Sunday, July 30, 2006
Strain on the Bus Operator
Sometimes the driver is already operating a packed bus, but still tries to let more people in as if trying to assist as many people as possible. That causes a tremendous stress. The bus is frequently so full that it's a test for the driver's nerves to deal with it, and some drivers do it very well.
More on this later, as there are some good examples to draw from actual scenarios.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The Bus is Too Slow
On the bus, it's not possible, for on the bus you may be glad if you simply got onboard smoothly.
Metro buses are typically terribly slow. Even the Metro Rapid bus, which is supposed to have traffic-light censors to keep the green lights on as they approach them-- don't seem to be working. The Metro Rapid is probably infamously slow now. Somewhere near 8 miles per hour, and traffic lights seem to be slowing them down like with any other vehicle.
In L.A. with traffic getting ridiculous (it's almost faster to walk on the freeway than to drive nowadays), the bus can become torture. To sit in a packed, stinky, dirty bus that's slogging like a snail through traffic for 1 hour-plus, can be a bizarre experience. And even if it's to pick up only one single rider, the bus must halt with all its passengers, to pick that one up, and that happens at every other block. There's this sense of lingering apathy on the bus, including for the driver. People just have to swallow their frustrations and be patient. This is what pisses me off: The bus is an element of public transportation. Public transportation is a public service, not some damn boot camp. People are put to test by simply using public transportation in L.A. That's wrong!
Yet they keep investing mostly in more buses. Does the MTA board really believe that bus in L.A. is convenient? Otherwise, why would they keep behaving as if more buses, as opposed to primarily more trains and extended subways, will make life easier for residents? I believe that the leaders of the MTA suffer from delusion. Granted most of them are not in touch with reality.
You keep seeing signs that say "I Love Metro Rapid". It's absurd.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Cops On the Bus
One of them is employing undercover cops on the subway trains and Metro buses. That's a real plus, because a mass-transit vehicle without effective supervision would leave passengers highly vulnerable to assault, attack, theft, and so on.
There are notes attached on some buses and trains that suggest that some of the passengers aboard them are actually undercover police officers. (How that can be verified is another game, but we'll take MTA for their word here).
As many know L.A. has many violent criminals, drug addicts, and without generalizing them, some of them wouldn't hesitate to rob or assault citizens if they could get a way with it, and trains and buses would be perfect arenas for that. That is, if they weren't supervised. But they apparently are. That's a sign that somebody, somewhere, cares about the transit riders' safety, despite the other inadequacies elsewhere suggesting otherwise.
As for how many transit riders are aware of the undercover police presence is another thing. It may be that some riders feel unsafe riding the bus or train because they don't know of it, but at least if something were to happen, there might be an undercover in the immediate vicinity at that very moment to intervene.
But in fairness, violence is utterly rare on Metro buses and trains. The closest thing I've seen to assault have been rougue bus drivers' attitudes toward passengers. Transit riders tend to be overwhelmingly very docile. Typically it is the driver who's the rough bastard, and the passengers who show fear (depending on time of day and what route, riders may be the whackos). Yet, you never know, and fortunately, there are cops there to guard their safety. (Or so the MTA claims; but who knows how often they're actually onboard, with the officer shortage and budget issues and so on. But at least it's a possibility.)
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
More Example of ignoring
Sometimes it's reeeally close, yet the driver just plain ignores the person, even if it's not technically necessary. It'd take three seconds to let that customer on the bus. That's a worthy price to pay for respecting a fellow person.
This is not a question of policy, but of human character. Some drivers readily wait for a customer that's closing in, especially if they're close enough.
Others ignore them. Which is so immature. I hate to see how it's being done to respectable people. Like folks who are probably good family people, not dumb at all, being dodged like they didn't exist. That kind of anti-social behavior has consequenses. If public employees behave like asses, they'll validify that behavior to others. Employees set examples, whether they like it or not.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Not Only Drivers are Bad
Some bus riders, eh, typically male and apparently single, make for a low-class ride because they'd stare any woman to death.
It's to note, that the buses of the MTA can be hostile irrespective of the driver.
It's notable for the reason that, everything that's bad or unpleasant about the MTA will discourage new ridership. It means that the traffic will keep getting worse. Now, as the MTA buses can be filthy or stinky (or both, indeed), they may also be relatively hostile for some riders, either because of the driver, or because of some of the riders aboard them.
It's a bad reminder that the bus is still the core of Los Angeles public transportation. A subway would be more anonymous, provide more choices for seating, etc. On the bus, people get stuck with whomever they're forced to share it with (no offense) all in a very limited space. If a bad odor is oozing persistently, you can't just switch car, like you could on a train, but you're doomed to smell it for regardless how long it takes to get to where you're going because you're not going to get off and walk. And sometimes, the type of ridership adds to the pressure.
Granted, many people avoid the bus on certain routes, or at certain times (which is quite common for transit) due to the type of ridership that mostly occupy it.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Bus Drivers Ignore People About to Transfer
There is no concurrence between buses that stop versus buses that take off; they're all left to chance.
Wow, We Made the First Boxing Round, And Here Comes Another:
There's a whole long list of issues about the Los Angeles transit system that bus riders may have to go through, before they get to this, yet another issue that adds to them: Once you get off a bus (after having had to maybe wait for it long, maybe rub elbows with a packed crowd on it for 40-plus minutes, and so forth), and when it's time to transfer to a second bus, even though the drivers (and MTA certainly has had plenty of time to figure it out) know that a bus with prospective transferrers is dropping them off, just across the street from these drivers, they don't wait for these customers, but ignore them and head off, so that the transferrers will have to wait another unpredictable period of time for the next bus.
This is arrogance. It's a slap in the face, yet another one, of bus riders. What the hell is the issue with them that they can't stop for a few extra seconds to let the new customers on? They rather ignore people and let them wait for the next bus, even if that means a 15-30 minute extra wait. This is on top of all the other issues. A bus rider may have had to ride standing for 30-60 minutes--regardless of their age-- some women are even pregnant or are holding their babies/infants, but have to stand up in a packed crowd in unsafe conditions for sometimes close to an hour, only to be freaking ignored by the next bus driver and thus must wait for another wasted period of time before they can get to their freaking home, or wherever it is, in a city that is too large to expect people to navigate it on foot.
What is the big deal about synchronizing the buses so that when one bus lets riders off, the next bus waits for them before taking off? It is this stinging arrogance that makes it possible to devote a daily blog to an issue as fundamental to the public as the grocery store, because it's so bad.
And the drivers, seemingly anything between 30-50% of them, are lazy bastards who don't deserve the salary they receive. They don't do their job. Some people work for less than $7 an hour and don't even complain. Yet these idiots can't even live up to common decency and basic human respect, let alone do the job they're supposed to. They keep giving the finger to bus riders, over and over, and the MTA doesn't care. Yet they expect to convince people to abandon their cars in favor of their overall lousy service.
Clearly, the MTA can't even take care of even basic, easy things, such as not being an ass when it's avoidable. It's not even an issue of doing a basic service; it's about not being an ass in cases like these. Between being polite and a jerk, MTA chooses, apparently deliberately, to be the jerk. They choose to not hold the door for the person behind them even it doesn't save them any money.
Friday, July 21, 2006
The Metro Red Line's deferment
Again, more, more, and more money is being invested into additional buses, and another rail line: the Exposition Light Rail Transit Project. Wow, that's sure better than the dreaded bus, but that line won't run along Wilshire blvd. It seems that other costly projects are being invested into all to defer what will be inevitable in the future, which is the westward extension of the Metro Red Line.
If they could score on that one, MTA's stature would rise right away.
But how's that going to happen anytime soon if another rail line is being built parallel to where the Red Line's extension would go? That's probably going to steal momentum from the Red Line's possible extension. As eating a dessert would defer appetite for the main course.
What's so hard about extending the Metro Red Line to its natural final destination? If a subway can run under Manhattan in NYC or atop buildings in Osaka Japan, why can't the Metro Red Line run simply to the beach? Why keep investing in other, half-baked, projects? Transit in L.A. is urgent. It's a vast city with hundreds of thousands of people who depend on it to get to and from jobs, hospitals, errands, schools and more. In actuality, a decent public transportation system in L.A isn't something that can be defered, because it's urgently needed. But the dodging of the Red Line extension's completion suggests the MTA believes it can.
And then again, why not, if they're fine with letting all types of people share the bus with the stench of feces, sheeez, get real, a subway line to the beach would be almost too good to be true in L.A.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Homeless on the Bus
When you board a bus, the bus is often packed with people, particularly during commute hours. Packed, as in packed to the point of almost literally tipping over. That, being a common scenario during rush hours, which are already higher in stress levels than normal hours, is already bad enough, as people who are old and young (the freaking MTA doesn't care), have to squeeze further back into the bus as more people are let on and sometimes the driver shouts at them, and orders them to move towards the back of the bus. But sometimes there's really no more room in the back, and the driver sometimes keep yelling; elbows, pushing and shoving, human breaths in your neck. Like bootcamp, for transit riders. All this could be mitigated, by an extra bus or two, but hell are they slow at that.
Ok, there's a reason why MTA sucks. Now, this issue is further compounded when sometimes a homeless person enters the bus, and sometimes the stench begins to ooze all over the place, and people are unable to escape the smell, because they're stuck, because the bus is so packed with people. It really is the frustrating scenario of the movie "Falling Down", with Michael Douglas. It's hot, it's crowded beyond belief, the traffic is insane and the bus moves annoyingly slowly. What's just needed, is stench on the bus on top of an already sometimes mighty frustrating situation (well, to some it certainly is). It's awful. I cannot believe how the MTA (They're mothers and fathers right, have families and so on...) can be so callously indifferent toward such conditions for their customers. They probably wouldn't react if there were feces on the seats.
The homeless problem is a chapter by itself. You can probably say that the homelessness is a result of the "MTA" of general society. Nevertheless, to have to endure a 50 minute ride surrounded by the smell of, say, feces, is just awful. I hate the MTA for this. It's just clear that they don't care.
The point is not for them to refuse the homeless on the busses. But, common, relieve the over crowding, at least. To be standing up, in heat, and with a constant moving, pushing, stopping, accelerating, and also be surrounded by the stench of feces, is just disgraceful. The military is arguably more sanitary and humane than the MTA buses sometimes are. This is supposed to be public transportation right? Not public provocation.
Monday, July 17, 2006
The Metro Blue Line
It struck me how good the Metro Blue Line is in terms of consistency and its priority compared to other MTA network lines. Notably the hyped Gold Line, while surely being a nice addition to the L.A subway/train system, runs mostly via more affluent areas, compared to the Blue Line's route through Vernon, Watts, Compton and much of Long Beach, and all the areas in between, where more people truly depend on public transportation.
All in all, the Metro Blue Line is probably the absolutely best route in L.A. It even appears to be managed by somebody other than MTA. Despite running through many economically poorer areas it shows a reliability and consistency that few other MTA projects do, particularly buses.
In other words, it shows that public transportation is possible in L.A too, even without lacking significantly in one area or another. And of course, it's better than the bus at all times. One rail-line, strategically sensibly placed, will do such a big difference. Yet they keep investing in more and more buses. Sooner or later there will be so many buses that they virtually outnumber the cars. Those money could've been invested in more "Blue Lines": rail-lines that are strategically well placed instead.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Yea, the Buses Come In Clusters
It seems weird that rather than distributing the buses so they arrive in even, more convenient intervals, they arrive in bunches even when it doesn't make sense.
(More could be said about this, in terms of the frustrations it creates for people who've already waited for extended periods, only to see a clause of buses arrive at the same time.)
Rather than sending 3 buses to transport very few passengers in relation to available seats, how about distributing them over each hour so that the schedules level better? Basically, how about not sending more buses than actually are needed? Likewise, how about sending more buses to where they Are actually needed? Duh...
Nobody would pay more for a product than its actual price. Only the MTA would.
But we'll see. When the MTA shows a solid switch in persona, I'll stop whining about them here. Right now there seems to be a plethora of inconsistencies, though.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
There We Go Again: 3 Empty Buses
It goes like this: At the stop on one side of a blvd stand say, up to two dozen people waiting for a bus that never seems to arrive. And when a bus finally does arrive, it is for the opposite direction and looks almost empty. Not only that, but sometimes 2-3 buses arrive simultaneously, going in the wrong direction (since they look empty), whereas on the side where the crowd is actually waiting, the bus doesn't come until way later. Sometimes there are 2-3 buses going in the opposite direction, often looking surprisingly empty, for each bus that stops where the actual crowds are waiting. That ratio seems out of whack.
Often it happens during evenings. For instance, after 7pm, a time of the day when very few people are heading toward the beach, but all the more people are heading away from the beach, from jobs on the Westside, and from from shopping areas along these routes, there seem to many more buses going toward the beach.
Most transit riders live away from the Westside of the city, consequently buses ought to be heading overwhelmingly in directions that reflected it.
Otherwise, what a waste of resources and people's times this is. And no, it isn't a myth, somtimes there really are 2-3 empty buses going in the opposite direction from where the bulk of the people are waiting for them, and comes across as a slap in the face, or a provocation at a moment when many people have already lost much of their patience from waiting.
Moral of the story: How about placing buses in directions where the most people need them?
Friday, July 14, 2006
MTA board's Changed?
Gee, as soon as rogue leaders are replaced by more customer-sympathetic ones, transit riders can feel it.
Same thing happened/happens with the LAPD.
After hearing Tom LaBonge on local TV, as well as Villaraigosa, it seems clear that the current leadership is more in sync with the community. And so, maybe the new buses on Wilshire blvd weren't a co-incidence.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Wow, Buses Have Been Added on Wilshire
But every time they invest in more buses, it cannot not give an ambivalent feeling. They ought to invest everything in the subway system. But at the same time the overcrowding is so urgent that it can't wait another 10 years for a subway expansion to remedy it. Seems to be a vicious circle stemming from poor planning and wacky priorities earlier on.
L.A's public transportation has been that of a redneck (no offense) town. When thinking about it, it's pathetic that a city that's so expansive, and so dependent upon vehicle mobility would dodge the issue for so long. And it's hard not to think of arrogance when you see the effects on others. Who. Didn't know that you can't walk from Hollywood to Santa Monica? And who never knew that a heck lot of a people in L.A. can't afford to drive cars? They must have known, but obviously didn't give a rat's damn about it. Snobbery and social politics have clearly come first. Or, a bunch of chicken-littles living in the world's 9th largest city who are afraid of the subway. That's pathetic. Haven't seen it in any other major city of the world, with maybe the exception of very poor cities that simply couldn't afford better economically. L.A. is rich, however.
Frankly, in many ways, with the exception of the mayor and some few others, this city still seems to think "bus". As the general traffic situation worsens, it would make sense to assume that the buses will run all the more inefficently as the traffic keeps getting worse and worse. Seems that a subway will be inevitable in the long run.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
No Green Light For the Green Line's Extension
Not to say, a train that went all the way to LAX would much more intuitive to use, and be a more modern infrastructure choice.
Perhaps, well, MTA and LAX are siblings in terms of (sorry, excuse the term, cheap as it is) retardness. LAX is lax, just like the MTA is. Both do not represent Los Angeles as a world-class city (whatever that is, but just compare with other major cities' transportation systems and airports), and people deserve better. But here's how some of the current thinking goes, anyway:
SHOOTING DOWN THE TRAINS
From LA Weekly's current issue
Standing before a room full of lobbyists, lawyers and airport contractors last week, the woman hired by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to run Los Angeles International Airport put her cards on the table regarding the Metro Green Line, the light-rail system that stops just shy of LAX.
In her usual no-nonsense fashion, Lydia Kennard bluntly warned her lunchtime audience that extending the Green Line to LAX could be a colossal waste of money. For one thing, she said, the project would cost at least a half billion dollars. For another, only one-third of 1 percent of the airport’s passengers use the Green Line.
“There are a lot of other, better things we can do with our money in terms of getting people to the airport,” she said...
(click on the LA Weekly link for the full story)
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Didn't the Metro Rapid--color--And then again....
That's like buying a new red car, and then have it repainted to white after only 3-4 years of usage.
How much time did it take to figure out what colors to re-paint the buses in, and what colors to paint the Metro Rapid in, so that they could "match" the colors that took time to come up with for the first buses? They seem to have perspirated over that.
Bet the exterior color scheme changes are probably just gimmicks to save face. That way at least the buses look neat to an outsider.
Still, it's not as if though the new colors are bad, it's just that there are so many other ugent issues that beg for attention. And the Metro Rapids were already fairly new. Did someone complain about the red/white combination?
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Backdoors Won't Open.
Just like bus-drivers are meant to stop at bus stops and pick up riders, aren't they Also meant to open the rear exit door when riders signal a stop?
These are perplexing issues. Nobody seems to know why they happen, what their motivator is, why they're allowed to continue, and why no-one seems to care.
However, it can be of a quite big issue when people aren't let off the bus when they expect it. First off, it ought to be mandatory as part of a crucial, public service, to let people off the bus they've paid to ride. But moreover this causes unnecessary frustrations in people because of its disruptive impact in their daily lives.
Elderly who had to walk an extra couple of blocks on foot because the driver didn't let them off, is unacceptable. Because it's unconscionable. And I have no clue why it happens. For sure, sometimes the driver just misses the signal by accident. But when the same behavior becomes a pattern, one has to start wondering.
It's unconscionable to let elderly people or mothers, for instance, desperately try to utter "backdoor, backdoor, puleaaase", just to get out of the bus. It's unconscionable. Yet they allow it to happen, year, after year, after year.
Sometimes the driver appeared to not hear the signal. Other times it appeared they did, but didn't care. Compounding that issue is the sheer over-crowding of the bus which often makes it impossible for people to navigate to the other door, by which time, if they managed to, would've already been too late as the bus would already be rolling. Thus, many people know that once the driver misses a signal, it's time for panic, because it means they know they might have to walk an extra mile (literally).
Sunday, July 02, 2006
So Time Tables Cannot be Provided?
Well, is it really? Or is it just MTA laziness, or MTA sloppiness? Of course it is. A matter of organization which is lacking, does not continue to lack unless the leadership is lazy or sloppy, or incompetent or amateurish.
As if time tables in large cities was something utopian. Here we go again MTA screw-up mentality, that "we can't do even the most basic things because it would be unrealistic to expect us to".
Well, doesn't New York have time tables? Doesn't London? Tokyo? Moscow? Many cities do, but L.A. "can't" because it's transportation leaders are like babies and amateurs.
Is it not possible to craft a schedule that fits the city at large, and stick with it? What, are Los Angeles transit riders unique in that they move too often, change jobs too often, or stop riding the buses too often? If not, what's the big deal about providing a consistent bus schedule that time-tables, let alone bus riders, could get used to? At least for a while at a time.
Localized neighborhood units could take on the responsibility to update time tables if necessary. Such as neighborhood council MTA workers. Alternatively electronic time tables could be used that were unbreakable and resistant to attempts at vandalism, and that wouldn't require workers to physically go and update every time table. Or, for crying out loud; Look at how other cities do it and emulate it.
The point is, that the MTA doesn't hold its customers that high. They're not exactly eager to make it "extra" convenient for bus riders. They're not precisely itching for providing such "luxury items" like up-to-date bus schedules at bus stops.
The better alternative has been to let men, women, students, children, workers, patients, wait ad nauseum for buses that may or may not stop to pick them up. Great job MTA. The hell no wonder why people choose to drive and/or stick with driving. It's evident from within one's car that something is awkward with the MTA when you see 30 people gawking in one direction, over and over, obviously waiting for the bus to arrive.
And to mitigate that awful service, not even basic amenities could be provided? That's either of arrogance or incompetence, and is amazing what those traits are doing at L.A.'s public transportation system. This is not Kabul. We're not a city of Talibans where education level is near non-existent. So what's the great excuse for all this incompetence and blatant disrespect toward customers?
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Buses are So Loud.
Why do MTA choose to purchase bus "a" over bus "b"? Is there something other than price alone that influences their decisions when purchasing buses?
Some of their buses are very loud. If anyone remembers the time during any MTA employee strike, and how quiet and peaceful the streets were then, despite car traffic hardly being a small thing in L.A., and just notice the difference in noise level as soon as the strikes were over. The MTA buses, or "monsters" (a loud bus, that's rarely on time, with a rogue driver, makes for the monster), once again roamed the city streets and seemed to clearly account for maybe 30%-25% of the outdoor noise levels. They seem louder than some 18-wheelers. Like, really loud sometimes almost screamingly loud.
Frankly, I do not know if the issue of noise has been addressed by the MTA, but doubt it. It's clearly an issue that affects the general quality of life for people who live near where the buses operate. What would've been the big deal in choosing more quiet buses? Now, the entire city is stuck with the noise for years to come.
It's just clear how loud buses haven't been of a concern to the MTA, or they'd prevented it, or at least changed something.
It's the same reason for why the MTA lets people wait ad nauseum for buses on holidays, weekends and evenings without giving them any hint whatsoever of when the bus will arrive (let alone that the 1-800-COMMUTE info-line closes at about six pm or so). If they can be conscionable about letting people of all ages and backgrounds wait for the bus for sometimes close to 1 hour in uncertainty, why the heck would they mind their buses being terribly noisy? Hum, almost makes this post redundant.
The MTA--granted one of the worst, if not the worst, public transit system of any developed nation's major city--have years of experience on their hands in how to disrespect customers. Loud buses are probably just part of the game.
*They did one good thing in expanding the clean-air fleet. It's an exception though, not a rule, for the MTA to make really sensible decisions.