Vae Viator20

It only seems like forever

Headed to Long Beach, I start thinking about the access control system which has been physically installed at many stations.

I compare progress of the installation of this “system” here in Los Angeles with my personal experience in Tokyo.  The speed of installation, and therefore the ROI (Return on Investment) here ranges from glacial to turtle-like. 

In Tokyo all the big transportation centers were installed first.  Based upon the rapidity of the installations, I assume the electrical, electronic infrastructure was in place and tested prior to the physical installation of the gates which effort took at most, a few days at each major center with many, if not most, major centers installed concurrently and ready use after an install over a weekend.  So after a weekend the system was operational between major transportation centers like the stations at Tokyo, Ueno, Shibuya, Shinjuku and etc.

Then in short order teams installed the secondary level stations and finally the tertiary level stations.

The JR East system today has 30,000,000 (thirty million) Suika (access) cards in use.  How many other than day-pass cards do you think the LACMTA has in circulation?

Su Topo has been predicting rush hour bottlenecks when too many people are queued up at gates which may be locked by someone without a valid TAP card and traffic impeded in BOTH directions .  This will be unpleasant, tempers will flare, people will push and … .  This is what happens when “systems” are neither planned nor designed”

La taupe’s plan? Avoid rush hour at stations with bottlenecks like the one described at Imperial Station.

Here without comment, other than to say it is reflective of the LACMTA’s general approach to expenditures is the LACMTA’s own words in response to an audit recommendation by the organization’s outside auditors about the way buses were sometimes improperly depreciated.

The Board of Directors
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
December 16,2009

Page 5/6

Management Response

Capitalization and subsequent depreciation of purchased rolling stock is recognized upon its receipt and acceptance in accordance with past practice and procedures. The fiscal year 2008 mistake of early capitalization and depreciation of purchased buses was an oversight due mainly to shortage of resources in the department and had been corrected in fiscal year 2009.

Management believes that this $2.3 million overstatement of depreciation expense out of a total depreciation expense for the year of $410.5 million was immaterial and did not constitute a material misstatement of net assets.”

You can see the complete report along with the verbatim recommendations from which this response, a tiny fragment of the total report, here.

<< Il n'y a pas de liberté pour l'ignorant.>>

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat,

  Marquis de Condorcet (1743-09-17 ~ 1794-03-29)

[There is no freedom for the ignorant.]

The Mole reads the papers and other things, obviating the necessity of your doing so.

A Los Angeles Times article (Weikel) involves more problems from “The gang that couldn’t route straight”, aka the LACMTA.  In another example of why it is NOT a good idea to commit, then plan, the location of the “subway to the sea’s” Century City Station is being decided.

Opposing groups feel either (i) that it is just great to tunnel below Beverly Hill High School or (ii) that doing so is the worst idea in the world.

This Mole feels that station locations should be decided as part of the planning and EIR and occur before budgeting is approved.  Not our “friends” at the LACMTA where everything, it seems, is negotiable.  Your Mole sees some logic in a more centralized station in Century City, but wonders why the route couldn’t be gradually curved to intersect the location which seems to be surprise addition.

Atlantic Magazine (Erickson) quotes a DePaul University study about Wi-Fi on intercity transportation.  Joseph Schwieterman, Professor and Director, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University, cautions against reading too much into the data. Professor Schwieterman writes, "It would be a stretch to argue that portable technology will appreciably diminish the share of travel by car anytime soon … ”. Still, Wi-Fi might be a (relatively) inexpensive way for transit systems to get people out of their cars and onto trains, subways and buses.

The study focused on inter-city transportation but those of us, like su Topo, who use intra-city transportation could use onboard Wi-Fi to their advantage as well.


The LACMTA is really hyping NextBus , ahh, err, ummm, Nextrip (When’s my next bus?)! Doesn’t this fall under the heading success has a thousand fathers, If you doubt that Nextrip IS NEXTBUS, not to worry, your Mole will provide you a link, right here.

See, it takes you right to the selection page where a single depression of the Page Down key will expose “California-Southern and the fourth entry below that is, surprise, the L.A. Metro J. Although, the system on the NextBus site is called by its rightful name, NextBus.  Perhaps this doesn’t fall under the rubric “Success has a thousand fathers …”  It is probably more like NIH (Not Invented Here, at the Taj Mahal) so we, the LACMTA, will waste time and money making it appear as if it was invented here. It seems dishonest, doesn’t it?  Why would they do that?  To bolster a weak sense of self identity, perhaps J

The translation of the brochure, like much of the LACMTA’s work, might have been better or consistent“¿Cuándo es mi próximo autobús?” It is not a big deal, but the English says “When” and the Español says “Donde” [Where].  Then too, the system is supposed to report WHEN the next bus will arrive at a given stop, not where it is right now.  It the stop is a busy one that is shared by several bus lines, then your text message answer will probably contain TMI and you will have to figure it out.

In my test case I sent the format requested by the Nextbus site and I was rewarded with a technique that tripled my air time.  I  sent one message and received two replies (three chargeable messages) and NO usable data were returned. 

It is likely a format problem but since I have no intention of EVER using the system again I will leave it at that. 

Texting Next Bus for No Fun and NO Profit♪.

You can see, above, the format as supplied by Next Bus.  It is different from that supplied on page (oops, they don’t number the pages – a cost saving technique?) in the expensive, glossy brochure (When's), so given the option of trying several things (I am fairly certain that I know what the LACMTA’s marketing department failed to communicate or poorly communicated) or forgetting about it, your Mole opts to forget about it.  He prefers to just wait and know that sooner or later, usually later, a bus will show up.  Knowing that it will be twenty minutes late doesn’t make him happy.  It just makes him wonder why the LACMTA insists on spending his tax money on things that do not contribute to on-time bus performance.


In any event there is nothing wrong with selling information, when there is no alternative.  In this case, the best alternative would be to develop a routing and scheduling system that assists in keeping the buses on schedule.  Then too, the LACMTA may have purchased that module already. 

Any organization that treats $2,300,000 (vide supra) as I treat the money necessary to buy a double dip Thrifty ice cream cone, wouldn’t be fazed by buying unnecessary services, would they? 

Of course, this Mole sees such a money down the rat hole philosophy as “Taxation without Transportation”.  

Now, la Taupe has often said, “If you don't understand the problem you can't fix it” or words to that effect. So, it is only fair for him to offer suggestions as to things that are “broken”, need fixing and offer a better ROI than the non-productive investment in Next_(whatever) (Please fill in the blank). Your Mole offers only four (4) but, please understand there are lots more.

Uno: I have included below portions of the Saturday schedules for the 130 Line and the 344 Line routes. The subject of this discussion is how routes are poorly linked so that passengers transferring between the east bound 130 and the south bound 344 at Artesia BL and Hawthorne BL have to wait unnecessarily. 

Click on the schedule and note that the 130 Line bus arrives at Artesia and Hawthorne at 10:22 a.m. 

Then click on the 344 schedule and you will see that its arrival is just 3 minutes AFTER the 344 has left the intersection, headed south at 10:19 a.m.! Now, you may study the schedules and find that some important connections actually do work.  Your Mole will attribute these happenstance occurrences to the stopped clock is right twice a day axiom, rather to any planning by the "Gang who can't route straight".

The money lavished on NextBus which does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improve linkage on these lines and on many, many more bus line routes and schedules.

Metro "Maintenance" and "Let the work speak for itself.
Dos:  Pictured below are the ever worsening cracks in the glass above the platform at Mariposa Station.  Soon some of these windows may fall on the head of an unsuspecting passenger.  It may be cheaper for the LACMTA to settle law suits than perform proper maintenance.

Although the forecast 35 mile-per-hour winds did not materialise this week, what will happen when they do?  Hint: Please look for the black dots because the cracks are easier to see in real life than in the photos.

Tres: The photo below shows the sun reflecting from some of the ticket vending machines at Mariposa Station. The bright reflection renders them as close to useless as possible with power still available.

Quatro: Again, at Mariposa Station, the still useless after all these years, access control gates bask in the sun. The LACMTA marketing department apparently feel that “the public” requires a decade long acclimation period. Please see the picture in the lead photograph in this post.

All these problems, with attendant plangent screaming to be worked on, yet the LACMTA's, what is the word?, “abby” something, brains confuse spending money on a project which includes no tangible benefit, with actually doing something.

¿Musica?  You can create a do-it-yourself “karaoke Party” with some help from youtube. Switch to full screen mode and listen to an energetic version of “El Autobús” by Paizaz de guanaceví with lead vocalist Oscar Ramos.   Thanks to the group and to youtube, too!

Ear to the Rail 

Let’s take a closer and hopefully more revelatory look at quantum computers.  First there is a recent article (Sartain) in Networkworld Magazine.  The Web version has a slide show on the physical layout of a quantum computer as well as its environmental requirements, ( hint: very cold).

Ms Sartain does an excellent job of covering the current status of real-world quantum computing in a short article.  She discusses one of the only actual installations of a QC “production” machine which I have so far discovered in the literature. 

There are lots of quotes from people in the know.  Like this one from Professor Phillip Stamp director of the Pacific Institute for Theoretical Physics, Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia [Canada] who says, “I think that for a genuine quantum computer, we may be talking about ten years for something that a very big company can buy and 25 to 30 years for the ordinary consumer.”  Michael Peterson, analyst and CEO at Strategic Research Corporation is quoted, “I’d put quantum computing, even if it proves competitive and valid, 20 years out because of the very complex infrastructure that has to go with it.”

So, if you were planning to give someone a quantum computer this Christmas, it appears that you will have to wait.

Then, from the University of Melbourne we can listen to “A Quantum Leap in Computing” by Professor David Jamieson which is a bit later, from 2007, and less than 25 minutes long.


Also we have an audio lecture (77 minutes) from the “Free Library” about Quantum Computing presented by an MIT professor, Seth Lloyd about five years ago.  The buildup is a little slow and, as he explains, “I can’t tell you how that happens but we build things that do it”, or words to that effect. Which response is something which one should accustom oneself to hearing when the topic is quantum computing.


A National Geographic piece (Than) contains the postulate that instead of matter resting in the center of black holes, small, dense and happy, it “ … rather gushes out a "white hole" at the other end of the black one, … and becomes the building blocks for galaxies, stars, and planets in another reality.”  

“… Andreas Albrecht, a physicist at the University of California, Davis, who was also not involved in the new study.” is quoted, “… You can't say the less weird [idea] is going to win, because that's not the way it's been, by any means."

For those interested in time travel the article offers this link.

 The Mole Rides Again, so you don’t have to wait for the driver to finish his conversation and decide to board the bus (late).

(All times are expressed in the 24 hour system.)

2011-10-05 @ 8:40, Aboard a 232 Line bus:  The driver has the dispatch radio turned up to an ear-splitting level.  The LACMTA make the contract with contractor MVT, yet provides neither supervision nor quality control.  She is one of the jerky drivers too, making for an unpleasant trip on this rainy morning.

We stop at Mariposa Station and we change buses for some unexplained reason and keep the same driver.  And soon we have the same loud dispatch radio to shatter the quiet.  The Mariposa escalator is out of service but almost as soon as I climb the stairs to the platform, the Mitsubishi repairman show up.  I learn that the rain trips the circuit breakers and he has to reset them and he soon has it back in operation. 

A woman, ill dressed for this cold, wet weather waits on the platform.

She tells me that she is from the Ukraine; no wonder the weather doesn’t bother her.  I greet her in Russian, which is a second language for most Ukrainians.  She launches into Russian and in seconds has overwhelmed my abilities.  We board the Green Line together and she works with her electronic dictionary.

At Imperial et al., I make my way to the Blue line platform and after a short wait I am on the way to Long Beach.  The train is quiet and I can read.

2011-10-11 11:26 @ LAXBC:  I wait for the driver, number 25084, to finish his lengthy conversation with a woman at the bus-side.  Finally he boards this 42 Line bus, number 5322 and we leave, late.  On board, he continues his chat with the woman devoting less than his full attention on driving. The windshield wiper blades make a loud clicking sound which your Mole can’t tell if it is an expected sound or not.

2011-10-21 8:30, Mariposa Station: A Metro employee is changing the platform waste receptacle trash bags and picking up minor litter.  That seems to be the extent of the “maintenance” here although the track areas on both side of the platform have lots of litter.

Too, the LACMTA expects its passengers to have bladders about the size of a Gilbert rugby ball, for a number 5 ball this works out to about 2.8 liters, because no “facilities” are provided at any station, subway, rail or bus center

South Bay Center: There has been a long wait for a 740 Line bus.  It was made longer because “they” have removed the bus benches, which provided seats for about eight and standing room in the shade for about that many more, from this busy stop.  The bus arrives about 15 minutes late.  Boarding at Imperial, I ride the Green Line.  A mother and her little girl ride directly across from me on the longitudinal seats.  The mother and a very thoughtful mother she is, peels some grapes and gives them to her daughter one by one. Then she gives the girl a drink from a plastic water bottle which has been refilled with milk.

I know, I know, the LACMTA frowns on eating and drinking on trains but this neat mother and her quiet little girl should be exceptions.

Finally, the mother takes a doll out of her bag and gives it to the toddler who receives it with a scream of delight.  Before too long the doll is on the floor.  Su Topo picks it up and offers it to the little girl who refuses it. The mother accepts it with “gracias” and receives a reply of “de nada”.

2011-10-22 Aboard a 111 Line bus to LAXCBC:  The driver, uncommonly sensitive, stops at a point giving us easy access to the buses which he knows we (most of us anyway) will transfer.  His I.D. number? I forgot. 

A 232 Line bus is about to leave by the entry door is being blocked by a man who is pulling leaves off a branch and dropping them on the sidewalk.  Just when one thinks he has seen everything.

2011-10-29 @ 8:30 aboard a 232 Line bus:  "I can't go on Facebook at school because they block it", a young girl tells an older man who is traveling with her mother and sister.  She continues, now in the role of instructor, "You can drag it to your e-mail ... we can go to the library and I'll show you."  The man has an expression which communnicates something like, Why are you speaking Algonquin to me?  His very professional teacher is perhaps 10 or 11 years old.  Her younger siste hold a stuffed toy, a baby bird.  It is a nie familial scene.  The bus, quiet except for the always full blast dispatch radio chatter.  The young lady reverts to child like paly, taking the bird from her sister and supplying its voice in a conversation with the man.

The driver is a no-nonsense profession lady who makes business like stop announcments.  As I leave the bus the wo girls a r playing with the toy bird :-).

Fare Box Score Box and related Lists of Shame

I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: 7585;

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

I.D.Numbers of Distracted Drivers: 25084 (i);

None included here, but observations of a minor nature may be included in the main posting;

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: xxxx;

~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 Tailsigns disagree: 8184      117/XXX (unidentifiable);

Format is Bus number followed by Headsign number/Tailsign number.

ID numbers of Buses without Braille signs: XXXX;

METRO drivers  Basic Technical Skills Report

The format is Driver number F[{Y/-n/+n} C[{Y/N+/-}].  Meaning of F if Y the driver stopped with the Bus stop “flag pole” somewhere between the bus front door frame.  A negative number, e.g., -3 is the approximate distance in metres (think yards dear readers) between the nearest bus door vertical frame member and the flag pole signifying that the bus stopped short of the flag.   A positive number, e.g., +3 (metres) is the approximate distance between the nearest bus door vertical frame member and the flag pole signifying that the bus stopped past the flag.    The value for C[{Y/N}], “Y” tells us that the driver stopped within an easy step from the curb to the bus, “N” means it was NOT an easy step from the curb to the bus.   It is this Mole's belief that an average experienced good driver should be able to control his bus so as to position in near the curb and with the flag pole slightly to the front of the bus.  

xxxxx F[-] C[]; xxxxx F[+], C[]; xxxxx F[+], C[]; xxxxx F[+], C[];  N.B. distances are in metres, think yards.

nnnnn* = Contract Driver

I.D. numbers of drivers who are almost guaranteed to give you a Rough and Jerky (R & J) ridexxxxx;

I.D. numbers of drivers who will give you a potentially life-threatening ride.  XXXXX(-); XXXXX(-);  

Codes: S = not wearing seat belts; J = bad judgment (unsafe driving practices).

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 known 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 $1.50)

GMBL = Gardena Municipal Bus lines

LAXCBC = the LAX City Bus Center.

OCTA = Orange County Transportation Authority.

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).

R & J = Rough and Jerky [ride].

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 someday read this, copy my code and improve their text to HTML engine.  Until then, lo siento.

Mole’s Copyright Statement

All photographs and original written materials are copyrighted © 2007~2009 by LAmetroMole.  ♪Clicking a photo will often* present you with an enlargement (sometimes successive clicks will further enlarge the photo). *This feature is dependent upon the Internet browser which you use and possibly other factors.


This site contains or provides links to copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, sustainable development, environmental, community and worker health, public disclosure, corporate accountability, and etc. We have often included relatively brief quotes from articles and etc., sometimes in addition to a simple link, because we have found that links frequently go "bad" or change over time. We believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes and to those who access the site via any and all other channels. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Music or other recorded material on this site, or referred to by this site are copyrighted by their respective artists and are made available here for evaluation purposes only. Please support the artists you like by buying their commercial CDs, MP3s and downloads.

Your Mole’s Conflict of Interest Statement

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

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

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

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

There are no exceptions.

Date: 2009-06-24                  S/LametroMole                  

Works Cited

Bloomekatz, Ari. Construction of Expo Line's second part to beginLos Angeles Times. Sep. 11, 2011: Web. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-expo-line-20110911,0,6612096.story

Erickson, Amanda. “To Win Riders, Mass Transit Should Get Wired”. Atlantic. Oct 20, 2011. Web.

Sartain, Julie. “Is Quantum Computing Real?”. Networkworld. Sep. 26, 2011. Print. (p26-30) Web. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/092611-quantum-computing-250825.html

Than, Ker. Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe? And our

universe may sit in another universe's black hole, equations

predict”. National Geographic. Apr. 29, 2010: Web.


Weikel, Dan. “Panel backs MTA subway extension under Beverly Hills High“. Los Angeles Times. Oct. 20, 2011. Web. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-subway-study-20111020,0,6878975.story

“When’s my next bus?” Metro Monthly. 12-0311MR © LACMTA 2011. Print.

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The above is  ### 30 ###  in Braille

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