“Cartoon Thursday:” Eastside Blog Punks Metro on Gold Line Safety

11_19_09_el_tren.jpgNot a real sign. Image: LA Eastside

Last week, LA Eastside decided to take a poke at Metro and posted a series of fake signs in "local lingo" to help keep Eastsiders safe from the Gold Line Extension trains.  One look at the above example, and you can probably guess that the signs at LA Eastside are a parody.  However, not everyone got the joke, as evidenced by commenters at LA Eastside and the lecture posted today at The Source.

After explaining the situation, and before showing what real Metro safety signs look like, Fred Camino delivers Metro’s stance:

Here’s the thing, Metro actually does takes safety very seriously
and safety signage is there to inform and educate people about the
risks around train tracks. You’ll find safety signage everywhere on the
system, from the street running Gold Line to the underground Red Line.

The bloggers over at L.A. Eastside would do right by their readers
and community by informing them that the signs are indeed a hoax. No
one at Metro thinks we’re above criticism — but we would like to be
criticized for things we’ve actually done.

Personally, I can see Metro’s point if they’re getting complaints about these fake signs.  But LA Eastside’s point, that Metro didn’t take every precaution for the communities through which the train now runs, is certainly fair game.

  • OK maybe I’m a horrible person and maybe I haven’t been following specific safety complaints about the eastside extension enough but still, generally speaking, some of the people in south CA kind of horrify me. How hard is it to NOT run into, or get run over by, a large, loud, multiple ton monstrosity lumbering along clearly marked tracks accompanied by bells and flashing lights?

    Seriously, people :(

  • Dave S

    Don’t mean to contradict, though I do not see the big deal with at grade crossings. Is this what the controversy is over? Ever been to Portland, or even Minneapolis? I would like to think that people growing up in busy urban areas are aware enough of their environment to know to get out of the way of the train. Some of the best public places in the country occur where a train runs right through at grade, like a river. Look at Skidmore historic areas in Portland.

  • Dave S

    hear hear Crazy Commuter, spoken like a true urbanista!

  • You forgot the other reason for doing these fake signs: they’re kinda funny regardless of what the MTA did or didn’t do.

    They are also a little bit tasteless. The context of who created them is the key to the humor. If these came from The Minutemen border patrol types … eh … not so funny.

    I’d hate to see the “local lingo” signs for the Crenshaw Corridor. Can you say “controversy”?

  • ds

    At grade crossings suck because they greatly limit the speed that the trains can go, not because they’re some massive hazard beyond that of normal street traffic.

    The process of not getting hit by a train is exactly the same as not getting hit by one of the thousands of cars, trucks, and buses that pass by every day: Look both ways and make sure it’s clear before you step in the middle of a street.

    It would have been nice if Metro sprung for more grade separation, simply because it would be nice to have actual “rapid” transit.

  • That Eastside Blog post was definitely satirical. No need to get worked up over it.

  • Was it really not clear that I laughed along with the Eastside blog? I actually noticed this story last weekend while looking up Gold Line Stories. I didn’t think it was worth a story, but when The Source responded that Metro was actually getting complaints, well, then it seemed worth it.

  • Will Campbell

    I’m going to wish Fred’s at-grade call for a “Warning: Satire Ahead” statement from LA Eastside was satirical.

  • Damien, I meant The Source shouldn’t get worked up over it. Sorry.

  • Sometimes I worry that you all picture me as a humorless school teacher lecturing at all of you. I like to think that nothing could be farther from the truth.

  • There’s quite a difference between a hoax and satire. Maybe we need to chip in and buy Metro a dictionary — or a sense of humor. Seems like skins are a little thin over there.

  • The MTA spent so much on an image campaign, even decreeing that certain fonts shall be used everywhere (Scala, Scala Sans, with DIN for the schedules), that they must feel disconcerted that these bad imitations of signs were actually taken seriously by the public.

  • If you check out the comments on the LA Eastside blog you actually find that many of the commenters there didn’t get the joke… unless I’m just being super dense and the comments were part of it as well. There was talk of letter writing campaigns, questions of how much money was spent, calls of racism, etc. It didn’t bother me personally, but combined with the phone calls and emails from offended customers, a believe a post was warranted. But hey, what do I know.

    bikinginla – I believe while “hoax” and “satire” are indeed different, a hoax can be done in the name of satire which I believe was the point of the LA Eastside post.

  • “If you check out the comments on the LA Eastside blog you actually find that many of the commenters there didn’t get the joke”

    Actually, yeah, that’s true. You even got Browne :)

  • I meant that *they* got Browne.

  • I think we should all take a quiet moment to reflect on this:

    calwatch can, without reference to notes, cite the three fonts the MTA uses on their schedules.

    Wow. I want calwatch on my team.

  • Now I wish we had printed up some signs to help out on opening day!

  • Here’s the thing, Metro actually does takes safety very seriously

    I stopped reading after that.

  • Let’s have another flame war now :)

  • Will Campbell

    Metro does take safety seriously. Just look at how well deputies guarding the Red Line subdued this photographer — I mean Al Qaeda operative — earlier this month:


  • To be fair, I think if Metro was actually getting calls; they have the right to be annoyed. That being said, the entire post on LA Eastside actually made me laugh out loud last Saturday.

  • *if* Metro was *actually* getting calls? I was hoping I could bring credibility amongst transit advocates to Metro. Looks like instead I’ve lost any credibility I have once had! For the record, I didn’t lie about Metro getting calls and emails so I could pick on a blog I read from time to time.

    Just messing with you Damien. ;)

  • David Galvan

    @Will: I watched that video. I think the guy could have totally de-fused the situation if he hadn’t been such a jackass to the LASD officer. Whole thing made me roll my eyes.

  • Erik G.


    The Lady Metro didth protest too much. Just state that they were not LA Metro doings, and move on. Surely you can see why some would believe those signs. Maybe that is what your energies need to be spent on.

  • Erik G.-

    Duly noted.

  • Honestly, Fred?

    With the way my writing has been since I’ve been on a baby-reduced sleeping schedule, I’ve been waiting for you to point out that I should have written “If Metro WERE getting calls…”

  • One might imagine that the reason Metro is upset at such a wee bit of well-deserved satire is because Metro’s reputation is such that such signs are not impossible. Were metro half as concerned with building and maintaining a world-class metropolitan transit system as it is with its PR campaign, then Los Angeles might have a world-class public transit system.

    Perhaps Fred and Steve might tell us why Tom Horne—Metro’s head of customer service—is the weakest link in metro’s chain, so lousy as to dissuade straphangers and bus riders from complaining. Maybe the Metro duo can tell us why metro is more concerned with fantastic “Go Metro!” video campaigns with Hollywood stars and massive sound stages instead of putting the same safety features on the MGLEE as it does for the Pasadena segment of the Gold Line. Or maybe there’s an article to be done about the massive print campaign that promotes Metro despite the decades-old dearth of timetables on the busses and trains. or why not just tell us why Metro hired a former L.A. Times columnist and a transit blogger to parrot the PR from “the source” instead of fixing the problems that we all know exist but which Metro will not acknowledge?

    It is obvious that Metro is more concerned with its reputation than with making its execs and PR mouthpieces put its boots on the ground (Fred notwithstanding, which is shameful in its own fashion) so as to understand how Metro does NOT work. Art Leahy is commendable in what he has done and is doing, but he is but one man—and a former bus driver who’s father was in transit in Chicago, so he knows the ropes—against a vast sea of bureaucrats. Unfortunately, these clueless execs as well as PR people who brazenly proclaim their refusal to regularly ride the rails about which they write daily, are busy putting lipstick on a pig and calling it a thoroughbred horse.

  • I will add one more comment. The word “hoax” used by Steve Hyman, whose own Metro-based blog does not allow comments, is just the kind of hyperbole I imagine Metro wants to avoid disseminating.

    Steve, since the satiric signs were done by someone who signed his name, and were only put on a single blog, perhaps you might re-think using such outrageous terms as “hoax.” It only shows a distinct lack of professionalism. There was no attempt to deceive nor to defraud, but to protest. (If you rode the Gold Line regularly enough, you would be well aware of the great differences in the railroad and roadway/pedestrian crossings along the Gold Line, and understand why such satire is well-warranted.) Just as your posting the histrionic and wrong-headed accusatory term “hoax” on the blog that hosted the “hoax”—-even as the blog for which you primarily “write” will not allow comments of any kind—-presumably for the very behaviour you have exhibited—is likewise not irony but hypocrisy.

    Here is hoping Metro will give you a basic dictionary for a your xmas bonus.

  • Spokker

    From the Peer Panel Review Report: http://www.metro.net/news_info/press/images/mglelaPanelReview.pdf

    “The Gold Line Eastside Extension is approximately 5.8 miles in length with a mixed operating environment. The line is predominately street running, with a top operating speed of 35 mph. At no time is the operating speed greater than the posted speed limit for vehicular traffic. The grade crossings are wide offering for the most part excellent sightlines. As mentioned earlier, this type of alignment, combined with the operating characteristics, does not justify or require the installation of crossing gates.”

    You can see for yourself what the CPUC requires on the table at the bottom of this page: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/General_order/1295.htm

    The Gold Line in South Pasadena is “(1) Fenced Right-of-Way with At-Grade Crossings” and “(2) At Crossings” it requires “Flashing Lights & Gates” and the maximum speed depends on the signaling used.

    The Gold Line in East LA is “(3) Street Median or Side Alignment with 6″ Curb” and “(2) At Crossings” it only requires “Traffic Signal or Other Approved Device” and the maximum speed is the “Legal Speed of Parallel Traffic But not to Exceed 35 MPH.”

    They did what was required in both cases. If the Gold Line was street running in Pasadena, it would not have gates.


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