Subscribe to this blog

Web This Blog

Monday, November 27, 2006


"Spend money on trains, subway"

Nice to see I am not alone in envisioning where Los Angeles belongs in terms of having an extensive transportation network. Congestion on freeways, being the obvious no-brainer that indicates that a relief is needed; well, the other is Los Angeles as the 2nd city in the US, yet still scrambling for buses like they'd do in the Flintstones.
Here's what some other's have said relating to this topic.

The first letter in the Times addresses the thing with "busways", just right on the spot. They're indeed a short-sighted substitute for "subways". Just as well what I've thought of is that of L.A. growing, and that traffic will only increase. That along with the flat, spreadout nature of the city, makes a subway railway inevitable. There is no comparison in terms of wise investment, between more buses and more subway/trains. I'm not an "expert" in this area, but I'm a human equipped with alas, "common sense". I personally won't die if the subway-extension won't happen during my remaining life-time, but why the heck not argue for it while I'm here. I drive whenever I can get hands on a vehicle, usually through work. Apart from the subway, car is still the most convenient. I'm considering what my next car will be. While the MTA tries to "keep me", and "attract me", I can only wish them the best of luck. Metro's "excellence", relatively speaking, is still far too spot-wise. I could go on to rant about this now, but think it's already been addressed.

One obvious thing though is that you can't take the bus on a Saturday. It's just a plain pleasure breaker; same on Sundays, though Sundays are virtual busless days. You either have to spend an hour somehow organizing bus departures, transfers and arrival times, which alone makes a trip's worth questionable. But if you don't do that, you're in for frustrations in about 8 out of 10 times. The remaining option is to simply "bite" and to deal with it. But the question is why you should have to "deal" with something concerning basic mobility in a city that's infamously unwalkable? We're not in Iraq, we shouldn't have to "deal", just to cope with daily life. But indeed rather often, MTA public transportation becomes the issue rather than the facilitator.
And speaking of the subway, that would solve much of the problem. The subway runs inherently smoother and more streamlined, and doesn't depend on the driver's "mood" for consistent service, as well as has no hampering traffic.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Metro Rapid Displays Bus Arrivals at Stops

Came to think of it. Metro Rapid bus stops use their electronic screen displays to display upcoming bus arrivals (on some routes). Not to inform about some upcoming road work.
So if they can do it for bus stops, why not for the subway stations? Has the Metro Rapid project gone over their heads? Perhaps they've now invested so much in them that they've forgotten about the subway. The Metro subway is the true flagship of Los Angeles' public transportation. It ought to come first in terms of 'posh' upgrades like scrolling electronic displays that display arrival times.

But the time displays at Metro Rapid stops, help ease the tedium of waiting. Because they give you feedback. On the subway stations though, there is no feedback other than a bout of air that pushes out of the tunnels prior a train's arrival. Wherever you look for feedback (information) on the stations, you're either reminded of rules and prohibitions, or of what's happening at some desolate Metro station's ecalator miles away.
There's this institutional feel to many of them, where you feel almost more like a 'number' than an actual customer. The sub-text is as though, "so you came too late...too bad.....ding dang dung...Attention all patrons: do not walk, sit or stand on the edges of the platform...".
I mean common, is this San Quentin or something? As in, "The Trains Will Come In time.....Until Then, Just Watch Your Behavior".

Thursday, November 23, 2006


More on Metro Subway's Lack of Time Displays

Last time I took the subway it struck me again what awkward choices MTA makes in terms of what to communicate to their customers. There were 5 announcement, first in English, then repeated in Spanish at the station, all within the span of about 15 minutes. 5 announcements, all reminders of Metro's pity rules, such as gas powered scooters not being allowed, eating, smoking or drinking not being allowed, etc, etc. And as usual, it was quite clear that virtually no-one was paying attention to them.
And then on the electronic displays, on all of them, were all these notifications, which never fail to impress in the wrong way. If you stand at for example the Universal City station, and try to make a quick assessment of where most of the passengers are likely to be heading, you must presume that most of them will not be heading to Pasadena anytime soon. Most of them will most likely head to Hollywood, Downtown/Union Station or anywhere in between. Yet on all these electronic displays are these obscure messages about some repair that's going to be made on say, the 'north bound Metro Gold Line track to Pasadena, on very specific times and dates.
The displays also drag on. So even if you're that 1 in 10,000 Metro riders that find the information meaningful, you must spend an undue amount of seconds with a tilted head just to read in those couple of sentences. So the moral is that essentially useless information is even being displayed to slowly.

What if they did the same thing at airports; imagine if LAX replaced all their arrival/departure information with rule reminders for people. That'd be ridiculous! But that's really how patronizing the MTA is.

If they weren't half asleep, they would be displaying train departure information by default, and then add in whatever else as a secondary. For example, they would be displaying the date and time, followed by the next train departure, and cycle between those two, as a default. At least if they knew what efficiency was. Then maybe once hourly they could add in those obnoxious "Attention Metro Gold Line Customers: on Friday the 25th of February between 2:2:45 pm to 3:07:PM Pacific Time, a partial repair will be performed on the Northbound track at Chinatown, north of Downtown L.A, on the way to Pasadena, but not South Pasadena, and not Long Beach. If you are traveling to Pasadena on this day of February, please be aware that trains may not be running as usual...After Friday the 25th of February trains will start running on regular schedule again........................zzzz"-messages, as deemed necessary. It just seems disturbingly awkward to waste all that screen display with information that's relevant to a miniscule amount of people. Why don't they just display train departure times?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Final Word On MTA Awards

(At least, let's hope it is)
Will it be fair to say that the awards Metro has won are not for them being the "best" transit agency in the nation-- for they're not, but, as someone has said before, for investing a lot and for being proactive in terms of new builds and services? That's very different from actually being the best.

All advertisement pertaining to Metro's award-winning claim they are the best transit agency in the nation. That's simply a lie. What is true, is that they do build, add, and improve in many areas. That's not the same as actually being the best.

How about at least being candid about it, by for the MTA to state that they are Trying to improve, Trying to become the best, and that it will take time? As opposed to stating "We are the nation's best", when it's so much not true. So not true. Then why lie, especially since no-one's buying it? That's the point, Why lie? What's going to change by lying about it? Do the believe they can fool their customers into agreeing with them by simply claiming things?

Perhaps they also figured that late evening riders wouldn't pose any threat, and therefore ignore their concerns. It makes sense, because if they're OK with lying, chances are much higher that they're also OK with neglecting. And the neglect has been, despite it using to be much worse, still widespread.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


MTA's Subway Station Neglects

The MTA subway system has now existed for more than ten years. More than ten years, and there are still basic, easily fixable problems unresolved. One of them is, as said in the past, the lack of scheduling information. And it's not just a lack that emerges only after a longwinded cynical analysis, but it's a striking one: Not only are there no time-tables at Metro stations, but there are also no announcements telling about upcoming trains. And not just that, but there aren't even any hints!
While the subway runs more consistent than the buses, and therefore can be relied upon better in general, this is still a perplexing problem. Without even knowing where to begin. The subway announcements are there, and can be implemented and afforded, but apparently not without providing irrelevant information. While as stated previously, MTA readily announces that people shouldn't walk or stand on the platform edges, not even once, do they announce when the next train is coming. And there are nor indicators whatsoever. And this is the information that most people want to know. The majority of transit riders don't care about the rules, because the majority of people don't break the rules, and the majority of people are already aware of these rules. Simply because they're posted everywhere. Apparently that's why MTA has decided to announce them aloud as well, over and over. It just reeks with incompetence.

About 3 weeks ago, I was waiting for the North Hollywood train at the Wilshire/Vermont Metro station. So did several others. As time went by, people started leaving the station, one by one. I thought they were just getting tired of waiting ad nauseum. Not did I know that there was no more train to come in actuality! The station was unsupervised, and all the people there waited in vain for a train that would never arrive. Great! And what was the MTA announcing in the speakers? "Attention all patrons, please do not walk or stand........." It's crazy. If they can announce that, which nobody is even paying attention to, they can't explain when the last train will depart? Or put up signs near entrances, so that passengers don't have to enter the stations after the last train departure to their destinations? Would it be rocket science to purchase some crayons and school sheets from a dollar store, and jot down the following before taping it up on the station walls:

To All Metro Riders

During Weekdays: The last train to North Hollywood will leave this station at XPM. The Last Train to Union Station will leave this station at XPM. The Last Train to Wilshire/Western will leave this station at XPM."

And do the same for weekends.

This is not rocketscience? Right. You don't even need to qualify for an "award" to realize the need.

So not only are train departures not indicated anywhere in general. But not even the last train arrivals are. It means people will keep coming into the stations in good faith, ten years into MTA's subway operation, believing they're on time for the next or last train. Only 40 min to 1 hour later, do they realize how hopeless it was. This absurdity defies wordy description.

And remember, as you're waiting in vain for the last train, that:
"You may not walk, stand or sit on the edges of the platform"...What a freakshow.
My dog could do better; and remember that some people are elderly, or handicapped, but are still left to "happily" wait for the last train which has already left. A crayon and a paper sheet, from a dollar store, could remedy the problem. It's not even a budget related issue, but one of sheer neglect. Sheer neglect. Meanwhile the MTA keeps bragging about being the best transit agency in the nation.

If Los Angeles' MTA is the "best" in the nation, my awe goes out to the transit riders in other cities. How do they make it?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?