¡NO on R!

Have no doubt that your Mole is against allowing the LACMTA to touch even another dime of tax payer money. Further, Proposition R will implement a regressive tax, i.e., it will impose the greater burden on those who spend the greatest portion of their income on taxable items. By the way, where is the BRU (Bus Riders Union) on this issue? Is it that they want the LACMTA to have more funds so that they can get their share of them?

Citing just a few of this dysfunctional agency’s poor attempts to mask a lack of service as exceptional service should suffice.

“Moving Fewer People Faster” is an attempt to sell Rapid Service as an improvement. Tell that to people, who must walk up to one half mile to a bus stop, while they watch mostly empty red buses bypass them.

Solicit feedback from those who are chastised by a bus driver for not signaling their stop sooner even though they signaled as soon as the stop was announced. This is a case of the bus moving faster than the ASA (Automatic Stop Announcement) can compute a position.

Ask those who find that, every six months, service has been discontinued or “improved” by a Rapid Line, while the cost of fare has risen or will soon rise.

The Metrolink Accident (Cont.)

In thinking about the Metrolink accident, it seems that the LACMTA is not without its share of blame. One, it is the largest funder of Metrolink and apparently, hands over the cash without making any demands upon Metrolink, demands relating to safety or anything else for that matter.

We already know from observation and la Taupe’s many posts, that the LACMTA lacks the intellectual amplitude to address problems logically, coupled with a severely limited ability to apply rigorous thought processes to real-world issues and problems in order to formulate the optimal solution.

“Automatic train stop technology already exists on 30 miles of Metrolink rail in Orange County and was installed by the Santa Fe Railroad in the early 1950s to allow passenger trains to operate at speeds faster than 79 mph.”(1)

So, it appears that Orange County passengers rated more safety measures than those in Los Angeles County.

The lawsuits related to this accident are just beginning. This Mole wants to pursue what he sees as the failure of management, "lead" by David Solow, to ensure that they were providing the safest possible environment for Metrolink’s employees and customers.

The following quote comes from an UK site “It is no longer necessary for the prosecutor to point the finger at the particular senior manager or director; he need only show failure of management or organisation that equals a "gross breach" of duty of care.” (L1)

“What evidence is there of [the] attitude of the employer to health and safety systems practices and regulations? (Ibid)

Ah, well, they ignored thirty years of the NTSB advice, viz., install PCT (Positive Train Control) systems AND as su Topo noted above, had older technology installed in some areas, but not others. This is somewhat analogous to locking some doors of your home but leaving others wide open.

Although our legal system can trace its’ roots back to English common law which was first established in 1066, let’s leave legal business to the judicial system, perhaps what is a crime in the UK cannot be charged in California. However, we MUST make sure that this is Mr. Solow’s final accident.

The Times(4), among others, reported that Metrolink is adding a second engineer to “some” computer trains. No hint was given as to which commuter trains would have the second engineer and which would have to go it alone. This is sort of like, “Two heads are better than one, sometimes”. The article also says, “… Metrolink directors hammered at the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) for not being tougher on the railroads”.

What a laugh, they ignored the NTSB for 30 plus years and they want to blame the FRA regulators! Percentage wise, they had archaic, well, 50 year old technology, on 7.7 percent of their track (In Orange County, vide supra) i.e., 30 miles of track of the 388 total track mileage.

How it should be done

To see how a large North American city implements a true transportation system one need look no further than Toronto, Canada. Toronto has a population of 2.48 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area) and to su Topo’s way of thinking, a world class transportation system. Here is a link to one section (of six possible sections) of the Toronto Transportation Commission’s System map.

I suggest that you copy and paste it into another browser window (an easy task if you have Firefox 3.0 or IE 8.0) so you can read along and switch back and forth between your Mole’s writing and the TTC map. Adobe Acrobat Reader® is required by this example (Versions of the Reader between 7 and 9 should be OK) otherwise, if you experience problems you would do well to update this free product. Go to http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html?promoid=BUIGO and please, read the system requirements first because you may not have the hardware necessary to support Version 9.0.

At last, the link: http://www3.ttc.ca/images/fixedImages/TTCRideGuide_5.pdf

You might want to slightly increase the size of the map by moving the cursor down to the line which contains the icons for printer and diskette (save a copy) then over to the “+” sign, clicking on the “+” sign, for a 150% map.

Locate the St. Clair and St. Clair West subway stations by looking directly down (south) of the first red “O” in “T O R O N T O”. There you will find the St. Clair West Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway Line. Look right, east of St. Clair West Station and follow St. Clair Avenue to St. Clair Station. Connecting the two stations is the 512 streetcar line indicated by the dashed line, bus routes are denoted by solid lines. Open another window (Firefox or IE 8: hold down the Ctrl key and press t; IE7: hold down the Ctrl key and press n. Cut and paste this link < http://www3.ttc.ca/ > into the URL (address) area of the newly opened window.

On the Toronto Transit Commission page, under schedules and Maps, locate and click on Streetcar Routes. On the linked page click on 512 and you will be presented with a wealth of information about the service.

The bus maps, e.g., http://www3.ttc.ca/Schedule/schedule.jsp?Route=41N&Stop=KEELE_STATION display data, such as, the next three scheduled bus departure times. Also allowed is a link to a route map, e.g., http://www3.ttc.ca/Routes/41/Map.jsp

which clearly shows transfer points. The detail is amazing. Especially when compared that with the paucity of info available from our LACMTA site http://www.metro.net/ , so little, so poor.

The designers of the Toronto system understand the words: system, network and other words which communicate interconnectivity. Undoubtedly, their actions have been informed by the English experience with transport, specifically in London. “In the first half of the nineteenth century [circa 1800 – 1850] omnibuses [horse drawn multi-passenger vehicles], based upon a Parisian innovation, were introduced into London [by George Shillibeer]”(9). “In 1897 … over half of central London’s omnibus routes began or ended at a main railway terminus”(Ibid., p548).

A 1903 Royal Commission concluded that “slow expensive and uncoordinated transport was damaging the efficiency of London workers of all classes ...” The Royal Commission urged the government to establish an independent traffic board which would ensure that Londoners would not, in future, suffer from conflicting and uncoordinated transport development(Ibid., p563).

Almost one hundred and six years later the LACMTA would do well to consider these statements.

One can look at a North American public transport organization such as the one in Toronto and other cities in the U.S., too and blush when you hear the LACMTA describe themselves as “America’s Best”.

What can we forecast about the economics of the LACMTA’s beloved “Expo Line”? The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank can help us forecast the future of the line(L2). This is a well reasoned article, however, in the almost four and a half years between July 2004 and today costs, especially for gasoline, have risen and now seem to be dropping.

Too, you might take a look at a VERY detailed report http://www.metrans.org/research/final/05-13.pdf which is a Metrans (National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research) ( http://www.metrans.org/ ) project which covers the safety aspects of the Expo Line. It would be nice to know exactly how many of the recommendations embodied in the report are actually being implemented in Phase I of the Expo Line.

A Daily News piece(10) by an USC professor exposes the human tool of the Blue Line, i.e., 821 deaths over an 18 year period. As a rough measure this calculates to slightly more than 45 deaths per year. Or in sadder terms, to almost two (2) Metrolink 111 crashes each year. Please keep in mind that the Blue Line is partly above grade while the Expo Line is 100% at street level. The safety implications for the Expo Line are great. Expo Line safety is under review (See: http://www.courant.com/ktla-mta-protest,0,591078.story ). Su Topo has always been against the Expo Line and has felt that the Red Line should be pushed to Santa Monica as a safer alternative.

This is just one of many reasons why Snoble should be replaced and be joined by Merolink’s Solow. We need new and more importantly professional leadership for all of Southern California’s transportation plans – well, actually, job one is to formulate some rational plans.

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

At least one Metro driver was supplementing his income by selling discounted day passes with the help of an accomplis

I grade the piece with an A+ for reportage and an A++ for determination in the face of the LACMTA's stonewalling.

The reportage A was earned because the Press-Telegram’s coverage along with that of the Daily News were the only local journals, which I was able to find, which covered the story.

I assigned the A++ for determination because the reporter persisted, and had to use the FOIA to get the facts --shame on the LACMTA for not releasing information on the thefts without being forced to do so.

This situation is simply another example of the LACMTA’s, under Snoble, inability to provide anything even remotely related to effective management or oversight.

Any responsible agency would combine (a) accounting controls (locking the barn door to prevent the further theft of horses) with (b) an audit (attempting to figure out how many horses were stolen).

Apparently Mr. Snoble’s staff thinks that (b) is more important.

An opinion piece, “A safe, honest bus ride” at the Press-Telegram web site, was dated 6 Oct 2008(L3). I graded the piece with an A for reportage and an A+ for naiveté.

The reportage A was earned because the Press-Telegram’s coverage along with the Daily News was one of two local journals, which I was able to find, which covered the story.

I assigned the A+ for naiveté because the editorial writer has an imperfect understanding of the real world. It borders on foolishness to expect that bus riders, in a Sherlock Holmes like role, could uncover criminality on the part of bus drivers and report it.

More likely is the possibility that riders who were treated rudely by bus drivers, a common occurrence aboard Metro buses, would “get even” by reporting the driver.

The work load on the Customer Service representatives would quickly become unmanageable.

This is further example of the LACMTA poor performance.

The smallest convenience store knows human nature and implements various control systems related to the amount and value of cash and cash equivalents handled by their clerks.

The LACMTA treats this problem, as it does most things, as an insurmountable barrier, when in reality, all they need to do is establish and audit system which implements a driver check in/out control for BOTH “Day Passes” and “Muni Transfers”(*). So, as you can see, there is no need to watch every driver all the time.

(*)As Occam's (William of Ockham, The 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar.) razor asserts: "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."

A slight variation of this editorial also appeared under the title “On-the-bus service” in print in the Daily Breeze(5). Other than the title, it seemed to be word-for-word, the same.

An article in Railway Age(3) discusses the interoperation of PCT (Positive Train Control).

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) was created in the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 and is the successor agency to the Interstate Commerce Commission. The STB is an economic regulatory agency that Congress charged with the fundamental missions of resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers. The STB is decisionally independent, although it is administratively affiliated with the Department of Transportation. See:
This is another agency that has an interest in rail safety.

Zell’s paper [the Los Angeles Times] covers rail safety as if each railroad was independent from all others and NOT part of a larger system(6). Two freight lines, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and the Union Pacific (UP) are planning (attempting) to install PTC (Positive Train Control) by 2012. BNSF will have the system operational on only 60 miles of track (between downtown Los Angeles and Riverside) while the UP will control 66 miles of track between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. These distances are only miniscule fractions of the track owned by BNSF which has 32,000 miles of track in 28 states. (See: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/09/22/ap5455523.html ) while UP has 33,000 miles (See: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Handhelds-GPS-Help-Union-Pacific-Track-Down-Bad-Ties/

To see what su Topo means by miniscule, here are the percentages: BNSF = .001875% and UP = .002%. At that rate of installation it will take BNSF 213,333 years to equip all their track and UP will need 200,000 years. Ah …, don’t hold your breath.

Foothill Transit has made WiFi Internet access available on it’s Silver Streak buses which run between Montclair, Pamona, El Monte and Los Angeles(7). Your Mole believes that this is a much better idea than the ugly old TransitTV!

“¡Vote NO on R!”

The LACMTA never tires of telling us just how great they are(8). Su Topo is not buying it. This time they are showing us how they will use (your Mole prefers, waste, misappropriate, squander, blow, drop and etc.) the additional one half of one percent of increased sales tax which they want voters to approve on November 4th.

Your Mole says “¡Vote NO on R!”.

Ear to the Rail

WNYC < http://www.wnyc.org/ > has an elegantly simple web site featuring NPR programming in FM and AM. This is a great station if you want to listen to programming on East Coast Time.

Cosmology Corner

Just when you thought it was safe to turn the LHC (Large Haldron Collider) on again, we find that it might explode(L4).

Here is something, http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4004 (you may have to cut and paste the link), that is neither an easy nor fun read, but it is not a joke.

The Mole Rides Again, so that you don't have to watch your computer screen display nothing from the “Trip Discourager, er, I mean Planner”

Two young ladies from Virginia need help in getting to Hollywood, which is the general direction of my travel so I put them on course. They tell me that their hometown buses have better signage than we do. I reply that almost everyone does.

I have been thinking about lunch at the Homegirl Cafe for a while now, once in a while looking at the menu en linea ( http://www.homeboy-industries.org/homegirl-cafe.php )and trying to decide which three tacos I would have in combination.

Although I know the location, I considered using the LACMTA’s “Trip Discourager” in order to see if it could plan a route for me. I thought I would start from 7th and Metro and end at the Homegirl Cafe (130 W. Bruno St.). My first disappointment was that it recognized “7th and Metro” as either 70Th St/Metro Blue Line & UP RR, 90001 or 71Th St/Metro Blue Line & UP RR, 90001, WRONG! Not completely discouraged, I tried Union Station as my point of origin. The system accepted that and, as it did before, allowed “130 W. Bruno St.” as a destination. After waiting for two (2) minutes, I decided that it just wasn’t going to happen and properly discouraged, gave up. Now this may simply be a problem of junior programmers failing to initialize variables after some sort of failure, remember my initial attempt failed because I accepted neither 70th nor 71st Streets as a point of origin. Nor on a third attempt did it treat “7th and Metro Center” as acceptable. Even though I know how to get to Homegirl Café, Metro.net doesn’t.

So I used < http://latranstar.tann.com/tripplanner.asp > just to see if they could plan a route, which they did. I first entered 7th and Metro Center”, which failed, then “Union Station” as a starting address (it was not, inexplicably, one of the “Around the Southland” starting points –these guys just don’t ride public transportation, do they? But it did correctly plan a trip from Union Station to the Homegirl Cafe via the Gold line to the Chinatown Station J. But contrasted to the incredibly weak “Trip Discourager".

I am on a 232 line bus these First Transit routes don’t have ASA (Automatic Stop Announcements) but the driver, a rare one, is calling out the stops. I was thinking that it is too bad that the stop are not identified by name it would make traveling by bus a lot easier for some

It is October 1st and I am up early listening to the news on the radio. The station reports that there is a cap on accident settlements, $200,000,000 per accident, which will limit the payments to injured and survivors of the Metrolink crash.

8:48 AM I am on Line #439, Bus #6314 driven where a woman passenger carries on a never-ending conversation with the driver. She is complaining about a variety of bus related incidents. I have a complaint, too. The transit TV show login information for Ted Test, there is no picture which is OK, but the sound is way too loud. This semi-useless device was supposed to make money for Metro, want to bet it doesn’t?

Aboard a Foothill Transit 187 bus, a woman, obviously high. is making suggestive remarks to the men seated nearby. The man next to her looks out the window and is unresponsive to her … SAD.

2008-10-04: I wait for a bus at Wilshire and Santa Monica BL. I am waiting at the marked stop but although it is a Line 4 stop I don’t see any markings for the 704. Our LACMTA has camouflaged the stop by placing it 30 metres West and behind a large leafy tree. I only find it because someone more knowledgeable than me was waiting there.

Here is a Google© satellite view of the LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center). http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=LAX+%2BCA&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=33.94991,-118.391504&spn=0.002034,0.003455&z=18

It looks a lot cleaner as a satellite map. Usually, the LAXCBC is filthy, blobs of gum on the sidewalks, cigarette butts everywhere and lots of graffiti. On the bottom right you will see the South entry which is occasionally used, illegally, as an exit. The big buses which legally enter here are often traveling at a fast rate.

13 October, 06:22AM A 715 Line bus, number 9568 exits the LAXCBC using the South entry drive (pictured in the Google Map linked above) illegally as an exit for his big red Rapid double bus. There is almost no visibility at that point so when an accident does happen someone will certainly be killed. In coming buses cannot stop. I was here just minutes after a bicyclist doing the same thin as the 715 bus, was killed several years ago.

On the Green Line: “I’m on the train” … “Because I got suspended, again” … “He took my cigarettes” … “I told him to suspend me, but for every time he took my cigarettes he owes me $5”.

2008-10-07 12:20PM: Bus # 6363, Operator # 74532. The driver makes a lengthy cell phone call regarding “sleeping”.

Now your Mole is nothing but fair. So he has nor recourse other than to report when the LACMTA does accomplish something, two of which are reported here: (i) The really shoddy work on the “foundation pad” at the Douglas-Rosecrans Green Line Station (reported here: 2008-07-29) has been fixed; and (ii) The bus arrival annunciator (reported here: 2008-09-27) at Wilshire and Fairfax has been repaired and was working a week ago or so when I last used the stop.

One must remember however, that it was only after su Topo reported the failures that anything was done. The still outstanding issues are: (a) the lack of paint and (b) the ugly joining of railings (reported here: 2008-06-28) at the Douglas-Rosecrans Green Line Station and the filthy conditions, peeling paint and etc. at the El Segundo-Nash Street Green Line Station (reported here: 2007-11-10), which are mostly bird droppings as the result of not installing the anti-landing spikes.

Fare Box Score Box

Out of Order Fare Boxes 1: 2008-10-07 Bus # 6364,

(1) Doyle, Sue. “Metrolink to revive '50s safety technology, wait for new” Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 26 Sep. 2008 http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_10572215?source=rss

(2) Doyle, Sue. “
MTA bus driver's day pass scheme spurs audit”
Unlinked to chargeable Daily News archive 3 Oct 2008

(3) Vantuono, William C. “
Cases for common ground: we now have Positive Train Control systems that work. How can they work together?Railway Age Jul. 2007

Gottlieb, Jeff, “Metrolink is paring up engineers” Los Angeles Times 27 Sep. 2008:B1

(5) N/A, “On-the-bus service” Daily Breeze 27 Sep. 2008:A14

(6) Oldham, Jennifer, “2 rail lines to install safety system” Los Angeles Times 9 Oct. 2008:B1

(7) N/A, “Page announces on board WiFi Foothill Transit Bus Book 1 Jan. 2008:p21

(8) N/A, “Measure R Information Guide” Metro, brochure with NO date and NO number

(9) Inwood, Stephen, A History of London. New York: Carol and Graf, 1998 p548.

(10) Meshkati, Najmedin, “Grade-crossing deaths are true rail problem” Daily News 3 Oct. 2008:A1

(L1) http://www.businesszone.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=181703&d=1095&h=1097&f=1096&dateformat=%25o-%25B-%25Y


(L3) http://www.presstelegram.com/editorials/ci_10655130


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