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Saturday, August 26, 2006


Announcements in the Metro Stations

Ding Dong Dang, blah blah blah, 12 o'clock, 12.07 o'clock, 1:PM , two days later in the morning Ding Dong Dang, blah blah, and so on. Blah blah blah, in English, then 30 second later, blah blah blah in Spanish. Or, simply, Blah blah blah, in Spanish, but no follow-up in English.

Ok, MTA, we KNOW, probably 99% of us KNOW that you're not supposed to sit on the edge of the subway platform, and we KNOW, now 5 years after 9/11 with notices everywhere, that it's advisable to report unattended packages at subway stations. Why Now? Why these arbitrary, annoying messages one of a sudden? Are you bored? Didn't you find anything better to do than spewing these headache messages over and over?

Sometimes, or oftentimes, the announcement(s) come when there are about 3 people in the station that can hear them, and in 99.9999% of the cases these people aren't even standing, sitting, or walking near the edge of the platform. If you're going to say something, say something of relevance to more than 1 out of 20000 people, as that darn announcement signal can be quite disruptive. And also, you don't need to remind everyone 2 times per hour, sometimes, that they may not stand, sit or walk near the edge of the platforms. What's all this meaningless gibberish? How about announcing when the next train is coming instead? That's indeed information that's lacking, and would be much better followed that damn Ding Dong Dang.

The Transit Coalition has set up a Metro Rail Customer Conference with the top management of Metro Rail on Tuesday, October 24 at 6:45 p.m.

The goal of this meeting is to open up a dialogue with users and management. It will cover consumer issues. Find out how and why the Gold Line schedule was improved end-to-end. Find out first hand what was done to change this. Find out why Metro signage is so poor and listen to proposed solutions.

what ways are there to improve Blue and Green Line connectivity at Rosa Parks station? Issues involving the Ticket Vending Machines. User friendlyness? Improvements? Difficulties?

Issues with Gold and Green Line Freeway Station noise. Any progress? Can barriers help?

If the Green Line extension to Lincoln/Sepulveda moves forward, how would operations to both the South Bay and the Westside be proposed?

Do you want to ask about express service? Find out about the disaster of the Gold Line Express. This is the place. And perhaps discuss other issues of customer service and service delivery.

This meeting will NOT deal with rail service expansion. That is a topic for another group of executives and the Long Range Plan that is coming up later this year or in early 2007. This meeting is not to talk about fares or possible new lines or Metro Board Politics.

OK, so you are interested in attending?

The catch: you need to get an invitation.
The cost: none. To get an invitation, write us: with the subject line "Customer Conference" and include this information:
First & Last Name,
Mailing Address, apt.#
daytime, home and cell phone #
Also, include any questions you might want to ask, as we are going to organize this to avoid duplication and eliminate off topic material.

Any information you submit must match that on your drivers license or legal id, as you are going into a secure building.

This meeting will be at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24 in downtown Los Angeles in a security area at Metro Gateway. There are only so many slots, so if you want to talk first hand to the decision makers, take action now.

NOTICE: Don't post on this Board telling us that you want to attend. Put that in your email to us.

Time to put your money where your mouth is, as the saying goes.
O, sorry about that.

Put my money where my mouth is. That could be the case. In a way, though, this is as far as I'd currently go. Expression on a blog suffice to make my points here, yet, I wish you good luck at those meetings. I've seen them sometimes on local TV, where sometimes a transit rider expresses some obvious problem with the MTA, such as a driver who wouldn't stop, and later, a year or so, the same thing still happens. Why would I want to humiliate myself by speaking to arrogant heads who wouldn't really listen?
The fact that they let all these issues continue is a statement in and of itself of their arrogance.

But thanks anyway.
Come on, you've got to be kidding me.

First off, your example of the complaint about the buses doesn't apply here at all since this is specifically a Rail Customer Conference. But anyway, to say that nothing is being done about the bus situation is extremely disingenuous; commenters have constantly given you examples of how Metro is trying to address their bus driver problems, first with its many attempts to address its deficit of bus drivers, and secondly with work such as that from the Bus On-Time Performance Improvement Task Force.

As in almost every study, a key finding is that performance suffers when the empty bus operator slots remain unfilled. Until then, the MTA really is hamstrung in what it can do: service may suffer from a bad operator, but service suffers even more if you fire a bad operator without somebody there to take his or her place, and people aren't really clamoring to be bus drivers, despite the recent increase in wage.

Yet you brush off the work of many that are working really hard to improve the transit situation in LA by saying that nothing will come of their hard work, that they will only be "speaking to arrogant heads who wouldn't really listen."

The Transit Coalition has gotten a lot of things done with events such as this one. If you think that you'll be humiliated by speaking to them, why don't you just go and watch what happens, you don't have to speak, and--who knows--maybe you'll even be surprised at what you see. In my humble opinion, to write something off without even trying is a true statement in and of itself of arrogance.
numble. Ironic, but I agree with what you're saying.

Maybe I'm not that comitted to public transportation in particular, as much as happens to be offended by it.

This blog is all about voicing it.

I just find it peculiar that many of the issues don't speak for themselves to the MTA. Do they really need the public's input on stuff like bad scheduling, overcrowding, dirt, etc? I thought eyes would be enough.
If you repeatedly witness 40 people standing waiting for the bus at a particular bus stop, isn't that sufficient to conclude that additional buses are needed on that route? Why do they they need me and others to tell them the obvious?
Maybe that was the point. If you must tell somebody of something obvious, it feels repulsive to tell.
Something tells me that they already know it, they're not dumb or blind, but arrogant for allowing bad conditions to continue for years. At least that's certainly the impression.
Perhaps my point was not clear enough.

You continually claim that it is arrogance for all the problems of the system.

I claim that the MTA tries to do its best under the limitations it faces. Buses, maintenance crews, custodial crews, security staff, et cetera cannot just be created from thin air. The MTA must operate at over a $100 million DEFICIT just to maintain its current level of service.

Yet even you acknowledge that some areas are improving--this *even though* the MTA is receiving less funding every year, if you adjust for inflation.

Perhaps if you go to the customer conference you will see how they are working hard despite the limitations of state funding shortfalls, federal funding cuts, and the constraint of consent decrees.

Those in the transit industry are continually surprised at how much MTA is able to do with so little: due to limitations stemming from the BRU Consent Decree, the MTA is only able to recover 26 percent of costs from the fare box. Other similar transit agencies across the nation and even in California typically recover 40 to 60 percent of their operating dollars from the fare box.

As an example, if you go to San Jose, you'll see that it costs $5.25 for their day pass, even though their system won't take you anywhere. While $3 will take you nearly anywhere in LA County, despite fuel costs and bus driver wages being much higher than in San Jose.

The purpose of the customer conference is not for complaints. Its for informed interaction, where MTA management informs you of the strategies and constraints they have to addressing certain problems, and you can offer avenues of improvement as well. You'll learn first hand why its NOT a simple matter to just get more buses, or stop playing announcements in the subway stations--they'll tell you about cost/funding issues, federal security requirements (have you ever been in an airport? same announcements are played) and the like.

Those that persist in complaining, yet refuse opportunities to be engaged, who insist on remaining uninformed, are truly the most arrogant of all.
Actually, MTA is not only bad, but about one of the only transit agencies that is actually transnationally infamous. Infamous, can you believe that? You look in some Los Angeles travel guide, and in other places, and the reputation of L.A's MTA has been that of an infamous one. To become infamous, you've got to be a jerk, being poor isn't enough.

In my opinion, MTA's not only been the victim of budget shortcuts, but has been awkwardly managed. There are systemic errors that suggest a lack of common sense in priorities and decisions.
There are many transit systems to compare to, some of who are probably not rich.

And it's not only 'big' issues like overcrowding, ingoring bus operators, but also smaller ones like missing or lacking timetables and signage. There are probably more issues than two transit agencies combined from other cities. All this because of budget woes? Nah, that's to do with attitudes and the way they view their customers.
And what do you mean with not being engaged? You mean running a blog is not being engaged? Then writing a book or an oped is also not being engaged.

I'm certainly engaged compared to most. Most transit riders don't say anything at all.
I look at travel guides and see that LA is infamous for prioritizing freeways and road systems. When my friends from the East come over, they marvel at the lack of tolls and the wide freeways, compared to two-lane turnpikes in the East. But you can't fault the MTA for that; you should fault CalTrans for that, or even President Eisenhower and the Federal Department of Transportation.

But my point continues to be that active engagement with MTA will allow you to be informed about exactly what you can rightfully complain about, and what they are hamstrung about.

Engagement is an interactive process: writing a book or op-ed is not engagement if it is conducted by the uninformed. You complain about signage issues but fail to acknowledge that the Executive Management and Audit Committee plan to detail what they've been doing and what they will do in the future, to improve signage issues at their September 15th board meeting.

Here's an excerpt:
Staff has estimated that changing the blades at all bus stops wil cost about $2.2 milion. Staff wil pursue funding to implement a replacement of the bus stop signage, but currently no funding exists for this activity. Since this is a multi-year project, the managers of the various impacted cost centers wil be responsible for budgeting the costs in future years.

At the very least, the lowest level of engagement would consist of being informed from the various freely available documents and websites on the Internet.

I will continue to insist that you are not engaged at all; the blog is solely a vehicle for your arrogant and uninformed complaints.
MTA is the arrogant one, not me.

If you've ever seen the baffled faces on older people, and all kinds of people who were dissed by a bus driver of a bus which came after a 40 minute wait, you'll think twice before calling me the arrogant.

But sure, I don't proclaim to be informed. I'm a complainer. This blog came out of frustrations (some of it attributable to MTA at the time) and is from a rather frequent customer's viewpoint. When you witness the same things happening over and over, it stands then clear that nothing's being done about them, or even if they are, it's moving too slow. Certainly to address the most pressing things, moves to slow.

The 212 on La Brea for example, appears to arrive in 30 minutes intervals (except on weekends, where it's every other hour or so). Those who are waiting for it, have no clue when it is coming. Then, when it finally does, the bus might simply pass them by and they have to wait ANOTHER 30 minutes, WITHOUT knowing whether the next bus will even stop for them, and it happens right across from MTA's customer center in broad daylight.... I could go on for long, but What the hell is that? It's obvious the MTA couldn't care less. These are not new problems.

You mean after all that and more, I have no right to complain?
This is a blog. Blogs are meant for personal expression.
And I'm sure there are thousands of transit riders who feel the same way, in fact, if I didn't think that I would not have started the blog. I've seen anger, disappointments, frustrations, apathy, you name it, as a direct result of MTA's disappointing services.

That's a blanket statement, but I hope you feel me in that it's a reality. I have the right to complain. There's a basis for it, and a quite big one.
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