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Chris "Criswell" Predicts

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2014: The Year in Transit
2013: The Year in Transit
2012: The Year in Transit
2011: The Year in Transit
2010: The Year in Transit
2009: The Year in Transit
2008: The Year in Transit
2007: The Year in Transit
2006: The Year in Transit
2005: The Year in Transit
2004: The Year in Transit
2003: The Year in Transit
2002: The Year in Transit
2001: A transit odyssey
Public Transit in 2000
1999: The year in transit

2014: The Year in Transit

Hope you had a great 2013 on and off the buses and trains. Without further ordure, the Year in Transit leaves the station. The headsign: 2014.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, embarrassed by revelations that turnstiles revealed discrepancies in subway ridership numbers, will spend at least $100 million to send all Metro employees to school to teach them to count.

The costs of Positive Train Control will be so high that Metrolink will "afford" it by running all lines Sunset Limited-style: one train in each direction, three times a week.

The Orange County Transportation Authority will once again lower its expectations of what it can hope to accomplish with public transit. Its board votes to formally stop pursuing any rail or bus rapid transit initiatives, and instead directs the agency to refer to routes that run hourly as "high-frequency service."

Metro Line 442 will once again be proposed for elimination, but the line gets a reprieve when a New York Times reporter profiles the three dozen people who'll face hardship if the line is cut.

Elon Musk scraps his idea for the Hyperloop in favor of a system he proposed would allow people to transport themselves to any location they desire by way of what he calls "human fax machines" and says the system will cost only $2 billion and take only two years to build. Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus will redecorate its new Gilligs with blacklight, beaded curtains at both doors and shag carpeting to match the Day-Glo green seats.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's revised cost-saving plan will call for the cheaper SNCF option via Interstate 5 between L.A. and the Bay Area, then using the cost savings to deracinate the Central and Antelope valleys.

New Metro rail car builder Kinkisharyo will have a rough go in its new L.A. headquarters, as it has to explain to the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley that despite its name, it is a builder of rail cars and not Japanese sex toys.

Dollar-bus companies Megabus and BoltBus will have competition from yet another upstart intercity carrier. The yet-unnamed company will be bankrolled by entertainer Yakov Smirnoff, whose low-cost model is said to be based on the Soviet Union custom in which bus rides you.

CicLAvia organizers will have their first public relations crisis on their hands when a Sunday bike-and-pedestrian-only event is planned for San Vicente Boulevard -- but which one was not specified.

The Reason Foundation and its claque of academics at USC will go all in on a meme to have Cincinnati run Los Angeles' Measure R project planning and construction.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will win a lawsuit against Omnitrans to stop it from launching sbX service. Lawyers argue that the musicians' names would be devalued because they would not only be associated with a run-down street in a bankrupt city, but also -- to quote legal briefs, "bus rapid transit adds insult to injury."

Torrance will make it easier for bus riders to know where the future bus plaza is in the city by renaming the streets it intersects Middle Road and Nowhere Boulevard.

Ventura County will argue its way out of establishing local bus routes connecting cities with one another by saying it cannot find a staff member on consultant sufficiently qualified to draw lines on a map.

Metro and Beverly Hills will reach an agreement over the Purple Line extension crossing Beverly Hills High School. The pact calls for the subway to run at grade while the high school campus will be placed underground in a tunnel.

As you know, tradition calls for the Year in Transit to be dedicated to someone we lost in the prior year. This is dedicated to Nelson Mandela, whose 95 extraordinary years on this earth and his sacrifices and achievements will continue to awe and inspire generations to come.

Happy 2014 and peace!

2013: The Year in Transit

Welcome back to another new year, which means it’s time for another Year in Transit. This is not for the triskaidekaphobic, as it’s 2013. All aboard for this Internet tradition.

The Blue and Expo lines junction’s builder is found guilty of making the problematic “frog” with actual amphibian frogs. The builder’s defense: That’s why we bid the lowest.

A Los Angeles Times investigation uncovers shoddy construction on the Expo Line, and the crew that built it went on to work as the replacement NFL referees after the project was completed.

A multimodal transit center for downtown Riverside will never materialize because Riverside County Transportation Commission blow the last-chance deadline for federal funding. The commissioners were caught kicking the can down the road – literally. A YouTube video shows them playing hacky sack with a Campbell’s soup container.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich announces another try for Measure J in 2014. This time, though, he’ll support it because half of all funds raised by it must be spent solely in Lancaster and Palmdale.

The Ventura County Transportation Commission will attempt to plan for a countywide transit system. The inexperience shows, as commissioners suggest all of the city-level systems be merged into a single bus route that would somehow serve everyone.

The fiscal cliff will force the elimination of all transit subsidies. Transit agencies nationwide are unable to meet payroll, but they cover some of the gap by adopting an approach started by Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus: Putting a tip jar for the drivers next to the farebox.

A bicyclist will actually stop at a stop sign, but since no one made a photo or video or posted it to social media, no one will believe it actually happened.

The next Orange County Transportation Authority CEO will take a page from retired executive Will Kempton and build goodwill among riders by raising fares another dollar and eliminating Sunday service.

Metro will point to a dubious study that suggests not only will turnstiles prevent all fare delinquencies once locked, they'll generate enough revenue to pay down the federal debt in 10 years. Cost overruns on California's high-speed rail will be so high -- even before the first mile of track is laid -- that mathemeticians have to invent a new word for the several dozen digits the project will end up costing. Beverly Hills will argue in court that the subway cannot be built within several miles of the high school because tunneling will disturb a highly sensitive C.H.U.D. habitat.

The Omnitrans board will heed the San Bernardino City Council's request to cancel the sbX bus rapid transit project. The city says its financial advisors tell them that scrapping transit project will appease the mythical bankruptcy fairy.

The Crenshaw line will be the first rail project Metro designs entirely around a community's wishes no matter what the expense. Every Line 210 bus stop will have a underground station, and the line will now have a branch in addition to the LAX terminus: the re-created route of the now-canceled Line 305.

Megabus will resort to paying California passengers to ride its buses. It will still have lower ridership than its abysmal 2007-2008 tenure.

After this prognosticator proposed abandoning the terms Bus Rapid Transit and BRT in favor of Sporkbus, transit bloggers make it a meme. It proves to endure throughout the year, and by next year or 2015 at the latest, Sporkbus eventually forces Bus Rapid Transit and BRT into disuse.

That is your 2013: The Year in Transit. This is dedicated to Dick Clark, who made every New Year’s Day memorable on TV and helped shape music for the 20th century, and Alexander Cockburn, who helped slap some honesty into journalism with the provocative Counterpunch website.

Happy New Year, and peace!

2012: The Year in Transit

The Expo Line was so abysmally built that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced Phase II will open first while Phase I must be completely disassembled and the project started over from the study phase.

Because the city of Los Angeles cannot afford to repair the lawn damaged by the Occupy LA protests, the City Council votes to turn the prime Civic Center land into a surface parking lot but commemorate it in honor of the protesters.

Metro’s policy of aggressive rear-guard goodwill moves in the face of bad press or regulatory lawsuits will outpace salaries to be the single-largest line item in its budget.

RobDawg will take more interest in transit, but just to take his camera on the buses and ask passengers to model for his collection of cheesecake stock photos on his Exurban Nation blog.

As Montebello faces a crisis of fiscal mismanagement, it becomes the first city to privatize its bus service by putting up the whole operation to be bid for on eBay.

San Fernando Valley business leaders, upon learning of Metro’s station renaming policy, urge one of the area’s subway or Orange Line stops to be commemorated after porn legend John Holmes.

Torrance Transit puts its plans to build a transfer center in a desolate corner of industrial Crenshaw Boulevard on indefinite hold. City leaders are hoping to take over a hazardously contaminated corner of an oil refinery that is even further away from homes or businesses than the Crenshaw site.

Inland Empire real estate professionals put a new twist on transit-oriented development by promoting houses’ proximity to plain-old Omnitrans and Riverside Transit Agency bus stops. The motivation behind this was based upon the fact that bus stops now have the highest land values in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles city officials say only $1 billion for the Crenshaw Line is an insult to the community, but they’ll set aside protests if the project budget includes rhodium-plated rails and gold leaf station paneling.

It turns out that foes of gay marriage are also vehemently anti-transit. So, in order to avoid highway projects from facing budget cuts, they will draft an initiative that defines "freedom" as strictly between an automobile and the roadway beneath it.

Metrolink will not resume the trains for Angels service at the request of team owner Arte Moreno. He is counting on everyone to drive to the stadium and pay much higher parking rates in order to cover Albert Pujols’ salary.

CicLAvia proves to be so popular that it has inconvenienced drivers to the point where the event needs to be shut down. L.A. leaders work out a plan for a single CicLAvia, to be held during the L.A. Marathon, and bicyclists will share the road with runners.

The Orange County Transportation Authority board will make an offer to Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio to become the system’s CEO should a federal indictment or other scandal force him from his present office. The board is hoping he will incorporate his law enforcement techniques on the county’s bus riders.

Hollywood residents are furious over L.A.’s “elegant density” plan because they fear the developments will lead to gentrification. Residents insist that Selma Avenue and Yucca Street be covered by the city’s first heroin alley preservation overlay zones.

Governor Jerry Brown and Sacramento’s Democratic leaders tell Robert Cruickshank, the state’s one and only remaining high-speed rail supporter, that they will vow to complete the project if he can piss molasses up a rope.

The Year in Transit is only here for archival purposes. MetroRiderLA is still in hibernation, and in a break from past custom, there’s no introductory paragraph or post-prediction jeremiad for 2012.

I did have one planned, one that would top the anger and cynicism that had accompanied the ones in years past. But, 2011 proved to be a very challenging year for me and I don’t have the energy or mood to vent over a keyboard or worry about reaching a wider audience. I have other concerns to tend to.

Thank you, MetroReaders, for your continued patronage and have a safe, healthy and happy 2012.

Update, January 2, 2012: I cut the post off without including a tribute. Last year saw the passing of Winchester, Va., "leftneck" writer Joe Bageant, author of "Deer Hunting With Jesus" and "Rainbow Pie." He gave a fascinating look into the mind-set of the American underclass, and railed against modern society with such cutting prose that he was able to get hostile political factions to set aside their disputes. He was well on his way to being a modern-day Mark Twain. His spirit lives on.

2011: The Year in Transit

It’s hard to believe, but this here Year in Transit series has now continued on for 13 years … or the exact time it takes for a bus to cross from one end of the Beverly Hills city limits to the other. See previous predictions in the archives maintained by The Transit Coalition.

And in honor of the 13th installment of the Year in Transit, I present to you a word that’s sure to make you a hit at parties: triskaidekaphobia. If you haven’t had a reason to fear the number 13, now you do. The fear of it has its own phobia. There’s also paraskevidekatriaphobia – fear of Friday the 13th. Needless to say, it refers to the calendar date. People with that phobia wouldn’t even bother with the slasher film series.

I can go on, and I’d like to, but it’s predictions for 2011 you’re here to see. This installment of The Year in Transit is brought to you by the number 13. I can’t keep holding this door open for much longer, so on we go!

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board will pass a simplified policy written by member and County Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas regarding rail station policy. Instead of taking “subjective” factors into account, Metro planners must follow a policy of not building a rail station that will harsh a community’s mellow.

Teabagger indignation nationwide leads California to be the last state standing in the running for federal high-speed rail funds. The good news: California will get all high-speed rail funds for the next two years. The bad news: All of it will be used to finish a line that runs from Madera to Shafter.

The Orange County Transportation Authority, wanting to restore its night owl services and massive service cuts during the rest of the day on most of its lines, authorizes bus riders to conduct bake sales to raise operating funds.

The Bus Bench obtains a leaked cable from Metro indicating plans to discontinue all Rapid service by the December 2012 shake-up. The rationale given by Metro staff: The revenue from all Rapid lines combined doesn’t ever cover the costs of red paint.

The Inland Empire hopes to turn around its moribund real estate market by doubling down on transit-oriented development. A report by real estate experts finds that a Omnitrans and Riverside Transit Agency bus has held its value better than most area homes, prompting the agencies’ marketing departments to adopt the tagline, “If you rode us, you’d be home by now.”

Joel Kotkin will release his much-anticipated treatise on urbanism and suburbanism, what he describes as his answer to Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” It is titled “How Irvine Are You?”

A group of Westside residents opposed to the Expo Line founds the first known group not to conceal its intentions with a name suggesting conditional support. It will be called Angry Residents Stopping Expo, Hoping Obstructionist Lawsuits Eventually Succeed.

Rob Dawg emerges from his undisclosed bunker in Ventura County … oops, Sorry, Rob … to ask whether the above group really exists, but doesn’t stick around for the answer as angry mortgage industry big shots with friends in low places have him in his crosshairs. He specifically tells Year in Transit readers it’s OK not to have a Ventura County transit item in this year, and to knock three times if you are bringing food.

California’s high-speed rail may have some life left in it, as Orange County politico Curt Pringle makes a vague promise that he will endow the project from his family’s trust fund earned through sales of canned potato chips.

Hancock Park and Windsor Village homeowners aren’t content with just eliminating the Wilshire/Crenshaw stop on the Purple Line extension. They want to make it clear they want Metro to make sure the subway and their neighborhoods cannot connect in any way. Metro agrees to remove all bus stops between Western and La Brea avenues by the time the subway extension opens.

As California faces a permanent budget crisis, incoming governor Jerry Brown creates a new idea for appropriating whatever little can be spent. Schools, transportation, law enforcement, environment and business special interests can each send out one representative to find a bag of cash hidden somewhere in the state, and the first person to find it can spend it any way the special interest wishes.

The Federal Railroad Administration certifies Metrolink’s Guardian Fleet cars by Hyundai Rotem under a new category of “the safest, most reliable passenger rail car fleet just as long as coins are not placed on the tracks.”

Metro runs out of ways to break the bad news to West Hollywood that despite its heavy support for Measure R, the city will not get the Pink Line or any consolation rail service. In what had been intended as a way to let West Hollywood down easy, Metro’s "Don’t Task, Don’t Sell" policy of not committing any more resources into a Major Investment Study for another 17 years is met with indignation.

Census data from 2010 show Southern California is by far the densest region in the U.S. Urbanists are crestfallen when they learn it was data about residents’ intelligence.

Noting the Blue Line’s dubious distinction as the nation’s most accident-prone urban rail line, the Darwin Awards gives the 20-year-old Los Angeles-to-Long Beach service a Lifetime Achievement statuette.

This has been -- and will be -- 2011: The Year in Transit. Happy New Year, and peace.

2010: The Year in Transit

We’ve made it through 2009, and before 2010 is bound to give us another round of motion sickness, let the Year in Transit be your Dramamine. The Year in Transit gets you to the destination directly, and unlike Metro Rapid, the Year in Transit catches green lights all the way.

The Transit Coalition, a rider advocacy group pleasantly short of kooks and cranks, has graciously volunteered to maintain the Year in Transit archives. Look back at the years past and see how frighteningly true these predictions have come.

With the pre-trip inspection complete, let’s roll this bus out of the division.

Metro once again shows it can make quick decisions, and once again, it shows the quick decisions only leave riders confused and angry. A week before the June shake-up, Metro decides to transpose the colors on the two busways. Riders and bus drivers are baffled, but Metro says the confusion is worth it because it was stupider to have silver buses on the Orange Line and orange buses on the Silver Line.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach wins the hearts and minds of locals with his new solution for the OCTA funding crisis: Cancel all bus service, then round up Orange County’s transit-dependent population to be ground up and fed to the hungry.

Los Angeles’ bicyclists evolve from a community to a fierce, hardy tribe when they acknowledge Ubrayj as their leader. The announcement catches Brayj by surprise and he decides to learn leadership methods from a weekend of watching “Braveheart”. He is then inspired to lead bicyclists on a siege of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation headquarters in downtown L.A.

Californians are getting so sick of the state’s raids on transit to balance its own budget that a group is now circulating an initiative petition to stop it once and for all. The wording of the measure says that if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or any state official attempts another raid on funds, their punishment shall be to strap all their campaign contributions to them and then have a transit agency representative be able to keep all the money they can obtain from turning the politicians upside down and shaking them.

The Metrolink board is unable to decide on either raising fares or cutting service to meet budget shortfalls, so it instead decides to allow passengers to get free passes if they mail in a manila envelope filled with gold coins or jewelry they no longer use.

The Expo Line is so desperate to get any part of the problem-plagued light rail line in service by the end of 2010, the best it could do is scale back Phase I to operate peak hours only between 7th Street Metro Center and Pico stations in time for the service shake-up in December.

Metro decides fare gates are a failure — we can only hope — after an experiment to try actual fare collection ends miserably when riders stare glazedly at the turnstiles because they aren’t sure how they work.

California’s high-speed rail plan wins federal funding, but the state doesn’t even get beyond the $1 billion mark. The federal money we get is just enough to buy higher-speed service powered by adding sails to existing Amtrak trains and locomotives.

Long Beach pours water on a councilwoman’s ambitious plans to introduce modern streetcars in the city. The City Council instead votes to spend the equivalent amount of money that would have gone into a steel-wheel system and spend it on buying battery-powered faux trolleys and use the money left over to “paint” tracks into the street.

One of the last acts of retired USC president Steven Sample is to announce that the University of Southern California will be vacating the campus and leaving Los Angeles the Friday before the weekend the Expo Line will open. He put a few professors in the School of Policy, Planning and Development in charge of the transition team, and they settled on an ideologically correct campus near the junction of the 133 and 241 toll roads in Orange County.

An investigation reveals Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s vow to have a subway extension completed within 10 years relies heavily on a speculative extension beyond Santa Monica to the Moon. Villaraigosa figured an extraplanetary extension would make the Purple Line extension eligible for NASA funding.

Southern California transit systems become the test markets for a new federal initiative to get on-the-ropes carmakers General Motors and Chrysler back into health by building transit equipment. The yet-to-be-named end product has the looks of a Pontiac Aztek combined with the reliablity of a Chrysler.

While we’re on car companies, the latest conspiracy theory to raise teabaggers’ hackles the way chum does in shark-infested waters is a Drudge Report post claiming the Obama administration deliberately bankrupted GM and Chrysler in order to weaken the auto industry and force everyone onto transit. Teabaggers claim they are victims of the “Reverse Roger Rabbit Conspiracy.”

RobDawg, who has been noticeably quiet for much of the last year, will resurface in a big way after he completes his move to the Inland Empire. He says his heart will always be in Ventura County, but the houses he scored for cents on the dollar at an auction was a deal too good to pass up. He will relaunch his blog as Methburban Nation.

And speaking of relaunches, Fred Camino will be coming back to MetroRiderLA full-time, only this time, he knows the haters are the only ones that get readership. So starting April 1, MetroRiderLA will keep the same name, except content from then on will be a daily candid photograph of a transit user that Web users can laugh at without the fear of putting themselves in danger — transit’s answer to PeopleOfWalMart.com.

There you have it, the Year in Transit.

2009: The Year in Transit

The Year in Transit commences its second decade into guessing what the future holds for the analysis and advocacy of getting-aroundery. For this edition, The Year in Transit is modifying the protocol slightly by cutting right to the chase and writing the looking back/looking forward after the predictions.

Stand clear, the doors are closing.

Metro scrambles to name a replacement for the forgotten-but-not-gone CEO Roger Snoble. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s figures the position is a good consolation appointment for former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent David Brewer.

Omnitrans and Riverside Transit Agency report record ridership throughout 2009, most of it coming from Inland Empire residents who now call the buses their primary residences after being foreclosed from their McMansions.

All major capital projects that were to be funded by Measure R will be scrapped after Metro must redirect the projected $40 billion to pay off the wrongful arrest lawsuit ruled in favor of Randall BusTard.

Upon hearing news that Montebello Bus Lines is canceling its three express lines into downtown L.A., County Supervisor Gloria Molina jumps to the conclusion that Westside politicians and business leaders conspired to loot funds from an Eastside bus system. She spends most of the year making the issue a crusade, and explanations from Montebello staff that lines 341, 342 and 343 would just duplicate the Gold Line only make the supervisor angrier and more strident.

Damien Goodmon gives his efforts of fighting the Expo Line a rest after he gets a lucrative offer to tour the dinner theater circuit as the star of “Man of La Mancha.”

A legion of Orange County toll road supporters, frustrated by the coalition of surfers stopping the project near San Onofre, hope to disrupt the opponents through a plan called the “Million Driver Dump.” Proponents are coordinating a simultaneous toilet-flushing in the hope that the surfers will be impaired by the sudden onslaught of bodily waste.

The TAP card gains more validity as many merchants in the county agree to take it in lieu of cash in case the economy gets worse and the dollar goes Zimbabwean.

California High Speed Rail blogger Robert Cruickshank is determined to see the project start construction, come hell or high water. He’s not waiting for the Pooled Money Investment Board to get its act together. He is asking for supporters and investors to fund the project through PayPal.

All the people who voted for Barack Obama, expecting his administration to change transportation funding priorities, are in for a shock. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood assembles the nation’s transit managers into one room, and reaches into his pocket to have them scramble for spare change he throws in the air. LaHood then sneers, “They wanted change? They got it. Ha!”

RobDawg gets the appointment of a lifetime – as citizen representative on the Ventura County Transportation Commission – but takes a pass on the opportunity. He admits he is too busy writing memos for the Tribune Corp. under the pseudonym of Lee Abrams.

Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti jawbones Metro into making Rapid Line 704 serve all the local stops between Alvarado Street and Vermont Avenue. He admits that the move was not intended to increase ridership in Silver Lake; he just thinks hipsters would get a kick out of the irony.

While Orange County elected officials ruminate on what the Orange County Transportation Authority’s bus rapid transit is supposed to be, bureaucrats do a head-fake and rename all local bus services as Bravo! The credulous politicians are impressed by the outcomes: rapid buses on every street and hundreds of thousands of daily boardings.

Metro forgets to cancel the Eastside Gold Line opening during the same weekend its employees go on strike.

The North San Diego County Transit District announces that it is increasing Sprinter service to every 15 minutes, yet at the same time it must make drastic cuts to bus service and then pawn off many coaches just to meet payroll.

During a summer confab of North American transit advocates and transit bloggers, participants agree to spread the following Godwin’s Law-inspired meme: When opponents argue against rail because it is 19th century technology, the debate has gone on too long and their side loses by default on account of imbecility.

Whew! Were all the events of 2008 a dizzying event? They sure felt that way. They should, since that’s normal for a civilization that’s circling the drain.

The year 2008 marks the twilight of the eight-year junta led by George W. Bush. This may seem like reason enough to celebrate, especially with one of the most lively and enthusiastic elections in modern history. After November 4 and the days immediately after, many Americans were basking in the election’s afterglow.

America, stop it! Now! It’s not healthy.

Look forward to 2009. It’s hard to look beyond it, because it’s hard to see past the ass of the first horse of the apocalypse George W. Bush rides off into Crawford, Texas.

In the meantime, we can shake off the dust and hold our noses to block out the equine methane and remind ourselves that George W. Bush goes beyond being the worst world leader in the history of civilization. George W. Bush was a force of nature in the form of a double-digit IQ man, unstoppable in its destruction.

Eight years ago, America was the undisputed heavyweight champion economically, militarily, geopolitically. The United States was feared, admired, and at the very least, tolerated because we didn’t cock-slap the world with our gluttony, cupidity and stupidity.

Under the stewardship of George W. Bush …

… our “unimpeachable” economy is now at the point where Robert Mugabe is watching CNN and laughing at us.

… our “unstoppable” military with its overwhelming technological prowess is gassed and rope-a-doped by loosely disciplined non-state militias. More organized states and their forces see this as a development most interesting.

… our “unshakable” faith in the Constitution, checks and balances and civil authority has been autoerotically asphyxiated. Done. Finished. Kaput. Somehow, this epic imbecile managed to get through a harrowing vetting process, impress enough credulous people to plausibly steal an election and then when this 20 gallons of crap in a 10 gallon hat took his brain for a test drive in the Oval Office, the most dangerous elements of the Republican Party saw their opportunities for a jailbreak. The Supermax Death row of conservatives cozied up to the rookie guard and managed to get him to surrender his keys. Now they took over the facility, and warden Richard Cheney was in on it all along.

There used to be a thing called justice. There used to be a thing called poetic justice. Leaders who had twice the popularity of George W. Bush during their wane would usually find their fates sealed by the vengeful. This time, there’s no bunker, no noose, no rotting in exile. The last eight years will be morbidly enshrined in the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

The GEORGE W. FRIGGIN’ BUSH PRESIDENTIAL FRIGGIN’ LIBRARY!

Americans are understandably angry, but because George W. Bush failed on the public relations front, just like everything else he has touched in life.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, cannot polish this turd of a nation again. The land may have some potential. It’s the people living in it who are SOL and JWF (s— out of luck and jolly well f—ed).

Americans, by temperament, are overfed, overentitled and petulant. The problem is, there is a power greater than ourselves that has tried to warn us to change our ways and learn to coexist with fellow Homo sapiens and the world at large. First we drove bigger cars with more muscular engines to get away from the message. Then we tried to silence the messenger. Now we cannot escape it, and cannot deign ourselves that this greater power was right all along.

This greater power, of course, is reality.

November 4 was not an acknowledgement of this message. Americans think they exchanged their votes for hope and change. Progress? Oh, please. Americans did see a big mess — and they hired a black guy to clean it up.

This synopsis of the years past and future is dedicated to the memory of George Carlin, America’s philosopher-king who gained fame and legitimacy by posing as a stand-up comedian. He saw the direction America was heading in, and he left the mortal world too soon before his predictions became reality. Rest in peace, Mr. Carlin.

Pray for peace, everyone else. Dare to have a happy 2009.

There’s not much to be happy about in the coming year, but Angelenos and affiliated suburbanites – more than 67 percent of them – should be applauded for standing up once again for public transportation. Bravo, L.A.! And bravo to California for leading the nation in high speed rail, and bravo to all the other regions in the country who have also affirmed their commitment to public transportation.

Even the curmudgeons, cranks and nihilists need their ray of sunshine. And you can get yours by looking at the Year in Transit in The Transit Coalition’s archives. (You are looking at it now.)

Happy New Year, and most of all, peace!

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2008: The Year in Transit

The Year in Transit is not the most important thing to look forward to this year, but it is the brightest spot in a year filled with the tedium that is the unfortunate byproduct of leap years. The first comes in the form of the Summer Olympic Games, this year in Beijing. American athletes usually dominate the games so much that they made winning go out of style. The must-see event is the opening ceremonies, where the United States formally passes the torch of world's only superpower to the host country, China. How often is there a chance to make the symbolic literal? Then comes another pointless quadrennial ritual that occurs every November but fortunately is only participated in by half of all adults and by all indications, like oil production and newspaper readership, trends downward to the point of losing all relevancy and simply be forgotten. There is, after all, segments of the population that view these trends with a smidgen of hope. It's not large, and not welcome in most communities and places of business. But The Year in Transit salutes you.

The last thought ran on too long, and the transition to this thought about politics is therefore not that fluid. A young almanac is precocious enough to discuss politics, and has a surprisingly vivid memory of events dating back to the terrible toddler years. The year 2008 offers unique reflection not of the more timely prior year, but an eight-year epoch of monumental importance. The Year in Transit uses this opportunity to write history's first draft.

Don't worry. The predictions are here, as usual. The introduction is longer than in year's past, because 2008 offers a time of unmitigated spleen-venting that comes along, well every four years. That's just too long to wait.

The citizens of the United States of America, some by choice, the rest by fiat of the Supreme Court, took an eight-year voyage on the scenic road to hell that began on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the eleventh month in November, 2000 anno domini. We did not witness the smooth transition of the executive branch for another month, but we eyewitness the pointlessness of the electorate in the process of continuing the chain of succession.

The person who emerged from this dung pile was one George W. Bush, a fortunate son of an aristocratic clan whose pedigree distracted the population from what merit he has performed to warrant elevation to the presidency. And eight years has shown past performance is indicative of future results. With the life he was endowed, George Bush the Lesser became the political, heck the social, equivalent of what is known in sports as a choke artist. The Americans were expecting mediocrity but received a failure spectacular in quantifiable space and time.

Catastrophic is too charitable to describe the administration under Bush the Lesser. The man whose intellectual means came nowhere close to his financial means allowed the most sociopathic, malignant elements of his political party unparalleled power to put ideology into political action, typically with disastrous consequences. His corporate kindred spirits plundered the treasury. Worst of all, he desired a war purely for reasons of vanity and is unaffected by the financial, tactical and human toll his wars have affected.

These eight years have been marked by the worst leadership not just in American history, but the history of civilization.

How can we, as Americans, reconcile this past administration with a remedy and an improvement to our collective lot?

This introduction has already run too long, so the answer, my friends, is blowing at the bottom of the Year in Transit. Without further ado, other than the pimpage for previous editions of, here is 2008: The Year in Transit.

The Year in Transit archives are maintained on the web site of The Transit Coalition. All editions are available here. They are also simulcast on the Usenet group la.transportation. Now, the entree is served. Bon appetit.

  • The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board passes a moratorium preventing planners from holding any more scoping meetings in 2008. Riders are too fatigued from having to go to all the meetings in the last quarter of last year.
  • The Inland Empire, reeling from massive foreclosures, comes up with a novel way to maintain fare revenue in light of declining tax revenues. Both Omnitrans and Riverside Transit Agency will allow riders to transport crystal meth made in the region to travel for an extra quarter, as long as the drugs are sealed and not within the riders' systems.
  • The Sprinter opening on January 13 features a christening of the first train of the day and an exorcism for the board members who surely must have been under demonic influence when they approved building this joke of a line.
  • Metro stands by its decision to install fare gates after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department only offers the alternative of "enhanced fare collection techniques."
  • RobDawg's tenure as a signed MetroRiderLA contributor lasts for exactly one post. He repeats the phrase "transit math" 2,164 times, and he resigns in frustration when all the comments ask "What?"
  • Damien Goodmon declines a job offer and a $250,000 compensation package to become the executive director of an upstart Cheviot Hills transit advocacy organization, Concern Trolls for a Safer, Better Expo Line.
  • The American Public Transportation Association does not want to see transit oriented development go by the wayside as the housing market continues its downward spiral. It teams up with developers to offer a free home with the purchase of a lifetime bus pass.
  • Metro and Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus come to an agreement to run a single service along Pico Boulevard in time for the December shake-up. Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke worries that the change would subsequently close the Crackton Turnaround, which would result in closed businesses and lost jobs at the nearby Midtown Shopping Center. Her last-minute meddling preserves the routes as they are today.
  • Gold Coast Transit must make massive service cuts after the Ventura County Transit Commission fines the agency for false advertisement, since there has not been any significant quantity of gold found on Ventura County shores in recorded history. Also, other Ventura County transit agencies frown upon systems whose acronyms cannot be played in Scrabble.
  • For his activism against a subway with no funding or formal plan for construction, County Supervisor Mike Antonovich thankfully resigns his post to take a position with a certain presidential candidate's campaign to stop a similar unfunded and unplanned NAFTA Highway.
  • Per the request of Fred Camino, the name of that presidential candidate shall not be mentioned on MetroRiderLA for fear that the candidate's followers will get too excited about seeing his name in blogs and make the comments section look like Exposition Park when the Raiders played home games.
  • The Orange County Transportation Authority earns $1 million for naming its bus rapid transit lines Bravo from the cable station of the same name. The channel will pony up another $500,000 if OCTA can make the BRT lines as gay as the TV programming.
  • Monorail fans have their faith strengthened in the gadgetbahn's viability after Disneyland puts the latest generation of vehicle into active service. When Disney said the vehicles are powered by fairy dust and youthful imagination, the monorailists take the comment literally and proclaim them to be superior fuels to electricity.
  • L.A. Sniper Alan Mittelstaedt introduces a new video blog on the Los Angeles City Beat web site. The segment, entitled "Strop'd", is based on the hit television show "Punk'd" and has the Sniper videotaping himself smacking politicians and journalists upside the head with a leather strop anytime they say or write anything asinine about public transit.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa allots two of his three appointments to the Metro board to the Southern California Transit Advocates' Kymberleigh Richards and The Transit Coalition's Bart Reed. The triumph for transit users is short lived, as a minor argument makes the boardroom look like a session of the Taiwanese parliament.

There you have it, 2008: The Year in Transit, in all its glory.

In closing, the rant from the introduction resumes now that the rich, meaty goodness of this satire hoagie has sated the hunger of knowledge. The question posed was something akin to, “Where do we go from here?” Behold, the Year in Transit voter guide.

The best, most informed vote for the 2008 election is not for the candidate that is the most capable, charismatic, moral or even courageous. Rather, the ballot should be cast for the candidate you hate the most and want to see fail. The George W. Bush era produced disasters that started under his tenure but will have repercussions for years, even generations, to come. By and large, our fates are going to be determined by forces stronger, smarter and more determined than our society can bear. And, as of this writing, the 2008 campaign has a good chance of producing either a woman or an African American as the Democratic candidate in November. Should one of these candidates win, their trailblazing will be less remembered than the wave of policy disasters that will chew up and digest their candidacies. Americans are nothing if not judgmental, and if the first woman or African American leaves the office in disgrace, the failure will haunt all future female and black candidates because of the experiences of the first.

The next four years and beyond have our nation cruising along the pothole-scarred road to hell in our Hummers, talking on our cell phones, when the road narrows to a frayed tightrope hanging above an abyss. All human knowledge, and most Vegas odds-makers, say that falling or the frayed wire breaking is a lock. The point is now not to stand behind the odds-beater, but to elect a person you would watch enjoying fail. The Germans call this “schadenfreude.”

This has the most downbeat, callous Year in Transit ever compiled. It’s overabundant in pessimism and dark humor. Something we can use, especially since 2007 saw the passing of two grand masters of this genre, writer Kurt Vonnegut and director Ingmar Bergman. The Year in Transit closes in dedication to these greats.

Peace, y’all.

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2007: The Year in Transit

The Year in Transit is a Los Angeles tradition. It's a tradition that goes back 10 years, but it's a tradition nonetheless. But to have continuity for a decade when the audience is the internet, 10 years is legendary.

And in 2007: The Year in Transit, the legend continues.

But the list first reared its ugly head in 1998, wouldn't this be 9 years instead of 10? Well, skeptical audience, count the links below:
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
That's nine right there, and this bad boy makes it 10, or as the Romans say, X.

Drop $3 in the farebox for a day pass, as we take a trip on the Satire Crosstown. Metaphorically, unfortunately. If it were a real transit service, at least the schedule would be better than anything running out there today. Onward …

New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows the world how to properly accept the American Public Transportation Association's Operator of the Year honor properly. Instead of beating its riders over the head with it, Los Angeles-style, the New York ad campaign features a bus operator grabbing his crotch and the tagline is, "We got your APTA award right here, pal."

Old Spice takes a cue from the milk industry and pays nearly $1 million to have buses throughout Southern California smell like High Endurance deodorant scents.

After the Bus Riders Union finally folds due to lack of relevance, Eric Mann washes ashore in Cuba, spawning an international incident. Acting dictator Raul Castro wishes to keep Mann, but brother and commandante emeritus Fidel Castro wants him deported to the United States.

Speaking of consent decrees expiring, the Year in Transit no longer has to include a certain percentage of items relating to transportation matters in Ventura County. So, for 2007, may the merger of the county's Council of Governments and the Transportation Commission result in improved headways for VISTA bus service. (That, by the way, is the joke. How freakin' sad.)

With the Democrats taking over Congress, a big loser in transportation funding is Rep. David Dreier's Foothill Extension of the Gold Line. Dreier settles for a busway between the Sierra Madre Villa Station and Claremont, which will use Foothill Transit's new articulated buses and will be named the Brown Streak.

Riverside Transit Agency is the first system in the nation to institute a policy where anyone caught bringing methamphetamines on its buses must share his or her supply with every rider aboard.

Southwest Airlines has a marketing snafu on its hands when it changes its motto to "Greyhound in the Sky."

The Chicago Tribune influence on the Los Angeles Times becomes even more heavy-handed, as the transportation beat writer creates fancier factual errors by saying the Red Line runs between Union Station and North Hollywood or the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The Costa Mesa City Council votes 3-2 to forbid the Orange County Transportation Authority servicing its residents with fixed-route and dial-a-ride bus service. The council majority says bus service is the camel's nose under the tent and it's a slippery slope from reintroducing CenterLine.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich fails to shake Angelenos' enthusiasm for a subway extension, so he uses his ace in the hole. He convinces fellow Metro board member, Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks, to change the color of the Wilshire Boulevard extension, ensuring enough disagreement to permanently freeze any expansion plans.

Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw is appointed to the oversight board of the city's Metropolitan Transit District. She makes her presence felt by restructuring bus route to serve - and avoid - her friends, and nearly all of the agency's operations and planning people are fired or leave for other jobs.

An investigation on why a section of Orange Line pavement failed after a little more than a year reveals the contractor used a low-grade composite made of old cocktail napkins.

Torrance Transit drops its slogan, "Public Limo," after its passengers take it a little too literally by riding staggering drunk and vomiting and/or urinating aboard buses.

Plans for a large shopping development next to the Crackton Turnaround at Pico and Rimpau boulevards are scuttled with the deflation of the real estate bubble. Instead of a shopping center with restaurants, a supermarket and hardware store that was to be a crowning achievement for transit-oriented development, passengers are now going to have to settle for a Pepsi machine that works only half the time.

Long Beach Transit adds a popular new feature to its web-based bus tracker. Whenever a driver is late, passengers can click on a button to deliver a mild yet uncomfortable shock to drivers as a motivation for getting back on schedule.

A Metro Art selection committee made up entirely of hipsters is divided on who is the most talented artist to receive a commission for an Expo Line station. The choices are between the guys behind Obey the Giant or John Scott.

SunLine Transit adds another experimental bus to its fleet, a Gillig with a power system known as Flintstonium. The bus is emission-free and floor-free, and harnesses the power of the driver and passengers walking the vehicle from place to place.

Metro is unable to cope with a surge of riders on the Gold Line and buses serving Pasadena going to the Tournament of Roses Parade. The tens of thousands of new riders attend the parade live because the KTLA telecast without Stephanie Edwards as commentator is utter dreck.

Metrolink abandons any attempts to get the Riverside County Line back on schedule, but compensates for the delay in service by introducing its first sleeper cars to make the days just pass by for weary commuters.

Metro not only has a problem recruiting bus drivers. It also experiences a shortage of applicants for service attendant after people perceive it to be a dangerous job since Arthur Winston died after working as a cleaner all his life. (On this note, the Year in Transit closes in the memory of Arthur Winston, Metro's most dedicated employee.)

Peace, and Happy New Year.

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2006: The Year in Transit

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plants the seeds to extend the Red Line beyond Santa Monica as a panel of geologists and engineers determines that a subway to Tokyo is feasible.

LADOT gets a jump-start on Metro Connections by rerouting several DASH lines to connect at a single point. Naturally, there's no coordination between LADOT and Metro on the locations, or even the names for that matter. Metro will call its points hubs, while LADOT will call its points DASH Holes.

The biggest party of the year, where transit advocates, transportation professionals and elected officials meet to celebrate the end of the consent decree THIS OCTOBER!!!, will be canceled due to a Metro strike that will prevent guests from coming.

The city of Ojai revamps its transportation options by taking over South Coast Area Transit Line 16 and heavily promoting the Trolley for locals. It's even complying with Ventura County's edict that all transit agencies' acronyms must be a real word. The new service's name is Ojai's Helpful Short Hop & Intercity Transit.

Articulated buses on Western Avenue was and is a good idea, but they will be removed after a whispering campaign about putting the long buses on 757 primarily to placate a certain rider named Ferrisbueller … err, Ludenmeyer … err, Everbooger … err … heck, it's some incomprehensible last name of Germanic origin, and the campaign turns into a full-blown scandal.

The articulated buses somehow wind up in Brazil, and one of the coaches contains a note saying, "Please take this vehicle as a token of apology for our humble burg making a cheap mockery of you system. Signed, the Z-Man."

The Orange County Transportation Authority, deft at making mind-blowingly stupid organizational decisions and then retreating from them to emerge wiser, attempts to curry favor with the local Latino community by renaming the agency the Transportation Authority of the County of Orange. Not even a marketing campaign could stop the blowback it receives, and the agency reverts to OCTA by summer 2007 (fall 2007 Eastern time).

Omnitrans gets around its problem of running out of gas at its Montclair yard. It will spend $45 million to build a device that can convert that weird smell that lingers over San Bernardino County into fuel to power its buses.

Los Angeles World Airports, bowing to pressure from restive communities next to LAX, agree to adopt a new compromise master plan that allows twice the number of flights now, but the airport must be configured to make travel between terminals as hellacious as possible and make traffic so congested that passengers are encouraged to arrive 72 hours before their departure.

Upon hearing this news, South Pasadena residents demand that an airport be built where the 710 freeway is supposed to run. There's no actual need for such a tasty airport, South Pasadenans just want to fight an airport for the sake of fighting an airport.

The new low-floor light rail vehicles in San Diego are pulled from service for several weeks after maintenance workers find that the new cars do not get along well with the older equipment and throw temper tantrums during practice runs.

A tunnel between Riverside and Orange counties receives heavy opposition, this time on the east side of the hills. Riverside County supervisors oppose the tunnels because they'd rather spend money on Riverside Transit Agency bus and Metrolink expansion, as well as being concerned that the project might devastate the local indigenous methamphetamine cultivating population.

The city of Thousand Oaks adopts the most unique security measure to protect its new-and-improved transit center. It will adopt a measure similar to the one at the Oxnard Transportation Center, where vandals are promptly ambushed by County Supervisor John Flynn, who yells "On your knees, maggot!" and then pummels them like a gorilla high on angel dust. (This completes the compliance of the Year in Transit consent decree to include 1.35 items about Ventura County every year. It expires next year, but special master Robert Coté may extend it for another four years.)

Orange Line accidents get really strange when a bus collides with a Houston light rail vehicle at Kester Avenue.

Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus officially changes the name of the Pico/Rimpau Terminal to better reflect the community. Effective May 1, it shall be known by its new name, the Crackton Turnaround.

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2005: The Year in Transit

January 1, 2005

Ahh … 2004. What a year. The Boston Red Sox did the impossible by winning the World Series. The Lakers lost a championship they should have won, and Kobe Bryant’s ego was fed by purging most of his former teammates and coach and slaughtering their first-born sons. The Dodgers got into the playoffs and lost because … well, they’re the Dodgers. The Angels did the same thing, but who really cares about them? We get a freeway series every year. Former President Ronald Reagan passed away, and transit service to his funeral was provided by an agency in a neighboring county. The world liked it Greek at the Olympics. The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince released a new album. Sadly, George W. Bush was elected president in November 2, forcing the world to deal with America and its 996-year reich, and (sigh) … after that last item, forget about more recaps.

Welcome to 2005: the Year in Transit, where I rake through the steamiest of the steaming piles to find the corniest, nuttiest nuggets of news for the year ahead. Some may be sinkers, but a lot of them are floaters. And without further interruption, 2005: The Year in Transit hits the fan … NOW!

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority continues its unhealthy obsession with Curitiba with impunity this year. Policy changes include accepting the real as payment for fares and a requirement that all agency employees be fluent in Portuguese by 2007.

A cub Los Angeles Times reporter stuck on the transportation beat is fired after omitting one of the paper’s editorial canons: quoting at least one maid in a story.

North American Bus Industries has solidified its position as the number one bus seller in the country. Since it has saturated that market, NABI will now turn its attention to direct consumer sales. The 30-foot low floor bus is expected to overtake the Hummer as America’s preeminent oversized luxury vehicle.

Supervisor and MTA board member Yvonne Brathwaite Burke meddles with Metro Connections planning by demanding that when service is restructured, lines 1 through 99 are routes that serve the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

A hacker breaks into Metrolink’s ticket vending machine software and replaces the current program with MediaWiki. Passengers can write and edit how much fares they wish to pay, and ridership skyrockets while revenues plummet.

The Teamsters local representing Orange County Transportation Authority drivers demands in its new contract an exorbitant raise and pension contributions, but also presses the agency to stop building the CenterLine. For that, Teamsters emerges as a local hero for fiscal responsibility.

After the L.A. Times wrote a story about the success of the Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority’s Coastal Express Ventura-to-Santa Barbara bus, it releases the results of a poll it conducted about Ventura County residents’ response to the article and their attitudes towards pubic transportation. The largest group, 43 percent, were “shocked and appalled” to learn that Ventura County has transit service.

An error committed by the Federal Transit Administration, which doles out funding based on transit agencies’ acronyms, results in the Morongo Basin Transit Authority and the Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority getting enough money to build rail systems as extensive as the ones in Boston and Atlanta.

Eric Mann pens an op-ed in the L.A. Times, saying that the trouble at King/Drew Medical Center can be attributed to its proximity to the Blue and Green lines. He says that MTA must shut down the trains and put the money in buses so that the hospital would not be a danger to patients.

Omnitrans worries that drivers have gotten too nice and are not as officious as they were a few years ago. Management corrects that by sending its operators to an interpersonal communications class taught by ex-University of Southern California basketball coach Henry Bibby.

I know this is beating a dead horse, but in order to comply with Robert Coté’s consent decree of having a load factor of 1.35 items about Ventura County in the Year in Transit, I must … Greatest verbal exchange to be overheard at a Ventura County Transportation Commission unmet needs meeting: Rider Irma Smith: When will you coordinate services to offer timely connections between VISTA and local bus services? Also, you have smart card machines that work half the time at best, but what riders really need are low-tech paper transfers. Executive director Ginger Gherardi: As you know, you operate the VCTC with the transit system you have, not the transit system you want.

Beset by hundreds of passenger complaints each day about drivers capriciously throwing off passengers to take lunch breaks and deviating wildly from posted routes, Pass Transit hires legal counsel for advice. A lawyer tells the agency that the notions of following schedules and fixed routes are quaint, and that riders should be grateful for whatever they’re given. (Note: This may have been too inside for everyone but me, but see http://tinyurl.com/6vcyv for a point of reference.)

Indian tribes representing their gaming interests insist that Riverside Transit Agency and the North (San Diego) County Transit District expand transit service to offer frequent service to casinos. Representatives from Pechanga and Soboba casinos say they need better bus service and other infrastructure improvements by pointing out that Indian gaming is poised to be the largest economic generator in Riverside County, replacing methamphetamine production. Representatives from Pala and Harrah’s Rincon want the Sprinter extended north because, as they say, “Our casinos at one end, and Camp Pendleton at the other, are the only way you can polish that turd of a rail line.”

The Orange Line has a regular ridership of 50 boardings. The Daily News heralds its success and editorializes to broadly expand the busway.

A nationwide search begins to replace the Mexican wrestler seen in the “Go Metro” billboards and print ads. MTA has narrowed the choices down to the BRU’s Super Pasajera and www.homestarrunner.com’s Strong Bad.

The city of West Hollywood takes a cue from Pasadena and raises bus fares to pay for a massive service expansion for the City Line. There are going to be six lines – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet – one for every color of the rainbow.

Irate L.A. County residents, fed up with South Pasadena’s petulant NIMBYism, pass Proposition D, which allows Caltrans to extend the 710 freeway by paving over every square inch of the city and MTA to run the Gold Line to blow through at bullet train speeds, or 55 miles per hour, whichever is more practical.

I hope you enjoy 2005: The Year in Transit. Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Peace, and Happy New Year.

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2004: The Year in Transit

It's another New Year, and that signifies the return of a cult tradition on la.transportation, the Year in Transit! This is the sixth installment of the Year in Transit, meaning that it now enters the first grade. Being what public schools are today, by the time the Year in Transit is old enough to get a diploma, expect the quality of grammar and wit to drop precipitously. Just kidding. About the quality of the Year in Transit, I mean. I would never let that happen, notwithstanding the abominable performance of public education. OK, enough introductory banter, and on with the festivities … but first, I am dedicating 2004: The Year in Transit to the MTA transfer, which retired as of December 31, 2003. It has served millions of passengers throughout its many years of service to the MTA, RTD and their predecessors, real or fictitious. Though it could have retired after 23 years and collected a nice pension, it continued its career in public service. Now it can finally enjoy fishing and taking the missus on that cruise they talked about so much. Enjoy your retirement. You've earned it.

With that out of the way, let the adventure begin.

OCTA stars in a yet-to-be-titled afterschool special movie. After a few years of recklessly pursuing an unnecessary light rail line and destroying a good bus route grid, the newly chastened agency advises the North County Transit District not to go through with Sprinter and MTA to avoid taking the crooked path of "hub and spoke" routing.

The Harbor Transitway gets a new name: the Mirabel Rapidway.

Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus has an unbelievably successful marketing campaign for its Metrocard after hiring Bob Dole as a pitchman. The former senator and presidential candidate, holding one of the debit cards in his hand, tells riders "I can get up and go thanks to my little blue friend."

The Ventura County Transportation Commission has absolutely nothing going on in 2004. Because the only thing I know about the VCTC is to joke about its unmet needs meetings, I will argue that the presence of this item in the Year in Transit makes me in compliance with the consent decree that Robert Coté and I signed.

This second item, just mentioning the Ventura County Transportation Commission, counts for the .35 (out of 1.35) items that must be about L.A. County's neighbor to the northwest. (You see, people? I've said it before and I'll say it again. Consent decrees are terrible ways of running agencies, just as they are terrible ways of running a predictions list. They produce operational headaches for agencies and bad throwaway jokes for the Year in Transit.)

MTA's Marketing Department comes up with the slogan "Come see where we're going." The buses are going to be painted to look like handbaskets.

The fastest-growing economic activity in San Diego County is refinancing housing to pay for bus fares.

The Bus Riders Union, realizing that its influence is waning, so much so that it only gets one item in the Year in Transit, makes bold steps to stay relevant. To show symbolically that the BRU's propganda offensive is going to be more extremist and more prolific, Eric Mann sells his BMW and buys a Porsche.

SunLine tries to turn around its scandal-plagued Services Group (non-bus) operations by hiring a new staff made up of ex-Enron and Arthur Andersen executives.

Neil Silver, who made many enemies by calling an egocentric transit strike in 2003, burns even more bridges in his soon-to-be-released tell-all autobiography, "I Owe it All to the Mob."

The state sharply cuts transit funds at the request of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wants the money to pay for, in his words, "ejyoucayshun, buckfillink Cuhleefohnya's cities und countees, restowing ze ekonumee und all oaf dat oder stoff."

The outlook is not much better at the federal level, as half of all transportation appropriations are diverted for fighting the war on terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft needs the money to root out not only terrorists, but witches, sorcerers and heretics as well.

After major service cuts in the past and more coming in the future, the Valley Transportation Authority leaves the Silicon Valley to try to make it big in showbusiness. Like so many failed aspiring stars, a VTA Gillig is found near Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard strung out on heroin.

Posts by Mike Donovan (he's the guy saying that the disappearance of the car and freeways is imminent) and his aliases allow the la.transportation and misc.transport.urban-transit newsgroups to be qualified as Superfund sites.

Jack May no longer posts to Usenet, as he is rendered obsolete by a script that generates prophetic pro-technology messages cheaper, quicker and more succinct than his own.

After John Catoe has all MTA buses retrofitted with Alcoas by this fall, he gets an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most rimjobs ever given in the shortest amount of time.

Bart Reed gets censured by the MTA Board for sexually harassing a female staffer, telling her "You don't have to go to San Francisco when you can ride Bart here in L.A."

And now, a first for Year in Transit: guest contributions. Here are some from Kym Richards

** MTA, in a continuing campaign to reduce service on "non-productive" route segments, forces Metro San Fernando Valley to go back to the pre-grid RTD routing. This cuts about 50% of the service overall and, according to deputy CEO John Catoe, "ensures that our buses go only where there are passengers who want to ride them."

** As a protest to this scheme, the Metro SFV governance council adopts the original line numbers for the new/old routes. This results in the MTA systemwide map having two Line 14's (Beverly Blvd. and Sherman Way-Magnolia Blvd.), two Line 16's (3rd St. & Roscoe Blvd.), two Line 81's (Figueroa St. and Ventura Blvd.), and two Line 180's (Hollywood Blvd.-Colorado Blvd. and DeSoto Ave.-Valley Circle Blvd.). The problem comes to a head when the Westside/Central sector gets a batch of the wrong Line 16 timetables and inadvertently puts them out on 3rd St. buses, causing a flurry of passenger inquiries of when the bus will get to the Panorama Mall.

** The Bus Riders Union, noting that the pre-grid service had no Metro Red Line, demands it be shut down because it no longer has a line number to use.

** The new "California Poppy" paint scheme for the buses in the Valley is also scrapped in favor of returning to the RTD yellow-and-brown colors. Several busfan groups petition the MTA board of directors to adopt the old circular RTD logo as well.

** Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition makes his usual comment to the Daily News about the changes, calling it "the biggest travesty to inconvenience our passengers in the past ten years."

** Adding to the woes of UTU-represented bus operators, who saw the number of work runs at Divisions 8 and 15 reduced by half, the ATU-represented mechanics refuse to allow any operator to pull a bus out of the yard unless they first make a contribution to their union's health and welfare fund.

That does it for 2004: The Year in Transit! Peace, and Happy New Year!

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2003: The Year in Transit

Welcome to the fifth installment of an la.transportation tradition. Here are my predictions of the biggest newsmaking items in Southern California transportation, public and the other kind. Remember, these are YOUR tax dollars at work. They should give you humor, if nothing else.

Without further ado, the stars of the show…give it up for The Predictions (no, they are not an obscure Motown group).

Zev Yaroslavsky stuns everyone when he announces that he will resign from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors (and subsequently the MTA Board) to pursue what he says is a "higher calling." He has been tapped to be the new CEO of Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, which will expand nationwide under his helm.

The Bus Riders Union will have a very tough 2003, as the group's survival becomes seriously in doubt. First, the BRU abandons Palestinian support after Eric Mann claims that Yasser Arafat exhibits latent rail-supporting tendencies. Second, the BRU will consider abandoning communist philosophy to rebuke China's worst human rights violation to date: construction of the maglev line in Shanghai.

Laidlaw's financial woes are so severe that it must neuter Greyhound.

Things get tough for another private transit big shot, First Transit, as it loses two important Southern California contracts. It loses the Foothill Contract to first-time bidder Fr. Greg Boyle, who hires all existing Foothill drivers (from both yards!) for his newest venture, Homeboy Transit. First Transit also loses its beleaguered MTA contract to another newcomer, Flying Burrito Bros.

The Reason Foundation rounds up disaffected libertarians throughout Los Angeles County to pressure MTA to sign another consent decree, known as the "Jillions for Jitneys" campaign.

Unhappy with unfavorable court rulings, Burbank-Chandler busway opponents now try to halt construction by the discovery of an endangered fruit fly that makes its home on a pocket of the right of way's sacred Native American burial ground.

What's the next logical market for America's largest charter bus operator to tap? Extermination, of course. Several family owned pest control companies will be purchased and operate under the new name Roach USA.

The Bush administration looks out of the box for a plan to save the world. Out of all possible choices, the Ventura County Transportation Commission is chosen to devise the plan. The commission's final recommendation is the do-nothing option, after determining that saving the world is not an unmet need. We are doomed.

A San Diego Union-Tribune investigative journalist writes about, and subsequently wins the Pulitzer Prize for, the discovery that the North County Transit District was a patsy for the Orange County Transportation Authority. OCTA persuaded NCTD to build a light rail line, knowing that such a colossal failure would deflect negative attention away from the CenterLine.

Bart Reed begins writing a monthly column for Mass Transit magazine that becomes a hit with transit advocates and professionals. His "Reed it and Weep" pieces manage to surge circulation.

MTA commemorates becoming the largest operator in America with an all-compressed natural gas fleet by giving every bus rider a free can of beans. MTA subsequently becomes the largest operator in America to have an all-compressed natural gas ridership. Friends of Southern California's Highways becomes an impact player in the transportation scene after founder Don Hagstrom holds a memorable press conference. Standing on an overpass with the newly extended 210 freeway below him, he tells Gray Davis and the Legislature, "You can have my Freeway Entrance sign when you pry it from my cold, dead hand."

San Diego Trolley beats Washington D.C.'s WMATA to become the undisputed "rail system with the longest station name." Fashion Valley station and transit center will now be referred to by the mall's new name, I Can't Believe It's Not a Westfield Shoppingtown.

In an attempt to cut costs, the VCTC passes a mandate that may shut down all bus systems in Ventura County except for SCAT and VISTA. The other agencies have until July 1 to come up with acronyms that are real words or else eliminate service altogether.

Paul Weyrich and Wendell Cox argue for and against rail (you should already
know who is on what side) at a nationally televised debate at UC Irvine. Many
believed Weyrich made a stronger case for rail than Cox made against. Even the
Orange County Register, not the most pro-rail newspaper by any means,
recognized the victor and summed up the event with this headline: "Weyrich
licks Cox in debate."

There you have it. These are the predictions for 2003. Deal with it. I mean,
Happy New Year!

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2002: The Year in Transit

In what has sort of become an annual tradition on la.transportation, here are my predictions for what the new year holds for transit in Southern California.

Besides a hefty $300,000 salary, new MTA CEO Roger Snoble receives a $1 million advance from Random House to write a book on his experience heading the troubled agency. The book is tentatively called "Snoble's Chance in Hell."

Looking at the sorry condition of its buses, San Diego Transit realizes that firing the entire maintenance crew for the trouble a few employees got into was not such a good idea, so they will once again have people fixing and cleaning the buses in 2002!

The California Public Utilities will let construction on the Pasadena light rail line continue as proceeded, but only on a technicality. The CPUC gave the nod to the construction authority because No Blue Line At Grade did not want at-grade crossings for a Pasadena Blue Line, but there was no mention of any opposition to grade crossings for a Pasadena Gold Line.

The Ventura County Transportation Commission will no longer hold unmet needs meetings. Commissioners found that since all ideas from the public are summarily shot down, unmet needs meetings are not an unmet need and no more would have to be conducted.

The Bus Riders Union threatens to take MTA to court for gross violation of the consent decree if the agency does not meet a key demand: to make Che Guevara's birthday a paid holiday for all employees.

Incensed that L.A. County will have a universal fare system, Torrance Transit screams "no coordination without representation" and employees throw cartons of interagency transfers off the Redondo Beach Pier.

The Orange County Transportation Authority makes a good move by undoing all the changes from 2000 that passengers universally hated. Unfortunately, OCTA tags the derestructuring Crooked-lining.

MTA scuttles any plans for Rapid Bus expansion after a humiliating contest where a Line 20 bus and a kid on a Razor scooter were able to get to Santa Monica faster than a Line 720, and even caught more green lights without a transponder.

SunLine will develop the most overdone Web site of any transit agency in America, quite possibly the world. While the site will feature Flash animation and multimedia that would make the quickest broadband connection sluggish, the site still will not have schedules.

Rewarded for his efforts to bring a busway to Los Angeles County, Zev Yaroslavsky will have the privilege of driving any of his personal or government-issued cars along Burbank/Chandler.

Long Beach Transit discovers that the two boat services it operates have been financial and productive dogs. Therefore, LBT will create five more water routes by the end of summer.

Eric Mann realizes his and the BRU's credibility are quickly eroding, so his latest attempt to salvage his publicity will be to release an enemies list. Names on the list include all MTA Board members, Kym Richards, Chris Paley, Dana Gabbard and Los Angeles Times publisher John Puerner, for removing Jeffrey Rabin from the transit beat.

Based on their many post-to-post attacks, Tom Wetzel and Robert Coté escalate their feud to the point where they fight each other on an episode of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch."

The Valley Transit Zone supporters realize they can save a lot of money and get their way if they eliminate the little-known but expensive project of a 25-foot-high wall along Mulholland Drive that will divide the Valley from L.A.

The MTA's Fuel-of-the-Month Club discovers that children are the country's most precious resource. Based on the club's findings, MTA will ask for a federal air pollution mitigation grant to develop a bus that runs on clean-burning children.

Yvonne Burke hears about the child-powered bus, and she wants the bus developed in her district to make up for the failed Advanced Technology Transit Bus project a few years back.

Darrell Clarke gets much tons of attention and thousands of supporters for the Exposition Line after rollerblading naked along Venice Boulevard to build a coalition to get the Westside rail service built. This turns out to be the most successful tactic to build support for public transit in L.A. history.

There you have it. These are the predictions for 2002. God Bless America and
Happy New Year!

"A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic
illness."-President George W. Bush

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2001: A transit odyssey

It's that time of the year again!

Here is my annual list of predictions for developments in Southern California public transit for the following year:

Producers of "The Simpsons" will bring back Lyle Lanley for an episode in the 2001-2002 season. But since Phil Hartman passed away under tragic circumstances a couple years ago, the voice will be provided, appropriately enough, by Mike Antonovich.

The Bus Riders Union want the consent decree amended to force MTA to provide free rides on Mao's birthday.

Faced with skyrocketing prices for compressed natural gas, MTA must reconvene the Fuel-of-the-Month club. The club's latest suggestion is a revolutionary concept in mass transit that is also very clean: Metro Rapid Rickshaw!

Ventura County Transportation Commission members make a highly publicized bus ride around the county, and find it takes five hours to get across. Connections between buses were fine. The VCTC used Transtar to get a routing. [Note: This Ventura County item is here due to a consent decree. Robert Coté, et al, complained that Ventura County gets short changed in my annual predictions list in favor of the more glamourous Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Therefore, my annual prediction list must contain at least 1.35 items about Ventura County.]

Omnitrans begins giving buses in their fleet negative numbers.

SunLink riders are afraid to ride the Superbuses on the route, as Orange County discovered several years ago. SunBus listens to the passengers' complains and immediately upgrades the fleet to U-Haul vans with old throw pillows for seats.

The Southern California Association of Governments wants an extra $10 billion for long-range transportation plans. Along with maglev, SCAG is also looking into the feasibility of another novel technology: time machines.

Foothill Transit will begin to supply riders with system maps that show all the bars where drivers wet their whistles during layovers.

Every single voter in Orange County votes to ban construction of the CenterLine, marking the first time in the history of any democracy that a totally unanimous vote occurred. Yet somehow the line will still get built.

MTA once again shows off its fiscal incompetence when it gives $5 million worth of free advertising in exchange for a free million-gallon vat of snake oil. The snake oil salesman's asking price was $250,000 for the vat.

Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines proposes to increase its 50-cent fare by a nickel. A riot immediately breaks out, destroying most of downtown Santa Monica and leaving 15 seriously injured.

Fuming over the passage of a bill that prevents a transit zone from being formed, the San Fernando Valley now wants to secede from the whole planet.

The Slauson Harbor Transitway Station will be renamed the Hazel Mercer Station. Mercer, a 73-year-old South Central resident, gets the honor because she is a true transit pioneer. She is the first person who ever boarded a bus from the Slauson Harbor Transitway Station. To this day, she is the only person who ever boarded a bus there.

Santa Clarita Transit reveals that the motivation for a new bus yard is not really to anticipate future service expansion, nor to have a convenient place to store and fix buses. The agency is envious of other transit systems that have real garages, while Santa Clarita Transit relies on a Unocal/Jiffy Lube service center for all repairs...and gets teased for it.

Efforts to provide CalTrain-like levels of service on Metrolink are mothballed after the Southern California Regional Rail Authority downgrades the plan's priority from "Maybe in a million years" to "When pigs fly."

The BRU and transit advocates from Portland will battle on pay-per-view to see who holds the undisputed distinction of being "the most annoying and the most detrimental to their own causes." There must be a winner.

There you have it. These are the predictions for 2001. Happy new year!

"I'd rather drink a beer than win father of the year, I'm happy just the way things are."-Homer Simpson

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Public Transit in 2000

In honor of my latest prognostications on the future year in transit, take a trip down memory lane with predictions for 2000. Enjoy!

The following are my fredictions for what will probably happen in the world of public transit in the new year. I wanted to get Conan O' Brien, Andy Richter, and the band guy to do this like their famous skit, but they jacked up their prices because it actually was the year 2000. The dastards.

Anyway, here come the predictions:

*Judge Thomas Jackson rules that Laidlaw is a monopoly and by focusing the company on taking over small contractors and skimping on wages and maintenance have led to woefully inferior service. The judge also threw out Laidlaw's defense that they were gobbling up smaller companies in the name of "consumer innovation".

*Violating the law yet again, Mayor Richard Riordan appoints another L.A. City Council member to the MTA Board. This time, it's Mike Hernandez. When Daily News reporter Rick Orlov asked Riordan on his choice, the mayor said, "Now that Richard Alatorre is gone, I need someone else on the board who has a blow habit."

*For one week, MTA's contractors fail to pull out a single bus because there was no equipment that worked. After bombarded by tens of thousands of complaints, MTA takes decisive action by giving the contractors a 20-year extension.

*Eric Mann proves that he will do anything for media attention when he leads the Bus Riders Union to loudly protest the high fares on Commerce Municipal Bus Lines.

*Cashing in on the popularity of pro wrestling, SMMBL will host a battle royal between advertisers. The last ad agency thrown from the ring will win the right to advertise on the back of Big Blue Buses for 20 years.

*The MTA's three unions will strike this summer right around the time the Democrats' convention is in town. The unions got their members the 25% per year raise over five years, but were angry that management took away the festive cookies employees get on holidays.

*L.A. City Attorney (and mayoral candidate) James Hahn will file another successful injunction against 18th St. Because of this ruling, Foothill Transit's drivers may no longer interact while on layover at Wilshire & Union.

*The recent problems at the L.A. Times cause many reporters to quit the newspaper. Jeffrey Rabin leaves reporting behind to become a highly paid PR guy for the Bus Riders Union.

*The MTA's "fuel of the month club" reconvenes for new ideas to fuel the large fleet of buses. This time, they are recommending the design of a bus which runs off the fumes of passengers' body odor.

*Torrance Transit completely cancels lines 1, 2, 3, and 7. With the money and equipment savings, Torrance will begin 10 minute service on ZEST.

*Following the lead of many cities, OCTA votes to oppose their own Centerline light rail project, yet still proceed full speed ahead to build the line.

*After APTA dubs MTA "the dirtiest transit system in North America", board members decide to raise hogs on low-productivity lines in lieu of contracting out or BDOF.

*The success of TBS's "The Chimp Channel" inspires Laidlaw to begin hiring chimpanzees as drivers to reduce turnover.

*In relation to the story above, Laidlaw accidentally hires a gorilla for its OCTA Access operation, who unfortunately proceeds to pummel an elderly passenger.

*After the Bus Riders Union joins the unionized MTA workers striking during the summer, they will introduce a new character complementing Super Pasajera. This time, a BRU member will be dressed up as a masked bus driver named Ralph Crammed-In.

*At an MTA board meeting, Kym Richards will knock Ralph Crammed-In out cold and unmask him, revealing him to be Raymond Yu.

"Mmm...snouts."-Homer Simpson

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1999: The Year in Transit

Here are some events that might happen with transit in 1999.

-MTA will slowly start taking back lines from the contractors from ATE and Charterwaidlaw. The first will be lines 125 and 130. They will be operated out of Division 8.

-Metrolink will guarantee that they will run their engineers through the wash racks at least once a week.

-OCTA will improve bus frequencies on all lines. Bus lines that ran every 30 minutes will now run every 29 minutes.

-Transportation contractors ATE/Ryder and ATC/Vancom will announce a merger. The name of the new company will be "I Can't Believe It's Not Laidlaw!"

-Foothill Transit will no longer allow bus drivers to put their gang nicknames up in the "Hello Your Operator Is:" nameplate.

-After passengers complained about the routing of line 362, the MTA will quickly act. Next June, all limited stops will be eliminated and the line becomes a complete local line 62.

-The BRU will complain even more about unmet transit needs, citing a need to create local service on Wilshire Bl. They claim that if there was bus service along Wilshire Bl., it might do well.

-Line 550 ridership will double from 1 to 2 passengers per day.

-MTA will no longer print schedules, replace bus stop signs, or keep headsigns in working order. They cite passenger illiteracy as the main factor for this decision.

-Foothill Transit will guarantee that buses will not run more than 30 minutes late.

-Gillig announces the expansion of their available buses. Aside from the Spirit midibus and Phantom bus, the low floor model will now be named the Ghost and the new articulated model will be called the Goblin. Plans for a Cutaway model called the Troll have been shelved for now.

-Julian Burke will resign as MTA's CEO so he could be the full time body double for Patrick Stewart.

-The MTA will repackage buses by calling them "lighter rail".

-SCAG will mandate that all taxis in Los Angeles County be renamed Smart Shuttles.

-Dissatisfied with the reliability of CNG, the MTA will once again be looking into alternative fuels. The clean fuel of choice this time will be hamsters running around in a wheel.

-Eric Mann will be riding the buses a lot more, after his BMW fails a smog test.

-Consent Decree overcrowding figures will be thrown out, after finding that New Math was used for the calculations, with an average of eleventeen standees per bus.

-St. Ides will be the Official Malt Liquor and Patron Saint of Division 5 buses.

-Commerce's local bus system will take a lot of heat from the community after they decide to stop letting children from the local elementary school draw the route maps for them.

-John Walsh will finally collect urine samples from all MTA Board members. The urine tests positive for a $2 billion overrun of the Red Line.

-While public comment is still limited to one minute per person at MTA Board meetings, the rules will be eased up a bit. Public comment will be three minutes per person if they use semaphores or charades to communicate.

Happy New Year!

"They're not so bad. They named a street after me in San Francisco."-Fidel Castro (talking about Americans), "The Simpsons"

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Criswell made his fame in America as a T.V. psychic in the late 1950's. Cris started out as a weatherman on a local U.S. T.V. station. His life changed one day, when no daily forecast was handed to him while on-air. Despite this obvious drawback, Cris swiftly adlibbed a forecast for the following day, which miraculously came entirely true!! And so was born, Criswell the Psychic. He was seen on channel 13, KCOP in Los Angeles.

Cris quickly developed an astounding career as a T.V. psychic, entirely based on made-up and outrageous predictions of the future. When his prophetic variety act finally lost favour with T.V. audiences, Criswell turned his dubious skills to his downwardly mobile, young director friend, Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Once with "the worst director of all time", Criswell foisted questionable acting skills in cult films in many of Ed Wood films. Most notably came the bit-part in the Ed Wood classic SciFi movie, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" (1956) as the Voice of Doom. Criswell's role, as in all Ed Wood movies, was to introduce the "horrifying" themes and morals of the flick... usually with the obvious reading of the off-camera cue cards, atrotious scripts (courtesy of Edward D. Wood himself), and much rising menacingly out of coffins!!!
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