As positive rail examples of high speed rail I cite the Japanese “Shinkansen”, from which the English term “bullet train” derives, linking many cities in Japan, the TGV (train à grande vitesse, i.e. High-speed train) in France and Germany's ICE (Inter City Express) high-speed rail lines. Admittedly, the population of metropolitan Tokyo is more than twice that of Los Angeles which will yield many more potential passengers given the same percentage of potential travelers for a given segment.
In late February the Los Angeles Times(2) featured a piece on a “tagger” (one who spray paints or uses other implements to mark things with his designs). This defacer of property selected a moving bus as his target – a bus upon which Mayor Villaraigosa was a passenger. Other sources say that His Honour was on the way to a celebration of the relocation of a bus stop. Which validates your Mole's contention that such a relocation is no small feat. I have been, so far fruitlessly, attempting to have the North bound 232 Line make a minor change in its silly loop around the Mariposa Green Line Station that would result in a saving both time and money by changing several bus stops! Anyway, as a result of witnessing the criminal act, the the mayor offered to 'mentor” the tagger. I believe that, unless the mayor makes similar offers to ALL taggers past and present, then the provision of “equal treatment under the law" is not being upheld. Further, I believe that the “mentoring” should take the form of giving this guy a rag and some paint remover and allowing him to work Monday through Friday at 4 PM to 8PM at the nearest Metro bus “yard”.
Is no information better than unusable information?
I arrived back in the city at the LAX City Bus Center (LAXCBC) to note that -- at least I would like to think so – your Mole has caused the LACMTA to take action and replace the faded unreadable poster at the “Information Kiosk” (shown above) with a new poster (not shown). But because the LACMTA is an organization which if asked the time, would pass you the yellow pages bookmarked at the category “Watch Manufactures”. True to its usual ineffective self, they now display a poster filled with tabular detail. Again, no one in the “Taj Mahal”understands that in order to develop an appropriate answer, the right question must be asked. And they lack BOTH the interest and drive, along with several other characteristics, to properly study the problem and develop a realistic statement of it. Rather, they respond to only the most obvious basic element of the problem, viz., poster unreadable? Paste up a readable poster.
The new poster has great, although incomplete and likely useless detail! It has lots of tabular data (you know, tables) and diagrams of where buses stop at the LAXCBC and at Aviation Station. So, unless one has a knowledgeable person to explain route options, unlimited time to study the materials and work it out for yourself or are just plain adventurous and don't mind getting to your destination by a time consuming, costly path, then you are out of luck.
I have interviewed actual users of the LAXCBC – what a concept, huh?? -- and I know what they face. With the new poster most of the detail is there but it is unusable unless you know what you are doing OR you can find someone to explain it to you. That is, routing(s) to say, a foreign visitor's desired destination DO NOT jump directly out of the tables and turn into directions to your destination.
What is needed is a simple schematic the uses circles, arrows, letters and numbers that visually translate into a routing. For example: three circles: LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center), West Los Angeles Transportation Center and Hollywood (Hollywood and Highland) shows the main route from LACBC to Hollywood. Now a box on the line connecting the LAXCBC to the West Los Angeles Transportation Center could have “METRO bus 439”centered in it. The box on the line between the West Los Angeles Transportation Center and Hollywood would show “METRO bus 40 or 740”.
The schematic should show the various other destinations: downtown, Long Beach, Santa Monica and etc. Printed in large BOLD letters should be the heading: “Exact change is required for all fares!” Finding this out is always a shock to a shock to foreign visitors. And “If your trip requires two or more buses are to complete, the trip will cost you less if you purchase a Day Pass for $3.00”. The replacement of the unreadable poster still leaves plenty of work to do to make for a user friendly bus ride. So, the highly paid Snoble and his expensive outside PR flack can still split the weekends, each working a day, helping people get where they would like to go with the LAXCBC as a starting point with the side-effect of learning what public transportation really means.
Here is a list of other buses which are available at the LAXCBC, in parens I have shown the date of the schedules which they have posted at the kiosk. They are all out of date!
Big Blue Bus (September 2005) ; Culver City Bus (January 1, 2003) and Torrance Transit (January 1, 2003).
But then, if “America's Best[2006-2007]” were really so effective and efficient , what would your Mole write about?
Ear to the Rail
What with all the newspaper oriented events, e.g., the Los Angeles Times
editorial page editor resignation and the cancellation/reworking of Sunday's “Current” section (2007-03-25). I am thinking print more than listening to audio this cycle. So here is an article which talks about the survival of print in an Internet world.
The Mole Rides Again – and writes about it, so that so you don't have to wait and be surprised when “America's Best[2006-2007]” cancels your main commute line.
I am aboard bus number 4756. As I look diagonally across the aisle, I can see trash stuffed under the longitudinal seats which are located immediately behind the driver. No wonder that passengers opt for the “gravity assisted” method of trash disposal since only about one bus in one hundred has a trash bag deployed and available. The problem is compounded by fast food restaurants with their multi-form take-out containers, which, if they don't end up on the bus floor, do end up in the gutters and sidewalks of Los Angeles. In theory, one could be fined up to $250 and assigned community service work for on-bus littering, but the probability of that happening is, well, about the same chances of a snowball surviving in hell.
Oh, and Big Blue Bus – you still need trash containers on Lincoln at Maxella (North east corner) and Lincoln at Mindanao (South west corner).
I am only slightly “sea sick” as a result of my ride on a Line 42 bus headed for the LAXCBC. I t is bus number 6495 driven by operator 71584 and the date is 2 March , about 12:45PM. The driver would brake and then she would accelerate and then brake again ... repeat.
The escalator on the east side of Green Line Aviation Station is under repair today. Like many of the other Metro facilities, the design of the station did not consider shielding the escalator with some form of overhead covering, leaving it exposed, 24 X 7 X 365, to the elements.
I ask the maintenance men “Are these things designed to be exposed to the weather?”. One answers, “No they aren't”. I follow-up, “Why didn't they put a canopy over it?”. “The architect didn't like the look of it” was his response.
That may be true, but I am sure that the usual LACMTA way of trying to do everything “on the cheap”was a factor too. Minimizing construction costs results in ongoing maintenance expense. Or not installing a controlled access system and then trying to make up for expensive policing by attempting to levy usually noncollectable fines.
The passengers who share my 232 Line bus are a quiet group. Except for a woman who delivers an expletive laced soliloquy. She takes a food item from one of the two grocery bags which she has with her, eats it, and then licks her fingers. There is a perceptible lightening of the mood when she reaches her destination. I am happy to get off too, as the driver was reading a book at stop signals. I could only read a blurb on the back of the dust jacket, it said : ”... four women, lead by spider girl ... kill all men”. Nice, huh? Certainly dangerous since r mind was off the job and on the adventures of spider girl.
Speaking of fingers, it is amazing to me how many Metro passengers, lots of them women, bite their nails and stick their fingers, etc. in their mouths. All without benefit of a hand wash. They don't realize how important it is not to transmit germs to their faces and mouths. Or that proper hand washing is the single most important step which one can take to prevent illness – my mom was right!
I wait on Wilshire near Bundy for a Line 20 bus because the 720s stop is too far away from my goal. I wait and watch as a stream of about a dozen 720s pass by – all, by my very rough estimate, half full or less. The LACMTA should really consider adding a few more stops, possibly three, to the 720 Line. After all, segments of one mile or more makes riding the 720 a marginal proposition – the choice being long walks to one's destination or long waits for the Line 20 bus which will stop at a more convenient location or both.
After quite a long wait, I finally board a bus. There is a man, busily clipping his fingernails, seated on one of the front seats. As he stands in preparation to get off, the many nail slivers fall to the bus floor.
The LACMTA, perhaps responding to your mole's complaints about inconvenient modes of communication and meeting times/venues of several weeks ago have published “Proposed Changes to Metro Bus Service”(5). It is dated only with the year, omitting both the month and day of publication, as being detailed and specific are not traits usually found at the LACMTA. That is the good news – the bad news is that the “feedback” meetings are over. They were all held before mid-February 2007. In spite of that fact, and the fact that the comment period is over, I encourage you to read the brochure, if you can find one, no web site link is provided in the brochure. Then submit your feedback to the LACMTA. % http://mtaweb6.mta.net/cc/cc.asp %
I will summarize all the changes, as I understand them, below and give you details which I believe are important. Here are all of the lines which, as things stand today, will experience some change in schedule. Bold font means the line will be canceled. Italicized font means that some part of the line will be canceled. Underlining means that the line is new.
Metro Gateway Cities Service Sector Proposals
60/360, 65, 254, 264, 275, 577X, 760
Metro Westside Central Service Sector Proposals
4/304, 10/11/48, 16/316, 20/21, 704, 720
Metro San Fernando Valley Sector Proposals
90/91, 92, 154, 155, 168, 183, 239, 290, 292, 656
Metro San Gabriel Valley Service Sector Proposals
170, 176, 260/361, 287, 684, 686, 687, 751
Metro South Bay Service Sector Proposals
115, 119/126, 120/121, 124, 202, 214, 305, 442, 445, 455X, 622, 625, 710
These changes and perhaps other are scheduled to take effect on 24 June 2007.
Your Mole has tried his best to summarize the 7 panel brochure as he understands it. DO NOT DEPEND ON THI SUMMARY. Direct your questions and comments to the LACMTA by using this link or sending an e-mail message with your questions and comments to CustomerRelations@Metro.net . The on-line form is here.
If you want to send a letter or petition, it can be mailed to:
Metro Customer Relations
Attn: Service Changes June 2007
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2932
Or FAXed to 213.922.6988.
I believe that there is still time to influence any/all of the planned changes. I will comment on just a few of these changes.
The cancellation of line 115 west of Sepulveda and replacing it with a MUCH smaller vehicle and extending Line 625 bus is a BIG mistake! Many students ride the 115 bus mornings and afternoons and those big 115 buses are FULL.
A few cycles ago the LACMTA stripped the South LAX and Playa del Rey areas of bus service, by dramatically shortening the 220 Line with the promise that Culver City would take over the route. In fact, Culver City assumed about half a mile of the route, between Lincoln and Fisherman's Village, which is an extremely low ridership segment – and then only six days a week!
Also, canceling the 124/125 lines creates another big hole in the bus map, this time breaking the link between El Segundo and the Green Line among other disruptions. These cancellations will affect the people who have the fewest transportation options.
The meetings that the LACMTA will cite as approval for rubber stamping the changes were all held during the morning (9:30AM) or early evening most starting at 5PM or 6:30 at the latest on WEEKDAYS. I submit that those who could attend the meetings are not those who actually use public transportation AND have no other options. They did allow the contact by letter or e-mail message as I indicated above. However, the time frame for comments was too short – how short?? -- we don;t know because, as I said, the brochure was not dated, except with the year and the yellow posters seen on some lines had no date of creation either. I can envision a big box labeled with the year, at the Taj Mahal, into which is dumped everything published for that year.
Mole’s Copyright Statement
All photographs and original written materials are copyrighted © 2007 by LametroMole. Clicking a photo will often present you with an enlargement.
Fair Use Statement
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, sustainable development, environmental, community and worker health, democracy, public disclosure, corporate accountability, and social justice issues, etc. We have included relatively brief quotes from articles and etc. rather than a simple link because we have found that links frequently go "bad" or change over time. We believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
(1) Moore, James E. “Bullet trains won't get us anywhere” Los Angeles Times 11 Feb. 2007:M2
(2) Green, Angie “Student arrested in bus tagging” Los Angeles Times 28 Feb. 2007:B1
(3) Unavailable “Proposed Changes to Metro Bus Service” LACMTA brochure 2007
The LAX City Bus Center Kiosk, shown below, is all that is available to residents and visitors who arrive here and want to take a bus to various parts of Los Angeles. The posted schedules are either completely unreadable or out of date. On my last trip I assisted two Swedes and two Australians find a route. Perhaps Snoble himself or his highly paid PR guy should spend some time here and take a survey, as I have, and find that most visitors would NOT describe our “Metro” as “America's Best”.
The photo above is more than adequate proof that the LACMTA spends more time and MONEY in self promotion than it does in improving the transportation experience for its’ riders. I challenge the LACMTA to stop being hypocrites and to make a real effort to rectify their presently false claim, that they are as “America's Best”.
Our local paper illustrates the negotiating skills of the LACMTA’s top negotiator(2). Basically, the LACMTA is giving away $190,000 worth of services. The will receive $75,000 for services worth $265,000. They will recoup only 28.3 percent of the total value.
What a deal! Oh, the $190,000 “give away” to the for profit Marathon is equivalent to the basic fares of 152,000 transit riders. Oh well, as they say around the LACMTA and the Board of Supervisors: “It’s only money”.
The Times covered the “crumbling Gold Line”(3). Why should we be surprised that structures which should last for decades, start falling apart in a few years when the LACMTA is in any way involved. Check out the article using the link at the end of this posting and you can also see some interesting pictures. It turns out the contractor was the same one that worked on Boston's “big dig”, a portion of one of the tunnel roof fell killing a motorist. Here I will only cover the three issues from the piece which jumped off the page at me: (a) the estimated cost to fix the problem is only $50,000 (I wanted to make the $50,000 figure flash and pop up a balloon that said “LOW BALL” – but I didn’t), i.e., the basic fares of 40,000 metro riders – this is in spite of the fact that no one yet knows exactly what is wrong; (b) NOW, they are hiring an engineer to try to figure it out. One would think that the design engineers could immediately tell us what is wrong.
These losses likely end up in the Funds programmed to others accounting category on the financial reports. I would suggest another rubric, “Stupid wastefulness”.<\P>
Ear to the Rail
In keeping with the theme of MP3 listening while commuting by bus, here is a link to “On the Media”. As a news junkie I like the site BUT, don’t listen unless you have understanding of the topic. Some things, like the “Friction Tape” of a few weeks ago, covered a soldier’s death in Iraq. It is Not easy listening!!
Another, politically oriented piece: “A Zion in the Sand” starts off – “Criticize Israeli policies, and you’re likely to be tarred an anti-Semite …Visit” .
Listening to NPR one early morning, I heard them discuss Liza Martinelli's book, “Oil on the Brain”(4). Ms M points out that only 12% of the world's population owns cars. The Chinese are attempting to address the majority by manufacturing small, inexpensive “global warmers” for the 88% who don't own one now.
The Mole Rides Again - so that so that you won't be left on the curb, giving rude hand signs to the fast receding driver who decided that you were not at the bus stop.
While riding a 115 Line bus on Manchester, I watched a white haired elderly man run toward a bus stop waving his hands as clear indication that he wanted to ride. He was about a bus length (40 feet) away from the bus stop and had the operator stopped there he would have likely been half a bus length away when the bus arrived.
The operator passed him and was forced to stop for a red light – exactly at the bus stop. The man caught up during the red light and was allowed to board. After he partially caught his breath, he gasped: “You were going to leave me!”. On of “America's Best[2006-2007]” operators replied: “You weren't at the bus stop”. I hope that the teach that fact at the Senior's Classes that “America's Best[2006-2007]” is conducting. It is probably easier for “America's Best[2006-2007]” to do that than to educate its' operators in human empathy.
On 12 February, I am riding bus number 5302 on the 439 line headed toward the LAX City Bus Center. The operator, whose ID is 10498, seems to be spending lots of time on his cell phone. Let me understand, an automobile driver will be fined for using a cell phone while driving, but NOT a bus driver??
I am using the 304 Line, riding down Santa Monica BL, while the woman across from me rocks back and forth while bobbing her head to music unheard by the rest of us. She stands up, walks to the schedule rack and stuffs several handfuls of schedules and notices of schedule change into her shopping bag.
I meet a lovely young Brazilian woman on board a Line 108 bus. Her name begins with a “G”. I suggest a route for her and ask her about the buses in Brazil. She likes our AVA (Automatic Voice Announcements) which alert passengers to the next stop. I agree that the AVAs are better than the old way of “hit and miss” announcements based upon whether the operator feels like making them or not. I don't tell her about the many mistakes in the announcments and their ambiguity. I made a mental note to include information about the way bus announcements are made in Japan, which follows.
While I am on the topic of Japanese public transportation, here is a link to a picture of the type of fare http://www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp/english/images/bus/farebox.gif box. It changes bills, issues change and etc.
The Japanese thinking is: The fare box must operate because it is our means of collecting money for our services.
Late on a Sunday morning and I am headed for LAX to fly out to next week's project. I pause at the LAX City Bus Center where a Metro employee is hard at work with a high pressure hot water/steam hose. He is cleaning the blobs of discarded gum which dot the area. I seems that he can remove about four blobs per minute. At that rate he has his work cut out for him. A quick survey finds that the blob nearest a waste can is about half a hand span away – just inches!.
I applaud the LACMTA for at last taking action to clean up the area. However, cleaning should be coupled with some form of policing which issues citations to those who litter. But then, incomplete thinking is the hallmark of the LACMTA. Now, I am waiting for them to replace the faded information sign (see the photo posted above) and other outdated materials at the kiosk.
I reviewed the cleaning progress a few days later and was disappointed to find that very little of the area had been cleaned.
I have boarded a 232 Line bus and shortly afterwards, a man who has the look of homelessness about him gets on. He takes a seat and begins removing not-so-clean twisted lengths of fabric, which may be/have been some type of garment, from around his neck. He stuffs them one by one into his back pack. Like a magician with a string of handkerchiefs, he seems to have large, but not limitless, of these scarf substitutes. His shoes are well worn and of the style that one can see on runners in films of the 1932 Olympics. I inventory my vocabulary for a descriptive adjective, other than “scruffy”, but fail.
(1) Granelli, James S. and Barbosa, Tony “L. A. mayor wants citywide wireless access” Los Angeles Times 14 Feb. 2007:C1
(2) Rosenblatt, Susannah “Transit deal reached for L. A. Marathon” Los Angeles Times 16 Feb. 2007:B3
(3) Guccione, Jean 19 Feb. 2007 “Gold Line bridge is in need of repair” Los Angeles Times
(4) Margonelli, Lisa. “Oil on the Brain”. Doubleday, 2007.
Mole’s Copyright Statement
All photographs and original written materials are copyrighted © 2007 by LametroMole. Clicking a photo will often present you with an enlargement.
Fair Use Statement
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, sustainable development, environmental, community and worker health, democracy, public disclosure, corporate accountability, and social justice issues, etc. We have included the (line thru full text \line thru) [relatively brief quotes] of the [from] articles and etc. rather than a simple link because we have found that links frequently go "bad" or change over time. We believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to [all].those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.