Reader email, v 1.0

One of our big hopes for The Source is to include reader email and feedback. It’s one thing for us to tell you what Metro is thinking — and it’s equally important in my view to hear what customers and taxpayers think of Metro.

With that in mind, here’s our first version of Reader Email! If you would like to email us, the address is

I recently posted my view that putting the Gold Line in the middle of the 210 freeway meant putting the station in both an unpleasant environment and too far from Lake Avenue business district in Pasadena. Saadi Howell writes:

I agree that the location of the middle of the freeway is not necessarily an ideal location for a transit station in regards to noise and traffic pollution, but on the other hand it really is the best choice when you think of wanting cheap fast grade separated lines going to dense areas of the grid. The alternatives I’ve seen built like the at grade stations in Highland Park, are too slow and inefficient.

In the end as a commuter I’ll take a fast line that requires me to walk 3 blocks over a slow line that takes me right to the door of the destination any day. I don’t think its a good thing if we turn our backs to the freeway medians as a viable grade separated transit corridors. There are portions of our grid where I think the freeways are our best option, if we want to get cheap fast grade separated commuter rail into that region.

Sure I’ll vote for wanting every line to be a grade separated subway-to-the-sea that’s dropping me off at the doorstep of every destination, but from what I’ve seen it does not seem like we have the public will or political will to take on the expenses that will be incurred with such an approach. My main point as a commuter is I wanna use our transit system, but I won’t use it if it does not meet this first requirement:

It needs to be fast.

Fred recently posted about the dearth of iPhone applications to help transit riders better navigate the system. Richard Saisho, of Montebello, writes:

I heartily applaud you for encouraging the development of an app for the iPhone to make riding Metro more attractive.

One of the biggest reasons why people don’t like taking the bus is because it is unpredictable – these are the people who could take the bus, but drive a car instead, adding to general traffic congestion. These people are more likely to own an iPhone, rather than those who are transit-dependent.

One thing which I think should be leveraged (and hopefully there is a way to access this data – if not now, then in the near future) is the GPS technology in the buses themselves. The location  of the bus is displayed on a monitor inside many of the buses, and is probably communicated to the MTA central tracking system.

If one were able to view where the next bus was on the route, it would be much more helpful to make decisions on which bus to take, where to transfer, or if you have time to buy a cup of coffee at the convenience store. There are many times when I take the bus (which is not very often) where I am wondering when (or even if) the next bus is due to arrive. A couple of times the bus had broken down; other times, it was caught in traffic and arrived at the same time as the next scheduled bus.

In other words, having information on where the next bus was on the route would better allow you to make decisions with public transport – just having the schedules and maps will not get iPhone-carrying commuters out of their cars. The information could be available on the MTA’s website also, for those who have access to a computer, but not an iPhone.

Such a tool would be a great showcase of the MTA’s 21st century technology and would be on the cutting edge ofpublic transportation tools, serving as a model worldwide.

Fred also recently visited Metro’s bus operations center, the command post that oversees the agency’s far-flung bus system. Ryan King writes:

Thanks for your insightful post about the Bus Operations Center. I wasn’t aware that such a small group of people is faced with fixing almost every day-to-day problem on the system. Why doesn’t Metro expand this center? It seems like just a few more controllers would have a positive impact on thousands daily.

Metro planners recently began circulating a new option for getting the downtown regional connector across Alameda Street — by beginning the tunnels on the east side of Alameda instead of the west, as had originally been proposed. Susan Shafi writes:

I am writing to indicate my very strong support for the recent full-underground option for the regional connector in Little Tokyo that was recently posted in the MTA blog The Source. I believe that a fully underground connection in Little Tokyo is by far the superior option as it will provide a valuable transit connection while preserving local business and the pedestrian scale of the neighborhood.

An underground station to complement the existing Little Tokyo/Arts District Station will facilitate the travels of large crowds that will certainly pass through the regional connector, and provide for more train arrivals and departures in the same amount of time by effectively adding a second platform to the station. An excellent example of the convenience of multiplatform and timed transfer systems can be found in downtown Oakland at 12th St, 19th St, and MacArthur Stations, and a similarly convenient station structure for this vital inter-regional link will be highly efficient.

I look forward to the potential for a well-designed, convenient, and neighborhood-strengthening transit line to help continue to transform Little Tokyo and at the same time maintain its unique character.  Thank you for responding to the concerns of the community and please keep up the great work in transforming our city and county for the benefit of all.

We posted earlier today about Metro’s new Silver Line bus service that is set to debut later this month. Dana Gabbard, of the Southern California Transit Assn., wrote to say this organization thinks there are problems with the new line.

For the record, SO.CA.TA issued in March a statement on our concerns. Some have since been addressed but many have not ( Subsequently in October we presented our concerns about the fare structure. All of these concerns are still valid. (

Frankly, we are unenthused about this service. Some federal money is too expensive to chase after and drive policy in pursuit of.