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Friday, December 08, 2006

 

Metro Rapid Buses; Re-Painted Again?

Well, at least so it seems. You can spot a couple of them on occasion. The Metro Rapid buses were just replaced with new, really good looking buses in red/silver. Yet, the schizophrenia has set in again, and they're now becoming orange and silver? Or is it just a couple of them? Anyway, there's nothing wrong with that color combination, but it'd always be nicer if the bus schedule was made more tight, and the subway system operated with a bit more of efficiency. But oh well, if the MTA likes to tinker with colors, it wouldn't be surprising in terms of where priorities lie.
Can imagine that while people on certain routes still wait for the bus for 25-30 minutes on average, the heads at the MTA sit and try to figure out what new finish the Metro Rapids should be in. And those buses are already new. The bus delays are getting old, however. Again this appears to be a sign that the MTA are working for outsiders first, residents second. They're more concerned with eye-candy, and whatever prestige that brings about to the eye of an outsider. The fact that elderly folks have to push their way onto the bus, or stand up for 1 hour, doesn't bother them the slightest. The jerks know there's no other option for many people. During the bus-strikes many people got stuck in their homes. Did that serve as a wake-up call? Hell no, they're still as of late 06 tinkering with new colors and other trivialities. It means that next time a strike occurs, some elderly or handicapped may well die in their homes. That's the urgent nature of the lack of public transportation in Los Angeles.

Comments:
The Orange "Rapid" buses are not Rapid buses, they are articulated Local buses (all local buses are painted in orange all rapids are red). So as you can see, on certain local lines they've begun to implement the larger articulated buses so hopefully those buses won't be as crowded as the situation you wrote about. Also, this year was the first time in years a transit strike was avoided, so you've also have to give the MTA credit for that. Let's hope it's the same in 2009.
 
I do give MTA credit for any improvements.

As you can see, I posed it a bit as a question, but thanks for informing me regarding the orange buses.

As long as leaderships (MTA or otherwise) realize the seriousness of exisiting problems, and genuinely try to do something about them, then that's all that really matters.
It can be hard to be sure though, knowing how many times things have screwed up. It takes time to build up a trust that's been lacking.

But it's becoming clearer that improvements are being made. You see more new and added buses on a larger scale. Probably more in the past 3 years than in the 10 years before that.
 
Please check out things a little more before posting them.

I have seen the Metro Local articulated buses in service on lines 204 and 233.

The Orange Line and Metro Rapid buses have not been repainted. These are brand new buses.

Metro originally bought 200 articulated buses, with about 30 dedicated to the Orange Line and the remainder to Rapid lines. This purchase included an option to purchase more of these buses at a future date, which Metro did.

If buses are 9399 or below and orange, then Metro repainted a bus to local colors. If the bus is 9400 or above, then those are brand new locals.
 
You clearly did not "post it a bit as a question" since your post is full of snide remarks implying that the MTA is just repainting things and not doing anything to improve service.

The new orange articulated buses are an improvement in service, but you're so intent on looking for problems in the system that you can't even notice such a clearly BIG improvement in service--so much that when an improvement is actually made, you look at it and think it's a problem.

Give me a break.
 
Continuing my previous post...

This definitely does not look like you are posing "it a bit as a question":

"During the bus-strikes many people got stuck in their homes. Did that serve as a wake-up call? Hell no, they're still as of late 06 tinkering with new colors and other trivialities."

First off, if you were paying attention to the news lately, you'll see that the MTA, due to dedication and leadership were able to avoid a strike for the first time in 10 years, and secondly, they are not "tinkering with colors and other trivialities," the new orange articulated buses that you see are an improvement, not trivial and nothing to do with tinkering with trivialities.
 
OK, fair enough.

But while you accuse me of intentions, your intentions seem to be about protecting a generally lousy service. From the beginning of this blog, the angle has been that of a customer's perspective. These argues are not new. Some people in the past have tried to imply that the problems aren't significant. That's logical if you stand with the MTA, not the customer.


You keep saying how they've stopped the strikes (which is good by the way, who could dispute that?), but how many strikes have happened before that? Like I mentioned earlier, it takes time to build up a trust that's been lacking.
The last strike happened a mere couple years ago; you make it sound as though it's already banked as something of the past. But based on what, a few new orange buses and one avoided strike? It takes more than that. Anyway the point was to underscore a mentality that let's transit riders down, not to imply that there's been nothing done about it.

And anonymous; you're right, sometimes I'm looking for problems.
I could easily focus on the good things, but it seems the MTA's taking care of that pretty well as it is. When you see ads everywhere that show off how "great" Metro is, what would be the point for me of doing the same? Then there'd be no real source (or whatever you wanna call it) to show the other side. If everyone simply prasied the MTA, and focused only on their improvements, then no-one except for the current transit riders would know about the problems. And again, MTA is already praising MTA via ads, and they're widely adverstised. Add to that the vast majority of would-be transit riders see those ads, and never this blog, and you'll notice that most people never hear a customer's point of view.
 
You may as well give up trying to "prove" Metro can't improve service, because for the next few years, they are going to be hard-pressed to even keep pace with increasing ridership on the existing high-ridership lines.

There was a report given at one of the sector council meetings this month which included the fact that ten years of trying to comply with the Bus Riders Union's demands under the consent decree has almost completely depleted the agency's reserve funds. Since they cannot legally divert funds from freeways, the Eastside Gold Line extension, or other capital projects to defray operating costs, I expect to see reductions in midday and weekend service on the lowest ridership lines so they can use the saved hours to beef up service on the highest ridership lines.

That's also why you are seeing articulated buses in the Metro Local colors; every time they replace a 40-foot bus with a 60-foot bus, they improve capacity for riders by 50% without the accompanying increased operating costs.

Given what the BRU did to Metro's funds, your complaints will be ringing very hollow from now on.
 
Actually it seems the BRU stands for many things which the MTA are now bragging about, such as being the largest clean air fleet in the nation, and the expansion of the Metro Rapid system.
Plus they speak up for the riders which no-one else does. It's the riders who suffer, not the MTA.

Because I don't know much about the behind scenes workings concerning the MTA, for example who's precisely responsible for what, I can only attest to what it looks like from the ground, but that's enough to make several important assessments of how the thinking goes. You can tell pretty much from the fact that people are let to wait for a train after the last train has left, for instance. And that's not budget related, wouldn't you agree?
 
How can that not be budget related? If the BRU didn't suck up Metro's funds to the tune of $1.4 billion (with their mantra of "Buses, not trains"), there would be more money to expand train service and station amenities.
 
It's a simple political problem, the BRU will put up a fuss for any train amenity unless many bus riders can have the same amenities, or else they will start crying "foul" or "unfair." This is why you see "Next Bus in X Minutes" on some bus lines, but not for trains yet.

You can always count on the BRU saying that "the MTA is spending too much on train improvements while bus riders continue to suffer," so the MTA must go through many more hoops than necessary whenever thinking about train improvements.
 
I can see how the MTA are having problems with what's budget related and where to invest, and that they try to look to the future but are hampered by other problems, or, realities.

On the other hand the BRU's "cries" are kind of legitimate, because there's been a huge lack of buses in LA. It's not something they've made up, but it's probably more of the nature that they couldn't wait for more trains while passengers continued to suffer. People still need to get to and from jobs and other things, regardless of the subway. But a subway network takes time to build, while many transit dependents need relief right away. That's also understandable.

Regarding the subway stations. They are already state of the art. They already have everything they need to operate efficiently. There's no lack of trains, there are escalators, elevators, digital displays, radio speakers, sprinklers, even aesthetics, automatic ticket machines, so forth. The problem is how they're being used.

To alert passengers of the last train coming would be simple, but they haven't done so. and that could be said 6 years ago, but they still haven't done it. That's not budget related. They can 'afford' to play all these other messages about not eating, drinking, and smoking etc, so why not about upcoming train departures? That just seems to be about sheer stupidity.
 
Honestly, do you really think that rigging up a system to tell people about upcoming train departures is just as simple as a system that tells people not to eat, drink or smoke?

NYC has been working over 100 years without such a system in place, so surely, their transit leadership seems to be about sheer stupidity.
 
The problem is not only with what's being said or not said in the speakers. The problem is the messages at large.

Rather than displaying the train departures visually on their electronic displays, which are intuitively looked at for such information by most people, they consistently tell about repairs, events, or notifications that the vast majority of riders are not affected by. That's what's stupidity. Not necessarily the eating, smoking, drinking part by itself.

Is it hard to understand that most riders' of the subway first concern when entering the station is when their train will arrive? Most could probably care more about the drinking, eating, smoking part. It's not as if people didn't understand that anyway. You don't see such rule reminders at malls, hospitals, well, you name it. Only MTA sticks with it. It's patronizing, as well as not very helpful. And most of what's announced in the speakers is already conveyed via signs, anyway.

They wouldn't even display the last train departures, but rather leave people to sit and wait for nothing. Night after night, year after year. Then, when they finally do say something, it's to tell people not to sit or walk on the platform edges.
That is simply absurd, if not a downright provocation. You see elderly down there just waiting in vain. You mean to say that that can not be prevented? A few signs, or a few announcements could remedy that.

NYC's already so transit oriented that people know instincively how the system works there. LA needs to clue people in, at least, until it can be presumed they have the things memorized. But not even that. I bet more people know what you "can't" do at the subway station, than when the last train to NoHo leaves, for example. I bet as well that the majority of passengers don't even smoke, or carry food/drink with them on the station.
 
NYC's already so transit oriented that people know instincively how the system works there.

Their 100 year head-start on subway operation has nothing to do with it.

LA needs to clue people in, at least, until it can be presumed they have the things memorized.

So it's Metro's fault that its customers are morons, too?

Transit information is not hard to come by. And it's not full of arcane terms or methods. Worse, the people sniveling about this most are fairly well-educated folks who are internet savvy. Yet many existing passengers are functionally illiterate and can navigate the system easily.

But not even that. I bet more people know what you "can't" do at the subway station, than when the last train to NoHo leaves, for example.

Do your homework. Train stations do have "last train" signage. The Blue Line stations have them for the Blue Line, Rosa Parks has it for the Blue and Green lines, Pico has it for the Blue and Red lines, Union Station for the Red, Blue and Gold lines ...

If you think you have to do some digging, look for the signs near the stairs or entrances.
 
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Yes it's the MTA's responsibility to ensure their customers get it right. They are the provider. And things are not that easy (considering we're talking of a transit system, which Should be easy). For instance, it's not immediately obvious where to find time schedule information. If you look around at an average Metro station, you'd notice that the only things clearly visible in terms of information, are number 1: rules, number 2: generic scrolling messages. Most people simply wait in random, hoping for the best. That's the reality. And the same goes for the bus, but with the bus, it's worse and even more random. The exception being maybe Metro Rapid on some routes.

Yes, NYC 100 years history has something to do with their transit situation.
And that's the best reason for why MTA should learn something from them. That way they don't have to wait for decades to realize basic issues.

So they do have "signage". But the reason to have those signs is to prevent awkward scenarios. MTA need to ensure that their signs are stragetically well positioned. It's not enough to put up signs if you place them where no-one will see them. Don't you agree? And when you see people waiting after the last train has already departed, time and time again, and sometimes a dozen of them, it's evidence that something's wrong with the signage. People are not that stupid. Also, it's blatantly rude to let people waste their time and effort by even going down there past operations.
It's not even a matter of assuming things are working when that happens.
 
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In my informed and researched opinion Los Angeles will continue to have a horrendous mass transit system(by international standards as well as my own) unless Los Angeles residents take action to increase taxes either locally or statewide(sales tax, gasoline tax, vehicle licensing fees) in order to fund a world class mass transit system. I recommend reading the budget of the MTA(downloadable from their site) to learn more about how the MTA is funded. For environmental, "quality of life"(e.g. horrendous traffic), and as the predictable escalation in the price of gasoline has and will continue to demonstrate, economic reasons as well, California can no longer afford the car as the primary mode of transportation.

I give most of the credit for avoiding the strike to AV(should I?) although he's been a general disappointment as mayor.

I also believe that the MTA needs new leadership, because the people who run it(Roger Snoble) seem to have very little vision. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."-Ecclesiastes

Apart from this, the MTA's advertising is insulting and misleading. For instance, their ad with the gas pump and the handcuff reads, "Free yourself, Go Metro." A much more honest slogan would be, "Be a second class citizen, Go Metro."

1,000 more buses, 1,000 less police!
Mexicas stand up! Stop harrasing people of color while their waiting for the bus, LAPD!
 
IceyPancho,

I agree with some of your points. I actually also think it was the mayor who prevented the last strike, and not so much the MTA that I'm arguing about.


And, yes, taxpayers need to step up to the plate for LA's transit to match the city. But the problem is that so many Other things urgently need funding as well. Police, Jails, Hospitals, Schools, Homelessness, it's just crazy. Yet public transit is also urgent and crucial, yet so are the others. Anyway, neither is an excuse for not fixing the other. At the end it's a matter of responsibility. It's clear that neither of these, save for perhaps schools or hospitals since they affect the majority, would be cared for unless excessive pressure existed. Like cops and jails. People that feel safe don't care as much about adding police, and people getting murdered in jails are not an issue to those in complacency. And they don't care about the homeless. Let alone public transportation since most people drive.
That's why at least this blog exists. It's got to come out somewhere. You can't just sit and watch it happening.


And I agree fully that their ads are misleading. They'd better improve on what already exists, then improve the ads, not vice versa. They could start by increasing morale (as in making personnel more customer oriented, if not just to make up for their current lacks), adding signage, and a few other things in an effort to tidy up prior to inviting new customers to become, what is pretty correctly, second class citizens, and who are typically treated accordingly. As in delays, filthiness, crude attitudes, lack of information, and so on. That's probably why they don't use customer testimonials in their ads.
 
The union contract talks were led by John Catoe Jr, deputy chief executive of the MTA at the time. The son of a taxi driver who grew up in public housing complexes, he was recently chosen by a board representing Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. to become the next one in charge of the Washington, D.C. area transit network--those guys must not know that the LA MTA is run by people who don't know what they're doing or care about the welfare of their customers!
 
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John Catoe Jr (I don't even know who that is) may not be incompetent, but that doesn't mean MTA as an agency isn't.
 
Today waiting for the 66 on Hoover & 8th, i flagged the bus coming close cause some lady asked me a question and he didn't stop was driving slow enough to stop but didn't...9462
 
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