Op Num: 1999
One of the items which the LACMTA proudly proclaims to have resulted in their being selected [ONE] of America's Best, was their seamless integration of technology. Yet, as the line above shows, it is really other organizations, in this case it is Culver City Municipal Bus Lines which are using technology to improve their riders' experience.
The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
While are friends at the LACMTA are thinking deep inside the box, probably curled up in the fetal position, In Europe, according to The Economist(1), Guillaume Pepy of France's SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) rail system, is using to attract new customers, improve service and profitably while making train travel a pleasant experience. “A ticket from Paris to Marseilles now costs as little as €22 ($32)”.
However, unless a lot more of us surrender to the delights of public transportation, no mater where you are you will just spend time trapped in traffic in a bus breathing in these goodies, which are produced by combustion and plentiful on and near our roadways. Wearing a mask won't do any good because the filtering characteristics of easily available masks are course grained and will let these ultra fine particles pass through the filtering mechanism. After reading this article your Mole has more of a desire to move to Idaho than write about the noble work of LACMTA.
The Argonaut(4) ( http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/ ) shows that the Metro riding public will only stand for so much service reduction cutting, it appears that they are mad as hell and won't take it any more. The piece also documents complaints about the planned reductions of the 115 Line. But for your Mole, there was humor. In talking abut what you Mole has termed “Moving fewer people faster” in his criticism of the Rapid lines, a Metro official, said “We're implementing six new Rapid lines this year”. As if was in some way compensation for those who will be left without a bus line or at best, diminished availability.
Buried deep within the Los Angeles Times this blurb(5), in describing the installation of turnstiles in the subway and at some light rail stations, says “... could save the [LAC]MTA as much a $7 million a year.” What does that “save” really mean? Does it mean that they are spending more than $7 with the present
Unlike our gutless Times, The New York Daily News(6) doesn't hesitate to report on city managers. They report on their MTA manager's use of police officers as chauffeurs. “Elliot Sander - who pushed the subway and bus fare hikes that take effect Sunday - is chauffeured around the city by a police detective who made $70,000 in overtime last year, the Daily News has learned.”
Sounds like our own over-remunerated Snoble, doesn't it? But, does Mr. Sander also get a highly paid outside PR guy to prevent him putting his shoe in his mouth, which shoe hardly ever touches the floorboard of a bus or train, as I assume is the case with Snoble?
Ms Willow Duttge(7) does a nice job in presenting the interrelationship between corn, ethanol and food prices in the Condé Nast Portfolio (See: http://www.portfolio.com/ ). Your Mole has reported on this instance of unintended consequences before (2007-10-13). OEV (oil equivalent value), although not covered in this piece, is a term which can be used to describe pricing of alternative uses of the commodity corn. In short, the raw material will seek a use which offers the highest price and presently, for corn, that use is for ethanol. The article does a fantastic job of explaining why, e.g., chicken coat 6.5% more. The effect of articles like this is to pour freezing water on those who hope that ethanol will save us from a variety of transportation and energy related problems.
The Los Angeles Times echoes the ethanol/corn theme(8) and reports '... that a “corn shock” might not be far off –and it could lead to $5 gas and 43.50 eggs ...' The piece features some informative pie charts that show, e.g., the percentage of the corn crop devoted to ethanol jumped from 10.3% in 2002 to 24.7% last year.
Once again, the LACMTA's Marketing Department has again demonstrated, that when it comes to wasting money printing things, they are second to none. This time, again exposing the rail/bus dichotomy in it's thinking, they publish a “Metro Rail Pocket Guide” number 06-11821R. Although, there is lots of white space left in the publication, which a creative designer could have used to show bus lines which are available at a given subway/rail station. Instead they give us useless info such as, the number of miles of track (73) and direct us to their web site for bus information, which, is not so easy to find. You would first have to locate the “System Map” then enlarge it, then, you could find the rail/subway station and see bus lines serving a station on a station by station basis. Are we having fun yet? (see: http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/system_map.pdf ).
Ear to the Rail
Regarding time and dates, please take a look at these sites.
For an interesting proposal regarding world time, GMT, UTC, Zulu and etc. See: http://www.internetnews.com/commentary/article.php/3734396/Is+it+Time+to+Globalize+Time.htm
For those who don’t have enough to worry about, the Australian magazine Cosmos http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1878 provides a link to information about WR 104 which has the potential of ending life on earth, see also: http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~gekko/pinwheel.html
For an interesting view of a galaxy with a diameter that is about one half of our “Milky Way”. See: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap080308.html
This was the month to assist ladies from Australia. First there was, shall I call her Dulcinea Dos?, a young lady in the medical profession who I assisted (I hope) in finding a bus to Venice Beach.
Later, I provided relatively minor assistance to two Australian ladies, one of whom was involved in finance , who were headed to Disneyland –they had quite good directions from their hotel. We had an interesting discussion regarding the founding of Australia in the 18th Century, say 1788. We also discussed the fact that the USA was the preferred destination of English prisoners until our Revolution put a crimp in those plans and Austrailia was substituted. The crimes which would make one a candidate for a free ocean voyage we often very petty. For a nice summary of a book which your Mole has read, see http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/fat-j25.shtml .
I met a techie, like me, at a bus stop. He had a Blackberry so I asked him about downloading bus schedules from www.Metro.net->Riding Metro->Timetables ... He was kind enough to demonstrate how his Blackberry displayed the download and the output of trip planner. There seems to be no free Adobe PDF reader for the Blackberry, so the output wasn't that great. However I found a third party PDF reader for the Blackberry which sells (rents?) for just under $20/YEAR! Adobe, get busy! Later I found out about www.metro.net/mobile --perhaps it does a better job displaying the schedules.
Right there, I did a roadside systems design for people with Blackberry or similar devices or possibly some cell phones. When one established communication with the metro web page it would read the GPS coordinates from your device and locate the nearest bus stops on both sides of the street, then provide you with the next three approximate times when buses would pass the stops in either direction. Now that is integration of technology. Will the LACMTA ever take on such a task, :-), I doubt it. Of course, my rough design will require lots more work. What if there were several stops within the area?, etc., etc., ... Anyway, if the LACMTA decides to do so, remember, you read it here first and I expect them to name it “MoleRoute” or some such honorific.
The 780 bus which is my ride this afternoon is rattling like a submarine which has seen too many depth charge attacks. I pull the signal cord when the ASA (Automatic Stop Announcement) says “ Hollywood and La Brea” but, the bus speeds by the intersection.
I ask the driver why we didn't stop. He replies, “It's not a 780 stop”. I follow-up, “Why is it announcing the stop”? His answer? “Oh, they never update those things”. Getting there is 50 basis point, i.e, half of one percent, of the fun :-).
Your Mole was out of town much of this month, as a result he did not ride much. What does seem constant is the number of fare boxes out of service –at this point we again think seamless integration of technology and insert a laugh track— the overall ratio at this point seems to be 1:5, that is one out of five fare boxes is out of service. I will start formalizing my monthly report as “Fare Box Score Box” and print the raw values as well as a ration. It will appear at this point, below is a sample based on actual numbers from a single day during the month of March 2008.
*One was a Big Blue Bus
(3) Pesce, Nicole Lyn “Subway here races 1 train, saves life” New York Daily News 20 Mar. 2008:na
(4) Walker, Gary “Plan to eliminate Metro bus 108 through Marina area draws public criticism” The Argonaut 6 Mar. 2008:4
(5) Hymon, Steve “Train stations to get turnstiles” Los Angeles Times 29 Feb. 2008:B4
(6) Donohue, Pete “He drove fare hikes, but MTA boss is driven by cop on overtime” New York Daily News 2 Mar. 2008:na
(7) Duttge, Willow “The Ethanol-Industrial Complex” Condé Nast Portfolio Nov. 2007:56
(8) Hirsch, Jerry “Corn is king –and therefore a growing problem” Los Angeles Times 2 Mar 2008:A1
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