America's Best !
By the time you read this another America's Best transportation organization will have been designated for the 2007-2008 period and the LACMTA will be guilty of false advertizing by claiming to still be “America's Best”.
American Public Transportation Association is a Washington, DC based non-profit organization named as America’s Best 2007, the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) of Lansing, Michigan.
I hope the redundant lawyers at the BRU pick up on this and begin intimidate action against the LACMTA.
Actually it is worse than I thought. During the 2006-2007 the LACMTA was one of four designated America's Best by American Public Transportation Association a based Washington DC based non-profit organization. They were, in order the number of passenger trips: 1 million annual passenger trips: BCTA, Rochester, PA; 1-4 million annual passenger trips: SARTA, Canton Oh; 4-30 million annual passenger trips: CENTRO, Syracuse, NY; > 30 million annual passenger trips: LACMTA. But now there will be only ONE (1),
I am wondering if I can be less critical now that the LACMTA is no longer “America's Best[October 2006~2007]”
The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
The Times reports pictorially(1), a prologue to what we can expect from the grade level “Expo Line” another Blue Line accident involving a SUV.
The Los Angeles Times covers(2) the second accident on the Gold Line within a ten day period. The report has excellent detail and even tells us the weight of a Gold Line rail car, 44 tons. This gives new and different meaning to the term “light rail”. By the way, a typical heavy rail car weighs about 50 tons when configured as a single-level car and approximately 60 tons as a bi-level car . As the page one picture in the Times article shows, one would NOT want the transfer of energy to you in any case.
A Times piece(3) describes how political leaders celebrated this latest “money pit” while critics have questions about the possible effects of the, what I term: “The unneeded line to nowhere”. The LACMTA estimates that the line will carry 21,500 round trips or 43,000 one-way trips. I wonder who operated the crystal ball which produced these numbers. The article speculates that 72,000 boardings might be expected if the line is extended to Santa Monica.
The reporters, to their credit, include this: “The [LAC]MTA has been struggling with rail lines which have not quite worked out.” And, paraphrasing Ms Genevieve Giuliano, Director of the National Center fro Metropolitan Transportation Research at USC, in what I believe is the best professional opinion which I have read concerning the botch job which the LACMTA calls the “Expo Line”. 'Giuliano and others maintain that the best route to the West-side would be the long anticipated “Subway to the Sea” ... beneath Wilshire Boulevard, the densest region of employment and population in the entire region.' The reporters also shine the spotlight on the single politician who has created a barrier to funding the Red Line extension. Yaroslavsky whose 1998 ballot measure prohibits the use of local transit sales tax receipts for subway construction. In any normal city, this kind of strange activity would generate an investigation as to whether there is some rational reason for Yaroslavsky's opposition the an activity which is supported by transportation professionals. But, we don't live in a “normal city”, do we?
The Los Angeles Times reports(4) that the California Transportation Commission approved the final tranche of $314 million needed to build the Expo line [sigh].
Demonstrating the sharpening skills of the lead reporter and his team-mate, the Los Angeles Times details(5) another dream of the LACMTA, i.e., “that wishing can make it so”. In this case the LACMTA is wishing and hoping that spending $1.3 billion on a “transit-orienting” apartment/retail/office tower will cause Los Angelinos to abandon their cars in favor of public transportation. I can only suppose that the LACMTA did not feel that providing better public transportation might be a more direct way of increasing the use of public transportation. Based upon the 560 apartment units planned for the project and 2.5 occupants per apartment, I calculate the cost of removing, say 1,120, cars from the streets would be $1,160,714.30. Viewed another way the $1.3 billion, using construction costs estimated to be $300 million per mile, as quoted in (3) would build over four miles of Red Line extension
Ear to the Rail
The British supermarket chain, Tesco, and their “fresh & easy(tm)“ stores are under attack by the Times(6), well, by community groups, anyway. You know, I grew up believing that competition was good for the consumer and that the “free market” set the prices for commodities and one's labour. Yet these “community groups” want a written contract with Tesco specifying exactly Tesco will operate its' business. Some of the provisions, e.g., reducing greenhouse gases and paying livable wages, sound good to me. But why limit such agreements only to Tesco? Why not impose them on Kroger (Ralphs), Safeway (Vons and Pavillions) and others. That is what strikes me a the “fishy” aspect of this piece. The reporter slipped in a reference to the Chinese turtle issue (see 2007-09-15 posting) by saying “Tesco has raise the hackles of labor, ... and animal welfare groups ... .”. Los Angeles Times, I see the manner in which you have raised and covered this issue as unbalanced! Such coverage will NOT win you another Pulitzer. Much better coverage of our $3 billion money wasting LACMTA, however, might do so.
While we are talking about food –- the law of unintended consequences is well illustrated in the June-July 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs(7) which describes the current situation vis-à-vis Ethanol production and its economic effect. To make a long and interesting story short, using corn as an energy source will reduce the amount of land devoted to other crops and increase their price.
This means the cost of living goes up, and disproportionately so for the less well-off. A case in point. In Mexico the used to grow a grade of corn used for masa (corn flour) production. But, since corn is in demand as a raw material for Ethanol, the masa grade corn growers sell their corn to the Ethanol producers and the masa producers must import higher-priced American corn. The US can, will and is feeling the effects of shift in agriculture. The article is eminently readable and well worth obtaining and understanding.
This eminently readable article is co-authored by C. Ford Runge who is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Applied Economics and Law and Director of the Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy at the University of Minnesota. The co-author, Benjamin Senauer is Professor of Applied Economics and Co-director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota.
Read the article in its' entirety at:
Also, the October 2007 issue of Wired has a cover story(8) on using switch grass as a raw material for ethanol production. The piece points out that the cellulosic process is best for the long term but, still has quite a way to go before being economically feasible.
Another interesting point was that if our entire corn crop was devoted to ethanol production-- that's right, no corn flakes-- it would only supply 12% of our needs. So, the answer is obvious, not only for the US, but for the world as well, start using mass transit! Read the article at: http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/magazine/15-10/ff_plant
The Mole Rides Again – so that you don't have to be forced to listen to cell phone conversations concerning a dull life and find out that it doesn't make it any more interesting.
2007-09-11: I decide to take the morning off and escape the news and the replays of the towers as they collapse which I orginally saw in my hotel room six years ago. I ride a 232 Line bus to Manhattan Beach BL and although it is early and according to the bus stop signs there should be a 126 Line bus running during “rush-hour” I decide to walk and never saw a 126 running in either direction.
The cars are lined up in two lanes for about three blocks, headed east, mostly single occupant vehicles. I note the types: Beamers; Ford SUVs; Porsches and others, all the while surveying the number of occupants as I walk. As I march along toward the ocean my eyes meet those of an attractive woman who smiles at me. I smile back, but think “Mary yer killin'me”, because each vehicle is spewing out “green House” gases as they idle.
2007-09-12 at about 9:30AM, I am aboard bus # 6392 on the 115 line. The driver has a “hands free”cell phone which has been in use for longer than I would hope. She wears a sweater without a badge, so I cannot easily find her operator number. She won't be hard to find because, as I exit I notice that, she has a largish tattoo on her right outer mid-calf.
The crunch, crunch accompanied by the sound of plastic wrapping tells me that the woman behind me is eating. Finishing, she begins a marathon series of cell-phone calls.
A short trip on a Big Blue Bus allowed me to hear lectures on the following topics: “The secrets to obtaining child visitation rights; “The plot to trick O.J. into seeming to commit a crime”; A discussion about how much “real money” one has to post as bail, as a subtopic of the O.J. discussion.
Message on a TransiTV screen: “The default map template is missing or corrupted. Reinstall the application. This clearly tells us that: (1) the system is not hardened, vis., it is not able to be used under harsh conditions; (2) the system is not autonomic, i.e., self healing.
While waiting for a Culver City bus: A man and woman are enjoying breakfast. A bag of potato chips and a “forty” which was secreted in a plastic bag, until the man rummaged through the trash can and found a fast food paper bag with which to replace the plastic bag. After boarding, as I stood in the aisle, the couple engaged a young woman in conversation. The young woman, who had come from St. Louis two years age and was the victim of domestic violence shared this and many other personal details with the couple. In my case. A conversation with this couple would not have passed the “Good morning, nice weather” stage.
The photo♪ above shows a bus stop sign which claims that the 704 will arrive every 7 minutes after 3 PM and until 6 PM. I waited over 17 minutes close to 3:30 PM, the time interval during which 2.5 buses should have arrived and only one did! Although this express 704 really offers no outstanding service, at least on the route between downtown and Sepulveda the Line 4 can be used to eliminate these long walks. Not so west of Sepulveda where one is forced to walk OR pay extra fare. The 704 buses don't seem to be that crowded either, probably because lots of people are stranded at Line 4 stops. Oh well, just more evidence that the LACMTA doesn't know what it is doing and even worse, doesn't care.
2007-10-05: I am waiting on Venice BL for a 33/333 line bus to Santa Monica. Three “short-line” buses, headed for Venice pass me while I wait and wait. Finally, a Santa Monica bound 333 shows up.
I as the driver why this is. He can only say something to the effect that short lines should connect with the BBB. I think: I am paying more for less. More money for my monthly pass and Muni transfers to the BBB yet the LACMTA is providing less and less public transportation. Yet they have the nerve to consider, well, have considered themselves America's Best”!
The photo♪ here show two things: 1) There is NO trash bag deployed on this bus and 2) There are NO trash bags available to be deployed! Not that having trash bags to deploy would make any difference. As I have written earlier (2006-12-16) the bags are almost never available in a usable configuration anyway.
I have always wondered exactly who discarded the gum which makes for unsightly public areas. Now I know, or at least I have an example of the thoughtless type, it is a young woman seated next to me on the bench at a bus stop. Although she is no more than 3 or 4 steps from a litter can, she spits her gum directly into the center of the sidewalk. Now we understand why Singapore fines people for public gum chewing.
The young woman seated across from me on this 704 bus eats her chocolate bar bit by bit, discarding any crumbs into the molding around the window. Of course, since the bus cleaners, if any, hardly ever clean the corners under the seats, I am sure that they NEVER clean around the windows.
Take-down on the Green Line
Well, I have become a believer. Under-cover deputies do exist! Four of them swarmed over a tagger who was working across the car from me. It looks like they are serious about keeping graffiti off the trains and buses.
As of this post I have converted this and all post to ISO 8601 date/time formats.
(1) Seib, Al,Photo: “Train SUV collide in L. A.” with caption Los Angeles Times 18 Sept. 2007:B4
(2) Abdollah, Tami and Rabin, Jeffrey L.“6 hurt when Gold Line train hits vehicle” Los Angeles Times 22 Sept. 2007:B3
(3) Lin, Rong-Gong II and Rabin, Jeffrey L. “Major work begins on Expo Line” Los Angeles Times 11 August 2007:B1
(4) Lin, Rong-Gong II “Light-rail project gets final piece of funding” Los Angeles Times 6 Sept. 2007:B3
(5) Lin, Rong-Gong II and Bernstein, Sharon “Large complex in NoHo gets OK” Los Angeles Times 28 Sept. 2007:B1
(6) Hirsch, Jerry “Community groups want more than Tesco's word” Los Angeles Times 6 Sept. 2007:C3
(7) Runge, C. Ford and Senauer, Benjamin “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor” Wired October 2007:
(8) Ratliff, Evan “The switch grass solution” Wired Issue 15.10 October 2007:p160
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