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

The Times(1) produced a good laugh for me. The piece described how an LACMTA committee, which fortunately for the members was unnamed who I believe have IQs lower than their body temperatures, came up with a plan to allow police officers to ride the Metro system free. According to the article here are a few requirements with which the free-riding police officers must comply:
· They must be in full uniform;
· The must carry their side arm (backup pieces are not mentioned);
· The must stand if there are no seats OR when requested to by a Metro operator.

I have also put together the following “side effects” of this ridiculous plan, which is yet another ill considered attempt by the LACMTA to “penny pinch”. Please consider:
· That the police officers taking advantage of this “free ride” will have to leave home, on average, several hours earlier than usual. This, to avoid late busses/trains and to ensure that they will be on time for work (vide infra, Daily News piece);
· They are expected to work for their ride;
· They will have a work day that is likely to be 50% longer than usual;
· They may encounter extra uniform expense because they sat in a thoughtlessly discarded wad of gum or fresh tagging;
· Their pay for all of this will be a “free ride”, the actual cost to the LACMTA is limited to $3 – the cost of unlimited riding on a day pass;
· They will return home, on average, later than they usually do, too;

This plan was also reported on the local news on TV, Channel 9?

I suggest to the LAPD management that if they find any officers are accepting LACMTA's offer that they immediately take them out of the field, with pay, for a week. During the week they should be allowed to consult with all the counselors available to the department, because, obviously, something is wrong with their thinking.

The really funny part of this is that next week the full LACMTA's board of directors will consider this proposal. How will they decide??? It is something like the passengers on the Taitanic deciding on what colour to paint the shuffelboard grid - it has no bearing on reality.

When politicians attempt to be businessmen this, the LACMTA, is what one ends up with :-).

The Daily News(2) covers the bus rider problems in the valley – which may be the home area for many Los Angeles police officers. Here is a short sample of the rider comments: “If I have to be somewhere at a given time, it becomes difficult to rely on public transit ...”; “ ... if the bus is late, early or doesn't come at all, then you are stuck waiting for a long time”.

The article states that “... one driver who was suspended for 30 days after accumulating 20 customer complaints for being rude and making inappropriate remarks to customers.”
Please follow the link below to read it in its entirety.

Ear to the Rail
Your mole has two recommendations for those of you who want to stay more current on the news than Comedy Central allows.

1. www.FAIR.org which publishes a weekly CounterSpin “Podcast”. The host, Janine Jackson has a beautiful voice! A recent example for you to copy to your MP3 player or listen to on your computer is: http://www.fair.org/audio/counterspin/CounterSpin072806.mp3

2. Www.IanMasters.org has lots of politically oriented MP3s. Give http://ianmasters.org/masters_llc_081306_80.mp3 a listen.

The Mole Rides Again - so that you, won't have to be concerned that you didn't carry your hand sanitizer today.

On a 720 bus to Santa Monica, the man two seats ahead of me is vigorously picking his nose. When finished he flicks away his work product then grasps the bar on the top of the seat ahead of him for added security – oh yes, same hand.

On a 439 bus to the LAX Bus Center. The man off to my left is corkscrewing his finger into his ear. He too, flicks away whatever had adhered to his finger and then wipes his hand on his trouser leg.

On the same bus the driver directs the passenger who is seated across the aisle from me to take the 109 (a new Beach Cities Transit route) to Redondo Beach. This is part of the old 439 route abandoned in the most recent (25 June) “shakeup”. The driver, who has been carrying on a conversation with her friend, continues to do so. I suggest to the passenger that she buy a “Muni Transfer” which will allow her to ride the BCT 109 for 25 cents rather than their usual one dollar fare. In truth, the usual bus driver doesn't much care how you get where you are going or how much you have to pay to get there.

One indication of this, and it may be due to LACMTA “policy” is that when the fare box is out of order, the usual operators will not give you a “Muni transfer” for free. This can mean that rather than paying 25 cents for your next ride you are forced to pay full fare. These transfers are ordinarily pre-punched with times and dates and will expire so the paper becomes worthless. Against the interest of the passenger too, is that the given bus with the out-of-service fare box will take transfers from other lines thereby shorting Metro because the Metro passengers end up paying the full fare on the next line and Metro gets nothing. I have seen drivers that understand that people need to commute economically and just give out a free Muni transfer when asked for one when the fare box is out of service. If you expect to see their ID numbers published here, expect again :-).

Realistically, the LACMTA should formulate a policy of supplying free Muni transfers when fare boxes don’t work – which seems to be the case every other day for me. After all, it is not the passenger’s fault that Metro can’t maintain its equipment!

"Lost in Translation" or why outsourcing to China is a bad idea.

I was walking in Brentwood, from the “Whole Paycheck” store to the Rapid 720 bus stop which is located on Wilshire at about the midpoint of the VA property. The VA has built a new park just to the north-east of the intersection of San Vicente and Wilshire BL in West LA. The park has a large gate which is chained shut.

To the right of the gate, embedded in the lower part of the gate foundation are the words: "Beauty Honor Country ". As a veteran, I am sure that the words should be "Duty Honor Country"

All in all, this has been a funny week!

(1) Guccione, Jean “Plan May Give a Lift to Police, MTA” 18 Aug. 2006 Los Angeles Times:B4
(2) Uranga, Rachel “Valley has most bus complaints: Bypassed riders, reliability are sore points, MTA says” 17 Aug. 2006 Daily News .

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