Undeserved Praise, Corrected

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

Click any photograph for an enlargement (depending on your web browser).

A Los Angeles Times editorial(1) covers the Measure R “Information Campaign” in which more than $1,000,000 was spent er– wasted. Sapient is not a term which one would use to describe the LACMTA, then again it does infix an apt term for the organization. If this revelation, that his organization used the equivalent of 800,000 basic fares to illegally? propagandize California citizens is not enough to show Snoble the door, then he is truly made of Teflon®. Please, find and read this editorial by a writer with guts! I hope he/she is able to keep her job.
As a side effect of our poor economy, the spendthrifts at the LACMTA will get their hands on less money to waste.

Another piece from Zell's folly(2) describes how people are returning to their automobiles as fuel prices drop. Here is a quote from one disenchanted user of “Americas Best”, “... buses were always crowded, drivers were rude and the trip took longer than driving]”.

From the paper of the employee's retirement fund regret(3), the paper's architecture critic becomes a much much softer version of su Topo. He likes the idea of the bullet train from San Francisco. So do I, but, that doesn't make it economically feasible. We need to replace Snoble and Solow and start fixing local transportation first.

Another Times reporter likes the Bullet Train concept as well(4). Except, as he says, “The state is essentially broke and running on red ink”.

No, not another Metrolink accident(5)! Another “red light run”, this time at Rialto and as my readers know, red signal lights don't just pop up. They are preceded by yellow cautionary lights. Four or more people hurt. If this is not enough to tag Solo's career with “Fini” then nothing is. He has now presided over four (4) accidents, three (3) involving fatalities.

Ear to the Rail

Of course, around Thanksgiving time we are either with our families or thinking about them. Photographs capture family members and family life. Here, from www.Smithsonian.com ,

are some excellent thought provoking photographs.

Su Topo is addicted, to Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel – unfortunately DC has lots of junk: Myth Busters, and other “blow things up” programming-- but Cash Cab is fun. We get to ride around NYC and try to answer “general knowledge” questions. It is on at 7:00 and Tivoable at 15:00, sometimes available between 14:00 ~ 15:00. (See:
and for the “flavor of the show”, these are outtakes so don’t be too harsh! See: http://dsc.discovery.com/video/?playerId=203711706&categoryId=934464199&lineupId=1453557111&titleId=1612659507

The actual broadcasts are well edited and fast paced.

Cosmology Corner This beautiful spiral galaxy (NGC 7331), is about the same diameter as our own “Milky Way”, i.e., 100,000 Light Years. (See:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap081022.html )

The Drake equations which have been used to determine the number of intelligent life forms in our galaxy have been modified and made more precise. See: http://arxivblog.com/?p=674
Also LA Times Sunday article on the Eels and the father of one of the Eels. Multiple universes. Hugh Everett III (1930-1982) Source:

I watched a broadcast on KCET (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/manyworlds/ on Tuesday night, 2008-10-21. I found it, well, weak.., too much was focused on Mark Everett (a kind-of-celebrity), cigar smoking and idle chit-chat. Time which could have been spent on elaborating the “Many Worlds theory, was wasted on trivialities.

There are those who are still predicting that when the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is full on blast that we will shift quickly from living outside the event horizon to “living” inside of it :-) .

The Mole Rides Again, so that you don't have to stand on Broadway wondering why the LACMTA can’t bus you to the Red Line Station at Metro Center or Union Station

Certainly the rules for “Moving fewer people faster” could be relaxed in the downtown area, but no. Lots of people are waiting and I see a 720 and a 745 pass me within seconds of each other, on less than half full the other about 75% full. I continue to wait until a 40 bus finally arrives.

I have also had the same experience with a 333 Line which I caught on Venice near Sepulveda BL, oh no, I mean Dufresne (They say "Dufrane") St which I have written about before. Dufresne is just steps away from Sepulveda but our anal-retentive LACMTA insists upon being cartographically correct rather than being helpful. A I noted earlier they don’t even want to have their cake and eat it too, as would be the case had they announced Dufresne St and continued with “it is just a short walk to Sepulveda BL from this stop OR transfer to the Culver City Municipal Lines number 6 bus in both directions here. More bad news, probably, someting will happen to the 33 and/or 333 lines in mid-December. The signage differs as to which of the two lines will experience change. But I expect it will be bad news for someone since I seldom approve of the changes --mostly reduction in service --every six months.

The LACMTA has strange, no weird is a better word, outlook on what constitutes good service. Like the 333, in theory a Limited Express, in practice it stops a 7th and Main, an area which is NOT a destination for most people. Yet the 33, a regular line, runs all the way to Union Station.
The largish golf carts which transport passengers to the Metrolink and/or Amtrack trains here beep loudly and send walkers scurrying out of their way. These carts make using the tunnel to traverse Union Station to Patsauras Bus Center something like hell!

On the Gold Line, a photo of Palmira Pérez smiles at me from a nice Noticias 22 poster. I smile back. My destination is the HomeGirl Café. Pictured below, it is visible from the Union Station end of the Chinatown Station. It is not a great picture, the sun was wrong and etc., just extend a line downward at a 45 degree angle from the bottom right of the Chinatown Station sign and the line will intersect the front entrance. Note the tall building in the background, just to the left of the Chinatown Station sign. Could it be your Mole’s place of employment? If it is, he should be worried because there are those who say that a moleskin rug tops Snoble’s Christmas list.

I finally was able to eat here (http://www.homeboy-industries.org/homegirl-cafe.php)! I have had “Lunch at HomeGirl Cafe on my “to do” list ever since the Times featured it in an article yet, printed neither the address nor contact information.

¡My meal was absolutely great! I ordered a natural fruit drink: raspberry and pineapple, the layering of which brought to mind a pousse café, with the raspberry juice floating lightly on the pineapple juice –this is not discernible in the photo. The drink was served with a paper-thin slice of lime. Here is a photo of my order.

The tortilla chips were served with a delicious Salsa [de chile] Morita. Pescado is for me, so I had two tacos: Salmon with Jalapeño Pesto & Pico de Gallo on a tortilla (toward the top of the picture, the one with tomatoes. The Jalapeño Pesto is centered on the plate in its’ own small bowl); and White Fish with Cabbage, Jicama Salsa and Crema Fresca on a grilled nopal, which can be substituted for a tortilla (toward the right side of the plate). The jalapeño pesto was surprisingly mild which would make it an excellent substitute for regular pesto, served over pasta. Thinly sliced radishes and a wedge of lime, accompanied the food as an accent.
My rating for Homegirl Café: A++

The restaurant was clean, with interesting art hanging on the walls, altogether a pleasant ambiance . The food in every aspect, including taste and presentation brought to mind much more expensive venues.

Service was polite, professional and fast! Staff were all neatly dressed. For the nervous among your Mole’s readers: Have no concern, this is a GREAT restaurant.
A visit to the Homegirl Café is a treat of which no one should deprive themselves. Hours Monday ~ Saturday, 7:00 AM 5:00 PM.

Located about a block (back toward Union Station) from the Chinatown Gold Line station. 130 W. Bruno St. (at Alameda St.) Collocated with the Homeboy bakery, so don’t forget to pickup something to take home or back to work, after breakfast or lunch. Tel: 323-526-1254 ext. 301
Please read about Father Boyle’s background and his devoted service to the community at http://www.homeboy-industries.org/father-greg.php . And of course, if you can make any kind of positive contribution, please do so.

I will be back, so if you see me there, don’t bother me IF I’m eating!

After listening to –and reading— this praise, Molette, who is quite a good cook, is thinking about attending a future Homegirl Café cooking class.

On 720 Rapid bus number 9323. There is one of the “whois” bumper stickers partially ripped off [these things are next to impossible to remove] on the bulkhead just behind the driver. I return on 720 Rapid bus number 9352, and noticed the same thing, that is, yet another “whois” bumper sticker.

I have reported earlier about how undercover deputies apprehended a tagger yet this “whois” guy is allowed to deface public property for profit and has been doing so for years without any reaction from Snoble’s sleeping organization. Which organization’s legal department has been made aware, months ago, of the contact details of Mr. whois”. Something is very wrong with Snoble’s staff, probably they are too busy on “information campaigns” (vide supra).

OK, LACMTA. Step 1: Have drivers check their buses for these “whois” bumper or other “whois” stickers (recently smaller sizes have begun to appear) and report their bus number at the end of the day to a dispatcher who will maintain a Master List of the ID number of those buses which have been defaced.

Step 2. Guided by the “Master List”, take digital photos of the stickers using the automatic date/time feature of the camera.

Step 3. Take the camera to the LACMTA’s legal team and have them download the pictures and prepare to file a “graffiti suit” against Mr. “Whois”. Mr. “Whois” has assets. When he fails to pay his fine, seize those assets and put him to work under “community service” with job one being to use the “Master List” to remove his handwork from the buses. My "Master List"of defaced buses will begin appearing today --after the out od service fare box section.

Oh, no .., don’t thank me LACMTA, anyone of average intelligence could have put this plan together for you –I know, I know … .

2008-10-28: The 111 Line drivers make their own schedules. I wait for the 3:01 PM bus from the LAXCBC (City Bus Center). Bus number 6394 finally leaves 12 minutes late.
So much for the LACMTA’s “solution”, viz., hiring more supervisors to keep buses running on time. Your mole has commented on the technology required to track buses (http://lametromole.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html).

Basically, this involves using the on-board GPS to log position and time against expected position and time. The daily logs could be downloaded by route from each bus, buses might be used on several routes during a given day. Nightly processing should show driver variances from the standard route. La Taupe doesn’t want to blame drivers, this information could reveal problems in route layout and timing. Traffic may be heavier than anticipated –as brought to light by a lower than expected speed and late arrival at timed points.

So given an enlightened management at the LACMTA, unfortunately not to be had under Snoble, the routes could be redesigned and may have variable lengths during the course of a day or day of week. I know, I know, those responsible at the LACMTA are now feeling those sharp pains in their heads.

Some attempt at route coordination could also be a result of more extensive use of computers along with adding Industrial Engineers and other like professional to the staff, rather than “supervisors”.

The result would be elimination of “loops” like the one in the 232 which continues three months after the last barrier to implementing a better route, to wit, Grand->Nash->Mariposa, then North, has been eliminated [ Nash is now a two-way street. Search this blog for “loop”, then use Ctrl-f [Hold down Ctrl, press f] “loop”, and you should quickly see all my writing on the subject, there are quite a few mentions. Hopefully one day someone will read these pages to a group at the LACMTA, explain to them what “waste” means and the loopy 232 route will be rationalized.
2008-10-29: Another 333 dumps me off at Sunset and Main and I wait 15 minutes for the next bus. It must be the driver’s break time –or something. At least they could offer us a gratis Muni transfer because a Big Blue Bus passes us before the next 33(3) show up. In demonstration of the LACMTA’s absolute hubris, they plaster “America’s Best” on each and every vehicle, when the actual service level does not even approach acceptable.

Neither is your Mole anti-passenger! Some drivers give free rides, mostly to people who really need it. I have no argument with doing so, the bus will travel to its’ destination no matter what and the slight additional wear and tear on the vehicle is not even worth mentioning. Can I, you, we ask someone who is out of work to spend their last $5 on a day pass rather than dinner?? Not me! I believe that transportation should be paid by a tax on employers and should be free to all riders –it won't happen. But it would serve the greater good.

Note how the light standards at the Douglas-Rosecrans Green Line Station (shown above) are positioned well away for the edge of the pedestrian walkway. It is UGLY and lacks imagination
and such a design unnecessarily usurps sidewalk. Given the size of the poles they could well be integrated into the edge of the walkway and present a better view without taking up sidewalk space. I know know that no one at the LACMTA can comprehend this so here are some reference sites.

The way it could be: http://www.smartinnova.com/img/plastic-poles.jpg
(from an unusual angle)

Talk about invented ways in which to waste money! Here at the Douglas-Rosecrans Green Line Station (vide supra) one can see the poles that, on the bright sunny day which I was on-site, lots of the lights were left burning. It was about 12:40 in the early afternoon. Maybe someone thought that they were setting the lights to be on at midnight or maybe they are left burning 24 X 7.

On 2008-06-25 I included photos that showed near curb tripping hazards and a shaky cross-walk signal button in El Segundo. The signal button has been repaired but the tripping hazards remain.

Pictured below is another such hazard in El Segundo. This one is located on the north-east corner of Grand and Sepulveda.

Those who are responsible for correcting these situations, please take note. Su Topo has a long memory and will keep these photos on file. He also hopes that he will not have to present himself in court with an amicus curiae brief.

With all those Los Angeles tripping hazards present on the streets of our fair cities, I include a photo of how San Francisco, professionally, removes them (See: http://lametromole.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html )

Ride the Paris Metro. N.B. Excellent signage, information and etc.

The first day of Fukutoshin Line, Tokyo Metro, BIG, Great signage clear on-board and in-station announcements.

This is why Japanese would laugh at our little “system” and foot dragging delays in building the red line extension to Santa Monica. Note, especially, the clearness of the on-board announcements, although admittedly unintelligible for non-Japanese speakers.

The 780 bus runs (weekdays) from the West Los Angeles Transportation Center (Dirty and poorly lighted that it might be) at FairFax and Apple. Unfortunately, the hard(ly) working people in “Stops and Signs” group that take care of (read ignore) signage, didn't see fit to post that information. So, on a Saturday trip it took a while to figure out that I had better board a 217 bus or I would spent the rest of my life –until Monday morning anyway, waiting. I got off at Hollywood and Highland with the logical understanding that the 780 left from that point and traveled to Pasadena –WRONG! I found out later that it actually left from Hollywood and Vine. So more time was wasted and of course, there were NO SIGNS anywhere indicating the weekend route plan. I finally rode the 222 into the valley and then caught the 94 from Burbank Airport to link up with the 780 –an interesting and serendipitous circuit. All illustrating that the 'America's best award was not given for being helpful to passengers.

2008-11-22: The “bus telegraph” located at Fairfax and Wilshire, that should tell us when the next west-bound 720 bus will arrive is out of service, again.

On board a bus whose headsign has stopped working. The driver is fast becoming unhappy with having to explain his bus' destination at ever stop. All routes should provide the drivers with front window signs that they can use in such events. But then again that would take a thoughtful approach on the part of LACMTA management.

Some thoughts about the system that LACMTA management is incapable of generating:
Transit TV is annoying, just like your home set the volume level jumps up when they want to sell you something. I pay for a ride. Not to be a captive audience. I asked a driver to turn it down —his reply, they didn't give him the ability to do so. Actually, I feel sorry for him to have to work long hours and listen to the same things over and over and over again. Especially channel 4 news. It seem to repeat every ten minutes. Where is the BRU (Bus Rider's Union) when you need them. They could use some of their legal talent to cause the volume levels to be dropped. Then again, there is probably no money in it for them :-), just quiet enjoyment for us;

The drivers I.D. Number should be part of the date-time stop display scroll;

Ditto for announcing and displaying the transfer points when we cross another route, Metro or Muni;

The destination announcement on door open should be operational on EVERY bus, not just one out of eight, as is presently the case.

The bus head signs should display the time of departure when a bus is on layover.

2008-11-20: I am aboard a Line 232 bus, number 11015, driven by Operator 71881. Typical of the First Transit sub-contractors, it is a j—er---k-y ride. Likely his stop-go-stop-go driving wastes fuel and will over the long term cause some passenger injuries. I believe that First Transit trainers are at fault for turning out so many because most Metro employees are relatively smooth.

I've noticed that some drivers on the 111 and 115 lines have given up full stops at railroad tracks in favor of “rolling stops”.

I used the “Metro Trip Spoiler” to try and plan a route from the LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center) to Palos Verdes. I finally gave up and did it myself using the 232 and 444 Lines which the “Trip Spoiler” refused to use;

I finally got around to modifying the picture of the Union Station "Gold Line" directional? sign (below). If those at the Taj Mahal who are responsible for such things can find someone to read it to them perhaps they can make the modifications to their sign.

Fare Box Score Box
Buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: 6345, 2008-11-14; 7769, 2008-11-21;

Who Is Bumper Stickers
These are a form of graffiti when posted and leave an ugly residue when removed. The LACMTA tolerates this and has done so for years! Below are the bus numbers which have either of the above forms, note: UR means “ugly residue”.

5052; 6417UR; 6423; 5092; 9323; 9352.

(1) N/A. “Shady tactics, using taxes” Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2008:A16

(2) Hymon, Steve and Vives, Ruben. “Traffic rises as gas prices fall” Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2008:B1

(3) N/A. “L.A., on a faster track” Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2008:E1

(4) Skelton, George. “Timing is not so swift” Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2008:B1

(5) Dulaney, Josh. “Metrolink train ran red light in Rialto train accident” Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 21 Nov. 2008:web

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