Wednesday, June 28, 2006
An Inverse Renovation of MTA's buses.
MTA buses have quite recently undergone a re-modeling phase. What happened wasn't that overcrowding was significantly relieved, such as would be if buses were added to heavily traveled routes, or that seats on the buses were sanitized, or that rogue bus-drivers were replaced or reprimanded or simply told to do better. But the buses were re-painted. This seems to be part of the illogical aspect of MTA's improvement agenda, where much of the resources and energy seem to be spent on areas that only give an illusion of quality, rather than actually improving quality itself.
Who knows what it cost to change colors of the buses. Couldn't that money have been spent on adding, say, at least two or three (or god knows how many) additional buses to the Metro Rapid fleet on Wilshire blvd where crowding is still beyond belief during rush hours and holidays?
While it's nice to add some new colors to what may or may not look boring or old; in terms of priorities, when all these other ills exist, wouldn't it be of a higher priority to relieve over-crowding, sanitize seats that are sometimes black with filth, focus energies on expanding the subway, placing time tables and trash cans at bus-stops, or something else that would have a tangible effect on riders, and the city as a whole?
Why focus on make-up when the service itself sucks? Wouldn't it be crazy to spend money and sweat on painting the exterior of a house if its interior was falling apart from mold and termite infestations?
Nobody would do such a thing, right?
But the MTA would. They're content about everyone from kids to the elderly riding in unsafe, and often filthy conditions. They're just fine with that and have been so for decades.
Wonder how often the leaders of the MTA use the Metro bus. It's just hypocrisy. Their service sucks. They know that mostly poor residents utilize these buses. After all, the Los Angeles city leadership (while in no way suggesting that all of them are bad or vile) is the same organ that's been standing idly by as people have gotten killed in local jails and hospitals. So much for their community competence. They should've worked for Saddam Hussein.
*I know the MTA have been adding buses, and replacing old models with newer ones. That doesn't equal great service, however.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
A Note Despite the Ranting
Apparently it's hard to convey that realization amidst the rants, but it's true. And it's quite obvious that credit goes where its due in terms of these improvements. While the purpose of this blog may be explained repetetively, one thing which is not the purpose of it, is to blast MTA for the sake of it.
Again, it's the MTA as a 'system creature', that I'm mostly getting at here, not its individual components per se. The purpose of this blog is obviously not to pat MTA on its head, but to get at the cores of the rot that has bothered so many people. Why I'm ranting is because no-one seem to speak out. People get frustrated, do have issues with the conduct of certain bus drivers, find many MTA lines and services inconvenient or insufficient, but most people go home in silence. While some surely complain to MTA most don't, as many are poor, hapless, old, ill, you name it. Screw that, if there's a problem somebody needs to voice out.
With due respect to you, the reader.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
And the good drivers
It's still perplexing why they don't. It appears that MTA hires anyone who meets the technical requirements of driving, holding a license to drive the vehicle, and is within age limit. It ends up with a 50/50 situation of both great and awful drivers. Don't all decent companies and organizations make sure they hire qualified people, in terms of attitudes as Well as meeting technical requirements? Where do you find job ads that ask for employees to have a certain bachelor degree or whatever, but don't care if the employee is enthusiastic, outgoing, customer service oriented, etc? Well, at MTA they don't care, because apparently customers aren't worth that much to them (ironically, still they want to increase ridership.)
Friday, June 23, 2006
Some drivers are incredibly rude
This is something that can be ranted about everyday, because few things are worse than
rude employees of a company that has effective monopoly on a service crucial to a huge amount of people. You have to put up with it (and all the other issues) since there is no alternative other than municipal bus lines of incorporated cities, but they don't cover most of L.A.
MTA is like a big, bad, mean monster in a city of people and children. I hate it. Hate what they're deliberately doing to people in terms of arrogance and attitudes.
One sucker of a driver ignored the waiting bus riders at a stop right across the MTA customer center on Wilshire/La Brea, and the bus was almost empty. It just tells it all, doesn't it. People had to wait about an additional 30-40 minutes for the next bus to arrive, because it was on a weekend.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
And the MTA Subway...
But even here, the missing points seem to strike in the typical manner. One is the Red Line which westbound direction from Downtown ends abruptly at Wilshire/Western. Hideous forces must've prevented that line from extending all the way to the coast line (was it politics more so than budget issues?). The other one is the Green line train which is supposed to link the rail network to LAX. Which, funnily, it almost does, but for some very obscure reason, doesn't. It ends abruptly a couple miles short of the actual airport. And not just so, but the reason for why it ends there is hard to make sense of. What would've been the big deal about extending the Green line all the way to LAX? Just hard to figure out, but the consequences are irritating. You must now transfer to a shuttle bus, which isn't obviously free (adding to the perplexity), which then proceeds to the airport proper.
In NYC, Paris, London, Tokyo, and countless of other cities, including in much poorer countries, the subway covers all, if not most, logical routes, and doesn't stop halfway toward intended destinations.
It's not as if those additional two miles or so that would've closed the gap could've been prohibitively expensive to build compared to the rest of the rail system. So, then what is it? Is it that the MTA doesn't feel its riders worthy of such a luxury?
The Redline on the other hand, is obviously terribly expensive to build, since it must be dug underground. But, instead of extending the line all the way through an immensely trafficked business and resident corridor (the Wilshire corridor), the Metro Gold line to Pasadena was built instead, suggesting that MTA's priorities are indeed out of whack. Personally, I think regardless of any NIMBY politics that may have stood in much of the way of the red line's logical extension, are given overdue importance. Los Angeles isn't primarily some suburban idyll where traffic and people can be wished away. It seems people go to the Westside and the beach anyway, only they now have to slog through traffic via car or bus. And the traffic problem remains as bad as ever, and is getting worse. All this because some people confuse Los Angeles with some Santa Barbara community and are afraid of subway trains? When is Los Angeles going to wake up the fact that it's the second largest city in the United States, not some damn gated community in the desert. Please. To those who are afraid of subways, there are places, even within California, where they could move if the Red line turned out to be the scary monster they seem to perceive it as. Anyway, it's not viable to ignore reality forever.
Seriously, the Metro Red Line extension would be a superb addition for 99% of the people. From office workers to janitors, to shoppers and commuters, basically, there are so many people and such a diverse crowd that travel the Wilshire corridor anyway, that extending the Red Line would only relieve traffic congestion, inconvenience, be good for the environment, and possibly even increase sales for businesses along the line. What could've been better from MTA's point of view? Not doing it, or doing something lesser if possible?
Monday, June 19, 2006
MTA's resources; limitations? Hum, Bus drivers...
But despite the budget limitations, it's the very mentality of MTA that seems out of whack.
What about hiring standards? Who in their right mind would hire many incompetent drivers for such and incredibly vital organ like the MTA is for a city like Los Angeles? How can they hire drivers who frequently refuse to stop and pick up the customers? That's amazing. The very fundamental pillar of a well functioning organization is the morale and competence of its employees. But MTA has hired so many bad drivers, who are so arrogant than many people don't know what to do, or what to say. People just shake their heads, and go "what the hell is going on?".Wonder what the MTA board's members would say if they tried to fetch a cab and and were deliberately being ignored time and time again. It's sort of, how can this even be possible? How can drivers be allowed to dodge customers of the company they work for? And it's been for years. There seems to be nothing that addresses this. Is it that hard to make sure that employees actually do the job they're supposed to? Meaning that they stop and pick up customers, not when they want to, but when they're supposed to!! This is ridiculous. I haven't seen any other public transportation system that reeks so much with arrogance and incompetence. It's sometimes unbelievable. L.A. is vast and hundreds of thousands of people depend upon public transportation on a fundamental level. What more needs to be said? Hard not to rant, when you consider that people need the bus to get to and from hospitals, jobs, appointments, visits, shopping and more. Knowing that bus drivers obviously, deliberately ignore bus riders who're waiting for the bus, it's hard not to see how this can be unconscionable.
Metro Ad Campaign Part 2.
That's not safe, but detrimental to safety.
Actually, the reality with MTA is so poor that launching a self-promoting ad campaign that states the opposite must be either meant as a middle-finger to the passengers, or is simply another sign of how incredibly out of touch the MTA board and leadership must be with reality. Can be hard to fathom, I believe the mayor sits on much common sense, but other rulers may not be the same.
But of course by and large these people never ride the bus themselves. All they do is proclaiming how great the buses are, sure, like they even knew what the heck they're talking about, and then make ads about their beliefs. Great, no wonder the service sucks.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Metro Ad Campaign.
But what's being done to "remedy" this is the launch of an in-your-face, everyday ad-campaign, which frankly, can be an insult to many riders. You wait for 40 minutes on a holiday, and when the bus finally arrives it's so over-packed that there's no room for more. And so people have to wait another 20-40 minutes (unless they're lucky, and MTA is courteous:)), and once they finally get on a bus they're met with ads on screens, on posters, on stickers on the exteriors, along the ails near the ceiling, to a provoking degree. But so not for the sake of the ads themselves, but it's that they often market themselves, which can be an insult to its ridership. Who knows Metro service and the lack thereof better than the bus riders themselves? Well, to put out ads that say "I love Metro Rapid", when that probably isn't even true to most people, is an insult to people. Why should riders be faced with narcissistic ads when they're already sick of the services in question. They do not "love" Metro Rapid. Metro Rapid is only an improvement compared to an already incredibly low standard, not enough to "love", unless their esteem of riders is terribly low.
After a while people get sick of that, as they still get ignored by bus-drivers, have to stand up whether young or old or with babies in arms, deal with filth etc. Great Job Metro. That you tell people to love your service without even seriously assessing whether it makes sense, is just another sign of the general MTA incompetence.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Be sure that this isn't about individuals within Metro. Metro as a public transportation entity has many noble, regular, non-arrogant people working within it. It is indeed about MTA (or, Metro) itself, and consequently then some of its people, although I've got no names (as of yet), and the purpose isn't as much to name names as it is to point out a systemic ill within Los Angeles' public transportation system.
Just wanted to make that clear.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Mysterious drivers.
The waiting riders shake heads, and wait on, hoping that the next driver will not be one of those ghosts that no-one will ever know who is, or why they didn't do their job.
It's a trauma though, to wait in heat and/or for extended times only to be dodged by the driver when the bus finally comes.
Adding to the frustration is the lack of means to forward complaints. No phone numbers are displayed inside buses or at bus-stops (why would they be anyway, since there aren't even time-tables) that people could call to reach some type of customer service. This frustration is then channeled elsewhere, perhaps at jobs, in families, and so on. Everyone doesn't write a blog to express emotions. That means other's frustrations end up elsewhere. That's an issue for the entire city.
Actually, if there was a customer service for bus riders in the first place, there would already have been improvements in services that reflected riders concerns.
But not only is it the bad service, but the damn drivers don't stop half of the times, Even if the bus itself is on time. It means that whatever improvements are made in schedules and timeliness would be undermined by bus-drivers who don't stop to pick up the riders.
Monday, June 12, 2006
A few details on what it can be like.
- Commonly excessively long times before buses arrive.
- Commonly excessively filthy seats.
- Commonly excessively neglectful, arrogant bus drivers.
- Commonly excessively missing basic services.
- Commonly excessively overcrowded buses.
Over-crowding, filth, long wait times, for instance, could have mitigating effects on ridership if they were isolated problems. But in L.A's p.t system, all these problems abound. The defects run from top to bottom, but not just that, they also continue for years upon years, often causing serious issues of distrust among riders, particularily after a while. Frustrations from these problems consequently spread and affects others parts of the city, particularly when the problems are being repeated. Moreover the neglect of basic services, as well as arrogance, do not discriminate. I've seen old ladies being dodged by bus drivers even though the buses in question had plenty of empty seats avialable. That can either be 1) arrogance, 1) incompetence, & which is worse of these is hard to say.
This is an outrageous issue. Everyone is affected by the neglect by Metro. It's like a Baghdad bus service in the sense of chaos, disorganization, illogic, poor service, and neglect. The question is how it can go that bad here.
Enough is enough
The big question is simply what the hell is going on? Why is L.A public transportation so bad that it by and large doesn't not, just "not even", but far from, measure up to the standards of the city it's based in, and meant to serve? Why is it so dirty, nonchalant, arrogant, inefficient, that despite whatever improvements it's gone through over the past decade, it still sucks?
Well, blogging about it is one way to voice the frustrations that question creates, as well as the frustrations over a service that people use to get to and from jobs, necessary appointments, leisure activities and everything in between. It's too much to expect acceptance of arrogance and neglect in such an area (in a rich city and nation), and MTA you bastard are going to get what you deserve. Granted there's an accumulation of bitter customers over the years, and we are STILL NOT IN BAGHDAD, THIS IS L.A!
Are you incompetent are what? Because the arrogance that runs through your meant to be services or the lack thereof, as well as the "psychos" you hire to drive the vehicles, is beyond an acceptable level of indecency. Or are you just plain lazy? Incompetent, or both or all three; whichever it is, frustrations abound and they need an outlet, and so happens that if you argue them out to an MTA (or "Metro") bus driver (because the driver happened to be rude or arrogant) it means you're in luck as it means you're actually inside of the bus, not still waiting for it. That's why writing about it is a good choice.
Waiting? Sometimes people wait, young and old, men and women, for maybe 30-40 minutes, or more, but then, when the bus finally arrives, it doesn't stop by, either because the bus was so filled with riders that the driver responsibly decided that it was unsafe to let anyone else on, or just that the driver was simply a jackass who didn't do his or her job by simply ignoring the job- duty of a bus-driver to pick up the bus riders (duh!). Either way that happens way too often, like it's almost a 50/50 thing. It's gotten to a point were people feel fortunate to just get on the damn bus.
Better change that name from "Metro" to "Waitro" or something like "L.A bus-disservice", (no pun intended).