Another self promoting brochure(1) by (no doubt) the LACMTA “Marketing Department” says (pages unnumbered) “Metro's Mechanics, Operators Are the Nation's Best”. I will let that stand without comment and later in this posting direct your attention to the extremely poor jobs performed by others in other areas so that you will see that on average, things are not so great.
And the winner for gormless hebetude is … the LACMTA?
Click above for crowd reaction
http://fixexpo.blogspot.com/2007/10/accidents-and-deaths-are-certain.html . Although the quote from Solow at the top of the their page is kind of like having Michael Jackson’s live-in doctor espousing “just say no!”. While this Mole is critical of the apparent lack of supportable traffic estimates for the Expo Line, the “Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line” site addresses critical issues of Expo Line safety by appropriately citing Blue Line safety (or lack of it) experience.
The usually empty 632 Line buses whose route parallels the Gold Line Extension that are sort of a post-construction route simulation, may be a predictor of what actual Expo Line traffic will be.
I ask that the Los Angeles City Controller Ms Wendy Greuel, please, institute an audit! All this money wasting done without a public study, and a total lack of transparency, in a city where the leading paper cares more about Hollywood than civic responsibility. Further, no attempt was ever made to simulate the planned Expo Line route by means of a proof of concept, i.e., la Taupe's often suggested Rapid Bus Line [See: 2009-02-27; 2008-07-29; 2007-08-18; 2007-05-19 and 2005-10-15;] So if this turns out to be a variation of the lightly used, but nice, Gold Line and accident plagued Blue Line, then “too bad”.
It is no secret that la Taupe doesn’t hold politicians in very high regard. He is not alone in this. Here is how New York City politicians were viewed when the IND (Independent) subway (N.B. the IND was/is rapid transit, unlike the “Expo Line” which operates at grade –although finding out EXACTLY what percentage is at grade is not a simple task) was being built in the early decades of the 20th Century: “Politicians would do anything –award sweetheart deals to friendly vendors, pad the payroll with unnecessary employees –to curry favor and get reelected.”(3) …because they know that they can make themselves popular by giving away your money” [New York Times, March 10, 1945](3)
By the excellent definition of rapid transit which I published [2009-07-31] we know the resultant "Expo Line" is definitely NOT rapid transit because a significant portion “shares the road” with other traffic! Why was so little true planning performed? Su Topo can only speculate that due to financial and political forces, the basic route, Los Angeles/Culver City, was a foregone conclusion while the real need –the true rapid transit— the Red Line extension to Santa Monica remains an unfulfilled dream.
The “Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line” also features a video at http://fixexpo.blogspot.com/search?q=investigation. And a piece, entitled: “Fix Expo Requests Congressional Investigation & Hearings of MTA – the Nation’s Deadliest Light Rail System". I also grant “Citizens’ Campaign” all the rights necessary to add my quote to their page – “If it’s not grade separated, it’s NOT rapid transit” LAmetroMole.
The “Citizens’ Campaign” site covers issues, in addition to safety, which a local newspaper (if we had one, could win Pulitzers by providing similar coverage). I respect the work by many Los Angeles’ bloggers, but in this case I can only say: “highly professional” and “well worth reading” and give them my highest praise!
Here is a picture
Month three (3) without any action directed at (i) providing a burial for the poor creatures depicted above
Link to ThreeBirdsWwingN.jpg http://filebin.ca/czsorq
Of course, the better solution, vis-à-vis bird protection, is to replace the netting with a metal screening with say, a one fourth inch (6mm) mesh.
He was wrong! This is the initial work being done to install access control turnstiles— “which are being installed at many stations”. Turnstiles, as an access control mechanism, date back to the New York City subway system of the 1920s.
Yet such an important feature of a transportation system which was delayed for over TWENTY (20) years, because of the “build it on the cheap” philosophy so ingrained in the sloppy approach (supported today by LOTS of photos) which we have come to expect from the dysfunctional agency we call the LACMTA.
In a seeming exception to always, usually, sometimes, rarely thinking about its' ridership we can see(above
The present installation is, at least for the sighted, more of a visual clue than a physical barrier!
Here is the reverse angle on the prior photo
A little hard to see
The series of pictures below, all taken at the El Segundo-Nash Green Line Station, further belie the myth of Metro maintenance. As a man who has worked with and since literally miles of cable I can attest that the photos document the worst butchery which I have ever seen. Further, careful study will show that the workers did not clean up the job site, the simply walked away leaving all the trash –most of it anyway– just lying between the tracks. Accepting pay for sloppy work is bad but what is really a disgrace is performing sub-standard work that may result in injury and/or death.
Please keep in mind that these cables exist for some important reason. If they are grounded, shorted out or in other ways compromised harm may come to train cars and riders.
Here is an example
Here and in other of the photos, we can see
Dear readers when you ride on LACMTA facilities which are repaired as these are you should ensure that your life insurance is paid to date. I don't know what will happen when the cabling I have depicted here fails, but I am certain that it will not be a good thing. The is why the LACMTA need an Industrial Engineering Division in order to see that repairs are made CORRECTLY and on a timely basis. Since no one other than su Topo seems to be inspecting LACMTA facilities and then only in his spare time, I ask you to ponder this statement: “The photos here were taken on a sing day at a single location so one need to consider exactly what is the status of the many facilities not checked by your Mole or anyone else for that matter”.
The Trip Spoiler
The Metro Trip Planner frequently fails to plan a trip, which is why su Topo refers to it as the “Trip Spoiler”. As you may know your Mole is deeply (no pun intended) involved with IT (Information Technology) and has decided to point the LACMTA in the right direction and to stop their flailing toward a solution, if indeed they are making any effort at all to solve the problem. Technical note: please use the Adobe pdf reader to open the file in this and the next paragraph. The one may use the reader's "+" sign to obtain an enlargement. The trip to which this link
I also used the Google Transit Directions http://filebin.ca/fbxaau which produced a route.
The www.metro.net “Trip Planner” request did not result in a suggested schedule! Why was that? Well, there are two main reasons why a software system doesn't achieve its design goals –assuming that design goals were even specified— most other apparent reasons are just variations on the two main reasons. Which are (i) the software iterates interminably, stated another way, termination conditions are never achieved. Phrased technically, the software is unable to “converge” upon a solution.
A non-transportation example is in order. Let's say that you bank provided you with an on-line tool that would tell you how long it would take to save X dollars –we'll call that the “Goal”, when you deposit Y dollars per time period (week, month, calendar quarter and etc.). If the software system allowed it and you entered -10.00 (negative $10) and you planned to deposit $2 per month, the software (if programmed along the lines as is apparently that used in the “Trip Spoiler”, the program would loop or iterate forever! The logic is as follows: Week one, deposit $2; test – have we reached the goal, i.e., is the balance equal to the goal; if it is then end and display the week number of the last deposit otherwise repeat the deposit and test loop. How do we avoid this problem? First of all we validate input so that we don't begin with an unachievable goal. Then we plan the software system so that our iterative routine, loop is launched as a separate process which is often called a “child process” the parent of which is the process which launched the child process.
The parent can then track the child's progress and assign it limits. As an example if typically we achieve convergence (an answer) in five seconds we could stop the child process after say, ten second and save the information which we need to study the problem and design a solution. Importantly, we would also notify the user that the Metro IT staff was unable to provide a route, along with the 800 telephone number of the scheduling information operators.
And (ii), the second main reason for failures, like the ones which I have experienced, the software aborts leaving the user terminal facing the last successful screen without and answers. Establishing sub processes, read child processes and tracking them is also the solution to this failure. If the child process which has a process ID, usually a number, like 2509 etc., disappears (aborts) and we have no answer we can save the information needed to study and correct the problem, notify the user and supply the contact telephone number as in case (I). The way thing are today, I am sure that many people just call the without wasting time on their computer. This negates the dollars invested (wasted?) on the system and increases the cost of live operators and/or leads to long wait times for service.
Of course, my example is a simple one structured to demonstrate a problem similar to that which the LACMTA IT staff seems unable to solve. My example is incomplete but suffices to illustrate the broad steps necessary to correct the ongoing system failures.
Such failures further document that the LACMTA is not organized as “problem solvers” and seem in this case, as in the others which I have documented incapable of maintaining their assets.
Well, Mr. Leahy, there you are –the answer. Now all you need is someone which can explain it to your IT staff so that they can tell you why it is unnecessary or that it can't be done.
In one respect Google planned a good trip, especially given that the Trip Spoiler died without producing a schedule –la Taupe planned to travel to the West Los Angeles Transportation center on the 439 Line. Google also was “overly accurate” especially for the 11:52 trip which involved three buses: the 439; the 33/335? And the 217. The trip timings did not allow for any failures so it was sort of like expressing the quotient of a division with six (6) decimal places when the original data had only one.
I knew that I would use the 439 so I did not ask Google to plan that portion. Well I did try, but it did not give the options that the Trip Spoiler did, i.e., decoding LAX to one of the twenty possible starting points that are shown in the Trip Spoiler display to which I have linked (above). Google produced a very nice map and plotted the bus route(s) on it. There are also annoying differences in notation, too. The Trip Spoiler shows intersections by separating the streets with a “/” while Google demands an “&”. The Trip Spoiler should be modified and made to correspond with Google’s methodology. But, at least in this case, the Trip Spoiler didn’t work at all it may be an exercise in futility.
Google’s main fault was that it did not show an example of how to express a street intersection while Metro did, likely in response to a long ago complaint to them made by su Topo.
A single quote should serve to recommend a work on e-books, “People of the Screen” by Christine Rosen in The New Atlantis: "Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilization, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen-savvy. The paper book, the tool that built modernity, is to be phased out in favor of fractured, unfixed information."
A Los Angeles Times OP piece
Su Topo, although providing links to articles of interest which are pertinent to his topic, does not consider himself an aggregator and quotes sparingly, often weeks after the original is published.
Sam Zell of Tribune Corporation, the beloved top of the management chain of the Times, is described as a “…"miserable troll of a CEO…" on-line by Mediabistro. Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlLA/newspaper_deathwatch/
Dart Board Planning
A Los Angeles Times piece about trollys in downtown(2) is buried. Short, at under 60 words, it leave much unsaid and concealed from the general public. We already have the Dash, which when I last rode it cost only a quarter and is totally flexible vis-à-vis routing. Yet these naïfs apparently want to spend construction funds by the dump truck load, indefinitely restrict traffic and cast routes in iron rails all based upon the hope that something will materalise. In this as in many other projects he LACMTA uses its’ usual desultory approach which is devoid of a systematic methodology.
Planning transportation without a defined methodology for the LACMTA, takes nothing more than a dart board. If you are comfortable with such a tack, you may have what it takes, and this Mole feels that it doesn’t take much, to be the next CEO of the LACMTA!
Ear to the Rail
KCSN (88.5) FM, www.kcsn.org, offers another eclectic listening experience! Weekdays (6 AM ~ 6 PM) there is classical music available. After 6 PM and on weekends one can listen to the [I believe] roots portion of their tag line “Arts & Roots Radio”. Please visit their site and look for what is appealing to you.
Slashdot.org offered this piece on the number of extra terrestrial possibly life-supporting planets in our galaxy. http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/07/31/1244235/Fewer-Than-10-ET-Civilizations-In-Our-Galaxy
The piece introduces the Fermis Paradox and provides a link to a wiki. I like http://www.fermisparadox.com/. Which site is nicely designed and includes easy-to-understand graphics, e.g., take a look at the “habitable zone” linked to by “Favorable conditions”. One can see the first message sent out to our neighbours. The message, sent in 1974, is rich in data, especially when you see that it consists of only 1,679 bits (binary digits). View that message and the way it is intended to be decoded at: http://heritage.stsci.edu/2008/40/images/m13message.jpg
I will pursue just a single aspect of the message, the height of a human being as exposed by the preceding link. It is indicated (in binary) as 1110 which is 14 in decimal. The recipient is expected to use the 14 as a multiplier and the transmission frequency of the message 126 millimeters in order to develop a product of 1,764 millimeters which is 176.4 centimeters. E.T. can end here, but in the case of we American earthlings, after dividing by 25.4 we see that the average human is 69.4 inches tall. There is lots more to be read about this message, my Bing search using “Arecibo message” as a search argument, returned 323,000 items. Oh, the target, the M13 star cluster is 25,000 light years from earth, so the message still has about 24,965 years left to travel.
2009-08-13: It is about 11:30 and my 780 Line bus is about to cross Wilshire. I will be happy to get of because a support bar which has broken free is rattling – see award winning mechanics above.
On yet another bus, the panels which hold on-board advertisements, which incidentally, are fewer these days, rattle because of missing machine screws –they have rattled out or been removed by a passenger with nothing better to do. In either case, it makes me wonder what the LACMTA is bragging about when they hyperbolise that their mechanics are “… the Nation's Best” (vide supra).
Aboard a 720 bus: Just when you thought it was safe to ride the buses, like a zombie in a bad horror movie, TransitTV has seemingly come back to life. Today it was showing some mind numbing trivia questions and the “Clever Cleaver Brothers®”, the self proclaimed “Televisions Most Entertaining Chefs” . Although this Mole would not touch anything cooked by them, much less eat it! La Taupe feels that with such infotainment that so closely matches the intelecturi of the LACMTA and so generally irritating to a significant portion of the ridership, that it was almost preordained that it would be resuscitated.
Transit TV: Spelling isn’t us as they spell general as “generaal”
2009-08-24: Sunday at the LAXCBC. A woman sorts through a trash container looking for recyclables. A scruffy man scans the ground looking for discarded cigarette butts, finding one he lights it and like a magnet the second hand smoke finds me. Another youngish man pulls pieces of skin off his right foot. I wonder – Is it leprosy? An Oriental woman, too warmly dressed for this hot day, begins her search of the trash cans –this must be the most picked over garbage in the state. Her right shoe seems to be stuffed with toilet tissue in lieu of socks.
2009-08-24 13:44: Driver 28707 stood around smoking as our departure time came and went. Finally, he tossed his still burning cigarette into the gutter at the LAXCBC and we left. If the LACMTA were to do one thing to improve BOT driver health and on-time buses it would be to actively promote a no-smoking policy. Another positive side0effect would be a cleaner environment.
2009-08-25: I am riding one of the grey-green 'Gold Line" trains –the station annunciator, a smallish display when compared with those on the Green Line reads 'Union Station' even though we just passed Mission. A man nearby to me sings in Spanish.
The Lake Street Station in Pasadena has a sign, wonder of wonders, announcing the start of construction on the east side of the 210 overpass. Not much detail, duration and etc. is left out! Judging by the time required to do what, at a distance, seems like not much for the five months spent between March 2009 and August 2009. It appears that they have affixed some fancy metal work to the top of the safety bars on the overpass. I will try to capture this site digitally when they finish clearing away the construction devices. This project may not be a Metro one, but the time to complete certainly fits the, what do I say, foot-dragging pattern of the LACMTA.
2009-08-26 Aboard bus number 6355 running as a 111 Line, arrived LAXCBC at 08:38AM. The driver, using a "hands free" headset, did not stop talking the entire trip --Leahy should take action to eliminate this safety hazard! I transfer to a 117 Line bus. I am trapped between the nosiest, though small, group of passengers I have encountered to date. To make matters worse, the stupid TransitTV turns on, it is very loud and recycles three-day-old news. It is interesting to this Mole that the prior TransitTV owners went bankrupt in a fairly good economy, yet the new owners think they can make money given the present poor economy. This may be another example of the "bigger fool" theory. Vis-à-vis the LACMTA (Vide supra) praised mechanics, on this bus, number 6336, the left side front foldable seats are broken and form an angle of about 120 degrees instead of the expected 90 degrees.
Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams
‘Thus did the valiant Don Quixote right that wrong, and, thoroughly satisfied with what had taken place, as he considered he had made a very happy and noble beginning with his knighthood, he took the road towards his village in perfect self-content, saying in a low voice, "Well mayest thou this day call thyself fortunate above all on earth, O Dulcinea del Toboso, fairest of the fair! since it has fallen to thy lot to hold subject and submissive to thy full will and pleasure a knight so renowned as is and will be Don Quixote of La Mancha, who, as all the world knows, yesterday received the order of knighthood, and hath to-day righted the greatest wrong and grievance that ever injustice conceived and cruelty perpetrated: who hath to-day plucked the rod from the hand of yonder ruthless oppressor so wantonly lashing that tender child."’
Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1605), Chapter IV
Fare Box Score Box
I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: xxxx;
Note: No or few entries above do not necessarily mean all fare boxes are in operation.
I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers: 5066 [not 1 but 2 stickers]; 3013-UR; 6386~UR; 6382; 7169+UR; 5189+UR; 9588; 5213; 6414; 5130;
+UR = whois sticker and the ugly residue left after passengers partly remove the sticker. ~UR = Only the ugly residue left after passengers almost completely remove the sticker.
I.D Numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree: #6571 117/215; #6449 117/?;
(1) Unknown. “Metro Monthly (Aug. 2009)”. LACMTA brochure 092300TR. 2009.
(2) Grad, Shelby. “Routes discussed for trolley plan”. Los Angeles Times. 1 Aug. 2009:A10.
(3) Hood, Clifton. “22 Miles: the building of the subways and how they transformed New York”. Simon & Schuster. 1993.
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
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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