Death at the LAXCBC at the hands of the LACMTA!

Above taken 2009-11-15 at the LAXCBC
Being self-referential; this Mole reported (2006-03-04) an annual loss of $2,737,500 to the LACMTA due to fare cheats. On a daily basis this amount to $7500! Therefore we are able to calculate the exact loss to date due to the lentissimo pace of turnstile installation. The photo above was taken on 2009-08-23 or one-hundred-fourteen days ago yielding a cost of delay of $855,000 –assuming that few if any turnstiles are actually up and running. Once the decision is made to control access, installation should go ahead at a rapid pace because installation is, or should be, a fixed cost. Want to bet there are no milestone dates or performance penalties in the contract? You're on!
The LACMTA might well consider this: “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” Galileo Galilei (1564~1642)
2009-11-04 I had a background interview/briefing from a RJ & J Construction (Pomona) worker. He said “They should have done this (install access control) when the stations were first built”. I readily agreed, in that that is the easiest and least cost method –not the LACMTA favorite method, retrofitting.

The picture above shows the status of Expo Line construction of the La Cienega BL crossing just South of Jefferson BL. This is in Culver City or just East of the city.
The construction, like most LACMTA projects, seems to crawl along. This Mole did not climb around on the site, although there was nobody around to stop him –mostly because the heavy I beams seemed to be held in place by, yes, gravity. See for yourself: click on the photo for an enlarged copy; locate the beam with 14FT 0IN inscribed on it (this is the height above the roadway, to keep trucks that are 15 Feet high from trying to squeeze under it); follow the beam to the right and you will see that its' end (barely) rests on a crosswise beam –note the situation with the beam above (the one with ¢ 50 painted [tagged] on it— which seems to overlap its' crosswise beam by several feet. Now, they may have tack welded these things together as a temporary measure but I wouldn't bet on that holding if the bigger beam starts to swing and sway. All this could come tumbling down if we had, and we do have them here, an earthquake. In other words, this is not the structure to be stranded under, blocked in place by heavy traffic, when a Richter 5.5 hits Los Angeles.
Su Topo wonders why they seem to work on this important structure only when the urge strikes them?
The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
On Sunday 2009-11-01, La Opinón led with a page 1, above the fold, piece headed “Una Misión Quijotesca”(1) about the issues facing the Spanish language book trade, which caught my eye. You can read the piece and the current issue as well as back issues at http://www.impre.com/laopinion/home.php after a simple gratis registration process. The on-line paper looks, well, like a newspaper and, as far as I can tell, reproduces the paper issues exactly. The presentation is different then the more common pdf style, but neither difficult to use or complicated –but see for yourself.
In the same vein, USA Today reports that “The [Honolulu] City Council is considering a bill that will make it illegal to "bring onto transit property odors that unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system, whether such odors arise from one's person, clothes, articles, accompanying animal or any other source." http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2009-09-02-honolulu-bus-odor_N.htm?csp=34 Last accessed 2009-10-16.
Su Topo has written about his unpleasant experiences aboard LACMTA buses with people who are unable or unwilling to spend much time in the shower –or who drag trash bags filled with smelly recyclables behind them. So, perhaps such a law is called for here as well.
The more things change the more they become the same: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." A quote from LE LYS ROUGE –The Red Lily written in 1894 by Anatole France (1844-1924) – nom de plume of Jacques Anatole François Thibault.
The Wall Street Journal(2) covers a reporter's stress when moving to Washington D.C. and giving up his personal car. I don't know, it feels like the typical whine of the privileged and has fewer actual personal details that one would expect given the title, but please, read it for yourself.
The Times in its campaign to bury print nibbles(3) has one such item on the rail car deal with the Italian company, AnsaldoBreda. In a Snoble legacy, that guy just keeps on giving?, AnsaldoBreda is three years behind schedule. Hey, LACMTA, you are really on top of things, ¿es no? Now the contract has been canceled? (the Time headline said “falls through”). Oh well, now the LACMTA has another $300,000,000 to waste, I mean, spend.
A longer Times article(4), about a column and a half, discusses Metrolink's plan to raise fares. No doubt the agency needs to build up Solow's legal contingency fund, perhaps his bonus as well. Just a brief quote, “... a one-way ticket from Riverside to downtown Los Angeles could top $11 ...”. Is that so bad? A one-way ticket on the fare poaching FlyAway from Union Station to LAX costs $7. I don't know where those MetroLink studied economics, if they did at all, but given fixed costs to cover a route, it seems that every marginal passenger, at ANY reasonable fare, is desirable. Raising fares in a bad economy will force other passengers to leave Metrolink into “Plan B”. My solution: fire Solow and use his fat salary to supplement new riders. Surprisingly, the piece gives the impression that contracts are being as let as sole-source without multiple bidders. Attributing the following to Metrolink Chairman Keith Millhouse, the article quotes him as saying: '“If we're bidding out multimillion-dollar contracts, we ... better be getting multiple bidders competing for this business.”' Wow, if the Metrolink Chairman is unable to enforce a policy of multiple bidders for contracts –who, actually, is running the railroad? Could it be Solow? Politicians?? Why not start an investigation today?
The Argonaut's understanding of geography differs somewhat with mine. Just when you thought it was safe to open a newspaper up pops a piece(5) about the LACMTA's latest “build it now and worry about maintenance, well ..., never”. This one describes a station planned for Century and Aviation (Inglewood) as being in Westchester. Those guys don't use public transportation either, do they? This is great the Green Line has failed to make it to LAX it looks like they are going to try with “Crenshaw Corridor”. The Mole's solution? Step one – A complete and total freeze on building anything until the economy improves! Step two – have someone take a movie camera and visit Boston, Chicago, New York/New Jersey and Atlanta and see what rail service from city to airport actually looks like. No, it doesn't end two mile away. Step three – connect the Green Line to LAX –guys it will have to go underground. Insanity defined: repeating the same process and expecting different outcomes.
Please read this article, not as I did as an alternate form of humour, but as news. It seemed to me that they had people type up random and only tangentially related ideas, then cut the papers into paragraphs and then wrote the story. Not bad reporting so much as unfocused reporting, IMHO.
AMNY covers(9) the installation of electronic signs which announce train intervals in the subway, just as they have had on Bart in San Francisco for many years. Ms Haddon reports that “The work is more than three years late and $39 million over budget … “. Well, that isn’t so bad in that our own LACMTA, whose mascot might well be the loser in a race between a snail and a turtle, doesn’t yet even recognize the need. If you look at the pdf of AMNY please note in the photo how bright the subway platforms are, and contrast that with the “Soylent Green” like ambiance of our own platform lighting scheme.

Ear to the Rail

Su Topo likes all kinds of music but, when he writes he likes to listen to classical music. That is one of several very nice things about www.GrooveShark.com, you can find almost everything there! For example, here is a long piece (34 minutes) by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) Listen at: http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/artist/Saint_Saens_Charles_Camille/164291 For Saint-Saëns’ background see: http://w3.rz-erlin.mpg.de/cmp/saint_saens.html
If you only want to spend 6 minutes then please, listen to his Piano Concerto Number 2 in G Minor Opus 22 at: http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/song/Piano_Concerto_No_2_In_G_Minor_Op_22_Allegro/22474024
Then too, you might take a look at http://performancetoday.publicradio.org/ the programming of which is used by Classical KUSC www.KUSC.org . Either of these two sites provides access to some of the world’s finest music.
As an example, just before 6:00 AM this morning I listened to a piece by Erik Satie (1866-1925) which could be described as gentle wake-up music. Here is a link to GrooveShark’s copy: http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/song/Gnossiennes/9961872

If you are having trouble balancing your checking account then IBM’s "Roadrunner" supercomputer which has exceeded a sustained speed of 1 petaflop/s, or 1 million billion calculations per second, is overkill. But if one wants to model the distribution of matter in the universe, then “Roadrunner” is the machine for you! See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026152942.htm

The Mole Rides Again, so that he, not you gets bounced around the bus interiors
After taking last month's pictures of the LACMTA fiasco, er, I mean project at the Lake St 210 Freeway overpass, La Taupe went to lunch at one of the California School of Culinary Arts restaurants. Next door to 561, the main restaurant which is located at 561 East Green Street in Pasadena, where this Mole has eaten in the past, the school has a smaller scale lunch place. I had a penne pasta with vegetables, a green salad beautifully dressed (not drowned as they do at say, Olive Garden), coffee and a chocolate muffin with coffee icing as desert. The portions were nicely sized and all was just great –including the price :-)!
2009-11-01: On board a 217 Line bus, morning. A man with the look of homelessness about him boards and asks another passenger to move from the “senior/handicapped” seats on the front left so the putatively homeless man can stow his extensive “luggage” there. Homeless man then lurches down the length of the bus and takes a seat in the back, leaving only his scent. I board a 780 Line bus and greet the driver who ignores me. I pick up the November 2009 issue of the “Metro Monthly” and take it back to my seat. The second page (by my count since the LACMTA doesn't seem to feel that page numbers are necessary) The head line says Clean, Friendly and On-Time. The driver of this bus has caused me to draw a line through Friendly so I look at the chicken bones on the floor –oops there goes clean –we continue on to Glendale. I reverse this sequence and take a 217 towards home. The woman behind me can't stop talking on her cell phone –I think she is speaking Thai but that doesn't make it any easier to take so I move and place an empty seat between us. Almost instantly a man boards and take my old seat, pulls out his cell phone and begins his own non-stop interminable droning conversation –can't win! Oh, and as far as “On-Time” goes please see last month's posting about watching buses pass us by displaying a headsign of “Discharge Only”.
2009-11-04 afternoon. I waited, as usual, on the South-West corner of Colorado and Ocean for a line 33 or 333 bus. None came by, at last a 333 running in the fad East lane passed us and turned into Colorado –oh, going out of service, I thought. Wrong. After a considerable wait, I looked up at the “flag”, Hmmm, no 33 no 333 only 534 appeared on the sign. They moved the stop! I crossed the street and found the new stop, actually quite a way from the corner because the articulated 720 line takes up most of the corner. Note that, as I found out, the change was effective from November first, just four days earlier, there were NO signs at the old stop! Nice work LACMTA (America's Worst) the CIA wold be proud of you, IF, your official charter called for keeping secrets.
Bus number 5095 on the 358 Line has an old “WhoIs” bumper sticker. It is a vintage one, black letters on white. This should give one an indication of exactly how long the illegal advertising bus defacement has been ongoing. Many students ride this line at this time of day.
Personally, I don't believe that students should have to pay full fare, if they appear to be students even if they don't have a pass. Not every family can afford to pay for passes, discounted or not.
Some students are short –bad budgeting or just don't have the money. Su Topo doesn't know and doesn't care but the driver does. A “strict enforcer”, he seems to be too harsh on these youngsters. A passenger, obviously a kindly lady, gives change to one of the students. She is reading a book “Finger Lickin' ?” it must be good as she smile as she reads.
2009-11-07 morning: I ride a BBB #3 to Santa Monica. My seat mate, a largish woman, claims her “half” of the adjacent seat. I move and a homeless type guy takes a seat across from me in the back of the bus. He seems to be having trouble understanding the function of his waist pouch. After a wile he figures it out and takes out a wrapped candy, unwraps it and puts the candy in his mount and the wrapper, on the bus floor.
I ride a 333 line bus, #6493, driven by driver #34430, another driver who badly wants the “Metro's Roughest Driver” trophy. There are many competitors but this guy is good, err, I mean, bad. Right after I board and am still on my way to a seat he starts off with a jerk sending me reeling into a vertical “hold on” bar. He is drinking coffee as he drives and amazingly not spilling any.
Jerky driving with rough stops and starts wastes fuel and creates unnecessary wear and tear. <Chart of rough driving> What is really needed is a sort of FDR (Flight Data Recorder), really a TDR (Trip Data Recorder) for buses.
2009-11-09: Bus number 6399 is left idling for over 10 minutes during layover at the LAXCBC. I thought that that wasn't allowed.
2009-11-10 A 439 Line bus, early morning. The passenger adjacent to me is a compulsive caller. It is just a few minutes past 7:00AM yet she is studying documents that appeared to have been mailed to her (bills?) and attempting to call several people. Unsuccessful with that task she tries to call people from her contact list and they are either commuting or don't answer when they see her caller ID.
I have lunch downtown at the La Salsa at Fifth and Grand. My favorite place in the area. The Nacho platter is fairly large and GOOD!
2009-11-10 @ 14:45: I board a 439 Line bus #6386 at the WLATC (see La Taupe's Abréviations, below). The driver #441 (a very very low number) was deeply involved in conversation with another black woman, a passenger. It was about the driver's financial problems with someone apparently usurping her real property and checks which were received yet no one seemed to know their source. Talk about distracted driving! This went on non-stop all the way to the CCTC.
2009-11-10 @ 15:30. I board another 439 Line bus driven by another talker #14984. He is involved in (distracted by) a conversation with a passenger –he is going through the permutations that could explain why the ASAS might generate other than expected stop announcements. It goes on and on ... 25th floor of the Taj Mahal ... relative of one of the executives ... . It makes you Mole wonder if the sign above the driver still says “No unnecessary conversation with driver ...” and if perhaps it should say “No unnecessary conversation with or by the driver ...”.
In honour of these and other drivers, who rank your safety and mine low on the list, I have begun monthly reporting “Distracted Drivers” below.
Then from the back of the bus a passenger starts to scream (apparently he thinks that it is a normal conversational tone) into his cell phone “... if you get taken up in the rapture can I grab your leg and get a free ride ...”. Honestly, su Topo is incapable of making this stuff up!
Bus #6443 driven by operator #72489 –another drive who time shares his driving with his cell calls. This is a good point for your Mole to reiterate his call to display the operator's ID number BOTH on the internal display screen crawl AND interspersed with the route number and description on the external head sign. So that on the headsign one would see: “439 Union Station”, then on a new line, “Operator 72489” more about the reasoning behind this thinking (below).
Speaking of signage, the small infrequently used and “sort of” secret line 626, just cant seem to get their signage working right. Bus #12540 has a readable head sign BUT, and the LACMTA must be forgiven for poor performance on these “highly technical” matters, the side sign only displays a fraction of the line number, i.e. 626. The initial six has completely disappeared and only the TOP PORTION of the “26”is displayed. That is, given this 26 only the portion of the 26 ABOVE the dash through the number in my sample appears! I will explain to the LACMTA (here) that the problem is caused by using the DOUBLE SIZED characters in the head sign for the route number (626), which don't translate to the smaller side sign. You're very welcome.
2009-11-15 @15:35: As I wait on the West side of Sepulveda just South of La Tijera for any bus to the LACBC, I see a line 42 bus approaching. I raise my arm as a signal that I want to ride (which is pretty much what the LACMTA's “How to Ride” (or whatever it is called) tells us how to do it. The bus, headed South, moves to the center lane and passes me by the operator “doesn't see me” as she is busy in an animated conversation –she is waving her arms and looking over her right shoulder. Te bus number was 6442. This will be the third time that this has happened although in one of the cases the driver of a 42 did pull over and pick me up –he pleaded ignorance of a stop at that location (almost in front of a busy Ralphs) at a busy shopping area. But he saw me in time to pull over. The driver of the very next 42 bus did the same thing, used the center lane making it near impossible to stop for passengers at the stop. The reason they do this, is to position themselves to make the right turn at Westchester Parkway without crossing traffic –abandoning passengers is just, a, well, side effect. Yet another reason for displaying the operator's number on the headsign.
As I wait at the LAXCBC, I note two things: (1) way too many private vehicles and/or non-transit vehicles use the entrance to the LAXCBC due to being “lost” or wanting to drop of passengers for the LAX shuttle service nearby, which has gated entry and (2) the speed of buses upon entry from 96th Street, is way too fast. La Taupe has already seen the aftermath of an accident which resulted in the death of a cyclist in the bus center several years ago and sees pedestrians, none too carefully, cross the entry way. These pedestrians are legally using the unmarked cross walk form the sidewalk on the North side of 96th Street. The solutions to these two problems are obvious. Item one demands better signage and flashing lights perhaps with a farmed entry “gate” that has a large sign hanging from the top of the arch which says “CITY BUSES ONLY”. Item two can be corrected by using a pedestrian crossing sign (Walk/Don't Walk) and painting a formal cross walk on the pavement. Bus speed should be reduce to no more than ten MPH with thought given to a adding a bus precedence circuit to the signaling system –triggered by approaching buses— which preempt the use of the cross walk signal or change it to “don't walk”.
I listen to bus operator #30287 have a long and distracting conversation with someone who this Mole thinks was another bus driver, on how to use a computer to access the LACMTA scheduling system to check “relief runs”. Distracting yes and seemingly overly complicated yes, yes!
Molette wants to shop for clothing but I expressed a need for coffee so I asked that she start without me while I went to a nearby coffee shop for “a minute” thinking I might be able to stretch it into a little more.
I entered a big store, whose name has the same letter as its’ first and last and whose second letter follows immediately after its’ first in the alphabet. The line was long so I watched the three women hard at work behind the counter.
It is not too long before I notice that although they working without gloves, one was the cashier and also handled money, they didn’t seem to care much exactly where they placed their hands relative to the drinking areas of the cups, i.e., the rims. The freely placed their fingers or thumbs into the cup and touched the inside or placed their entire palm over the top of the rim or over the entire plastic cover including the aperture through which one drinks –or used to drink before reading this.
This lack of concern for cross-contamination in an era of “swine flu” was evident when they prepared purchased or the small samples which this chain frequently offers.
Thinking that my experience might be isolated to say only franchise operators and not company stores, I tried another location and another. In each case my experience was essentially identical and in several cases after paying I asked that the worker redo my order without placing his palm, fingers or anything else in any part of the cup in which I would come in contact when drinking. They always complied. Except one woman at an El Segundo location who denied what I clearly saw and proceeded to lecture me that her “mother worked for the Board of Health”.
I don’t see how it is possible for a location to earn an “A” rating yet at the same time demonstrate such complete ignorance of proper food/drink handling and cross-contamination. Unless, of course, their ignorance and insensitivity is matched by that of the health inspectors.
If you doubt that this large organisation values your money more than your health, please pay careful attention to their food/drink handling the next time you are in one. Don't hesitate to point out any problems and ask for the order to be repeated, your Mole has done this and they have always agreed –after all, if you don't take care of your health, who will?
I ride the 439 to Union Station. I have come to believe that cell phone conversations should be taxed on the basis of length and number of your calls. Long calls will be taxed more than short calls and the more calls you make the more taxes you pay. This will accomplish two good things. People will make fewer, shorter calls and those who are “talkative” will help support something with their tax monies. It would be nice if those calls have a penalty tax applied if they are unnecessary and this Mole thinks that only about 98% of all calls are unnecessary and contribute nothing but noise pollution. I do apologize to the 2% who actually make necessary calls, but I have yet to be forced to overhear any of those. The must be made in private and not from the seat in the bus directly in front of me, which are usually devoid of anything which could remotely described as intelligent content.
TransitTV is playing a too loud, too long laugh track.
2009-11-15: The Gold Line Extension (mostly street car) opens.

I got off the 439 bus almost right is front of the Taj Mahal drain (photo above) on Cesar E. Chavez and Vigness, to which I referred last month. It was dripping water??

As I walked into the Pat Saouras Plaza I noted yet more maintenance that the LACMTA lacks the eyes to see (pictured above and below). Someone, bus driver or private car driver, way to many of these are allowed in the bus area, has run into this expensive art.

I rode boarded at Union Station, noting that lots of money was spent on art, that's good, but not a dime is available to add “Track 2” to the Gold Line sign in the main area. Many Metro employees lined the tunnel one of them was shouting “Track 2”!
Your Mole suggested that that should be added to te sign, the employee acknowledged with what I believe was agreement :-).
The portion from Union Station to the Little Tokyo Arts District Station was very slow with a lot of twists and turns, I believe that the could have rationalized that segment. Then again there was probably a “reason” for this route.
I rode to the end of the line, Atlantic Station, paying attention to two main points: (a) percentage that Rapid (didn't share the right-of-way) Answer-25%,only Mariachi Plaza and Soto Stations were grade separated [underground] the rest was basically a street car with little mounds, which hardly qualify as barriers, separating it from traffic (picture below) and (b) since these were all new stations built, mostly, after the decision to add access control was taken – What percentage had access control? I believe that the answer is also 25%. It is sort of like having a bucket with lots of hole in it, then patching a few and considering it “fixed”, well “fixed” as defined by the LACMTA anyway.

I stayed aboard and rode back to the East L. A. Civic Center Station. It was populated with yet more Metro employees ordering us around ahh, ahh, directing us. I don't think they wanted any accidents on day one. The first thing I noticed was that they must have cut down many signs affixed by cable ties, the ground in front of the station was littered with them ans other detritus as well -photo below.

The Art work that I captured and is included below is the one to which I am drawn.

The park near the station had many “activities”. I found the pond especially nice and a quiet area. A father and daughter were watching the ducks in a large pond. I wanted to include them in the photo below, but really did not want to disturb them. So, they are not in this picture of the ducks – but they remain in my memory as a nice moment.

I walked back to the station and headed to Maravilla station for a mid-morning break.

Where did I take the break. It wasn't somewhere recommended by the LA Times(6) but it was included in places known to me and the Meto's “Guía De Restaurantes”(7). I have pictured a hint below.

The newspaper “Hoy” among others, was represented so as I ate I read their articles which featured the Gold Line Extension. The food, as expected from other experiences, was good and the price moderate. The Hoy articles from which I will only briefly quote from the Español and I accept complete total responsibility for any errors in the English. You are of course free, and su Topo encourages you, to read the original. “En medio del entusiasmo por su inauguratión este domingo, hay voces que cuestionan la securidad durante el recorrido del ocho millas hacia el Este de LA”.(8) In the middle of the enthusiasm for Sunday's [Gold Line Extension] inauguration there are voices which question the security along its eight mile route in East L.A. [translation: by Mole]

My penultimate stop was at Mariachi Plaza which had a block party feeling (see the picture above) with gifts of Butter Ball Turkeys for winning dancers and etc.
My last stop was at the Little Tokyo Arts District Station so near but yet with its own cultural flavor. I visited the exhibits and found like a vampire, the Regional Connector, still lives. As I understand it and prefer to characterize it, it is a Band-Aid which is attempting to patch up the poor initial design which has resulted in the botched mess we have today. Is it putting lipstick on a pig? or arranging deck chairs on the Titanic? the better metaphor? It would seem like this idea could have infinite iterations, the regional connector could be patched with something else and on and on ad infinitum.
When I asked the person staffing the regional connector booth at the Little Tokyo Arts District Station parking lot, who was handing out documents, if she worked for Metro. She replied, “no I work for Roberts”. I performed a fairly thorough search of the internet for Roberts linked to the LACMTA without success. Your Mole has frequently called for and does so again today, a freeze on building and the incredibly stupid idea, sorry there is no gentle way to say this, of asking the public what they want. That is just another way of doing what every they [the LACMTA] and answering all complaints with “we asked for your opinion”. Designing transportation SYSTEMS is a job for professionals, NOT amateurs, flacks or hacks, as this Mole considers all presently associated with the LACMTA to be. Yet all the documents about the “Regional Connector in English. Japanese and Spanish have the Metro logo –thank you Mr. Snoble for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of FFE (Full Fare Equivalents) you spent on that and which will become, no doubt, your lasting legacy. AND all the contact information is Metro based. Could this be another case of Metro using taxpayer funds to propagandise the public. Let’s start the investigation, ummm, yesterday.
Oh and they are on Twitter too! That is just great for the LACMTA, answering everything in 140 character messages, all about fixing what should never have been built in the first place .
Your Mole can sum up the Regional connector is a word “Hogwash”!
In New York City, Mulberry Street and China Town, both popular destinations are separated by a maximum 15 minute walk from the nearest subway station! Get over it, walking is a fact of life for the car-less.
Let Dash, again honour Metro passes and provide the connections, it is the flexible way to move between fixed points.
Concentrate on money wasting routes like: eliminating the 920, and 715 Rapids and rationalizing the 720 Rapid which should run from Commerce to the Atlantic Gold Line Station as the 720A and from Wilshire and Western to the West Side and Santa Monica as the 720B. This will result in a net savings in fuel, driver cost, wear and tear and Wilshire BL congestion. The costs: virtually nil, requiring that the few people who make the full tip transfer to a few times and for the frequent commuter the purchase of a pass. Transferring like walking are or should be givens for those who depend on public transportation. Of course the LACMTA could make a large contribution to efficiency by tightening up on schedules so that things link-up.
I was ready for a late lunch and thought that it would be Japanese, but Señor Fish was offering a nice discount and your Mole is nothing if not economical so it was off to that restaurant, just across First Street from the station, for delicious grilled sea bass.
2009-11-16 about 11:40AM: Bus number 11027, on the 232 Line driven by operator # 70538, a lady who can't shut up -more like stream-of-conscience speech. She is talking to a male passenger who sits up front on the right. She leaves her mike open so we can hear every word whether we want to or not, some times she uses a sort of sing-song voice which somewhat concerns me.
At the Douglas-Rosecrans Green Line station: A way to long and too loud announcement about future Blue line construction times, dates and intervals, which no one will remember when the dates roll around.
2009-11-21 I note, with some difficulty, that operator #75045 has his uniform sleeve pressed in a sharp crease which has his I>D> badge folded over which makes quickly reading his badge difficult. He is outside the bus, speaking to several women at the the LAXCBC. He seems hyper. Two women separate themselves from the group of five and move to a bench where they sit down.
Finally we all board the 232 Line. He continues talking to the women who are now in one group of 3 and another of 2. He approaches the two and asks to see their passes, something which a driver would usually do as they boarded. He asks the younger woman if the other woman is her mother. His behaviour seems inappropriate to this Mole. He makes, what are to me, long winded stop announcements –this is a First Transit contract line and they don't have the ASAS, in compensation neither do they offer TransitTV. He offers routing advice to a tourist on traveling to downtown Los Angeles, the 439 would be the most inexpensive way not requiring four fares or a single fare and a day pass as the 232->Green Line->Blue Line, as the driver suggests while omitting the cost information.
This driver seems high or in the manic cycle of bipolarism.
Your Mole sees this as further reinforcement of the idea which the CCMBL has implemented, i.e., displaying the operators “log-on I.D.” on the Time-Date, Stop scroll bar. Of course, you know that su Topo believes that the same I.D. Should be displayed on the headsign. Results? Better, more courteous drivers and less shaken up passengers.
Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams
All that can be said is, it was such that he again raised himself in his stirrups, and, grasping his sword more firmly with both hands, he came down on the Biscayan with such fury, smiting him full over the cushion and over the head, that- even so good a shield proving useless- as if a mountain had fallen on him, he began to bleed from nose, mouth, and ears, reeling as if about to fall backwards from his mule, as no doubt he would have done had he not flung his arms about its neck; at the same time, however, he slipped his feet out of the stirrups and then unclasped his arms, and the mule, taking fright at the terrible blow, made off across the plain, and with a few plunges flung its master to the ground. Don Quixote stood looking on very calmly, and, when he saw him fall, leaped from his horse and with great briskness ran to him, and, presenting the point of his sword to his eyes, bade him surrender, or he would cut his head off. The Biscayan was so bewildered that he was unable to answer a word, and it would have gone hard with him, so blind was Don Quixote, had not the ladies in the coach, who had hitherto been watching the combat in great terror, hastened to where he stood and implored him with earnest entreaties to grant them the great grace and favour of sparing their squire's life; to which Don Quixote replied with much gravity and dignity, "In truth, fair ladies, I am well content to do what ye ask of me; but it must be on one condition and understanding, which is that this knight promise me to go to the village of El Toboso, and on my behalf present himself before the peerless lady Dulcinea, that she deal with him as shall be most pleasing to her." The terrified and disconsolate ladies, without discussing Don Quixote's demand or asking who Dulcinea might be, promised that their squire should do all that had been commanded. "Then, on the faith of that promise," said Don Quixote, "I shall do him no further harm, though he well deserves it of me."’
Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1605), Chapter IX
Fare Box Score Box and related Lists of Shame
I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: ;
Note: No or few entries above do not necessarily mean all fare boxes are in operation.
I.D.Numbers of Distracted Drivers: (??)441(i) Su Topo believes that this patch has been altered by the removal of the leading two digits*; 14984(i); 72489(ii); 30287(ii); 70538(i);
* Another reason for displaying the operator's ID on the internal display and the headsign.
Codes: (i) Conversation with passenger(s) or (ii) cell phone call(s). Frequently, details can be found in the text above.
I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers: 6412; 6348; 7166+UR; 5095+L; 5349+L; 8023+UR; 6386; 6380~UR; 6351; 5178; 5167+UR; 6331~; 5127+UR; 9302+UR 6339+UR; 6357;
~UR or +UR = (+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. +L = an old (legacy) sticker black letters on a plain white background –these are the original form of defacement.

ID numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree: 6362 117/211; 6410 111/000;
Format is Bus number followed by Headsign number/Tailsign number, 3 digits each.

La Taupe's Abréviations
ASAS = Automatic Stop Announcement System the GPS (Global Positioning System) driven mechanism for generating audio for the upcoming stops. N.B. Because of the low power (read weak) processors used in the on-board stops may be too close to identify stops separately. This is know as a granularity problem. Then too, if the driver operates the bus at speed above the speed limit you will find the system “back announcing” stops which you have already passed. I find that this will NOT keep some drivers from complaining “that you didn’t signal (ring) in time. They don’t understand their relationship to the system and how they can bias it .
CC or CCMBL = Culver City (Municipal) Bus (Lines)
BBB = Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus
CCTC = Culver City Transportation Center this is the place formerly known as FHMTC = the Fox Hills Mall Transportation Center (Sepulveda & Slauson)
LAXCBC = the LAX City Bus Center.
TT = Torrance Transit.
T1 = the normal type of driver/staff.
T3 = the uncommunicative type of driver/staff, sometimes surly.
T2 = is the non-stop talker type of driver/staff, on the phone or to passengers,
WLATC = the West Los Angeles Transportation Center (Fairfax & Apple)
(1) Arenales, Yolanda. “Una Misión Quijotesca”. La Opinón. 1 Nov. 2009:1.
(2) White, Joseph B. “Dude, Where's My Car”. Wall Street Journal. 28 Oct. 2009:D1.
(3) Blume, Howard. “Rail-car deal falls through”. Los Angeles Times. 1 Nov. 2009:A46.
(4) Connel, Rich. “Metrolink to consider hike in rates”. Los Angeles Times. 9 Nov. 2009:A3.
(5) Walker, Gary. “Metro recommends light rail station for Crenshaw Corridor”. The Argonaut. 12 Nov. 2009:Page8.
(6) Burum. Linda et al. “Striking culinary gold”. Los Angeles Times. 11 Nov. 2009:E1.
(7) N/A. “Guía de Rstaurantes”. LACMTA. 09-2112EB(a)2009 LACMTA:(pages unnumbered, as usual)  

(8) Castro, Francisco. “La nueva Línea de Oro acarrea emoción y también preocupación”. Hoy Los Angeles. Viernes 13 De November 2009:Pagina 6. www.vivalohoy.com

(9) Haddon, Heather. Signs point to train times”. AMNY. 17 Nov. 2009:p2. http://longisland.newsday.com/gallery/galleries/amny/pdf/20091117.pdf Last Accessed 2009-11-21.

Su Topo’s Disclaimer and apologia

  1. 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.

  2. Mole’s Copyright Statement
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  5. Your Mole’s Conflict of Interest Statement

  6. 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:

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. There are no exceptions. 

    Date: 2009-06-24 S/ LAmetroMole
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