses for months, why can't you place public comment cards with drop boxes on buses so that the public can supply input in an efficient manner?

My own complaint, although definitely not my only one, is that, according to rumor, the 439 and 220 lines will be drastically truncated.

I find that the value of my monthly pass decreases every six months - this is also true of day passes since extra money will now be required to ride, on different carriers, to one's destination.

The Mole Rides Again - so that you won't have to stand in the hot sun wondering when your bus will arrive

The guy who does the AVA (Automatic Voice Announcements) is not from around here and has, apparently, no background in the Spanish language. Riding the 33 from downtown to Venice, I hear him say Luh Cienega vs Lah Cienega, earlier I wrote about his fun with Arbor Vitae. Then sometime he repeats the same stops twice, because one is “Road”, “Lane” or Way and details like those are stripped off the announcements, making them less then informative. A well managed organization would demand a do-over on these things. A well managed organization the LACMTA is not.

I am waiting for a bus at the West Los Angeles Transit Center. The site, located under the Santa Monica freeway at Fairfax and Apple, is dark and gloomy, although it is bright and sunny elsewhere under an almost cloudless sky. The only bright spot is the golden hued mural of amoebas(?) which spans the width of the freeway on the West side of Fairfax.

The sidewalk here is a yet incomplete mosaic comprised of blobs of discarded chewing gum. There is lots of litter in the area, although this side of the street does have an overflowing trash can. Well, at least this side of the street has a trash can – the other side has none.

I ride the 717 Line to Hollywood. A young lady, a late boarder, is trapped in the closing door for an instant by a driver too busy selling day passes, checking passes and too eager to get under way.

An elderly woman boards, takes a seat and soon says “It's too cold, Jesus Christ!”. Appealing to a higher authority causes no change in the air conditioner setting. She repeats variations of this mantra before leaving the bus.

The TransitTV is displaying a Windows-like error message directly in the center of the screen but it is broadcasting behind it. Thankfully, drivers are tending to set the volume low, so even the extra loud commercials in Español are barely heard. No one complains about this and few show any real interest in this highly touted (by the LACMTA) annoyance.

As we near Hollywood BL, off to the left of the bus, one can see the costly homes which cling to the hills. How many will lose their grip when the “Big One” hits us??

I am waiting for a bus at the LAX City Bus Center. A metro maintenance employee half-heartedly sweeps up the plentiful litter in the area. That which is very easily accessible, that is. He brushes lightly over the cigarette buts in the cracks between the slabs and ignores, completely, the stuff in the gutters.

Today, I have the pleasure of meeting nine young ladies, from out of town, who are on an “American Girl Tour”. I share some transit tips with them, including detailed instructions on how to go from the Red Line Hollywood-Highland station back to the LAX Center. My bet is (99.9997%) that they won't return via that route. As I write out the route for them, even I have second thoughts: Hollywood-Highland to 7th/Metro; then Blue Line to Rosa Parks; then Green Line to Aviation and finally a bus back to the LAX City Bus Center plus the details of inter-station transfers.

Anyway, it was good to see such cheerful, high spirited young ladies and I send a big shout out to them and hope that their LA visit was fun!

I am at the 7th/Metro station, an Arts tour is in progress. The docent talks about the third rail with its ever present 750 volts, then asks for questions. Although I am not part of the tour I ask why there are no “High Voltage” warning signs anywhere in the station. Her reply: “They don't expect you to be down there” :-).

Later in the day, I meet three college students from Dublin, Ireland. They are headed for Orange County and I help them find a route to their destination. They tell me about Ken Loach's movie: “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”, which won the Palme d'Or at the recently concluded 59th Cannes Film Festival. I am near the end of my reading of “Fatal Shore”, about the founding of Australia – to which many Irish were “transported”. So. I have a great deal of interest in what they tell me and intend to see the movie.

I am still waiting for my bus, a 111. There is no quality control or correctional feedback system in effect for our transportation “system”. A bus, from the route which I wish to ride, pulls in 15 minutes late. It switches its head sign to “Not in Service” and parks. About 25 minutes later another bus (same line) arrives 10 minutes late and the driver takes his break. Bus 1 now makes a circuit of the City Bus Center and parks, again. Apparently it suffers from a mechanical failure, which is not apparent to me. Finally, by now just about an hour late, bus 2 departs with me. I am all for drivers having all the breaks to which they are entitled. Driving is a difficult job and personally I rarely miss my coffee breaks, so why should they.

My suggestion, the LACMTA should establish some metrics (on time performance, lost route time and etc.), track them and start making improvements – don't hold your breath. That way, buses and or drivers which fail could be identified and fixed.

I have seen the same problem on the 232 line. Buses bunching up, and this seems especially true on weekends, running within 5 minutes of each other with the lead bus showing a head sign of “Discharge Only”.

Remember the 232 the line? The one with the unnecessary loop around the Mariposa station - which is a route contracted by First Transit.

(1) Guccione, Jean, “MTA Budget Boosts Services” 26 May 2006 Los Angeles Times:B?

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