Dear Pam O’Connor

I don’t know if anyone has pointed any of this out to you yet but we’ve been following your live chats about the transit system here in LA. We’ve been following it because we care. We’ve been to other cities and seen how a good working transit system adds to the city and enables the residents of that city. In the last 8 months I’ve personally ridden trains, trams, and metro lines in San Francisco, Tokyo, Yokohama, New York City, Toronto, Washington DC, London, Vienna, Berlin, Cologne, Amsterdam, Dublin and Chicago. (really! here’s some photos) After every one of those experiences I returned to LA excited about public transit only to be saddened by the state of things here. All these other cities can get it to work, why can’t we?

From an casual glance these “live chats” of yours seem like a step in the right direction. Talking directly with the people in the city and working together on a solution. Except that’s not what is really happening is it? I’m sorry to say but you aren’t fooling anyone here and these publicity stunts filled with canned answers and non information aren’t helping at all. In fact it makes things worse because the people like me, who care about this stuff, are just getting more annoyed and more frustrated at the complete lack of actual interest in making things better. It seems like the main concern is putting on a good public face, forget actually improving the transit system. Am I wrong? I’d love to be wrong. Please tell me I’m wrong.

And you know what would be a great way to do that? Take part in a TransitCamp. Take a look at what they’ve done in Toronto, Vancouver and the BayArea. Of course this requires face to face communication and answering real questions with real answers, without moderators. The flip side to that is it actually gets things done. What do you say? If you are in I’m in, and I’ll do everything I can to get more people who want to make a change in the same room and we can actually take some real steps towards giving LA a transit system it’s residents can be proud of.

2 Replies to “Dear Pam O’Connor”

  1. I care a lot. AFter having been to cities like you pointed out where mass transit works I’d really like to see it happen here too.

    Unfortunately what keeps showing up on the books doesn’t make sense especially when you look at where the freeway plugs are between major employment centers. After years of sprawl we actually need to look at some straightlines across several centers to make it work. Downtown LA isn’t the only employment center and can’t be the center of it all.

    I’ll chime in, I do locally, will do here as needed if you think anyone on the Metro panel really cares what we think.

  2. I agree with what Sean has to state, even if I am more cynical about it all. (Having worked for years on the inside of the machine, I know damn well just how uncaring and inately callous are those folk who “oversee” things; I would not argue that I am not too different. And I feel that if I make myself a big enough pain in the arse, then half-assed reform programmes such as the Bus Riders’ Union as well as teh MTA will do enough to get me off people like me off their collective back.)
    Anyhow, the one thing that I feel needs to get done is to get the word out to people about those who should be doing things. Roger Snoble is the worst. Know who he is? Would you recognise his mustache? We all should: He is the MTA CEO and one of the single most responsible schmucks for the failing Los Angeles metro. Pam O’Connor looks nothing like the little headshot she puts up for her little chats. And Wendy Greuel, whose district is home to one of the newspapers at which I work, does teh best she can with what little she has. (Who can tell me where Tujunga is, let alone the two buildings beside Mrs. Greuel’s office?)
    Let us first put a face to the fiasco, then make them earn their money.
    Moreover, the advocacy would do well to reach into the non-english speaking working class. I fee that it is an untapped resource that would benefit first and best were they–and I do indeed mean the spanish-speaking peoples that ride the buses–to be inspired to not accept the ridiculously over-crowded conditions and buses that fail to show up, the unused bus benches placed for no other reason than advertising, the criminally mismanaged budget, the glaring hypocrisy and the outrageous idea that those who cannot even keep escalators and simple on-line “chat” applications working, could build and maintain a subway system, let alone a first-class public transit.

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