What is rapid transit?

“[It is] … any type of mass transit which has its’ own right of way and does not compete for space with other vehicles; the most familiar examples are elevated and subterranean railways”.(1) By that definition, only the Red Line, Green Line, along with parts of the Gold Line and parts of the Blue Line qualify to be called rapid transit. Definitely, the ill-conceived Expo Line does NOT qualify as rapid transit although it may be “rancid transit”.

Which Blare Project?

Why the one where the P.A. system at Mariposa Station on the Green Line blares out “important information”. The last time I checked it could be clearly heard at a distance of over two blocks. And definitely heard in the alfresco dining area on the patio of the Hilton Garden Inn (HGI), pictured above, which is only an easy tennis ball toss away from the platform.

The “important information” consists of announcements like “do not stand or sit [they left out sleep] on the edge of the platform”. It must be nice to stay in an hotel such as the HGI, pay over $100 per night and have to listen to such announcements from 5AM until midnight. This, from an organization which fails to clearly mark the 750 volt third rails in subway stations with readable “Danger/Peligro” signs.

It is a wonder that the HGI has not filed a cease and desist order against the LACMTA.

Birds of a feather♪.

Month three (3) without any action by the LACMTA directed to: (i) providing a burial for the poor creatures depicted above and (ii) preventing further unnecessary deaths.

Maintenance? Maintenance?? I’m not sure but I think that I’ve heard that word before♪.

Things in the photo above may be dirtier than they appear. This is typical of ALL sites and vehicles of the LACMTA.

Just like the LACMTA, not via the best route.

Su Topo has commented on the cost INEFFECTIVENESS of the “TAP” system. By that he means that the monetary return is not in proper proportion to the expenditure. This could be the case for any organization, but when the LACMTA gets its’ hands on a marginal project, said project quickly turns into a disaster. The picture above illustrates the lack of a thoughtful approach in siting the required TAP pedestal readers. In the photo above it is located bottom center, just to the right of the orange and white cone. Riders are expected to tap the TAP pass on a pedestal as a sort of system “login”.

Viewers of “Law & Order” know that the bad guys are often given away by their toll passes which prove that their vehicle was at a given place at a given time. The TAP system could offer something along those lines: person X entered the Wilshire-Western Station at 7:09 AM and exited the 7th Metro Center Station 20 minutes later. The operative word here is “could”, whether they will actually have such a fine grained level of detail is questionable.

Anyway, the point of this discussion is to show how, instead of placing the pedestal in the direct flow of traffic, they have located it near the ticket vending machines. The pedestal should be placed on the lower level of the station between the stairway and escalator. That is in line with the most direct route to the platform. The LACMTA’s placement calls for people to alter their route in order to TAP in.

As a systems professional, in today’s technical environment, la Taupe would have implemented an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system that offers pass readers that would read passes at a distance, i.e., no physical tap required. One example, tested in Paris in 2005, provides for RFID equipped cell phones to be used to pay fares on the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens). See also: http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/eur22770en.pdf - clicking this link will download a pdf file for your review. Or perhaps even better yet, is to do what Long Beach Transit does, print out single and FIVE day passes from the fare box. This is in reality, the most economical thing to do and is what the LACMTA should have done. TAP is partly an answer to the problems, for one, the illegal sale of day passes, by Metro employees and possible accomplices, which problems Long Beach Transit has obviated the necessity of solving by using existing equipment to sell the passes AND implement both control measures and accounting procedures. For more information on LBT see: http://www.lbtransit.com/

Further proof that traffic flow is of no concern to the LACMTA♪.

Note the placement of the signage in the photo (republished) above. The “footprint” is much larger than is necessary because the LACMTA has an imperfect understanding of traffic impediments. One can see the same problem illustrated in the lead photo of this posting, in which the 715 signage follows the poor pattern established by the BCT 109 signage, above.

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

Santa Monica Mirror documents the fact that Big Blue Bus is not without its’ share of dishonest employees(2). These employees were allegedly involved in thefts related to EZ passes.

Unfortunately, although the $3 billion money waster which we call the LACMTA screams to be covered by a team of beat reporters, the Los Angeles Times can only come up with their former media columnist to write an op-ed piece(3). Which piece, to this reader, is short on facts AND recommendations. A beat reporter would find out when the first rail cars were delivered three (3) tons overweight, exactly why Snoble did not act!

In what should win a fiction award, the LACMTA [Marketing Department?] publishes “Announcing Metro Service Enhancements(4)”. How they can see shortening, canceling and otherwise reducing service, in keeping with one of their mottoes “Less [transportation] for More [money]”, as “Enhancements” is bewildering to me.

The line 109 does serve Plaza El Segundo, but it does so in a very round-about manner. Su Topo knows about several years of effort by interested parties, to have the line 232 stop at the Plaza. Apparently for naught, because the 232 north bound trip still wastes time, money, fuel and tire rubber making a useless loop of Mariosa Station that is a vestige of the time when Nash Street flowed one-way, south.

Your Mole could come up with a less direct, more inefficient route but, he couldn't do it quickly as the LACMTA already has a pretty bad one. Gardena Municipal Bus Lines is also serving the El Segundo area with their Line 5 on weekdays. Unfortunately, as with many of the attempts of the various transportation agencies to communicate, the Line 5 buses do not serve what could be a mini Transportation Center located within the boundaries of Plaza El Segundo. That would be too easy, right? This service seems to be another well kept secret. For more information on GMBL see: http://www.ci.gardena.ca.us/government/Transportation/default.asp

Slate magazine, online, covers the problems created when you try to do more than one thing at once(6). Slate says, “Even with hands-free use, phones suck your brain out of the physical world, fatally distracting you from the road. Second, the effect is as bad as driving drunk. Hands-free phone use can impair driving skills more than intoxication does."

Su Topo is VERY interested in not becoming an accident victim/traffic statistic due to some bus/train driver’s fascination with text messaging and/or a cell conversation. The piece also links to Myron Levin's articles in Mother Jones and the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times also made available documentation regarding this problem that was finally forced out the hands of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) requests. Mr. Leahy, if you had a technical [read Industrial Engineering] department, they would quickly implement a solution to this all-to-frequent non-business use of cell phones by drivers, about which your Mole so frequently reports. Oh, and lots more of the items upon which la Taupe comments.

Ear to the Rail

KXLU (88.9 FM, www.kxlu.com) is nothing if not eclectic! On a Saturday evening one can hear the “Toe Tappin' Music” of Cowboy Nick. The night when I listened he played a cut from the Blues Brothers movie: “What kind of music do you usually have here?”, “Why we have both kinds –country and western”. Nick plays both kinds and even played a compendium of early Freddie Fender (Baldemar Huerta). KXLU is the home of the world famous “Alma del Barrio” and Cowboy Nick is worth a listen to see if you like his style and music.

Cosmological Corner

In thinking about time, your Mole found it interesting to read a Discover Magazine article(5), that although not recent, it gives one some tools to think about time in a different manner than as one usually does, i.e., sequentially.

The Mole Rides Again, so that you needn’t carry cotton balls soaked in after shave for your nostrils in order to block unpleasant odours

2009-07-03: A family of four was speaking in their native language which I thought might be Swedish but turned out to be Dutch.

2009-07-07: The 439 Line ride to the West Los Angeles Transportation Center was quiet this morning. I transferred to the 780 which was OK, until a woman with, how does one phrase this delicately, er..., B.O. takes the seat directly in front of me. I move to the rear of the bus but am check-mated when an obviously homeless man whose odour almost brings me to my knees and sends me far forward. I would like to read but, the man seated across from me is slapping his legs turning them into his version of a musical instrument.

2009-07-10: At about 11:50AM, I ride a 115 Line bus, #6366, driven by Operator 3176 who makes LOTS of cell phone calls.

Your Mole assists two beautiful Ukrainian ladies find the walk of fame in Hollywood. Something that is simply impossible for a visitor to do with just the information provided in the LAXCBC (LAX City Bus Center) kiosks. But considering that the information is provided by people who NEVER ride our transportation “system” it could be worse, couldn’t it?

I am near Burbank airport at a 94 Line stop. Several 794 buses, surprisingly they are lightly loaded, pass me by.

I see the same thing with LOTS of 632 line buses, this is the line which provides temporary service to the Gold Line Extension, which depart Patsauras Transit Plaza, EMPTY! This is sort of an indication of future passenger traffic on the Gold Line Extension.

Su Topo directs an Australian visitor to downtown Los Angeles recommending the faster, direct, if fractionally more expensive, 439 Line.

2009-07-13: The Culver City number 6 Line. Another never-ending cell phone conversation of the most pedestrian sort, is in process. “When I saw …, hahaha …., Who is what? Oh, … oh, Erin, don’t he still live … It was his childhood home.. we were all 12~13…”.

In juxtaposition

We are all waiting for our buses on the corner of Sepulveda and Santa Monica. La Taupe is waiting for the 704 which Mr. Leahy’s organization promises, by way of a sign at the bus stop, will show up every 14 minutes during this time period. A woman reads, a man has a red shirt and a red bandanna wrapped around his left wrist, a black woman with a blue scarf tosses her used tissue into the nearby bushes, an old man stands in the shade of a light pole, another man smokes and talks to himself, the number of people waiting fluctuates as people board the frequent Big Blue Buses and leave others, like your note-taking Mole, waiting. One woman asks, rhetorically it turns out, “Do the Blue Bus stop here?” then answers –“Yes it do”. Another cell phone user “Hey, where are ya?” more noise pollution on the streets of Los Angeles. Which starts a train of thought even our city name in English is really a misnomer or at least, a bad translation. It was/is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. The emphasis should be on the “Nuestra Señora” [who is] “la Reina de los Angeles”. It is all about religion, about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Perhaps, “The city of our lady the queen of the angels” or in maintaining the Spanish, “Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles”. But as the saying goes: “it is what it is”.

I know a lovely young lady named “Socorro”. Her name alone says so much about her family’s religiosity. It is derived from “Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro” [Our lady of perpetual succor], this is another variation on “Mary”.

I am waiting for a 704 bus on the corner of Bundy DR and Santa Monica BL. Even though two trash cans are provided, there is a lot of trash in the area, yet a number to call for maintenance is provided. One would think that the experiential factor would eventually trigger an automatic cleanup.

The southwestward curvature of Ohio AV together with Santa Monica BL and Bundy DR delimits a small park. It is completely fenced in and appears inaccessible; that idea is reinforced by the three men who are resting outside the fence. The grass is longish and the fence doesn’t stop the infiltration of liter.

The 704 arrives and I take a seat across from a young man wearing a Junior Life Guard T-shirt. He is gnawing on his fingernails apparently unaware of the manner in which disease spreads. The Junior Life Guard is not the only one either, su Topo sees all too many people with their fingers in their mouths or touching their lips, after touching areas of public transportation that at best could be considered filthy, unconcerned with the high probability of germ propagation.

A man in a matching, if faded, denim outfit carries on a conversation with himself. Mid-day buses late and great!

I ride a Norwalk Transit bus which is well prepared for the inevitable head-sign failures. There was a laminated sheet with a large “4” [the route number] affixed to the interior, right side of the windshield and visible from outside the bus . The glass behind the driver had another sign with a large “2” and another with a “5”, against the possibility of head-sign failure while on those routes.

That my friends, is called being pro-active. Contrast that approach with the array of different sized papers used on Metro buses as ad hoc signage and which passengers must decode in order to determine which route a particular bus is covering.

2009-07-21: On board a 439 bus, #5366, at 7:15AM. The TV screens are completely dark on this bus. The one immediately in front of me is defaces with scratches and bold line graffiti. Like many ideas which the LACMTA quickly buys into TransitTV was not conceived by LACMTA staff. Now, several years later, virtually none of the original promises of the on-board TV have been fulfilled. The beautiful route maps were poor and the dollar earnings, and this is speculation on the part of your Mole, never materialised. All this was based upon the iffy premise that bus passengers are good prospects for, even suckers for, any sort of advertising. Most everything advertised was unnecessary [fill in your own expletive here].

The LACMTA a three (3) billion dollar operation never favors us with a profit and loss statement [How about it, Mr. Leahy?] and the politicians who “manage” this combine may not even what a P & L is. Given that, we may never know just how much is flushed down the drain and lost by implementing and sticking with one fool idea or another.

Another idea whose time is past –if it ever had a time– the web site sale of Metro memorabilia in an era when many struggle just to come up with the basic fare. I grudgingly pay my fare and would not give the LACMTA another penny of my money to waste on buying Chinese coffee mugs with the “Metro" logo.

I ride one of the Grey-green gold Line trains another negative side-effect of not having standards means that no two things, however similar, at the LACMTA are really the same. The new, and I believe three ton overweight cars have P.A. system announcements are too loud. I plan to record one in the near future so that you can be the judge.

In Pasadena, work, whatever that means, is still on-going on the west side of the Lake Street overpass of the 210 Freeway. That is not completely true, no workers are visible yet the sidewalk is barricaded on that side of Lake. The west side bus stops are still located about three blocks south of the original stop(s). A sign at the relocated site indicates that the relocation occurred on “03/25/09” almost four (4) months ago. Aside from that, su Topo can find nothing that tells us who, what, when, why and for how long. This time it may not even be the LACMTA who is behind it. But it does have the feel of their work: no or very poor communication –the signature of the LACMTA.

As I look at the big orange logo affixed to a bulkhead at the front of this bus, that Snoble worked so hard to replace, I wonder what bottom-line contribution accrued because of the logo change –my guess? a negative one.

Perhaps we should look to Long Beach transit management for the solution?

Several Sundays ago su Topo took a nice ride on one of the new hybrid, Long Beach Transit buses. It seemed like just another bus ride, and that masked the underlying economies of the hybrid technologies. There is no doubt that Long Beach Transit more than deserves to be called “America’s Best” for its innovations in green technology and for improvements in signage and for other reasons noted below. Although, this Mole believes that the bus should be the sign, i.e., the head signs on layovers should indicate the route and ETD (Expected Time of Departure) so that riders could plan accordingly. The picture above this paragraph shows one of the buses, not the one which I rode, however.

The drivers on every Long Beach bus on which I have ridden to date, have ALL been polite and helpful.

There are trip planners, real people, available at the Transit Mall in downtown Long Beach. They too, were helpful and were able to work out an itinerary for me –one that failed on the Trip “Spoiler” [no surprise] and did not work out on http://latranstar.tann.com either. The lady who that helped me was FAST and gave me specific instructions as to how to minimize my fare along with the PRINTED itinerary which she highlighted with a green pen in order to emphasize certain aspects. Your Mole was surprised and delighted with the work and has no reason to believe that anyone else in the booth would be any less proficient. Which booth, incidentally, is called the "Transit and Information Center" and located on the Transit Mall in Long Beach.

Every aspect of the Long Beach Transit operation impressed me favourably resulting in my vote for them to be the next “America’s Best”!

2009-07-23: I take a 439 Line northbound bus, number 7595, at about 1:30PM. Mr. tape everything over the windows is driving (see: posting of 2008-06-28). The front windscreen is amazingly clear, but he has taped something opaque (about 2 feet by 1 foot in size) over his left side window in spite of the fact that the bus comes equipped with a standard shade of the same dark perforated material that is used in front of the windscreen. Seemingly, he just can't resist "improving" the design of the bus.

2009-07-25: I have always believed that the ladies were more sensitive to matters related to health –but not this one— she runs her little fingre around the inside of he mouth behind her lower lip!

Whois bumper sticker leaves Ugly Residue♪.

Bus number 6358 provides a good or is it bad example of the ugly residue (UR noted below) left when passengers and others remove as mush of a “whois ”bumper sticker as they can. This Mole estimates that with the right cleaning agents and tools it will take in the neighbourhood of two (2) hours to clean up this mess and even then, painting may be required. This can provide a lifetime job for mr “whois”, if he is ever brought to justice.

Also captured is one of the “Big Orange” logos (partially hidden by the ugly residue) which Snoble wasted money on changing.

2009-07-25: It is just after 1:00PM and I am on a 232 Line bus, number 11050, headed north. The driver, number 75045, is the worst. Not only is he the male equivalent of “Chatty Cathy” (mentioned in earlier posts) he is a rough, jerky operator who loves to sound the horn. On and on he goes, about nothing at all, in the form of a running commentary. I would like to shout out two words to him, but don't. The words? “Shut UP!”.

We'll get around to it, eventually.

It is very close to five (5) months since paper day passes like the one shown above were discontinued, yet this sign is still being displayed.

Poor signage? You expected something else?

The staff at Beach Cities Transit must have been tutored by the “Stops and Signs” guys at the LACMTA. Practically invisible, unless you click on the photo for an enlarged size, the next smaller font would have been Braille.

Here we can see so little said, so much unsaid and mapped. Note also, the raw, unpainted fencing –yet another oversight by the LACMTA “planners”.

Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams

‘Meanwhile one of the carriers who were in the inn thought fit to water his team, and it was necessary to remove Don Quixote's armor as it lay on the trough; but he seeing the other approach hailed him in a loud voice, "O thou, whoever thou art, rash knight that comest to lay hands on the armour of the most valorous errant that ever girt on sword, have a care what thou dost; touch it not unless thou wouldst lay down thy life as the penalty of thy rashness." The carrier gave no heed to these words (and he would have done better to heed them if he had been heedful of his health), but seizing it by the straps flung
the armor some distance from him. Seeing this, Don Quixote raised his eyes to heaven, and fixing his thoughts, apparently, upon his lady Dulcinea, exclaimed, "Aid me, lady mine, in this the first encounter that presents itself to this breast which thou holdest in subjection; let not thy favour and protection fail me in this first jeopardy;" and, with these words and others to the same purpose, dropping his buckler he lifted his lance with both hands and with it smote such a blow on the carrier's head that he stretched him on the ground, so stunned that had he followed it up with a second there would have been
no need of a surgeon to cure him. This done, he picked up his armour and returned to his beat with the same serenity as before.’

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1605), Chapter III

See: http://www.online-literature.com/cervantes/don_quixote/

Fare Box Score Box

I.D. numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: xxxx;

Note: Few entries above do not necessarily mean more working fare boxes.

I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers: 7378+UR; 7169; 6366;

+UR = whois sticker and/or the ugly residue left after passengers partly remove the sticker.

I.D Numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree: 5180—115/?08;


(1) Hood, Clifton. “22 Miles: the building of the subways and how they transformed New York”. Simon & Schuster. 1993.

(2) Lyons, Terrance. “Blue Bus Arrests”. Santa Monica Mirror. 23~29 April 2009:33.

(3) Rutten, Tim. “MTA prepares for a rail-car reality check”. Los Angeles Times. 22 Jul 2009:A25.

(4) N/A. “Announcing Metro Service Enhancements(4)” [LACMTA] 09-2136BD. 2009.

(5) Frank, Adam. “3 Theories That Might Blow Up the Big Bang”.

Discover Magazine. April 2008. http://discovermagazine.com/2008/apr/25-3-theories-that-might-blow-up-the-big-bang Accessed: 23 July 2009.

(6) Saletan, William. “Driving While Interrogated: How to stop cell-phone use behind the wheel. Slate Magazine. 21 July 2009. http://slate.com/id/2223277/ Accessed: 23 July 2009.

Su Topo’s Disclaimer and apologia

Your Mole always attempts to write an easy-on-the-eyes page using text input. Blogger.com however, has other ideas and will often not stay with a single font type or point size, produces extraneous spacing and etc. I wish I had time to debug the HTML which they produce, it is NOT the straight text which I pasted into the form, but I don’t. Therefore, I apologize on behalf of Blogger.com for the changes which they make, of which I do not approve. Sometimes, what I see, thankfully you don’t, is 24 point type –it is giant and other times they swallow my text, although it still seems to be there. In fairness to them, things seem better, although this is partly because I do understand which of their “features” do the most damage to me and consequently do not use them. Communicating these problems to them, for me, is something like having teeth extracted without the benefit of anesthetic, actually it is less fun than that. By their design, there is no simple e-mailing them with "Please look at my say, posting of 2009-06-28, it is weird!” I am hoping that one of their developers will some day read this, copy my code and improve their text to HTML engine. Until then, lo siento.

Mole’s Copyright Statement

All photographs and original written materials are copyrighted © 2007~2009 by LAmetroMole. Clicking a photo will often* present you with an enlargement. *This feature is dependant upon the Internet browser which you use and possibly other factors.


This site contains or provides links to 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, public disclosure, corporate accountability, and etc. We have often included relatively brief quotes from articles and etc., sometimes in addition to 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 and to those who access the site via any and all other channels. 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. Music or other recorded material on this site, or referred to by this site are copyrighted by their respective artists and are made available here for evaluation purposes only. Please support the artists you like by buying their commercial CDs, MP3s and downloads.

Your Mole’s Conflict of Interest Statement

This is to certify that I, the blogger who is known as the LaMetroMole, with respect to this blog, except as described below, am not now nor at any time during the past year have been, nor it my current intention to ever be:

1) A participant, directly or indirectly, in any arrangement, agreement, investment, or other activity with any vendor, supplier, or other party doing business with any of the entities about which I have written, which has resulted or could result in personal benefit to me.

2) A recipient, directly or indirectly, of any salary payments or loans or gifts of any kind or any free service or discounts or other fees from or on behalf of any person or organization engaged in any transaction with any of the entities about which I have written.

Any exceptions to 1 or 2 above are stated below with a full description of the transactions and of the interest, whether direct or indirect, which I have (or have had during the past year) in the persons or organizations having transactions with any of the entities about which I have written.

There are no exceptions.

Date: 2009-06-24 S/ LaMetroMole


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