LA Metro --DASH --Taxi Downtown? You Can't Get There From Here...

It started out simple, small. It seemed easier, so I took a taxi to the Biltmore Hotel, during the holidays. Nice driver -took me to the entrance I like; swiped my card, handed me receipt
/gave him tip, the end.

But the return taxi: not so much.
He inched out of the driveway -'waited' for non-existent traffic -stopped on yellow lights -asked directions repeatedly though he had the destination address. Exasperated, I asked him, essentially, what his problem was as we arrived.
'Don't worry about it, I'm not going to charge you' --say what???
He didn't swipe the card --but the meter was still ticking
--Why don't you turn off the meter?
--"it goes off when I turn off the ignition" --he did, it didn't.
None of it made sense: The meter kept going -receipt for return trip nearly $3 more --who uses up gas --drives for a living --by the 'inch' --but doesn't charge?

Next day I called the 2nd cab company to tell them they had nut --or dirty driver. Eventually I got: a.) driver wasn't paid b.) manager didn't care --driver screwy, and wasn't paid c.) didn't want to do anything to get him paid d.) told me: to "stop harassing us" --Say what??? Who doesn't want to be paid?? Screwy/dirty driver or not, I was, essentially, stealing --way not, at least not without attempt to rectify. --But "harassing" them?? Nutty.

I called the 1st cab company: they weren't paid either. I gave the manager the details, he said 'okay' --oh good, not everyone is nuts.

If neither got paid: maybe the card's magnetic strip is defective. I called CityRide to ask for a replacement: "we won't replace the card unless you send your card--with a letter; no letter we won't replace the card"
I don't want to give up the card till I have a new one--
"Then No, we won't send replacement"
oh. sheesh

I already had 'issues' with the company that runs CityRide --"press one if you speak English" --and downhill -annoyances from there.

Eventually the manager of the 1st cab company called back to say: he got paid, to thank me. I asked him some questions --whoa, taxis have loads of 'issues' with CityRide.

After accumulating half a page of phone numbers "who's in charge" --I had a fascinating conversation --one of those one suspects must exist, somewhere --but never actually reaches --Chief decision-maker/engineer supreme. Great stuff...

He gave me the Right phone numbers --to deal with both sides/issues of CityRide bureaucracy. Then, since he has the position, we discussed things like: DASH going only in one direction (you can't take a DASH 'return' trip --"should we make a turn circle in the street like in SF?" lol, ya, sure, why not)
I told him:
-we need a DASH stop at 7ith x Fig --"okay I'll look at that"
-we need DASH in Silver Lake, working on it for years --but we're still 22nd on the list
--"nope, not gonna happen" --say what, why NOT???
HE lives in Silver Lake --takes bus most of the way, rides his bike home

He looked at and HE Decided: DASH in SL not necessary.

WHOA --NO cutting greenhouse gases/NO saving gas --to Sunset Junction, popping into TJ's --No easing traffic, parking probs at Dog Park/Reservoir --Ever? --That's gonna be Big News --to the group formed to get DASH in SL --working on it for YEARS with Prince Eric: has been promising them "working on it --will get DASH" --now I learn "never gonna happen."

The Decider: told me about something called "Access" --for severely disabled, and his great idea --make taxis the 'Access' for riders --ditch the vans -parts -labor -maintenance --all the expense, save the City a serious chunk of change.

"So why hasn't it happened" --and "what are the numbers, what's the drill-down --cost-affective to the City to use taxis instead?"
"Well, I do have a regular job, with deadlines -responsibilities, would take a lot of work to do that" --and "I don't know, haven't run the numbers."
"How long to get it done"
"Oh, six months"
"I'll give you: three!" "Okay."
--I WILL follow up with him, in three months.

I reached the people the Decider told me were the right ones --each for different part of the elephant that is DOT/CityRide. Sheesh, there's a lot of them/ bureaucracy layered onto all parts.

Next person I reached: in charge of Access.
She said:
-in Los Angeles: 80,000 people, senior adults, disabled, need Access (who knew)
-(she) used to have more vans to run, on budget bloat/now cutting reduced to: 59 vans
-so now: user cannot get a trip whenever -to wherever
-to schedule a round trip ride: users can only call day before --medical gets priority/set time within an hour of appointment
-the non-medical appointment users: must take whatever is 'left over'/fits into the schedule --if user wants to do grocery store by '2 PM' --only if it's available --no flexibility: no ride
With the Decider's idea: users could get a taxi --go when they need to --get there whenever.

Next person: oversees taxis --for the City
I told him some of the probs both sides have with CityRide: they function as though this is 19th century, not 21st. Heck, they won't even allow the card to be loaded with a debit card, something every ordinary biz uses; demand a money order --or paper check put into snail mail, sheesh.
I told him about both cab companies; my no push-button phone to "speak English" etc., etc.

Still haven't reached: Transportation Deputy in the Mayor's office --or legislative aide to Prince Eric....yet.

With $4 an hour meters --to rent curbs we Already paid for with taxes --and a Third tax if you get a ticket at that stupid over-priced meter --and "fines" and taxes and "fees" piled on top of the stinking 3rd tax tickets --which all goes to a Private corporation City Council 'geniuses' sold ticket system to, so they wouldn't have to pay pensions on labor/meter monsters.... It is hard to get --anywhere from --anywhere...in city of no Angels.

Best bargain going: DASH --downtown, Echo Park --fashion, flower district --if you can catch it.

The ONLY way Silver Lake is gonna catch DASH: if they are supplied the funds/get Commitment from LADOT --then raise the funds privately to PAY for a DASH bus ust for S. --And we get: a Real person to rep CD-13 in City Council.

Hmm, wonder When the Prince learned that DASH never coming to SL... and Why he didn't tell the group? --Does the group look good --as cash cows for Prince Eric's next election campaign? --The group: way ain't big enough --he's gonna need Lot more than them and his "developer" pals to bail him out --clean off the stink --for next election.

Or maybe the Prince hopes: magic will clean up the Vine Street property that got sold to City for more than it's appraised value, then got sold back to same owner --at way cool way under market value.... Heck, with deals like that: we should ALL get into the "real estate"/help Prince Eric get elected biz --Better returns than the scams going on Wall Street.

We had the 'wonderful' Woo: who spent our wampum on ground glass --ground into Hollywood Blvd --so when you hit the boulevard certain time of day-- you got hit --blinded by the sun on the glowing glass --nearly rear-ended --till it got paved over...

...we had the 'grassroots' (Jackie) Goldberg --and her, uh, ideas about educating children who don't speak English --so they could be 2nd class citizens, permanently --and a bike path --half way finished --but parlayed into job in state Legislature...

...and now we got part-time Prince Eric --at over $1/4 Million bucks a year--you Thought City was in debt???--for the 2 1/2 days a week he 'works' --plus free gas -car -expenses, rent --$100,000 walking around/he decides money -staff of 15 -22 to aide him --when his mug isn't on camera with daddy --when he isn't calling 'special' sneaky votes just before Christmas "he never calls vote session just before the holidays"...ya, right.

When, exactly does Silver Lake --CD-13 --heck, all of Los Angles get adult Proper Real representation --honest brokers --people who KNOW how to balance a budget. When do we get people who represent us --not themselves?

How do we get there --from here? First Stop: March election this year, for "even numbered" districts --next year: the odds. Who is up for giving Serious Challenge to Prince Eric Garcetti? --Please: sign in --before City has to declare bankruptcy --Wall Street declares our bond rating -F --or Prince screws us --approves another $42 Million dollar elephant.

Not Quite Ready for Holidays to End--
Good news: they don't have to
Skate: the Skating Rink in Pershing Square --still open, until January 17. You can have cocoa, watch skaters --or slip slide around on the ice for only $6.

See's Chocolate: don't have to fight --traffic & crowds -park -trudge through a mall, See's --pre-wrapped 1 lb box, tin can be had downtown --few feet from north-west side of 7th & Figueroa, yup, really. This year: pound costs $17.50 --sort of a bargain in "all dark" compared to more expensive others, which way aren't nearly as good. Even though it's One way street, it's not hard to get there, from anywhere, but watch the meter --or DASH it for only $.25 --Warning: closes at 5 PM

Happy New Year, wherever you're going....

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