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When Is a System Not a System? When It’s the MTA’s Disconnected Bus and Rail System

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the letter the LA Times described as “scathing”  from the Federal Transit Administration to LA’s MTA over its contempt for civil rights laws. Then, read the MTA’s response as reported by Steve Hymon, the former LA Times transportation reporter who wrote the tepid analysis of Measure R a week before the 2008 election and a year before he joined the MTA as blogger for the transit agency’s self-promoting website The Source. MTA characterizes the FTA’s complaints as old news, says 2 of the 5 failings have been “resolved” and promises total obedience to all demands so that funds are not withheld.

Hell-bent on building the subway-far-short-of-the-sea and ready to open the long-delayed and over-budget Expo Line far short of its planned Culver City destination, the MTA is facing scrutiny from the same Federal Transit officials it hopes will lend it billions against 30 years of future local sales tax revenue.

The problem called “disturbing” by he Feds is that MTA slashed bus services by 650,000 hours to fund rail projects, a problem under civil rights laws since bus riders are mostly minorities and the rail lines that are planned will mostly serve the remnants of the region’s white communities.

Despite the political hot air you hear all the time about how much they care, the actual policies have long been to punish the poor as federal officials noted — a problem that surely puts the nail in the coffin of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s ingenious 30-10 plan for rail construction.

It explains why he now wants to extend the MTA tax indefinitely so he can borrow against 100 years of revenue, not just 30. What else can he show as his legacy — that Jimmy Hahn hired the right guy in Bill Bratton to fix the LAPD so his own Charlie Beck can ruin it?

It also explains why he became so hysterical at last week’s MTA meeting when County Supervisor Mike Antonovich compared how the mayor steamrolled over all opposition to Measure R’s half-cent sales tax hike to “gang rape” — a crude but not inapt choice of words. (Listen here gangrape

Clearly, Antonovich is not going to let that the mayor’s Measure R II get through with the virtual lack of scrutiny it got four years ago.

The real problem with LA County’s transit system — ridership has been virtually stagnant for years — is that it isn’t a system at all.

It doesn’t go to the places people go like LAX, Dodger Stadium or hundreds of other popular destinations and the connections between lines is poor and getting worse because bus frequency has been reduced over and over along with elimination of many lines.

Connectivity and frequency — no mystery those are what make a successful transit system.

It’s why the lousy Orange Line Busway is dollar for dollar the most successful MTA line even though it only saves seven minutes crossing between North Hollywood and Warner Center. Buses run frequently and for many transit-dependent people, it means one less transfer to get to work.

If you listened to the gangrape audio from the last MTA meeting, you heard board member, transit expert and lobbyist-consultant Richard Katz, the former Democratic Assembly member, take charge and break up the fight between Antonio and Antonovich before it got really interesting.

At one point in recent years, Katz was on the board of the MTA, Metrolink and the High-Speed Rail Authority — something that eventually became a controversy over the obvious conflict of interest.

In a recent Round Table with Dave Bryan on the city propaganda station, Channel 35, Katz was defending the idiotic $100 billion high-speed rail boondoggle against criticism from the Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore and came to admit just what a mess the transit system is.

You can take Katz’s word for it. He got the public to buy a state gas tax 20 years ago with the now oft-broken promise that it would always go for transportation and has been the mayor’s key adviser and strategist on all things transit-related.

What he can never concede as a principal architect of Measure R II — if projects are delivered on time and on budget would connect LAX and more importantly the various lines that don’t even meet now in downtown — is that it still won’t be a transit system 10 or 20 or 30 years from now.

There still won’t be a system with buses running with the frequency needed for connectivity and it still won’t take people to where they want to go quickly and efficiently.

Measure R — whether it’s 30-10 or 100-10 or whatever — isn’t about gang rape.

It’s about  MTA’s fraud against the public in building costly rail projects while bus services are being cut, fares are being raised and maintenance of the system being put off to the point that there is a $1.3 billion backlog and breakdowns are becoming dangerously frequent.

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8 Responses to When Is a System Not a System? When It’s the MTA’s Disconnected Bus and Rail System

  1. JOHN WALSH says:

    GREAT TRANSPORTATION ANALYSIS POWERED BY UNASSAILABLE LOGIC.
    THANK YOU.
    MTA LOVES TO RE-WRITE HISTORY. NO ONE KNOWS WHY THE GREEN LINE
    STOPS SHORT OF LAX CLAIMS KATZ ON BRYAN’S SHOW.
    OH REALLY? THE ANSWER IS AS CLOSE AS THE NEAREST GOOGLE SEARCH
    ENGINE.
    UNCLE SAM KILLED THE GREEN LINE TO LAX. SPECIFICALLY, THE FAA.
    READ THE L.A. TIMES STORY AT THE TIME . THE GREEN LINE WOULD HAVE
    CREATED DANGEROUS ELECTRONIC INTERFERENCE THAT WOULD HAVE
    HAMPERED TAKE-OFFS AND LANDINGS SEVERELY AT LAX.

    HUH? CAN’T BE TRUE. PLENTY OF OTHER CITIES HAVE RAIL SYSTEMS THAT
    CONNECT TO AIRPORTS . THAT’S A NO BRAINER! THERE MUST BE AN ANTI-RAIL CONSIRACY AFOOT HERE.

    NOPE, AGAIN. OTHER CITIES BUILT INTO THEIR RAIL SYSTEMS HARDWARE THAT PREVENTED SIGNAL POLLUTION FROM INTERFERING WITH AIRPORT
    OPERATIONS . LACTC/MTA NEGLECTED TO TAKE THIS CRUCIAL STEP IN A RUSH TO AWARD BIG MONEY CONTRACTS AND START CONSTRUCTION. THE GREEN LINE HAS THE THINNEST RIDERSHIP NUMBERS OF ALL THE MTA RAIL
    LINES.

    SOOOOO,THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMININISTRATION WAS FORCED TO INTERVENE FOR HE SAKE OF PUBLIC SAFETY.
    DOES KATZ HAVE AN ELEPHANT’S MEMORY? HARDLY.

    STILL SKEPTICAL ? AS WE USED TO SAY IN MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD:”YOU CAN
    GO LOOK IT UP!”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Must be the Parking Lot operators around LAX who ensured that the green line would never reach the airport. How much money did they pay to the politicians? Someone needs to research that. As for the current MTA, the planning is led by a political appointee making over $350,000, her only crediantials being that she worked with Eli Broad. Yeah! the same guy who has buildings named after him even as he rips-off the citizens for his parking garage downtown.

  3. Wayne from Occupied Koretz-Encino says:

    Welcome PASADENA VIKINGS!!!! HA HA HA, HE HE HE! No way in hell the NFL is putting the Vikings in the Colliseum, or AEG’s stupid-assed designed stadium/convention center gimic. Pasadena has all the cards in hand to steal on the greatest franchises in all of sports. The Gold Line will then be extended into the Rosebowl and then you’ll have your train.
    Besides, where else would the NFL move a team? Into L.A. with gun shots ringing throughout the night or next to Staples Center with no room to TAILGATE? Or in a city with multimillion dollar homes around it? You decide. But at least the REGION will get some STUPID-BOWL games.

  4. Vote blindly, then complain says:

    We have known for over a century that people will not walk more than 1/2 to reach a subway station. When the City wrote out this aspect of subways in 1915, it was very honest with everyone and paid of the mathematics of subways and the finances of subways for everyone to see. Today, it’s all a much of lies, deceit and distortions.

    One very simply change would have been to run buses underground, (assuming that going underground was wise in the first place.) It takes a fool or a corrupt, and in Garcetti and Tony V we have both, to use fixed rail subways. The logical mode of transportation was buses. There would be several advantages, but I will mention only one.

    A subway runs on tracks and thus when it gets to the destination, it stops and lets people off underground. I know that most people know this fact, but the mayor and Garcetti are particularly dense so I thought I would remind them. Then people have to get to the surface an walk 1/2 mile.

    With buses rather than choo-choo trains in the tunnels, when the bus gets to the “station,” it does not stop, but instead it goes to the surface streets and drives in a loop stopping and letting people off near where they wish to go. That system enlarges the 1/2 radius around a subway station to about 2 miles — so that it reaches many, many more riders.

    The same process would take place at the starting point. The bus would make maybe six stops in East Los Angeles and then go underground, travel at 80 to 100 mph to Westwood where it would then loop around to UCLA, Westwood and the Vet Administration.

    Think of it this way. A subways serves a 1/2 mile radius of its station, while a bus underground could serve a 2 mile radius of the “station” — which of course we would not need to build or pay for.

    However, buses do not make enough money for the international manufacturers of fixed rail transit and the rails etc. Thus, corrupt imbeciles squander hundreds of billions on fixed rail subways.

  5. anonymous says:

    in 1998, when Katz allowed Alarcon his dirty 29 vote victory
    and in 2001, when both Katz and Alarcon supported Villaraigosa for mayor
    and now, if Alarcon is re-elected to 39th Assembly District this year
    and next year, if Villaraigosa is appointed/elected to any position of influence/power
    so, have you suffered enough?
    stop electing the same creepy, corrupt politicos!!

  6. Cough, Cough, Choke, Choke, Die says:

    I hope buses in tunnels that are referred to are electric or run on gerbil power.

  7. Burkey says:

    It would be great if it were as simple as just “electing the right politicians.”

    It’s not even clear that the electronic voting machines are secure.

    King Lincoln Bronzeville Vs. Blackwell suggests Bush didn’t win Ohio and didn’t win the Presidency. I don’t see any sign that electronic voting machines used in CA or elsewhere are actually secure, or even that there is even a movement to check on it.

    Perhaps I’ve missed it, though.

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