Here we go again America's Worst Planners!

Unlike the plan for the Gold Line "noise abatement plan” which I call “Cover your ears and run for the platform”, the photo♪ above shows one approach to actual physical noise abatement . This building off Sepulveda BL uses 15mm (millimeter, close to 0.6 inch) glass set in a rubber gasket and mounted in steel framing to reduce the noise from the nearby street. The LACMTA, who are always looking for a cheap half-vast “solution” to any problem which they face, as I discussed on 2007-09-15, want passengers to stop in areas (sorry, I had to wait until I stopped laughing before I could continue typing) away from the platform and wait for a signal that their train arrived so they didn't have to listen to the high db freeway noise. I imagine that this would cause many injuries over time, as people rushing for the train fall down stairway or at night, run into the stupidly placed bench (on the right side, in the middle of the ramp to the station, at Sierra Madre Villa Station).

Glass barriers were investigated as part of the “study” which produced the laughable recommendation. So, I don't know if what I've pictured here would do the job or not, perhaps 20mm glass would . I am not recommending glass barriers –- more real study is needed and a search of world-wide publications is in order to see how other areas and other countries approach the problem. We know that fairly high walls seem to dampen the noise for homes near freeways here, so that works.

NOTHING seems to be proposed for the Green Line which doesn't surprise me as with the LACMTA the left hand doesn't know what the other left hand is doing :-). A rational organization would pool ALL the requirements, including those god-awful bus transfer points in the middle of the freeways, for noise reduction and then publish a RFP (request for Proposal) asking for bids. That way many companies could focus on the problem, submit their proposals and the best cost-effective solution could be selected. All this could be done for very little cost to the public. Basically all one would need is photographs from several angles of the sites and the highest Db values encountered at each site. But, as we know, the LACMTA is not a rational organisation it is a political committee. And we all know that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

The LACMTA has no institutional memory. It is incapable of analysis and doesn't learn from its' mistakes, i.e., no attempt is made to compile lessons learned from past mistakes and ensure that they will be avoided in the future. The organization repeats the same processes expecting different and better outcomes, which action constitutes one definition of insanity.

By using the same approach that they did with Phase II of the Gold Line, viz., “build then plan” they have now, and this is a good thing, swung public opinion away from the ill-conceived, ill-planned and ineffectual use of public funds which they call the “Expo Line”. The name itself shows that they cannot be consistent and use a color name as with all the other rail lines.

Remember the Gold Line Extension problem? In that case, botched planning resulted in extra costs due to the mis-routing of the line through the Ramona School property (covered here on 2006-11-18).

We really don't know how many other botched attempts exist because the LACMTA could give the CIA tutelage on security. But we do know through several Los Angels Times articles that the LACMTA is, as expected, running true to form.

First of all, the times covers(1) the second routing problem with the line. The first routing problem resulted when USC objected with the way the line was “planned” to pass USC property. The “fix” for that problem was spending an additional $23.3 million.

This time, a group centered on Dorsey High School asserts that the present grade level plan for track presents a safety hazard to students. Surprise, surprise, there are all kinds of things wrong about laying track through metropolitan areas at grade level.

Then detailing more cost overruns(2) the Times quotes Richard Thorpe, the chief executive of the Expo [Line] authority and MTA's top construction official as saying “... budget assumed [my emphasis] that the price of labor and construction materials would increase 3.5% annually. ...”. Roger Snoble weighs in with: “... the cost of steel, concrete and other materials has increased dramatically in recent years”.

Here are two guys who had better be getting their resumés updated.

Don't they know about negotiating fixed fee contracts? That means the costs would be locked down. What the LACMTA needs is a thorough going audit by outside auditors. Emphasis should be placed on the manner in which contracts are bid and negotiated. Significant attention should be paid to the bid and acceptance processes with an eye toward finding any corruption, “sweetheart deals”, fraud, malfeasance and etc.. There are a number of cases where the LACMTA simply agrees to assume the liability without consideration as to whom should actually bear the increased/additional costs. To name two: The Orange Line road bed failure which the LACMTA agreed to pay and the Gold Line “falling chunks of concrete problem” where again, Snoble agreed to pay (covered here on 2007-01-06 and 2007-03-03).

Work is underway on the Expo Line and aptly demonstrates the LACMTA's breach of fiduciary (failure to exercise proper fiscal control as the public trusts them to do). Poor design unfitted for actual use, lack of proper planning, non-existent cost controls, abominable execution ... that there is no end to of the lack of management is made abundantly clear in the dysfunctional LACMTA.

The picture♪ above shows, but not very clearly (sorry), the El Segundo Station on the Green Line and its' platform with large areas spotted by bird droppings. The reason? They forgot that they could install spikes to discourage bird roosting. Just like the ones shown below♪ that they did install at the LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center).

We need NEW, aggressive, and hard-nosed management at the LACMTA and it can't come too soon for me. The new management should be paid for performance –- if the agency is 10% over budget, everyone in management should have their salaries reduced by 10%! Concurrently with bringing in new management we need to free the agency of the Byzantine political control as implemented by its' board and split mass transit from freeways and freeway related projects.

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

The Los Angeles Times covers(3) the Los Angeles to San Francisco Megabus. The story talks about low round trip fares is what appears to be modern equipment. See www.LATimes.com/sanfrancisco

The Times doesn't have much of an institutional memory either –- well they do have one is is called the “morgue”. But they don't seem to use it. For example. The story(4) on fare evaders was covered earlier but no reference is made to it. All that really seems to be happening is that more studies are being done. I don't understand why studies are necessary, I see them as just more drain on the budget. The citations issued by the sheriffs and (if any) by the Fare Checkers should provide all the statistics which are necessary. All studies prove is that people are willing to gamble that they won't get caught.

In what appears to me as yet another attempt to do thing “on the cheap”, the LACMTA has proposed a different route for the “Purple Line” oops, that designation will have to be changed, as well, if their latest and I think goofiest idea to date takes hold.

It seems they are trying to save construction costs on one station and marginally one mile of tunneling. The cost? Forcing passengers to travel through an additional five (5) stations plus more than two miles away and perpendicular to a direct line to what would be the intersecting station for a common route, if either the original of this new “corkscrew route” is built. It is not really a corkscrew shape, but it is what a corkscrew would look like if designed and built by the LACMTA and it is what your Mole will call this route. Why this plan is even being considered when Wilshire BL is the known high-traffic area, is incredible to me.

The LACMTA are probably looking forward to being named “America's Best” for their “economy”, in 2075 or whenever they complete the “Subway to the Sea”.

Ear to the Rail

Just for this posting I would like to title this section “Eye on the Sky”. The reason being that I would like to talk about a topic in which I have a deep interest, cosmology. If the ideas below make you uncomfortable or conflict with you belief system or you don't like unhappy endings, then please stop reading and skip to the heading The Mole Rides Again, below. Any mistakes written below are unintentional and are my responsibility. The links which I have provided should give you reliable information and, of course, you can always do your own research on the Internet, at libraries and in the classroom.

Multiple Parallel Universes

Somehow, as I understand it, tied in to quantum physics is the idea of multiple parallel universes. As best I am able to reduce the idea to words is: that there are multiple parallel universes which reflect all possible conditions. For example, in one of the multiple parallel universes the LACMTA would do everything right. In another the LACMTA would do everything right AND you would win the Lottery! This is not science fiction. Here is a link to the topic.

Brane Theory

Related to String Theory, which involves lots of extra dimensions (11 or 12 anyway) , and which is outside the scope of today's discussion, is Brane Theory.

“Brane” is derived from membrane. The clearest explanation I have heard and can write is: imagine a large room with five clotheslines with sheets hanging from them; the sheets are the branes (or at least, a set of them IF more exist) and the large room is the Bulk [space] in truth this involves extra dimensions. It is difficult for we 4D (three spatial dimensions and one time dimension) beings to draw or explain these extra dimensions.

Anyway, with that picture in mind imagine that one sheet moves and “slaps” another one. That “slap” is proposed as an alternative to the “Big Bang” theory of universe creation.

Although we consider gravity fairly strong it is considered by physicists and cosmologists and others to be a weak force. It is thought to be the only force that can move inter-brane (between the branes). So if we were to attempt to communicate with a neighboring brane we would have to do it with gravity.

Here is a link to the an animation and article about brane theory.

Our Sun's life span

Our old sun will one day die, albeit, a long slow death – billions of years from now. But first it will go through a cycle which will make it a “red giant” which will toast the earth, then become a “white dwarf”. Here is a link to pages with a nice detailed description of the birth and death of our sun. N.B. 1 Gyr = 1,000,000,000 years

Our Universe Ends (Scenario I, Cold and Dark)

Cosmologists thought at one time that our universe would come back together in a “Big Crunch”. Today the thinking is that it will continue to expand, due to the effects of “dark matter” and “dark energy” about which not much is known. Personally, I wonder if neighboring branes could be the source of that “dark energy”. This Scenario is some 100 billion years in the future.

Follow this link to see an explanation of the Cold and Dark Scenario.

Our Universe Ends (Scenario II, Big Rip)

Other cosmologists, notably among them, Dr. Robert R. Caldwell, find that the expansion of our universe is progressing as an increasing rate. When the rate becomes fast enough our own galaxy, the Milky way(a), will disintegrate.

Later, our solar system will be pulled apart. Then, only a minutes later, atoms will be pulled apart. The results of destroying atoms was demonstrated by the atomic bombs, Little Boy and Fat Man) dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. There, the easiest atom to split, that of uranium was used and the result was a tremendous release of energy. Pulling apart other atoms will release a greater amount of energy because they are not easy to split because their “binding force” is greater. The Big Rip is estimated to start in about 22 billion years. Click on this link to see the Big rip Scenario. http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap071021.html
Then click on “Recent Speculation” on the web page for more detail.

(a) Here is a link to a photo of the NGC 2903 Galaxy which resembles our Milky Way which at 100,000 Light Years in diameter is larger than the one show, i.e., 80,000 LY, both has the same shape, they are both spiral galaxies. http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap070706.html

If you care about where we are in the scheme of things, then follow this link –- this is a sort of “You are here”. Where we are is about 25,000 LY from the outer circumference of the Milky Way making our home planet about 75,000 LY from the galactic center.

The Mole Rides Again, so that you don't have to listen to lectures on the legal system by those most likely to be committed by said system. Your Mole takes pictures, too

I am on a 232 line bus. This is great line for encountering those who might be considered, ahaaaaaaaa, loco? No, I don't mean the five people carrying on a polite subdued conversation in Español nearby. I mean the guy across the aisle from me who is wearing a dirty hoody, dirty trousers and well worn shoes. He has been very busy writing on cardboard boxes which he has folded flat. He has about 10 of them five on his lap and another five or so stowed between his seat and the side of the bus. He seems to be writing in whatever space is available on the boxes, here and there, with no discernible way in which to link the thoughts, if indeed they should be linked.

Suddenly, without apparent cause, he shouts out “Return my property!” then he launches into a non-stop rant about how the police have seized his property in violation of “Article 1, Section 13” of some otherwise unidentified statute. His un-seized property, comprised of multiple bulging plastic bags, is under one of the longitudinal seats.

The 232 line, as I said before, is contracted to First Transit which never has schedules on board. I should qualify that – they do have obsolete schedules once in a while. The last one I saw were almost a year old and inaccurate. I believe that the LACMTA is printing and distributing fewer schedules these days –- saving money, no doubt. First Transit also employs the roughest drivers who specialize in jerky stops and starts. Neither First Transit nor the LACMTA have established bus stops to serve the ever growing Plaza El Segundo shopping center located on Sepulveda just South of El Segundo BL. Although your Mole has been attempting to generate interest in establishing bus stops which will better serve the center.

Your Mole helped a mid-western visitor get to Hollywood from the airport area. Talk about a lack of an ability to provide information the LACMTA is without a doubt, America's Worst! The LAXCBC kiosk pictured♪ above seems to be loaded with information. But it is really data, bus route number and destinations with nothing to combine it into information in order to answer the question: “How do I travel to Hollywood from my hotel and back again?

A public service announcment at a bus shelter is captured♪ above. I wish the LACMTA whould help some of their drivers quit. I submit that then, the buses would more often be on schedule and as a side benefit, layover areas would have less driver generated litter.

Then we have another LAXCBC kiosk♪, I call this one the museum kiosk because it shows schedules for the Big Blue Bus and the Culver City Bus that soon will be five (5) years out of date! Not shown, on the other side is a schedule for the Torrance Transit Line 8, it too, is about five (5) years out of date. All proving that the LACMTA is not the only organization that puts out confusing messages to its ridership. I am beginning to wonder if those that can't make it at the LACMTA go to work for other transportation organizations or the best of other transportation organizations migrate to the LACMTA?

As evidence of this I exhibit the signage for one of the Bay 12s♪ at the LAXCBC. It belongs to Torrance Transit and it is where their Line 8 bus stops. Lots of people would use Line 8 to vist the Del Amo Center, IF they knew where it was, because “Bay 12” is an incorrest designation for what is actually Bay 3! Torrance Transit also is tied for posting the most obsolete schedule in a kiosk [I haven't posted that picture] at the LAXCBC but I talked about it above.

Above♪ is the real Bay 12. It is used by the Big Blue Bus Line 3, Northbound.

The Green Line Mariposa Station escalator♪ is out of service for maintenance again! Just like a significant percentage of system wide station escalators at any given time. The reason? Bad design, as bird spikes were forgotten at El Segundo Station, the designers of Mariposa Station and other train and subway stations, saw no reason to cover the escalators and shield them from the elements. So, during the day the escalators and all their parts heat up and expand and at night they cool down and contract – day after day after day. Eventually something breaks. It appears that this escalator will be out of service until Christmas (that's how I decode the sign above).

The above♪ picture shows how the Mariposa Station escalator is left exposed to the sky.

The work goes on at the Green Line Rosecrans Station, and on, and on and on. Will it ever end? This looks to be a simple underpass, no traffic and no major impedements to construction. Yet the schedule slips and slips and slips. This is the same old story when politics and construction meet the LACMTA – a disaster!

Incidentally, this will be the station for the Tesco Fresh & Easy Market when they open the Rosecrans store – soon, we think. It will be just an 8 minute walk at my pace, perhaps a little less, if they ever finish the construction and remove the clutter!

My photo♪ documents at least part of the slippage. If you can't read the sign in the upper left it says: “Pedestrian bridge will be closed from 10/8 [October 8] – 10/12 [October 12]”. A correction is scrawled in to ammend the ending date to 10/26 [October 26], then another with a date of 11/9 [November 9]. There was no rain to delay them, there was no concrete shortage that I know of and I can see no need for any special equipment nor materials. Why was the project delayed, because they likely have a contract that doesn't impose penalties for preventable delay because the LACMTA can't manage to write a proper contract any more than they can do very much correctly.

Incidently, the various agencies who are inept at informing the public of their services and whose mistakes I have documented with my photos, have all been contacted.

(1) Rabin, Jeffrey L. and Blume, Howard “Expo Line plan meets resistance” Los Angeles Times 21 Oct. 2007:B1

(2) Rabin, Jeffrey L. and Blume, Howard “Cost of building Expo line raises 23%” Los Angeles Times 2 Nov. 2007:B1

(3) N/A, Hartog, Richard photos “Bargan Ride” Los Angeles Times 7 Oct. 2007:L11

(4) Rabin, Jeffrey L. “Unpaid fares may cost MTA millions” Los Angeles Times 26 Oct. 2007:B3

(5) Lin, Rong-Gong II “Subway planners take sharp turn” Los Angeles Times 3 Nov. 2007:B1

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