Vae Viator19

Stops and Buses

Wow, was your Mole off on the number of LACMTA bus stops he quoted last month (6,000) when according to the dated (just about 5 years old) statistics available from the agency itself and shown above, there are 18,500 stops.  This number will be somewhat lower due to the colocation of stops from several lines at the same physical coordinates.  So, that will drive the cost up from my original estimate, perhaps up to three times the value estimated by su Topo ($300.000) which would put it within sight of $1,000,000.  To see how realistic $1 million would be, let’s divide that by 18,500 giving us a reasonable cost of installation of $54/stop.  In reality that is probably too low.
What does the pseudonym for Nextbus, Nextrip cost the taxpayer?  Since our favourite transportation agency keeps its opex (operational expenditures) and capex (capital expenditures) closer than a gambling husband his poker winnings from his wife, it is difficult to say.

How about some transparency here?  Ms Greuel??  In any event la Taupe became a data miner and offers this: for agencies which buy the package which includes the GPS from Nextbus the per bus cost is about $8000.  Those agencies which already have GPS would pay about $4000 per bus.

This means that the LACMTA would pay $10,024,000 for its fleet quoted above at 2,506 buses. This Mole sees the sum of the two values, in excess of $11,000,000 as a capex.  But wait, la Taupe is far from perfect and $10 million is a lot of money but it could easily turn out to be a per annum charge, then it would appear as an operating expense (opex) in the relevant reports.  Pretty soon we will be talking about real money.  After $10 million per year is only .003 of 1% of a $3,000,000,000 ($3 billion) annual budget. But in su Topo's view it is an unnecessary $10,000,000 expenditure.  It is for "information" which contributes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improved operations!  What do you think, Ms Greuel?

What a nice investigative piece, just one of MANY waiting to be mined from the LACMTA.  A team of ten working for three years would almost be guaranteed a Pultizer or perhaps several for the series.  All we need is a newspaper to take it on.  A title?  How about "Taxation without Transportation?  I like it!

Now, please, remember that this is only estimated startup costs and does not include lots of other costs like the, what should I say?, otiose renaming of the service, computer hardware, computer software, staff training, telephone expense, slick marketing brochures and etc. and etc.   Plus one must consider the opex, monthly or annual charges for the Nextbus hardware/software licensing, maintenance and upgrades and more etc.

ALL THIS MONEY BEING SPENT and for what?  Not a single dollar of it will improve service.

Not considered either is the accuracy of the information.  This Mole will NOT be mollified by knowing that his “next bus” is twenty minutes away.  He already knows that he cannot depend on schedules and his bus will be late many more times that it will be on time.

Above we have an illustration of “Taxation without Transportation” and what a perfect example it is.  You probably thought that no one is perfect.

Further, what would on call an attemp to rebrand and existing service (did that cost extra?) and appear to assume credit for it?  Creative? Dishonest??

Then too, the very idea of sticking things up on bus stops reminds me of Snoble’s, (You remember him? He was the man who used taxpayer money to fund propaganda in favour of Measure R.), changed all the logos, on bus stops and elsewhere, from the nice “Big Orange” of RTD days to the current dull “M”.  He also had approximate bus schedule decals pasted on the “flag” poles.  Many of these things are still extant.

Oh, and I can’t leave this topic without reminding everyone that “Measure Rx”, the repeal of Measure R, is the cure for thoughtless, wasteful spending.

I have anecdotal and other more specific evidence that in the event of bus accidents the LACMTA goes into stonewall mode, i.e., does not have a formal reporting process, vis-à-vis passengers anyway.  The driver will give any injured persons the absolute minimal information: possibly driver number and a telephone number to call, which information may be written on any scrap of paper that the driver has at hand. 

Only people who support the driver’s “facts” will be given report forms.  That means that those injured will not have the names of witness who could possibly be of help to the victim(s) in pressing their claims.

Such a process places those whose command of English is below average at a decided disadvantage.  I want to make special note that there is no shortage of Español advertising plastered all over the inside of the buses when they want to get their hands on our money.

I gets worse if one goes to the “Taj Mahal” to report injuries, in some case at least they will be told to make a written report and take it to the, I understand, “Board Secretary”. 
The injured may receive letters from the LACMTA’s insurance carrier and other contact.  But eventually the injured person will receive a letter denying the claim.  If there is no blood involved in the accident attorneys are reluctant to get involved because of little expected monetary return; with the injured party left to grit his/her teeth and heal as best they can.

This is shameful on many levels! 

First of all if an individual tried this approach after becoming involved in an accident he would likely be arrested.

In addition, however many hundreds of reams of positive spin brochures the LACMTA marketing department prints, one would think that they could issue each driver with an accident kit so that all concerned could have proper reports and witness statements.

Come on Mr. Leahy, hold the presses on some of the absolutely unnecessary printing that is left to turn yellow inside buses and equip each driver with an accident kit.  It is the right thing to do.  If your staff can’t figure it out, then please contact Long Beach Transit about whose accident reporting process this Mole has reported.  I am sure that they will be glad to share best practices as implemented by a First Class organization.

Let the Work Speak for Itself

A Half-vast job is better than none

The 715 Line was cancelled months ago.  Yet, the unnecessary barrier presented by the "Rapid" post (pictured above, left) remains in place impeding all of us, especially those who are visually challenged.

Speaking of onboard advertising, why don't we see many PSA (Public Service Announcments) on buses?  Placing PSAs which encourage smokers to quit the habit would serve two purposes: firstly, the California non-smokers who stand in an approximate 3:1 ratio to smokers, wouldn't be forced to breathe second hand smoke and secondly, the LACMTA's clean up times and costs would be reduced, although most places seem always to be littered with cigarete stubs.

One of those places is the LAXCBC, which at most seems to recieve a cursory sweeping.

<< Une belle femme plaît aux yeux, une bonne femme plaît au coeur; l'une est un bijou, l'autre un trésor. >>

Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-08-15 ~ 1821-05-05)

[A beautiful woman pleases the eyes, a good woman pleases the heart;
one is a gem, the other a treasure. - Mole]

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

A Los Angeles Times piece (Boomekatz) discusses the beginning of Phase 2 of the “Expo Line” although Phase I is not yet complete. All I will quote is: “This phase will involve a new group of contractors, a fixed budget and a larger contingency fund for unknown costs, says the head of the Expo Line construction authority.” [New group of contractors? Is that to spread the money around? or to throw away the experience??, or BOTH???. Fixed budget and larger contingency fund is that approximately equal to an unbounded budget and a smaller contingency fund? – Mole]

The Times in (Boomekatz) with a story about jobs which will be created by transportation projects.  But note this: “Thursday's vote authorizes Metro to negotiate the labor agreements. Those negotiations will require, among other things, that at least 30% of the workers live locally and that at least 10% come from communities hit especially hard by the recession or who face hardships such as homelessness or chronic unemployment.” [emphasis – Mole]  How bloody generous! 

This just in: It appears that Gardena Municipal Bus lines
(GMBL) is becoming a larger force in transportation under Gardena’s dynamic Mayor, Paul K. Tanaka. 

Just one example, GMBL is becoming part of a real system by extending its Line 5 from the old terminus at El Segundo BL on Grand all the way to Aviation Station. The other end point is Imperial/Rosa Parks Station with convenient stops, mostly on El Segundo BL, along the way.  The first Line 5 bus arrives at Aviation Station at 5:13 in the morning and the last one leaves Aviation Station at 20:25.  Please note that this is weekday service only. Thank you GMBL!  More information, fares, maps and etc. at: http://www.ci.gardena.ca.us/departments/Transportation/busmaps.html

I pickup brochure 12-0015JL © 2011 LACMTA.  It is entitled “We’re a cheap date.” and on the reverse side “Somos económicos” in Español. The English title, at least, is weird.  Under the heading “On Buses” it says, “As a convenience to those who don’t already have one [a TAP card], regular TAP cards will be available for purchase with [including the $5] Day Pass for a total of $6.”   I know, I know, the grammar of my inclusion is a little strange BUT, it is more understandable.  More “fine” work from the Marketing Department.
The brochure should have been entitled “TAP cards are now sold on Metro buses!”

Again they direct one who desires more information to its web site  ; leaving it up to the individual to tease out the details by searching the Metro site, something I found a very poor investment of time.  Why didn’t they give us a full link to the info?  The only possible answer, “No se”.

This Mole questions the reason for the "stealth" of this announcment.  This, for a change, is a service to the public, and one that should have never been dropped in the first place.  Again, Ms Greuel, is it not "Breach of Fiducary responsibility" to spend the public taxes/money in such an ineffective manner? 

After all, the English title, “We’re a cheap date”, of this expensive piece of paper does more to conceal than reveal the intent of the communication. It makes it seem as if the LACMTA is running a dating site, ¿es no? The Spanish tile is not so informativo either.

I am looking at bus drivers instructions on how to process TAP cards and stored value, i.e., money amounts purchased and transferred to a TAP card at the time a rider enters the bus.  Using the TAP card to carry ones' cash is a feature intended for people who have a high level of trust in those whose financial management skills have been demonstrated repeatedly to be "below par".
The processing instructions make me appreciate (i) how much drivers must know to collect fares and (ii) how poorly the “automatic” fare collection “system” is implemented.  I Japan, as an example, when one uses a “TAP” card or one of the newer NFC (Near Field Communications), about which I will have more to say next month.  As you attempt to leave a station, if the fare you paid is not correct, the access control system will so indicate and you will be required to go to a fare adjustment machine to pay the difference. The machine will issue you a receipt which will allow you to exit the station, untouched by human hands.
Ear to the Rail 

¿Musica? Here is Muddy Waters singing the blues about a “Bus Driver”. http://grooveshark.com/s/Bus+Driver/48W4HR?src=5  And as always, Thank You Grooveshark!


A particle which travels faster than the speed of light?  So far it appears that way.  Neutrinos (sub-atomic particles with very little mass; see www.dictionary.com for definitions.) sent by CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, over a distance of 732 Km seem to have slightly exceeded the speed of light.

For a little more detail please see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15017484

The practical application of this “effect” could be to make the LACMTA buses run on time J.

The Mole Rides Again, so you don’t have feel like a bobble-head due to all the rough and jerky driving!
(All times are expressed in the 24 hour system.)

2011-09-02 morning: I am aboard a CCMBL Rapid 6: The driver, “Oper # 153” according to the “scroll”, need more training.  I am becoming sea-sick with all the rough stop and goes.   He seemingly can’t drive a bus length without introducing a rough, jerky stop.  It seems that CCMBL doesn’t road check these guys or have an unknown observer ride-along as a QC (Quality Control) measure.  Although one of my smoothest rides ever was on a Rapid 6!  The “R” in Rapid doesn’t also have to stand for Rough!

2011-09-02 @ 12:30:  I ride a CCMBL #6.  Eight UCLA Yell/Cheer Crew members ride behind me they sound like 16!  This unfortunate few were all, apparently, born without an inside voice and absolutely no sense of decorum.  Even the men chattered like women.  I don’t expect much of my fellow passengers but this group is, supposedly, college educated?

2011-09-02 @ 13:15:  LAXCBC, Everyone is smoking, well not everyone, just those who are upwind of me.

2011-09-05: The sum of the wait time for three (3) buses on my ride home was less than 10 minutes!  Nice, but all-too-rare.  Of course, this was due more to random chance than any scheduling planning on the part of the LACNTA.

2011-09-05: I exit the Green Line at Rosecrans.  I would like to use the left side of the down stairway nearest the end of the train but, a homeless man who is charging his cell at a Metro receptacle also has 6~7 pairs of sox spread out to dry on that stairway.  Typical of our Metro, there is absolutely no security.

2011-09-06 @ 7:30: This is my first bus of the day.  A mother stands near the door with her young daughter.  I point out an empty seat to them.  The mother tells me that the little girl thinks that standing on the bus is like riding on a skateboard.  A nice start to my day!

2011-09-06 @ 8:20: I am aboard a 232 Line bus.  The dispatch radio is (blissfully) turned down and it would be quiet except that the driver is not using the microphone and is shouting out stops. Intersections and transfer options.  This is pretty much a waste of time on a bus where most of the passengers are seasoned commuters.

2011-09-06:  The penultimate leg of today’s trip is the Red Line.  I immediately notice that the onboard P.A. system on this train is much better than usual.  It is intelligible yet retains the sharp, tinny sound of a fast-food drive thru system which failed inspection. I will give them a C- for effort, after all one doesn’t expect perfection from the LACMTA.

2011-09-07:  Aboard a 117 Line bus. A woman is involved in a cell phone conversation: “Where were you?”, “You took out money!”, “There is no barber shop open at 11P.M.!”, “I don’t care!”, “Stay wherever you’re at!”  Sigh … human relationships.  La Taupe assists two young ladies from Paris with their trip to Hollywood.  We talk about how great it is to ride the Paris Metro J.

2011-09-12 @ 8:20:  Aboard a CCMBL #6 Rapid bound for UCLA.  These trips are always interesting.  The passenger with whom I share a seat reads Sanskrit.  Ahead of me a woman is reading a French paperback.  It is beautifully quiet this morning: no loud cell phone conversations: no inane TransiTV; no blaring dispatch radios.

2011-09-14 @ 9:17:  My Green Line Train makes a nice connection with the Blue Line and I am off to Long Beach within a minute of arriving on the platform.  A lady two seats ahead of me does some kind of needlework; she is very fast.  I read somewhere that people who use their hands a lot, like pianists, live longer than those who don’t.  Two seats to the rear of me two strangers have a conversation which seems to this Mole to be turning into an interrogation. Passenger “A” continues to pump passenger “B” for information.  I change seats and think about reading but no sooner does the thought cross my mind than a cell phone conversation begins nearby. 

2011-09-26 @ 15:55: This is an interesting ride on a 733 Line bus, number 9520, headed Downtown.  The fare box will not accept coins but seems to accept paper money.  I ask for a transfer and the driver, number 29312, motions me to place my coins on a near overflowing pile on the coin receptacle.  The woman behind me inserts a dollar and he says “OK”.  A few minutes later he inserts some transfers into the bill slot, closing off access to that revenue flow, and covering up the pile of accumulated coins.  This is an example of LACMTA logic and/or lack of a process to deal with routine occurrences.  Why would he not accept dollar bills and forgo the change, I have some thoughts but who really knows?

Dedicated to the Dulcinea of my dreams


She, whose full features may be here descried,
High-bosomed, with a bearing of disdain,
Is Dulcinea, she for whom in vain
The great Don Quixote of La Mancha sighed.
For her, Toboso's queen, from side to side
He traversed the grim sierra, the champaign
Of Aranjuez, and Montiel's famous plain:
On Rocinante oft a weary ride.
Malignant planets, cruel destiny,
Pursued them both, the fair Manchegan dame,
And the unconquered star of chivalry.
Nor youth nor beauty saved her from the claim
Of death; he paid love's bitter penalty,
And left the marble to preserve his name.

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) Don Quixote (1605), excerpted from Chapter LII.

Fare Box Score Box and related Lists of Shame
I.D. Numbers of buses with Out of Order Fare Boxes: 9520; 8101;
Note: No or few entries above do not necessarily mean all fare boxes are in operation. 
I.D.Numbers of Distracted Drivers: xxxxx (x);
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: xxxx       HHH/TTT;
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.  
18770 F[Y] C[N+1]; xxxx F[+], C[]; xxxx F[+], C[]; xxxx 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) ride.  71932;
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

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The above is  ### 30 ###  in Braille

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