Vae Viator4

It is difficult that years after receiving the “award” the LACMTA can continue to claim greatness. Especially when ADADO is out of service on 90% of the buses which I ride. Also, the Braille identification tags are non-existent on almost all of the 232 line buses. You know, the one that is contracted out to First Transit –which may be how the LACMTA wiggles out of the requirement – this is also the line infamous for wasting time and money and making a small contribution to global warming by looping around Mariposa Station, all covered many many times here.

Let's not forget the "Trip Spoiler" [aka metro.net],  every time I access it the page load time gets longer and longer!

A definition of “metric”, i.e., a standard of measurement, should suffice to show that the LACMTA whose policies are best described as incoherent, doesn’t have any. What is badly needed, especially for planning purposes, is some way for them and us to determine whether money is well spent.
Oh, if you are with the LACMTA, you can get up and leave now because la Taupe knows how these discussions give you a bad headache.

Take for example, the Rapid lines, you recall, those who this Mole describes as “Moving Fewer Faster”, unfortunately it turns out usually to be a lot fewer only somewhat faster.

Let’s take the 720 Line Rapids on Wilshire BL as a case in point. They are on a fixed schedule which results is some buses being crammed full while others travel with only fractional capacity used. Suppose that we could count passenger boarding and exits –yes some transportation agencies actually have this functionality on board their buses– then we could develop statistics, metrics for the line. Well the LACMTA doesn’t have that capability, or has it and doesn’t know how to use it.

BUT, they do count passengers, automatically by means of your TAP card or by driver input. Now, the line extends about 21 miles between Commerce Center and 4th and Colorado in Santa Monica. It takes lots of time and money –much of it wasted when the loads are light and much of the wasted time and money could be saved if the money burning LACMTA would dump the politicians and others who anchor the organization firmly in the 19th Century, trading them in for some 20th Century technology.

A very simple calculation and it is important to note that all the data are available from the on-board counts and GPS data, could show us passenger load by line segment. For the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the line into three segments of five miles each and one, the final one in Santa Monica of six plus miles. Now, if we save the count or transmit it to the under utilized and costly third-party computer center which is making somebody rich with very little work performed. Of course, if you attempted to find out what is done at the expensive computer center, you would soon be buried in mind-numbing technical jargon.

Here we are, five miles into the run with 11 people on board, this works out to 2.2 passengers per mile. At the ten mile point, GPS can automatically tell us when we are ten miles into the route and send out (or store) the values let’s say we now show 35 passengers on board or 3.5 passengers per mile. These values are not correct, they will overstate the case, but as we professionals say: “Close enough for government work”! Why are our values incorrect? Because we counted only boardings not passengers exiting the bus.

If each line of five miles or more were subjected to such an analysis with the added dimension of time of day we soon would have a better picture of system requirements by time of day. We would also know during which periods we are unable to meet the “promised” schedule times. In a transportation organization which did not suffer from incoherence one would expect: improved load factors; a printed schedule on which point to point travel would vary with time of day and even dollar savings.

The 720 Line is another favorite target of su Topo, on it nothing seems to really work –well, mainly it’s only the ASAS that doesn’t seem to work, the noise is usually high due to things rattling around and it bypasses lots of people who are made to wait and wait for Line 20 buses because they happen to need a bus from a non-Rapid stop. It is also a line which should be broken into 720A from Commerce Center to say, Civic Center and 720B from Wilshire and Western to 4th and Colorado in Santa Monica. Yes I know three segments for the passengers, boarding and re-boardings, but that is life in the big city. The savings would soon pay for the passenger counters on every bus and the LACMTA could rationalize their entire route structure.
Another way to save money would be to stop the printing presses and fire everyone associated with those Marketing Department publications. Actually, both could be accomplished.

To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight.”
Charles de Montesquieu, political philosopher and social critic (1689-01-18 ~ 1755-02-10)

Why should care about Montesquieu? His thinking informed both those who formed the United States and also inspired the French revolutionaries. Anyone who is interested can find a brief, but effective PowerPoint presentation about the political thinkers, Locke, Montesquiue, Voltaire and Thomas Paine here. www.oswego.edu/~delany/coursefolio/assigment3.ppt

Such study is especially appropriate during July when both countries celebrate their national holidays.

The Mole reads the papers and other things, so you don’t have to.

The New York City subway system will issue a redesigned map this month. A New York Times piece(1) has the details. Now the [NYC] MTA is an organization that even though strapped for funds can still innovate! That is not to say that the LACMTA shouldn’t receive exactly the proper éclat which they deserve, i.e., none.

The Los Angeles Times featured a profile last month(2) [Busy Mole] on Father Gregory Boyle. Ms Morrison (who this Mole liked better as a straight reporter and on KCET) talks about his book, “Tattoos on the Heart” also available en Español. It is a nice interview. If you are a procrastinator like su Topo, please read it at http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/10/opinion/la-oe-morrison10-2010apr10. It made your Mole sad to read about the Homeboy Industries layoffs so, now more than ever, please support Father Boyle in his work, you can patronize Homegirl café 

, Homeboy Bakery and of course, buy the book; here are the venues for readings signings and discussion of “Tattoos on the Heart” . [Cf. (8)].

Just what we need, more fare increases, First the LACMTA took away the ability of pass holders to use their passes on DASH, now according to a Times article(3) DASH fares will increase to 35 cents on August 1 of this year and double to 50 cents by July 1, 2011.

Then there is the Metro Bicycle Pocket Guide(4) –more from the Marketing department. Somewhat useful information for a visitor from a neighbouring galaxy who brought his bicycle. But to this Mole, just more wasted trees. If you are a bicycle rider in Los Angeles and are still able to read, you know that car doors will swing into your lane. Further, if you have to take your bike on the train you are about 99.95% sure to ignore the exclusion times for bicycles on whatever coloured line you must ride. For example, no bikes on rail between 6:30~8:30 and 16:30~18:30, you know, the times you go to work or school and the times you return. Of course, if you are the 1 out of 10,000 who owns a folding bike, you are O.K. at any time.

I read it, eventually. In a piece with the headline “Top Metrolink executive agrees to step down” su Topo finally learns that Metrolink’s sweetheart, Solow, has dropped a level on the Metrolink totem pole. I found it here(5).

“Agrees to step down”? What a soft firing? Solow must know where all the skeletons are located. In a piece which should more appropriately be headed: “Fox Now in Charge of Henhouse”, Solow takes charge of an area which he managed (loose usage of the term) to put on the back burner if not ignore completely for ten (10) years.

Good luck to him in his newish job and real good luck to all the people, passengers and others, that will depend on him to excel in the future in something that he ignored in the past.

I salute the Metrolink Board of Directors for their heroic action. (link in laugh to salute)
I read this as a puff piece, in that Solow’s inaction in spite of the many deaths cause by lack of safety planning, supervision and etc., constitute, to su Topo, criminal dereliction. In others words, firing would be too good for Solow!

The Arts & Books section of the Times covered(6) architect Renzo Piano’s work on the LACMA. Piano I like, Gehry I don’t.

Bad new for Father Gregory Boyle’s Homeboy Industries is documented(7) in the Los Angeles Times. Three hundred people were laid off. All this Mole can think about is dreams and plans put on hold. The only good news is that one hundred people will still have jobs. Fr. Boyle needs $5 million –that’s a lot of pan y enchaladas, so get busy. Homegirl café and Homeboy Bakery remain open. All the links are in the second paragraph of this section, “The Mole Reads …”, above.

More from the money and tree wasting Marketing Department at the LACMTA. “New Venice Metro Line Debuts June 27”(8) The blurb includes “… stops only at major cross streets… ” [Meaning lots of people will be bypassed and left standing so the buses probably won’t be that crowded] and “Check at Metro.net after June 27 for a timetable.” [What? this late date and they don’t know yet??] The blurb is on page, oops no page numbers, guess they forgot.

I read both the “Metro Service Changes” (10-2135TR) and “Metro fares are changing” brochures (10-1896TL). I will summarize both: the former results in less service and the latter means it will cost you more. No surprises there.

I also read another Metro brochure, “Help us plan Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit” (10-2135CMC) and Mr. Leahy, I did help you plan Wilshire Bus Transit*. Just see the paragraphs under the picture at the top of this posting. *Oh, and Mr. Leahy, it’s not “Rapid” if it shares the road with other traffic. You know, to be rapid it has to own the right-of-way –like the Green Line, Red Line or (gag) the Purple Line which are the only true examples of rapid transit here in Los Angeles.

Holiday Greetings for July
Happy Fourth of July!

Again, Happy Fourth of July!

Joyeux fête nationale!  Bon 14 juillet à tous! Vive la belle France!

Ear to the Rail
I like graphics which communicate. One example of such a graphic is a treemap, this one interactive and dense with information about super computers. Of course, this information is subject to change. My complements to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)! (See: )

It is even worse than I thought. In addition to allowing way too much unnecessary communication and providing lots of noise pollution, we now find that cell phones are killing our honey bees! Is that call really necessary?

I read a nice clear “simple” description of time dilation --about as simple as these things can get anyway. You can read Professor Styer's document at http://www.oberlin.edu/physics/dstyerEinstein/SRBook.pdf

The Mole Rides Again, so you don't have to be shaken and jerked around by a bus driver who will probably tell you “They didn’t say it has to be a smooth ride!”

2010-06-08 @ 10:30: I am aboard a 117 Line bus, number 6394 driven by operator 29977. He gives us a rough, jerky, bouncy ride West on Century BL.

2010-06-10 @ 08:45: Vor is at “work” cleaning the LAXCBC. His approach seems to be more organized than usual when compared with his former “hit and miss” method. Although his minimum visual granularity seems to be at about tennis ball size, he does pick up quite a bit and even seems to be sweeping the joints in the concrete slabs which accumulate debris. That said he seems to leave about 15% to 30% trash when cleaning the gutters and totally ignores the growing detritus, lots of cigarette butts and other material, which accumulates at the base of the tall palm trees which grow on this “island”.

2010-06-10 I ride a 333 Line bus, from the Venice/ Centinela intersection (NW side) –another busy bus stop without a trash container. The bus is crowded and I find a seat in back where a man sits like a girl with his feet on the seats. He moves leaving me space and a pile of sand on the seat, which I brush off onto the floor. He then begins to pick his nose aggressively, using his left thumb in his right nostril –I turn away.
I ask the driver about the new 733 line (vide supra) supposing that the stops will be a mile apart, he tells me that it will have the same stops as the 333 except for one. I think that this is then pretty much a waste of money on new schedules, Rapid buses and etc., but say to him “We’ll see”. I am fairly certain that this will be more of “moving even fewer faster”.

2010-06-14 @ 11:39: I am aboard a 740 Line Rapid. The woman up the aisle is on her cell. She seems to have only one word, it is a loud “Yea—h”. I am not sure what the other side of the conversation is, but it’s difficult to imagine a discussion where the reply to everything is “Yea—h, Yea—h, Yea—h” loudly over and over.

I am waiting for a 115 Line bus, and waiting. The wait turns out to be more than one hour as, apparently, something has gone wrong somewhere. However, a 715 Line “Rapid” flashes by with much less than half a load.

2010-06-19 @ 08:45: At the LAXCBC, Vor is at work cleaning. His methods seems to have improved, he is more organized when compared with his former hit-and-miss approach. Although, his minimum visual discrimination seem to be at about baseball size. He is now cleaning the gutters, but not well and he doesn’t even attempt to clean the growing mound of cigarette stubs and other detritus at the base of the tall palme trees.

I ride a 333 Line bus, it is full but I find a seat on the right side the last longitudinal seat. But a man, seated like a young girl with his feet on the seats, he moves leaving a pile of sand from his shoes for me to brush off. I do so and sit down just as he begins to aggressively pick his nose –using his left thumb for his left nostril –I turn away.

I wait at Venice BL and Centinela, a busy stop without a trash can. I ride another 33 and joke with the driver about the new Rapid 733s. He tells me the the stops will almost be the same as the regular 333. I ask why then, do we need the 733, he is unable to answer. We will see.

2010-06-21: The driver #18608 of this 715 Line bus, number 7048, is fast and rough. Nothing stops him. Not even the stop line in the entry lane of the LAXCBC –we roll right over it.
Here is a link to a song about a “Bus Stop” from our friends at Grooveshark: http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/s/Bus+Stop/WwwWr

Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams
"It does not grieve me much to have lost it," said Don Quixote, "for thou knowest, Sancho, that I have the receipt in my memory."

"So have I," answered Sancho, "but if ever I make it, or try it again as long as I live, may this be my last hour; moreover, I have no intention of putting myself in the way of wanting it, for I mean, with all my five senses, to keep myself from being wounded or from wounding anyone: as to being blanketed again I say nothing, for it is hard to prevent mishaps of that sort, and if they come there is nothing for it but to squeeze our
shoulders together, hold our breath, shut our eyes, and let ourselves go where luck and the blanket may send us."

"Thou art a bad Christian, Sancho," said Don Quixote on hearing this, "for once an injury has been done thee thou never forgettest it: but know that it is the part of noble and generous hearts not to attach importance to trifles. What lame leg hast thou got by it, what broken rib, what cracked head, that thou canst not forget that jest? For jest and sport it
was, properly regarded, and had I not seen it in that light I would have returned and done more mischief in revenging thee than the Greeks did for the … [violation] of Helen, who, if she were alive now, or if my Dulcinea had lived then, might depend upon it she would not be so famous for her beauty as she is;" and here he heaved a sigh and sent it aloft; and said Sancho, "Let it pass for a jest as it cannot be revenged in earnest, but I know what sort of jest and earnest it was, and I know it will never be rubbed out of my memory any more than off my shoulders. But putting that aside, will your worship tell me what are we to do with this dapple-grey steed that looks like a grey ass, which that Martino that your worship overthrew has left deserted here? for, from the way he took to his heels and bolted, he is not likely ever to come back for it; and by my beard but the grey is a good one."'

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

Fare Box Score Box and related Lists of Shame

I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: 6347;
Note: No or few entries above do not necessarily mean all fare boxes are in operation.

I.D.Numbers of Distracted Drivers: None observed, but they are out there!;
Codes: (i) Extended conversation(s) with passenger(s) or (ii) cell phone call(s). Frequently, details can be found in the text above, (ii*) cell phone call(s) which are aggravated by some other action, (iii) Self-distracted. Codes (ii*) and (iii) will ALWAYS be explained in the posting.

I.D. Numbers of Buses Defaced by WhoIs stickers: 6412; 7594~UR; 9289+UR; 9564; 6412; 7639;
~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.
* Another reason for displaying the operator's ID on the internal display and the headsign.

ID numbers of Buses whose Head and Tail signs disagree: ; 3007-534/2 ;
Format is Bus number followed by Headsign number/Tailsign number.

La Taupe's Abréviations

ADADO = Automatic Destination Announcement (on) Door Opening. This feature is installed on many buses and operates on extremely few. Another “money down the toilet” LACMTA investment. La Taupe that this is intended for the visually impaired because people who can see can read the “head signs”.
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, by driving faster than the GPS computer, they can bias it.
BBB = Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus
CC or CCMBL = Culver City (Municipal) Bus (Lines)
CCTC = Culver City Transportation Center this is the place formerly known as FHMTC = the Fox Hills Mall Transportation Center (Sepulveda & Slauson)
FFE = Full Fare Equivalent (presently $1.25)
LAXCBC = the LAX City Bus Center.
*Rapid Transit = does not compete for right of way, that is, it will not run at grade unless it has EXCLUSIVE DEDICATED USE of the right of way).
TT = Torrance Transit.
T1 = the normal type of driver/staff.
T2 = is the non-stop talker type of driver/staff, on the phone or to passengers,
T3 = the uncommunicative type of driver/staff, sometimes surly.
WLATC = the West Los Angeles Transportation Center (Fairfax & Apple)

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

(1) Grynbaum, Michael M. “More Manhattan in New Subway Map”. New York Times (online). 27 May 2010.
Last accessed: 2010-05-29.

(2) Morrison, Patt. “Homeboys’ hero”. Los Angeles Times. 19 April 2010:A27.

(3) Zahniser, David. “L.A.’s DASH bus fares set to double”. Los Angeles Times. 5 June 2010:AA4.

(4) N/A. “Metro Bicycle Pocket Guide”. LACMTA No Identifying Numbers (They Forgot??). No Date (They Forgot??).

(5) http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/12/top-metrolink-executive-agrees-to-step-down.html

(6) Hawthorne, Christopher. “Muted Piano”. ”. Los Angeles Times. 23 May 2010:E1. Note: Nice photos by Clendenin, Jay L.

(7) Becerra, Hector. “L.A.’s Homboy Industries lays off most of its employees”. Los Angeles Times. 14 May 2010:AA1.

(8) N/A. “Metro Monthly”. LACMTA 10-2087TR. 2010.


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