I have decided that future, regular posts will lead with the picture above until I feel that the LACMTA begins acting in a manner which benefits its ridership [Please note that I have added a bar through the “America's Best” portion indicating, in su Topo's humble opinion, that the LACMTA is not at least technically, anyone's best]. The stories under the picture will give reasons in support of my assertion that they are not only NOT “America's Best”, they are far from it. To correct the false advertising they should remove the decals entirely or add 2006-2007 to the decal in order to clearly indicate that the "award" is historical. As an example of historical awards see this.
The broken pavement, one example shown above, the other below and other impediments, which must be negotiated by people wanting to transfer at Manchester and Sepulveda, might slow a rock climber. Contrast the LACMTA's approach to “customer Service” with that of the Culver City Municipal Line's convenient bus stop which was temporarily relocated on the south-west corner of Sepulveda and Manchester has now been relocated to its original position on the south-east corner of Sepulveda and Manchester.
The photos above shows the sidewalk which one would have to traverse in order to walk from the 83rd ST stop on Sepulveda which replaced the stop at Manchester and Sepulveda during the never ending construction in the area. Nice training for a climb in the Himalayas, isn't it? Pictured are two sections of the same sidewalk, there are other bad places, but these two are the worst. The bus stop has been “informally” move back to the original south-west corner of Manchester and Sepulveda. The Culver City made the move over two weeks ago and has their bus stop sign in place [see a picture of that sign just below the second rough sidewalk picture]. My beloved LACMTA doesn't have a sign here yet but they have one at Sepulveda and La Tijera, a sign without a stop, Duh ... Here is Culver City MBL's sign.
Not a single bus, which I have ridden since 29 June, up until at least mid-July, had a schedule available. This in spite of the fact that for several days before the schedule change (shake-up), many headsigns advertised the schedule change.
The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
The Argonaut(1) covers the latest attempt to give the LACMTA more money from a proposed half cent tax, to squander. Mr. Ken Alpern, a Mar Vista plastic surgeon, says in part, “A decades-long lack of foresight in transportation planning, worsened by a lack of balance between transportation and other local, state and federal budgetary priorities ...”. This is certainly true but Alpern continues in reference to LACMTA projects says parenthetically, “...(all worthy and decades overdue) ...”. This is where I part company with the good doctor, all the projects are not worthy or even necessary. I don't believe that there are any definitive studies proving that the grade level “Expo Line” is a either worthy or decades overdue. To you Mole's way of thinking it is simply another of someone's “pet project” (Mr. Alpern makes reference to 'pet projects as well) and is totally without validity. No proof of concept bus lines were run over the planned route and I believe like so many ridership “estimates” are at best SWAG (scientific wild a?? guesses) and at worst, simply wishful thinking.
The Daily Breeze(2), in a reader written column called “My Turn” features the writing of a woman, a senior citizen, who takes a Big Blue Bus ride from Westchester to UCLA. She describes her fellow passengers in her excellent experience, people who seemed a lot different that the ones which your Mole encounters.
The Times(3) offers a reader the opportunity to tell us about her trying experiences on the subway –thoughtless passengers preventing her boarding her train and the ordeal of riding with noisy teenagers. I was LOL (laughing out loud) as I read her long list of proposed rules for riders. I invite her to take a ride on a crowded Line 115 bus after the new school year starts. She had better be prepared to blush as she hears the language that these teenagers use. Perhaps she could offer them a reading of the rules she proposes for rail riders and get their feedback.
In order to maintain my state of happiness I read a Metro publication(4). It showed pictures of back packs with cell phones, timers, wires and etc., visible and protruding from back packs and other containers. Although they don't say so I got the strong feeling that they wanted the finder to open it up to see if the contents looked anything like those pictured. Since I can't imagine a terrorist leaving his backpack or other container open so that you can readily identify it and since he may have booby trapped the device, the person who opened it will likely save the bomb squad a lot of work and leave a lot for the first responders. Like the lady's excellent adventure above, this short brochure is amateurism taken to the extreme. They should have sought council from Homeland Security or the FBI before wasting money on this.
We want your feedback, but not very much. This is the message which is easily extracted from a Metro advertisment placed in several publications. The topic is a Public Hearing On Metro Service August 13. It will begin at 5 pm at the La Cienega Tennis Center located at 325 S. La Cienega Bl in Beverly Hills. If you plan properly perhaps you can play a few sets before the meeting begins. Do they really believe that consumers of Metro services can actually shorten their work day by 2 or 3 hours, take 2 or 3 buses to Beverly Hills so that their opinion can be expressed? How arrogant!
The Los Angeles Times(5) reinforces the idea that politics rules over logic where L.A. Mass transit is concerned. I selected my personal favourite from a list of projects which was included in the piece (tah-dah) “$1 billion for transit along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass*”. The *?, oh that means that “Funding would begin in 2030 with completion in 2038”. Great!, my children or perhaps grand children (if the 2038 arrives and the project is not unfinished) could push my wheelchair onto whatever vehicle is in use for transportation purposes. This makes me sad, not that I would burden relatives, but rather that L.A.'s black hole of mass transit the 405 corridor north of Wilshire will not have anything earlier than 30 years from now. Well, there are a few LADOT commuter buses in operation now, just not usable unless you want to go to the Valley at night and return the next morning :-).
The Times(6) continues its coverage of the attempts of the fiducially irresponsible LACMTA to extract more monies from the population of our fair city and county. What you Mole recommends is that the agency be split into two: (1) Mass Transit and (2) Highways and etc. A new head of the Mass Transit agency, replacing Snoble, should be appointed. An initial head of the Highway Agency needs to be named as well. The reporter says: “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to seek a half-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax increase ...” Su Topo finds "overwhelmingly” a bit strong for a board which only has 13 members. The photo which accompanied the article showed 10 ”yes” votes, two “No”votes with supervisor Molina's abstaining. The win by the Celtics over the Lakers could, however, be termed an overwhelming one :-). Further, any expenditures of over, say $50,000, should be required to be published along with ALL data which supports the expenditure, BEFORE contracts are signed. Unless otherwise determined to be unfeasible, all new equipment purchases must be supported by proof-of-concept data, pilot programs, trial runs and etc. The gist of the article was the politics which underlaid the voting. No detailed analysis of the accompanying project list to be paid for by the proposed tax was attempted. Typical of the Times approach to the LACMTA, which approach I believe is motivated by the fact that the agency places advertising in the paper, is to do straight ahead reporting without any serious investigation or analysis. Although the agency spends $3 billion per annum, the Times treats them as if they were a suburban bus company. Waste is a defining characteristic of the LACMTA, examples of which are exposed monthly by this writer. Some are grand wastes of money, some are small, but taken together they show a continuing lack of fiscal responsibility. Waste and fraud often are found together but your Mole has no way of making a determination as to whether fraud exists or not. All I will say is that in the example of the Douglas Rosecrans Green Line Station (vide infra), one must certainly question as to why the contractor was paid and likely paid in full and possibly paid monies over and above the bid price, when the work product which I have identified is so POOR.
Your Mole urges you to vote against the tax increase if it appears on the ballot this November. Let the LACMTA cancel all projects and then, hopefully restart as two agency with fresh blood, make each proposal stand on its own merits, showing that it will have a positive ROI (return on investment) and include a cost benefit analysis. Each current project should be reviewed looking for waste and fraud with appropriate legal action taken where warranted. A reasonable person wouldn't allow politicians to run an airline so why should we have anything less than a professional staff managing mass transit in Los Angeles. If taking the position that I do makes me a “detractor” of the LACMTA, than I accept that appellation as a compliment.
AMNY(7)(http://www.amny.com/media/acrobat/2008-07/23136028.pdf) featured a piece which described a two-phase pilot project where “electric hybrid buses could be put to the test on city [NYC} streets this fall ”.
Ear to the Rail
The July 15, 2008 broadcast of Democracy Now, a daily radio show and TV news program on over 500 stations, heard locally on KPFK (90.7 6 and 9 AM weekdays) spent the hour with Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine: The rise of Disaster Capitalism”. This extremely interesting exchange covers most of our current problems: fuel; food; housing; and the climate, specifically, global warming. Plus Ms Klein talks about how China will use a security infrastructure built for the Olympic Games, against its' citizens after the Games conclude.
Download and listen to the program from KPFK.
IS THERE A BLACK HOLE AT THE CENTER OF THE MILKY WAY? Studies remain inconclusive. Observations in the infrared indicate a great clustering of stars within the central parsec ([a parsec is equal to] 3.3 light years) but there is no tangible evidence for a black hole. See:
The Mole rides again so that you don't have to hear those frightening words, “service denied” directed to anyone, especially to yourself
The new Rapid 715 Line is a good example of the old style of “route planning” which is likely an artifact of the RTD (Rapid Transit District). The methodology can be described as “if we build it they will come”. The 715 does move fewer people faster. Many runs arrive at the LAXCBC empty! The 715 bus which I rode was at most, one third full. Here again, a trial period to prove the idea was in order, regular buses could have been placed on the route to see if it had a ridership, but no, that would be too logical for the LACMTA. So, until we can get the management at LACMTA to get up off their big, fat, overstuffed asientos, we will have to put up botched planning like the 715 line which may look “OK” on paper but not so great on the ground. It replaced the line 315 which was serviceable. Short description of the 715? Costly and ineffective.
Most Rapid lines (I) seem not to have ASA (Automatic Stop Announcements), (II) ASA has been deactivated by the driver, (III) the system announces stops that the bus will not make or (IV) they have tried to blend another voice into the mix to patch something –frequently these “patches” are unintelligible.
One can frequently see the type of sign pictured above throughout the system. Well, not exactly like Mr. Hot S. Not's sign but close enough in colour and content. Often these signs, which in reality are bumper stickers, are affixed to bus walls and are extremely difficult to remove –I know because I, like others, have tried to remove them using the fingernail scratch method. Your Mole has notified the LACMTA as to how to contact the person who is responsible for posting the other orange and black signs –complete with his street address, telephone number and e-mail addresses. The result? Surprise! a lack of results. If you are a tagger who has been caught you might suggest to you attorney that if the LACMTA were serious about illegal signs they might start with Mr. “Who Is”.
On board a 79 Line bus to Arcadia. The Oriental woman is holding a food wrapper which conceals the contents which she works on in somewhat the manner of a wood router.
Here is more substandard construction work from the Douglas Rosecrans Green Line Station. The work is substandard, the LACMTA project supervision is substandard and those charged with auditing of the disbursement of government funds is definitely substandard. The “A>” on the photograph above shows the point at which a 4”X x” (x because the vertical dimension is buried in concrete) WOODEN beam is embedded in the concrete. “B>” denotes a channel in the concrete, a rectangular area that is lower than the surrounding concrete and therefore can present a tripping hazard. The same channel exists above the wooden beam but that portion has been crudely filled in with asphalt. The railings and other metal surfaces have been left looking sort of raw, unpainted. Last month (2008-06-28) I included a picture of how the railing sections were crudely joined. My friends at the LACMTA lack the ability: to think things through; recognize when something needs attention; are too lazy to see that projects are done right the first time; OR all of the above. Good Job LACMTA! Mr. Snoble, you are worth every penny of your $300,000 salary, fat expense account and other perks NOT! In fact, I would say that you are doing the work of three men: Larry, Moe and Curley!
I won't report the bus line but, the driver took one look at the man about to board and said "service denied" T he man was wearing clothing that had that leather like look that can only be achieved by not washing or otherwise cleaning for an extended period. This was a first for your Mole, and quite a surprise after seeing quite of few people whose personal hygiene was imperfect.
On a 333 bus, even when they are right, they're wrong. The ASA announces "Dufrene Street", who could guess that this is the stop for Sepulveda BL. No announcement that this is the transfer point for the Culver 6 bus (an important West-side line). Why not simply call the stop "Sepulveda" and add the transfer point announcement. Why? Because customer service is LAST with the LACMTA!
There is a new "dirtiest bus stop" --to my knowledge anyway. It is located on the south-east corner of Santa Monica BL and Sepulveda. It is a busy stop served by the 4 and 704. It does not have a single waste receptacle and as a result it is carpeted by litter.
An old man boards the 115, his chest hair has grown up to mid-neck and encircles it like a fairly thick collar. His hat is well sweat stained and the lower bridge of his nose, above his nostrils, has longish hairs sprouting from it. Apparently, grooming is not high on his to-do list.
A man of perhaps 25 gnaws on his fingernails, then chews the “trimmings” and apparently swallows them. He is oblivious of the fact that myriad legions of germs dwell on his hands.
The sometimes mass transit users, like those in (2) and (3) of “Mole reads” above, should ride more often, then the list compiled by the writer in (3) would grow longer, much longer! Your Mole terms such writing as "Pollyanna rides mass transit".
Aboard a 704, the woman across the aisle has a tattoo of a bird on her left ..ah, ah, well it is flying up from her cleavage.
At your Service
An Austrian couple whose home is midway between Vienna and Salzburg needed a small assist in navigating the Green Line. The reminded me of the music festival which is held each August in Salzburg.
Su Topo assisted two young ladies from Hanover, the site of a large Trade Fair, in changing buses in West L.A.
A German group from the city of Chemnic, told me about the professional “American football” team that played in their home town.
I gave my 232 schedule to three young ladies from England who were on their way to the Beach Cities.
Three young ladies from Denmark were trying to understand the Green Line when La Taupe intervened.
A Challenge to Improve Service
The 920 line is another example “Haulin'Air”, at least between Santa Monica and Westwood.
Many, many 720 run bunched up along Wilshire often with passenger loads that can be counted on your fingers. All Rapid schedules should reviewed and the schedule seeded with some regular service, like the 20 line, in order to serve passengers who don't want to walk six blocks or more. An example of the holes in service can be confirmed by my experience visiting the Big 5 store on Wilshire west of Bundy. I had to ride the 720 to 26th Street an make the six block walk BACK to the store. Then I could either walk back to 26th Street (downhill) to continue on the 720 to Santa Monica OR walk back to Bundy (somewhat uphill). Of course, I could have purchased a “Muni” transfer (.30) and taken a Big Blue Bus with a much shorter walk. Then I would have had to pay full fare on the BBB (.75) to continue my trip to Santa Monica. I purchase a monthly pass, which as I have often pointed out, becomes less valuable every six months. Paying more and walking more, too!
I close with the five P approach to business, which the LACMTA would do well to try to remember. Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Fare Box Score Box
Out of Order Fare Boxes 5
*Some trips were not on Metro, e.g., Big Blue,, Culver City, and etc.
(1) Walker, Gary “Knabe opposes sales tax proposal to continue transit projects in process” The Argonaut 10 July 2008:6
(2) Edie, Patricia Rinaldi “Riding the bus into a new world” Daily Breeze 9 July 2008:A2
(3) Brown, Eryn “The rules of the rail” Los Angeles Times 12 July 2008:A22
(4) na ”How to identify a suspicious Package” LACMTA brochure 08-2522JL © 2007
(5) Hymon, Steve “'Where's mine?' could sink tax vote” Los Angeles Times 24 July 2008:B2
(6) Hymon, Steve and Weikel, Dan “MTA seeks sales tax hike” Los Angeles Times 25 July 2008:A1
(7) Naanes, Marlene “Greener buses on a roll” AMNY, 18 July 2008:web
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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, sustainable development, environmental, community and worker health, democracy, public disclosure, corporate accountability, and social justice issues, etc. We have included relatively brief quotes from articles and etc. rather than a simple link because we have found that links frequently go "bad" or change over time. We believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The man seated directly ahead of me on this line 720 reflexively wipe real or imaginary sweat off his brow and his hair, OCD?
Across from me a wonan, in a coat to heavy for the weather holds her tote bag and her rolling luggage cart on her lap.
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