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Pondering The Transponder: Sell Your Soul, Pay The Toll

November 13, 2012 in Driving, LA, News, Politics, Rants, Technology, Transportation

Following Frazgo’s November 9 post announcing the somewhat chagrin-filled arrival of toll lanes that have now turned a stretch of the 110 Freeway (and soon part of the 10 Freeway) into a Costway, I whatthehell’d it and decided to drink the koolaid and go get myself outfitted with one of the required tracking devices so my vehicular movements and non-movements could be monitored by 24/7 by the MTA and Caltrans, AAA via a combination of roadway implant receivers and suborbital satellites. Oops! Sorry!! My inherent schizoid-based distrust of any transmitters forced upon us by the government is showing. Let me zip that up. What I really meant to call the technology was “The completely harmless and entirely loveable Metro Expresslane FasTrak Transponder.”

Anyway, it’s not like I really need one. I’m rarely on the 110 and even rarer in its HOV lanes so my initial reaction was basically “fuck that bullshit” followed by about eight exclamation points.

Then my resolve weakened when the doomsday scenario occurred to me that there might come that anxiety-ridden day when I’m stuck southbound on the gridlocked Harbor coming through Exposition Park, 149 hopeless minutes away from a flight at LAX that’s leaving in 91 minutes. At that moment somewhere in a bunker deeeeeeeep under the city an MTA operative monitoring my biometric activity being sent via the chip embedded in the TAP card in my wallet smiled and told a failsafe colleague “We’ve almost got another one!”

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High Speed Rail to LAX

May 4, 2011 in LA, LAX, Mass Transit

Chicago’s outgoing Mayor Daley wants high speed rail from the city’s downtown to O’Hare International Airport. It would be the first of its kind in the United States – meaning that it would be fast, convenient, and far too logical for American politicians to actually build.

Your move, @villaraigosa.

A few years back, I proposed the Metro Flyline – a rail network from Union Station to every airport in the region. It was kind of a joke, in that not many people need to hop a train from Downtown Los Angeles to fly their personal jet out of Van Nuys Airport. But what about a line that did service the major transportation hubs in the region? A high speed TRIANGLE, connecting LAX, Bob Hope in Burbank and Union Station.

Put it all underground. Run the whole thing elevated. Tunnel through every living room in Beverly Hills.

I don’t know where the money would come from. I don’t know ridership numbers. I don’t know environmental impact blahbitty blah. What I do know, is that people would use it. Isn’t that what mass transit is for?

The point here is that it’s time for Los Angeles to start thinking big again. No matter how far-fetched and ridiculous it may seem. Let other cities celebrate highway widenings and Target openings. We’re better than that.

Maybe someday, we’ll have a mayor that won’t mind rolling up his sleeves and putting in a solid 8 hours of work.

ICME: Where to Buy Your Stupid Man Suit

February 20, 2011 in Fashion, Movies, Shopping

Donnie: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

While it doesn’t answer the question the question why he’s wearing it, now we know where Donnie Darko may have got his stupid man suit.

Korea Town, Western and 3rd.

I’m not sure it’s very convincing, though.

(Pic taken w/my phone.)

Metro Explains How To Open A Door

August 25, 2010 in Mass Transit

Next week, we’ll talk about purchasing tickets. Mainly, that if you want to ride, you’ll need a ticket. And that you have to purchase a ticket at a ticket machine that sells tickets. Ticket.

Cell Phone Service Coming to Red & Purple Lines

December 30, 2009 in Mass Transit, Technology

more bars

If Metro gets its way, you may soon be playing @foursquare deep in the bowels of the L.A. subway.

The Source is reporting that the agency is moving forward on the development of a request for proposal that will be sent out to private firms to outline the agency’s requirements.

I cannot wait until the day when I can tweet about meth-induced stupidity on the Red Line.

This Week’s Featured Metro Rider

December 9, 2009 in Mass Transit, People, Rants, Transportation

metroriderA few weeks ago, I had the displeasure of riding the Metro across from a girl who was plucking her eyebrows. This week I found an even more offensive character who clearly has zero regard for his fellow passengers. Based on this debonair gentleman’s devil-may-care attitude, I assume that he somehow came under the mistaken presumption that the city bus is not a shared ride, but rather his own personal mode of transportation upon which he can do whatever he likes, such as kicking back, taking up several seats, putting his wet shoes on the seat (it was raining that day) and horking down an extremely pungent container of fried rice. This guy is a class act all the way. I can only imagine the lucky girl (or guy) who gets to come home to this every night.

Those of you who ride the Metro are surely familiar with the rules they announce over the PA on regular intervals – don’t place your feet on the seats, no eating, drinking or smoking allowed. In fact, for the latter three, you could apparently be fined up to $250, that is if there were Metro officials who actually enforced these rules. However, since I do not have the authority to fine individuals like this, nor do I think it’s a good idea to confront strangers on public transportation, I will do the one thing I am comfortable with. That is, mocking jerks like this in a public forum in the hopes of shaming people in general into being considerate. I’ll let you know how that all works out.

I Will, I Will Mock You

November 19, 2009 in Mass Transit, People, Rants, Transportation

Public Eyebrow Groomer as seen on a Metro Bus

Since I began my adventures in public transportation earlier this year, I have seen a lot of rude, inappropriate and often strange behavior from my fellow carbon-based life forms. I have seen people carelessly put their shoes on bus seats.  I have seen someone leave a half-eaten sandwich on the floor of the train. I have seen a perfectly nice looking middle-aged woman forcibly push her way to the front of a line of people boarding a bus, just to be the first one on. I have shared personal space with people emitting body odors that would make a mortician gag. Yes my friends, I have been to hell and back and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

While annoying, I have grown to accept many of these acts of humanness as part of the deal when taking public transportation. Still, when I see something like today’s featured Metro rider, I can’t help but make a public mockery of it.

Today, while making my connection to the Metro Red Line, I sat across from this girl who was plucking her eyebrows. Maybe some of you think this is OK, but let me tell you, YOU ARE WRONG. Some personal grooming is acceptable on public transportation I would say. Like powdering your nose or putting on lipstick. However, anything involving body hair is an absolute disgusting DON’T. You wouldn’t shave your armpits on the bus, would you? Would she? I don’t know. Fortunately, I made my connection before I had to find out.

The Untidy Germaphobe

September 1, 2009 in Fashion, Mass Transit, People

The Untidy Germaphobe

Today in LA fashion I bring you the “Untidy Germaphobe,” as spotted on the Metro Red Line to Union Station. Yeah, yeah, I know. Criticizing fashion on the Metro is too easy, but I go with what I know.

When I first saw the “Untidy Germaphobe” sitting across from me on the train, I only noticed his surgical mask.

“He must be wearing that because of the poor air quality due to the Station Fire,” I thought to myself, smirking arrogantly at my own reflection in my iPod.

Then my eyes moved down to his hands, which were tautly sheathed in blue latex gloves, perfectly color coordinated to match his jaunty mask.

“Hmm. Germaphobe,” I nodded, feeling quite satisfied that I had him all figured out.

Glancing over one more time, I took in the rest of his ensemble, which continued to vex me for at least three more minutes, or however long it takes to get from Hollywood & Highland to Sunset & Vermont.  The gloves and the mask seemed to match a Mysophobic personality disorder sure, but what the hell was going on with the rest of his scene? First of all, his clothes and boots were visibly filthy. Not approved Germaphobe attire. Second, he smelled like he had not showered in quite some time. Definitely the type of violation that could get you kicked out of Germaphobe Camp.

Taking all of the above into consideration, I finally narrowed this guy down to one of three stereotypes, placing the most weight of course on his peculiar outfit (who wears a snow hat in LA during a heat wave?):

1. Recently discharged Vietnam War veteran

2. Construction worker from the 1950′s

3. Anti-government militia soldier

I can’t decide which one, so I’m leaving it up to you fine readers to decide. What’s this dude’s deal? Feel free to offer your own guess.

Avatar of Burns!

by Burns!

Gold Line Gets A Boost

May 7, 2009 in Announcements, East Side, Mass Transit, Transportation

Photo courtesy of Metro Library and Archive.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that the Metro Gold Line will receive $66.7 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds will be used for the Metro Gold Line Eastside Light Rail Extension.

“By getting these funds to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority now, we’re providing a boost that will help this project keep moving forward while jump-starting the economy and putting people back to work,” Secretary LaHood said.

The East Side Extension is six miles of track that will connect the Gold Line at Union Station through Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, and end in East Los Angeles at the intersection of Atlantic & Pomona Boulevards.

It is worth noting that today’s announcement doesn’t really mean any more money for the Gold Line. In 2004, the Feds agreed to provide $490.7 million of the $898.8 million total project cost. This was to be paid in annual increments through 2010.  The ARRA grant announced today doesn’t increase the federal commitment to the project; it just expedites funds already promised.

While Secretary LaHood was happy to announce the advance on our allowance, he did not mention a specific preference for what the Eastside Extension should be called.

Avatar of Burns!

by Burns!

Not My Bag, Baby!

March 9, 2009 in Law Enforcement, Mass Transit, Rants

Photo by Me!

Today over at LAist, Zach tells of LASD teaming with DHS and ramping up random bag checks on L.A.’s metro rail lines. Apparently this practice started nine months ago, but due to an influx of federal funding, the program will be increasing in frequency.

I have nothing factual to add to this story, but I certainly have an opinion. That opinion is, “God. dammit!” Now a Metro system that was already of limited usefulness to me just became a little less palatable.

I am so f’ing tired of bag checks, taking off my shoes at the airport, cavity searches at the car wash…wait. Everyone else gets those too, right? Just me? Gotta stop asking for the “Deluxe Wash.”

Seriously, though, I don’t think I’m overreacting here. In case you hadn’t noticed, the terrorists have won. A terrorist’s objective is not to kill a few people; it is to cause terror among the masses. They have achieved their goal. They have caused us to abandon life as we knew it, and allow ourselves and our actions to be governed by fear. There are far too many people who are far too comfortable with the idea of opening up their bags anytime someone with a badge asks, in the name of “security.” That oft-used quote by Ben Franklin is true; those willing to give up liberty for security deserve neither.

What about it, Los Angeles? Are you as tired of this as I am? Or, am I way off base? Are you more than happy to submit to strip searches, as long as it means imagined back-pack bombs don’t get on the train with you? Here’s your chance to sound off.

(As an aside, I think it’s ironic that if you click on that DHS link above you’ll go to the Department of Homeland Security’s homepage, which features the tag line “Preserving Our Freedoms, Protecting America.” Italics mine.)

A Week With TAP

January 31, 2009 in Mass Transit, Transportation

I have been using the new Metro TAP card for a week now.  For the most part, I like it.  But, as with anything new and untested, I already have a list of areas that could use some improvement.

It isn’t always clear or convenient to TAP in when transferring from one line to the next.  At first, I figured it didn’t matter because I had paid for the entire week.  But I soon discovered by reading other people’s blogs about the whole system that the Metro can fine a rider for evasion of paying the fare if they fail to TAP in during a leg of their journey.  There’s a massive disconnect for me there.  How am I evading paying a fare when I’ve paid for the entire week?  It makes no sense.

The next bit of frustration I experienced was when I tried to register my TAP card so I could refill it via the internet.  I had already set up an account on a previous date.  But when I went to register my card, I couldn’t get it to work with that account.  Further, it seems that only monthly pass refills are available online.  As a fully jacked in participant of the digital world who relies upon the internet to function in many ways, being able to do such transactions would be ideal.  Yes, I understand that we can do it at any Metro station or the stores where the TAP cards are purchased but being able to fill my card on a Sunday night before a crazy week is far more convenient.

I think the TAP card has potential.  I still like it better than having tons of little pieces of paper filling my purse and pockets every week.

Overall, I’m starting to understand how illogical the entire Metro system is after listening to my New York City boyfriend talk about his experience in Gotham.  There is simply no way to cheat on fares without putting in some serious effort.  Everything is laid out in a practical, obvious fashion.  But many things in Los Angeles suffer from flash and style over substance.  It’s just how we do things here.  Unfortunately, in the case of public transportation, it doesn’t serve us well.

Metro’s Runaway Gold Line

January 22, 2009 in Mass Transit, Twitter

Rendering of Possible Alameda Gold Line Station,

in Beautiful Downtown… Azusa???

Metro had another meeting today. They decided to move forward with Westward extensions of the Red & Purple Lines to somewhere, a Downtown Connector, further extension of the Gold Line from East L.A., and the Orange Line train bus to Chatsworth. Super. Start building the damned things already.

Just one question… Why is L.A. still ignoring one of the fastest-growing traffic nightmares in the city?

101-134-210. It’s not code. It’s three major freeways that bridge the gap between the two Valleys. Van Nuys. Sherman Oaks. Studio City. Universal City. Burbank. Glendale. Pasadena. Major job centers. Thousands of motorists playing a daily game of car jockey at 15mph.

Why isn’t the city addressing this region with any sort of urgency? Why aren’t there at least discussions on the table about a Metro Rail link between the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel?

I went back to Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan to see if I missed something when it first came out.

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Metro Metro Still Tweeting Tweeting

January 16, 2009 in Mass Transit, Twitter

We’ve already pointed out that Metro is using Twitter to update in both English and Spanish on the same account, and how much fun it is for people to repeat themselves when you heard them the first time.

But, here’s an interesting development: Metro does not know how to link in Spanish.

Wouldn’t that still be a cut & paste?

Metro Has Voted to Vote to Study Downtown Subway Connector

January 15, 2009 in Mass Transit, Twitter

Metro Facebooked me again.

This time, it was about the Regional Connector project for Downtown Los Angeles. It will connect the Blue Line from Long Beach to the Gold Line – wherever and whenever it ends. It will also connect to the Expo Line that may or may not reach Culver City, and the Purple Line, which is slated to reach Westwood 20 years after the end of the world.

From the inbox:

We invite anyone who is interested to let the Board know how they feel about moving the Regional Connector project into the next phase — a Draft EIR/EIS.

Hmm. How do I feel about Metro moving forward? On better public transit for L.A.? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s not that urgent. Let me take a vote around the office and get back to you.

Metro: Whoops. Nevermind.

January 8, 2009 in Mass Transit

The LA Times’ Steve Hymon is reporting that Metro’s board has decided to postpone their vote on that long range plan with timetables that only Buck Rogers could relate to. They’re hoping that. in the next few weeks, a newly inaugurated President Obama will write us a check to pay for a bunch of new rail lines, which will speed things up.

Good save, Metro.