Monday, May 08, 2006

The Stupid LA Rail System, With Suggestions

OK, I started as a believer, but I am moving to critic and maybe even a foe.

I mean the LA Light Rail and Subway System. When I first moved to LA I really liked it and did not understand why everone was bad mouthing it. Well, I had to admit there was not enough to make a serious dent in transportation problems. Then there are design flaws from the beginning like all the routes have only 2 tracks, one for each way. Where are the tracks for express routes, especially on that long downtown to Long Beach Run? And why so many street grade crossings. Even with the Gold Line to Pasadena AFTER so many fatal accidents on the Blue Line. There should be a law to NEVER have a street crossing again, to either go over or under all streets. If it costs more, then don't build it till you can afford that.

And now as it ages, especially the downtown parts, I am tempted to join the other side and oppose any new construction of rail if they are going to continue running it like THIS.

I have been finding that the downtown stations, especially the Pershing Square stop, are falling apart. Increasing water marks on the tunnel walls. Tiles that are cracking, peeling and coming up. Bird poop collecting on the exit stairwells, even dead bird carcasses (hello West Nile and Avian flu viruses).

And on the LA MTA website is news of a
'Bike to Work Day' Promotion which seems to overlook that because you are banned from taking your bike on the trains at rush hour when you would most need to, and because they provide no security and take no responsibility for stolen bikes at their stations, they have taken all the practicality of biking to work out of the picture. Is it possible that LA's mass transit is STILL run as a subsidiary of an automobile manufacturer?

But here is an idea to help, at least on the degrading infrastructure problem. First let me mention another flaw in the MTA's planning by outlawing (with hefty fines) eating and drinking on the trains. I can in my car, isn't it SAFER for me to do so on the train where I can't crash because I dropped my bagel? Isn't this yet another thing that would ENCOURAGE ridership if you allowed it?

Anyway, my suggestion. Not only lift this ban, but use some of the very generous space in those stations to rent to small food/drink vendors (like I've seen in large New York subway stations) and vending machines on the streetcar platforms. Then earmark the rent money for a fund to repair station infrastructure, hire people to ride the trains and visit stations cleaning up the small amount of extra trash generated, and perhaps any surplus into a fund to help clean grafitti on busses. I'd also accept advertising in those stations and trains (just like in busses) if it meant a cleaner ride.

So how about it MTA? Are you interested in taking suggestions and SERVING the people you are supposed to instead of just proclaiming what they should have?

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