Bus Interior by Christian Lacroix?

No, just some driver having it “his way” with a Metro bus. Unsupervised, he is able to do anything he wants, whether it restricts visibility or not. Here he has taped bus schedules, sections of plastic garbage bags and etc. over the windscreen. Not shown in this contributed photo, obtained from someone who is a frequent rider on the 439, is how the same driver completely obstructs the visibility through the left side driver's window by hanging his jacket there and taping other materials over it. He also tapes Metro promotional over portions of the forward passenger door, you can see this with most browsers, by clicking on the photo♪, look for the tape on the upper portion of the right side passenger door. In some respects this is a maintenance issue, i.e, maintaining a consistent on-board environment. Viewed another way it is indicative of the wide latitude given to drivers and correspondingly little management oversight.

The poster on the Green Line, pictured above, is only one of a number which exhort citizens to create a better LACMTA, as if that was possible. Buses also featured this theme on their exteriors, at least they did until the advertisements for summer movies took over. As usual, the LACMTA would rather advertise its “greatness” than actually improve our below average transportation system. A further benefit to the organization is that it can then, after foisting its' responsibility onto the public, it can then blame that same public for its' failure of imagination. The only group within the LACMTA which uses its' imagination is the Advertising and Promotion group which spend a lot of money telling us how great Metro is, blah, blah, blah, “America's Best” and etc., and how good it is going to be in the future.

The Los Angeles Times too, fails to cover the agency and its $3,000,000,000 ($3 Billion) budget. Your Mole would like to see the detail line amounts spent on printing and promotion, among other things. There are numerous initial Times articles that demanded follow-up, but subsequent articles never appeared. I can instantly name three: the costly re-work of the Orange Line roadbed (see post of 2007-01-06); concrete chunks falling from the Gold Line (see post of 2007-03-03) and the mazy M3 maintenance software (see post of 2006-05-13). Unfortunately, when reducing head counts at the Times or anywhere else it is often the best, most experienced people which take the buy-out or are terminated, leaving those with less experience to make decisions and run the store --perhaps that situation should be termed "Zell's Law".

The photo above is adequate proof of the LACMTA's poverty of imagination. It shows the latest “fix” ... Ugly and only slightly better than if were designed by Frank Gehery, in which case it would have been bent around the taller bus stop sign , then warped down to be at about face level so that the inattentive could run right into it. Why is this so? It is because the LACMTA declines to share its assets with any other transportation organisation. Their basic attitude is forget the riding public. --and the other agencies too.

The LACMTA is not the only organisation which has weak maintenance ethic. The picture above (taken on the South-East corner of Mariposa and Sepulveda) is of a walk signal that it so loose that one could insert a finger between the pole and the mounting hardware. Su Topo pointed this out to two hard-hat wearing workers who were involved in a nearby cabling project. One was from CalTrans and neither showed the slightest interest in reporting this problem, which was within three paces of them. A perfect example of people narrowly identifying the scope of their jobs and an insensitivity to the safety of other citizens or visitors –this site is across the street from the Hacienda Hotel.

The pictures below, all taken in the area of Mariposa and Sepulveda in the City of El Segundo, document what happens when cities decree the removal of newspaper racks and don't inspect the result. In this case all kinds of tripping hazards, which could pitch the unwary onto the busy Sepulveda Bl.

The small pipe shown above is about the diameter and thickness of a finger. Still, a child could easily trip over it as he played at the bus stop and end up falling into busy Sepulveda BL , into a lane that is always busy with cars turning right, into the corner shopping area. Can't see the small pipe? Draw an imaginary line from the left part of the top of the digit 5 (affixed to the vertical pipe) to the top part of the shadow nearest the curb and it will pass through the small pipe at point located about one third of the line's length. This line, if you care, is the hypotenuse of the triangle formed by the vertical pipe, the shadow and the imaginary line.

As part of a street cleanup, various ordinances required that some newspaper vending machines be removed. The “fifth rate” removal job is shown above. The overly long bolts which secured the newspaper rack were hammered down and bent parallel to the sidewalk, leaving an even worse tripping hazard than the pipe.

Then too, we have a sample of the work done by ConED. The photo below shows the “fix” which ConEd applied when after months of reporting: “the compromised structural integrity of a pole caused by a snapped guy wire, which also creates a hazard to pedestrians since the wire is left dangling in the middle of the sidewalk". Their solution was to wind the wire around the horizontal brace.

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

The New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) beats Los Angeles 78 to 1 when it comes to providing restrooms in its' subway system. Even though they will close many of them for cleaning during the late night, early morning hours(1). See


Even though NYC has 78 restrooms distributed among 245 station, we have NO subway/train (except for Union Station) station bathrooms, therefore, one should not inhale too deeply when in unfamiliar areas of venues other than Union Station.

USA Today(1) and the Los Angeles Times(2) both feature pictures of subways, yet the text describes the plight of the motorist, focusing on plans to reduce fuel usage, yet basically maintain the status quo.

The New York Times(3) covers “WalkingWorks” a project that has legislators and staff, mostly cute young ladies it seems, wearing pedometers and attempting to follow the “10,000 Step” program, i.e., walk 10,00 per day. Using a military stride, this amounts to about 5 miles. We bus riders likely walk a good portion of 10,000 steps per day too :-).

Speaking of imagination, well imagination, La Opinión(4) features an ad placed by Foothill Transit offering a free ride on the day of publication. Called “Día Desecha La Bomba De Gasolina” and is also phrased as “Dump the Pump”. FootHill obviously doesn't need its' passengers to do its' thinking!

The Times(5) covers the demise of Megabus service in Los Angeles. Inadequate marketing is the cause of the failure. Even though the piece says that Megabus spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on advertising. It must have been spent in the wrong place at the wrong time. I suggested in a prior post, that they hang on for a while as fuel prices force people to look at alternatives.

In an wire service (AP) piece(6) reprinted in the Times, we find that Modern Continental, the contractor who provided concrete work in a Boston tunnel, faces Federal charges resulting from a death when portions of the tunnel ceiling fell on an auto and killed the driver. Now, if Sam Zell had not crippled the Times, by reducing its' head count, we might have had a follow-up local piece about how the problem concrete falling off the Gold Line supporting structures (2007-03-03) was resolved –best guess? The LACMTA will assume responsibility and use tax money to pay for it. Well, no one has been killed by that concrete, yet.

The Times covered(7) Mayor Villaraigosa's quest to increase the sales tax with the proceeds to be spent on “transit”. Since the LACMTA is focused on moving ever fewer people, the money must come from somewhere. Other mostly unnecessary projects, my favourite being the basic Expo Line and the Expo Line extension. More grade level transportation, just like street cars, an idea which most large cities have abandoned long ago. Included in the piece is a discussion of the lack of quorum “deliberations” about restoring Dash service to Dodger Stadium as a band aid to fix the problem caused by the cancellation of Metro service to the stadium. It makes me wonder if some of the transportation “experts” have been checking the light in their microwave ovens by placing their heads inside, after defeating the safety interlock :-).

The Times was operating in "cute" mode with a report(8) on the LACMTA's attempt to make its buses run on time. The title of the piece (see (8) in the Bibliography) was the second bit of cuteness on page B1. The title of the piece along with the cute title for the accompanying photo ("Buss Stop") which shows a young couple kissing, weakened the article. The article describes a woman waiting and waiting at night for a bus, in an an area which she described as follows: "At night, it's very dangerous". An LACMTA survey of nine transportation agencies in other regions found that the LACMTA is rated tenth out of ten. Kind of weakens their claim of being "Americas Best", doesn't it?

The LACMTA proposed solution to what I believe, at best, is an ill-defined problem, is to spend $900,000 per year on additional staff --more supervisors, an amount is the equivalent to 720,000 full ($1.25) fares. The most hilarious sentence in the pieces was: "Metro officials say they have not quantified how much the 10 extra supervisors [$90,000 per annum each, Mole's insert] will improve on-time performance, but board members said they're hopeful bus service and ridership will also improve." Your Mole see this as the triumph of hope over experience.

Remember the LACMTA's boast about how they seamlessly integrated technology? Here was an excellent chance to use the GPS systems which are installed on-board most buses to determine which buses, which routes and even which drivers are late. Then after a rigorous analysis to determine root cause(s), action could be take to solve what would be, by then, a well defined problem. This is just another LACMTA fiasco and one which should cost Snoble his job and save the cost of more than 240,ooo full fares. I would like to take Mr. Snoble's farewell picture in front of the botched railing, he could even cover it with his hand. They should hire four Industrial Engineers, instead of ten supervisors, then task them with the responsibility of using tools such as cause-and-effect diagrams and others to determine the root causes of buses running late. After a rigourous analysis, cost effective solutions could be implemented.

Ear to the Rail

Cosmological corner

The BBC, in an interesting piece(9), says, "a universe could form inside this room and we’d never know". These are not crackpots babbling on the bus, but rather Caltech cosmologists. Encompassing the second law of thermodynamics, which can be expressed as entropy, it is a well written article and broadcast.

The Mole rides again so that you need not worry about restrooms.

Another area, in addition to the number of MTA supplied rest rooms, in which NYC bests L.A. Is in their city to airport transportation, the AirTrain.

Here is the AirTrain web site http://www.panynj.gov/Airtrain/

N.B. All AirTrain rides within the airport are free, so if you only use AirTrain to connect between the airline terminals, parking, hotel shuttles, and rental car facilities, there's no fee to pay and no ticket is required.

Here is a picture of an AirTrain car.


Here is a nice map of its’ route.


Kind of makes our Wyoming licensed FlyAway buses and short of its' original goal (LAX) Green Line look kind of, well, pukey, doesn’t it?

Oh, and there is an AirTrain for Newark, too. http://panynj.com/airtrain.jpg

Su Topo assisted a young couple, a dentista and his lovely wife, from Columbia, find their way to the Garment District.

Your mole likes attractive advertising. The picture above, taken on a Green Line train, is clean and compelling, one might say, elegantly simple.

I am on one of the last 315 runs. The driver, number 28561 is busy! She is having the break of champions, Cheese Curls and a soft drink, a little of each spills on the floor as she tries to eat, drink, pick up the dropped Cheese Curls, drive and carry on a cell phone conversation. This is quite a load and I am especially worried because she is not wearing her seat belt.

Aboard a 115 line bus: Drivers must have lots of patience. Two men, who vocabularies conflate “pass” with “transfer” occupy the lady driver's time are trying to express what they want to accomplish, continue to use the word 'pass”. The driver understands this as “Day Pass”. Finally, they are able to explain that the want 'transfers”. They pay and as the walk to the rear of the bus one says, "OK, OK, TRANSFER!"

Riding a Culver City 6: TMI –forced to overhear cell phone conversations— Tonight’s dinner will be hot dogs and watermelon. I believe that cell phone minutes should cost $1.00 per minute (.25 to the phone company and .75 tax). We could again be a rich country. The woman directly across from me receives numerous calls. But seems to be unfamiliar with the basic operation of her unit. When it rings, she turns it through the x, y and z axises before, at last, being able to open it. The next problem seems to be establishing the connection –she pushes a button, and says “hello”, sometimes she is able to communicate other times, she repeats the press-button, say “hello routine several times before giving up. It is annoying.

Your mole has obtained a copy of the planned stops for the new 715 line. But first, I would like to point out that there is no evidence that any trail runs were made in order to determine whether the planned stops are where they should be and whether the 715 makes any sense at all. First of all, the document shows that the 715 will leave the LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center) from the BBB (Big Blue Bus) number 3 stop. There are two (2) BBB number 3 stops –at Bay 11, bound for Aviation Station and at Bay 12, headed for Santa Monica –but no matter, it will actually leave from Bay 4. I will ride the 715 in early July and report on my experience in the July posting. My feeling? Another exercise in moving fewer people faster.

Another CC 6 ride: another call, “... have the spaghetti in the small bowl in the refrigerator and then throw out the other stuff out, which is mostly fat ...”.

I assist an Australian couple, from South Australia, plan their trip downtown. In return they help me understand the geography of their state, located next to Victoria with a population of about one million. They tell me, to my surprise, that Canada and Australia have approximately the same population, 20 million. I want to visit "Oz" one day. The LACMTA would like me, I am sure :-), to make a permanent move :-).

The picture of the bus stop sign above shows (again) that the LACMTA has no concept of care for assets, more evidence of lack of maintenance. This photo taken near the corner of Sepulveda and La Tijera is where a bus stop existed before the street widening project began many months ago. It, like the corner of Sepulveda and Manchester, has been without a bus stop for most of this long period. The two street corners were the FIRST to be dug up and since the LACMTA is in no special hurry to put them back in operation, will be the LAST part of the project completed, this is even though the paving is mostly done. Had “America's Best” the slightest concern for its client base (passengers) it would have liaised with the contractor to ensure that these convenient and necessary stops were put back in operation “stat”. But no, that would demand the exercise of foresight and a modicum of intelligence. Now the Culver City Bus, number 6, has had a temporary stop in place at Manchester and Sepulveda for a the entire period (see: 2008-01-06 post).

Two flight attendants from Thailand were, hopefully, assisted by your Mole in finding their way to an area shopping center. Sawadee! :-)

Sometime ago (See 2007-11-10 post) I questioned whether the Rosecrans Green Line street and station access project would be completed before the Fresh & Easy Rosecrans store opened. Based on my most recent visit the Fresh & Easy store is ready first! It will open on 2 July 2008 , see the photo below.

Meanwhile, the work at the station limps along. In the photo below, one can see the unpainted railing and the “third class” work done in joining two railing segments. The edges of this metal are raw and SHARP with the two segments cobbled together, not professionally abutted. There are several more examples like this to be seen at the station. This kind of work, slow, costly and to my way of thinking, substandard, is the typical work product of projects managed and/or supervised by the LACMTA. Which agency, in the end, will use tax payers' money to rectify shoddy work which should be, in the first place prevented by proper LACMTA oversight and if remediation is required, performed or paid for by the contractor.

Fare Box Score Box

Rides 40*

Out of Order Fare Boxes 5

Ratio 1:8

*Some trips were not on Metro, e.g., Big Blue,, Culver City, and etc., making the ratio actually worse than shown.


(1) Wolf, RichardDrive less, go slower, think smaller” USA Today 13 June 2008:2A

(2) Hymon, Steve “Levys for roads gains traction” Los Angele Times 12 June 2008:B2

(3) Parker, Ashley “Counting Steps, Not Votes, on Capitol Hill” New York Times 12 June 2008:E7

(4) N/A Advertisment La Opinión 19 June 2008:6A

(5) Chang, Andrea “Megabus was poorly marketed” Los Angele Times 21 June 2008:C1

(6) Associated Press “Contractor on Big Dig faces fraud charges” Los Angele Times 21 June 2008:A18

(7) Hymon, Steve “Villaraigosa wants sales tax hike for transit” Los Angele Times 26 June 2008:B2

(8) Lin, Joanna“MTA is trying to shed some wait” Los Angele Times 27 June 2008:B1

(9) Na, 'Hints of time before Big Bang' BBC 6 June 2008: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7440217.stm

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