Failures in things large, medium size and small

Another year started, I am in the office early and take the photograph of sunrise on New Year's Day, above.
 Using the past as a predictor of the future, I am confident that the
LACMTA will continue to provide me with enough material about which
to write.   To start with, we see that the LACMTA ended the
year/started the year with failures of all sizes.  They succeed only
in spending their budget and more.  Below is a photograph of just a
few of the brochures that the LACMTA wastes time and money printing,
money that could be better spent elsewhere.  I wonder how many FFE
(Full Fare Equivalent) dollars are wasted?   

Speaking of wasted money, the LACMTA sent out a mass mailing, a large post
card, hyping the “Metro Silver Line”.  It is sold as a
“Faster Way Downtown” and costs about two (2) FFE.  It
appears that if there was any possibility that you might be a
customer for this, what your Mole describes as “another LACMTA
bad idea” line, you received the advertising.  Now, the LACMTA
will have to live with one of the consequences of their hyping,
saddling the line with an lots of initial red ink.

Of course, you understand that this is bus service “planned”
by people who don't ride the bus and who wouldn’t want to ride
the bus anyway and probably couldn't even do it without significant
help and guidance. 

It must have cost big bucks to print these oversize This post card
pieces which measure 420 square cm (66 square inches!) plus the
postage required by permit 4717.  I could file a FOIA request with
the post office and find out what the permit costs, but it is
probably better not to know. 

On Snoble's watch, I rode the last thing that was promised to be a
“Faster Way Downtown”, sometime ago.  It involved getting
off the Green Line at the Harbor Freeway Station and muddling my way
down to the dark, smelly, littered and loud freeway level without
benefit of proper signage. Then I waited and waited for the bus. 

The map included on the post card lays the route along the same lines,
so more fun on the freeway median is in store for those who want to
board at Harbor Freeway Station.  The last time I found it slower
–but even given a shorter time, I would rather just stay on the
Green Line and change to the Blue line to get downtown.  To su Topo,
this is just another “less transportation for more money”
opportunity, along with a chance for Leahy to put his mark on the

What seems eminently logical to la Taupe, if not to our “friends”
at the LACMTA, is to run buses which link to the rail system.  What
they have done is parallel the Foothill Transit's Silver Streak line
all the way from El Monte Station, cannibalising their traffic and
diverting traffic from Metro rail as well.  This could well destroy
the basis for Foothill's  Silver Streak Line and turn both “Silvers”
into lead.  You know, alchemy as practiced by the LACMTA. 

I don't have to explain that these are tough economic times and bus
riders will generally get up earlier and find a route that doesn't
cost, for example, $52.80 additional per month (based upon $2.40/day
X 22).  Well, if you can’t have an original idea then the next
best thing is to steal someone else’s idea.  Foothill’s
Silver Streak service will soon celebrate its’ third birthday
while the LACMTA's version is under two months. 

Here they go again! The Metro’s base fare is $2.45 while Foothill
Transit charges $2.50.  I will only consider the El Monte to downtown
Los Angeles segment.

If you are interested in other faring options, for Foothill Transit seehttp://www.foothilltransit.org/FareTypesCharts/
and for the Metro see

Actually as of 2009-01-27 in the afternoon, nothing about Silver Line fares
was published on the Metro site.   Now there may have been something
about Silver Line fares somewhere on the site, it is just that it
wasn’t where a logical person would put it. 

I have yet to ride either the “Silver Streak” or the
“Silver Line”, but generally, Foothill buses are cleaner,
quieter and smoother riding than those of the LACMTA.  So, even for a
dime more I would ride from El Monte to Union Station on a Foothill
bus and transfer to the Blue Line.  If ever a line segment deserved
to FAIL, it is the El Monte to downtown Los Angeles segment of the
Silver Line.  The other segment deserves to fail too, but in that
case Metro is competing with itself –and losing.

This is another case of the mediocre mind being applied to transportation.
 Another example is the FlyAway line which is just steps away from
the 439 line which may take about an hour, nominally twice the FlyAway time to get to LAX yet
the FlyAway costs almost four times as much.  The FlyAway gets tons of promotion while
the 439 is a “cult” line known to a very few. 

A simplification on one of C. Northcote Parkinson’s (1909-1993)
laws is “…the more complex, the sooner dead”.  The
actual faring details for the Silver Line which I have seen (and will
not publish here) lead me to advise you to travel with an accountant
if you plan a Silver Line trip.

Your Mole already has a slogan ready to be painted on the buses of this
new line –it is: “Moving even fewer people faster, err,
we think”.

You are surprised?  Not me…

The formula for developing such a route structure?   It is NOT rocket
science so perhaps you can come up with you own, after all, it
couldn't be any worse than the LACMTA's thinking, could it?

Here are just some of their other failures.


In spite of ultra heavy hype, the the Expo Line may only reach Crenshaw
BL before the money is all gone.


The photograph above shows the current status, months and months after the plan to install
access control gates at Mariposa Station on the Green Line, among
others, was first reported,. 

Another month has passed and the project creeps along.  I liken this to
plugging 5 holes in a bucket which has 50 holes. 


Above we can see the installation of the “bulletin boards”
which replaced the kiosks at the LAXCBC.  Note the canted angle of
the unit and the tape at the bottom of the right side of the unit on
the left.  Which tape is required due to the fact that the door, when
fully opened, will strike the large concrete pillar.  Then too, only
about 50% of the base bolts (photo below) have been installed.

Note too, that of all the buses which stop here they post schedules for
only the 111 and 117!  Then there is “helpful” system map
–well perhaps it would be helpful if spread out on a large
kitchen table next to a pot of coffee, a plate of pastries, a
telephone and a computer.  But standing here trying to decipher the
possibilities for routes and schedules without even knowing whether
the bus you need is running at that specific time and day of the week
is well, a Sisyphean task.  So here is another ploy from the
Marketing Department at the LACMTA which, at first glance, seems
useful but in reality is worse than useless because it is a time
“sink” which detracts one from  taking useful action.

Your Mole awards Art Leahy the 2009 Cunctator of the Year award for all
to improve things at the LACMTA.

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

What can I say?  Rain? Business travel?  The Los Angeles Times weak
coverage of the LACMTA???  All of the above????

I could include several AM-NY.com pieces by Ms Heather Haddon,
but that is NYC related where they are doing a lot of interesting
projects under a new leader who has significant experience.

That is not to say that they don't have their share of problems either and
these are well covered by the professional press, the top reporter to
la Taupes way of thinking, is the aforementioned Ms Haddon.

My promise: Next month I will make up for my lack of reading this month.

I actually did read much more than usual in January, it was just that
it could not logically related to this blog.

La Taupe likes clean, well designed web sites.  Here is one that must be
rated among the world's best.

The less men think, the more they talk.
Charles de Secondat (1689-1755),
Baron de la Brède et de

Ear to the Rail

Do you like conjunto?  Open your Windows Media Player, put the cursor right over
the word “media” on the second line, top left and right
click, move the cursor to the fight over “File”, then to
the right again over “Open URL” and paste this, if
clicking it doesn’t work,
into the block, press Enter and see what you think. I use Winamp
–Free download here:
.  Nothing works?? Link here
and work out your own player/música combination.


Below is a link to nice lecture which is entitled “Are We Alone? Life in the Universe” byProfessor Richard Pogge of Ohio State University.

Perhaps these guys could save us from some of the bad things covered just

If it’s not one thing it’s another!  We know we (future
tense) will lose out sun in a 3± billion years See:
.  Then we are informed that the Milky Way (our home galaxy) will
merge, whether we want a merger or not, with another galaxy
Andromeda, covered here
–this will take several “passes” to complete with
the initial “pass” in about 2 billion years while our sun
is still sort of like it is today, but brighter and hotter.

Here is a nice picture of Andromeda, so that you will be able to recognise
it when it gets closer. APOD 2010-01-09

Any more bad news?  Unfortunately, yes visithttp://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/12/us_asteroid_report/

And you will find that NASA is running behind in their tracking of NEO
(Near earth objects) some of which could strike our planet and really
change your week-end plans!

The Mole Rides Again, so that he can document the LACMTA's spendthrift ways with your hard earned fare payments

2009-01-05 @7:30: Aboard a 439 Line bus, Driver 14223Mr. Tape-it-up has upper part of the side window
to the left of his seat taped up.  He used what appears to be a
portion of a trash bag to do it and has some of  the same material
hanging from the front left sunscreen.  More of the material is taped
up to the right of the sunscreen.  He also has a Metro brochure taped
to the upper part of the right windshield, i.e., to the right of the
windshield center divider.

Too, the lower part of the window to the left of the driver's seat is
partially covered with part of his uniform, a jacket?

A woman boards the bus an he hands her a package explaining that “this
was hard to get”.

The Culver City Bus, some time ago, joined the LACMTTA and Big Blue Bus
is raising their fares to the confiscatory level by imposing a charge
for local transfers.  Those who can least afford it are forced to pay
for multiple bus rides in order to reach their destination.  The only
good thing about CCMBL is that they have not fragment and canceled
lines in order to ensure that it is almost impossible to get where
you need to be on a single bus.  My salute to all three <booandhis>

Oh and Big Blue Bus has still not installed a trash container at their
busy stop located on the north-east Maxella and Lincoln in Marina del
Rey <boo>  Speaking of trash containers, someone took the one
from the north-west corner of Fairfax and Venice, as you can see in
the photo below.  These thinks MUST be chained to something, I have
seen the bus-stop “flag” pole uses to anchor trash

But, the Big Blue Bus, who is spending zillions, well $60 million, on its new
maintenance facility, on Colorado at 7th.  This Mole like to believe
that the $60 will come from the forced transfer purchases.  It seems
to me that they could have sold that land for urban use and put the
maintenance facility somewhere else.  Come on, Ms
Negriff, take a bus ride on each of your routes and survey the trash
situation.  You can save a trip to Maxell and Lincoln in the Marina
–just see my photo which is located at
, then please, submit the purchase order and clean up the
Maxell/Lincoln corner.  One thing, the plastic pipe at the bus stop
is stuffed a lot fuller today.

2010-01-11: Fate has placed me on the corner of Prairie and Century, just
cater-corner from Hollywood Park.  I wait with a few others for a
bus.  There is a man and a very large woman, whose waist I estimate
to be in the sixty inch range.  I shrug off an aggressive pan handler
who still doesn't give up: “You ain't got even a quarter”.

At Mariposa Station:  I found the announcements even louder, if that is
possible –and more frequent.  Clearly audible from close to a
block away. It was late morning so the station, never that busy, was
empty and the words of wisdom could only be heard by those outside
the station.  What logic drives the LACMTA to make lengthy complex
announcements that could only be remembered by an idiot savant, is a
mystery to me.  True logic would dictate posting these announcements
at the affected stations, in this case Blue Line Station, so that
they could be read by those who need to know.  That would be more
effective than using the ephemeral method chosen by the LACNTA.

Boarding the Green Line, I found myself trapped in a car with a serial
telephoner, who got mostly, it seemed, people's voice mail or others
who claimed they couldn't hear him. 

On the Blue Line I take a seat across form a couple engaged in a high
volume conversation about weather some third party overheard another
conversation –my vote is that they did overhear the
conversation.  Just past Del Amo Station we cross a flood
control/river channel in which the water seemed high.

Returning from Long Beach, the train was populated with at least one of each of
the types from the taxonomy

A man who whistled, another playing an electronic game which produced
irritating sounds, another who let her cell phone ring and ring,
apparently no voice mail, a recycler who must be in the process of
setting the world's record for hauling aboard public transit and the
interminable telephoner.

I couldn't read so I started thinking of what was it, exactly, about
the LACMTA, that induced a augmented
in me, i.e. all the usual symptoms plus the uncontrollable desire to

I believe that a successful organization has three main components:
Management; Intelligence and a Work Ethic.  Some organization can
thrive with strength in only one of these areas.  But when an
organization, like the LACMTA is deficient in all three areas, then
you end up with what we have. 

The rain and out-of-town projects kept my riding to a minimum, but gave
me an opportunity to write about the result of the LACMTA’s
standard operation procedures.  I have photographed the butchery that
the LACMTA attempted to pass off as “maintenance” at the
El Segundo Station on the Green line (2008-08-31). 

I revisited the station and discovered that someone must have been found
that could read the posting to the staff and then explain in simpler
words what su Topo was criticizing.

The “maintenance” staff gets about a D+ for there effort.
The photo above shows some wires that were left uncovered, exposed to
the elements, that is.  And typical of these people they left the job
site a mess.  Think of the bare wires running from the top to the
bottom of the picture, then look right, between the bare wires and
the parallel white piping, near the bottom rail and you will see some
discarded material.  There was lots more of garbage and potentially
useful materials left where the fell –get the idea about what
“work ethic”means?

Above, we can see that they couldn't figure out how to match the straight
and elbow piping.  Good work guys!  I hope that you never have to get
a “real” job, because you wouldn't last the morning!

As at many other LACMTA locations there is flaking paint and corrosion
everywhere (photo above).  Apparently, this stuff is invisible to the LACMTA who is
too busy building new facilities while the existing ones fall apart.
If ignorance is bliss, these guys must be uproariously happy.

Back to the Kiosk replacements at the LAXCBC.  Clicking on the photograph
may enlarge it and allow you to see that the flanges at the base of
the units are frequently missing bolts.

Why do so many “civilian” cars end up driving around the
prohibited, for them, City Bus Center?  The answer is shown below.

This (above) is what a driver sees when approaching the LAXCBC from the
west on 96

Above we can see, oops, no retouching here –the sign seems to
disappear as the driver's angle changes.  Do you think bigger signs,
not angled with brighter colors might do the trick?  How about
painting a big NO ENTRY sign across the driveway to the east and
west?  The bus drivers will know that they CAN enter.  Well, our
LACMTA doesn't think so OR they haven't thought about the matter at

LACMCA, go ahead and fix this problem!  Don't wait until confused drivers
and/or bus passengers are killed in an accident which will be
directly caused by you poor understanding of the purpose for and
construction of signs.  Don't forget either, that buses enter the LAXCBC at an unnecessarily high rate of speed.

These unfortunate homeless women shelter from the rain at the LAXCBC.  God
only knows where they and their pitiful possessions end up when the
weather improves.

At Mariposa Station I help an Australian purchase a day passes from the
machines shown in the third photograph of this posting.
  I say machines because it said press any button to start.  I did
and became trapped in a process from which I couldn't escape.  We
switched to another machine and he was able to make the purchase.  It
was made less pleasant by the glare of the sun on the screen.  The
machines were moved from a more protected area and nobody seems to
have thought about the position of the morning sun.  Too, they and we
will be exposed to the rain now, the tickets may get wet and not be
readable.  The machines at this station were in a somewhat protected area, now they will be exposed to dramatic temperature changes daily --not good for electronics.  Who knows?  Certainly NOT the LACMTA.  As we left the first machine was still complaining (beeping).

I am riding a 232 Line bus:  As we wait I watch an older man reading
“Year’s Best 14 SF”, turning his head in jerky
movements as he reads each line.  It brought to mind those IBM
typewriters with the “golf ball” typing elements that
seemed to move in a similar fashion.  At the end of each line he
brought his head and eyes back to the beginning of the next line with
an exaggerated jerk.

A man boards, his TAP causes a beep tone which signals a problem.  The
driver declares the pass invalid.  The man protests mildly and taps
it several more times with the same result.  At last the passenger
gives in and pays the fare.  The driver inquires: “What line
did you buy it on?”.  The passenger replies: “the 333”.

I wait for a 485 line bus on the 210 Freeway overpass which serves as
the first street contact for Gold Line passengers.

I look up at the glass panels which have been inserted into the
framework (pictures here
) that I described in my 2009-10 posting.  The glass panels imbed
photovoltaic cells.  These panels are meant to be connected together,
the way cells make up a battery.  This is an LACMTA project so many
of the panels have the connections wires hanging down uselessly. 
Not all the panels have wires, greenish ones do, blueish ones don’t,
making me wonder if the blue ones are dummys with only cosmetic
value.  The end areas of the framework is still rough looking and
unfinished as shown in the 2009-10 posting.

I am waiting for a bus on the north-west corner of Huntington at
Rosemead.  The planks which make up the bus bench seat are held
together at one end with “Caution” tape. Someone has
removed the bolts.

Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams

Not far from this there is a spot where there are a couple of dozen of
tall beeches, and there is not one of them but has carved and written
on its smooth bark the name of Marcela, and above some a crown carved
on the same tree as though her lover would say more plainly that
Marcela wore and deserved that
of all human beauty. Here one
shepherd is sighing, there another is lamenting; there love songs are
heard, here despairing elegies. One will pass all the hours of the
night seated at the foot of some oak or rock, and there, without
having closed his weeping eyes, the sun finds him in the morning
bemused and bereft of sense; and another without relief or respite to
his sighs, stretched on the burning sand in the full heat of the
sultry summer noontide, makes his appeal to the compassionate
heavens, and over one and the other, over these and all,
beautiful Marcela triumphs free and careless. And all of us that know
her are waiting to see what her pride will come to, and who is to be
the happy man that will succeed in taming a nature so formidable and
gaining possession of a beauty so supreme. All that I have told you
being such well-established truth, I am persuaded that what they say
of the cause of Chrysostom's death, as our lad told us, is the same.
And so I advise you, senor, fail not to be present to-morrow at his
burial, which will be well worth seeing, for Chrysostom had
friends, and it is not half a league from this place to where he
directed he should be buried."

"I will make a point
of it," said Don Quixote, "and I thank you
for the
pleasure you have given me by relating so interesting a tale."

said the goatherd, "I do not know even the half of what has
happened to the lovers of Marcela, but perhaps to-morrow we may fall
in with some shepherd on the road who can tell us; and now it will be
well for you to go and sleep under cover, for the night air may hurt
your wound, though with the remedy I have applied to you there is no
fear of an untoward result."

Sancho Panza, who was
wishing the goatherd's loquacity at the devil, on his part begged his
master to go into Pedro's hut to sleep. He did so, and passed all the
rest of the night in thinking of his lady Dulcinea, in imitation of
the lovers of Marcela. Sancho Panza settled himself between Rocinante
and his … [mule], and slept, not like a lover who had been
discarded, but like a man who had been soundly kicked.’ 

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616), Don

(1605), Chapter XII

Fare Box Score Box and related Lists of Shame

I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes:
5100; 6406; 9370;

Note: No or few entries above do not necessarily mean all fare boxes are in

of Distracted Drivers:


Codes: (i) Extended conversation(s) with passenger(s) or (ii) cell phone
Frequently, details can be found in the text above, (iii) Self-distracted.  This
code will ALWAYS be explained in the posting.

I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers:
5187; 7592+UR; 6374; 8127;

or +UR

= (
+UR)whois sticker(s) and the ugly residue left after passengers partly remove the
= Only the ugly residue left after passengers almost completely
remove the sticker.
an old (legacy) sticker black letters on a plain white background –these
are the original form of defacement.

* Another reason for displaying the operator's ID on the internal
display and the headsign.

I.D. numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree:6575
117/212; 7169 439/550;

Format is Bus number followed by Headsign number/Tailsign number, 3 digits

Taupe's Abréviations

= 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, by driving faster than the
GPS computer, they can bias it

= Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus

= Culver City (Municipal) Bus (Lines)

= Culver City
Center this is the place formerly known as
Fox Hills Mall Transportation Center (Sepulveda & Slauson)

Fare Equivalent

(presently $1.25)

= the LAX City Bus Center.

= Torrance Transit.

= the normal type of driver/staff.

= is the non-stop talker type of driver/staff, on the phone or to

= the uncommunicative type of driver/staff, sometimes surly.

= the West Los Angeles Transportation Center (Fairfax & Apple)

Topo’s Disclaimer and apologia

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

Copyright Statement

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2007~2009 by LAmetroMole. 
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Mole’s Conflict of Interest Statement

 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

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.


                         S/ LametroMole                  



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