I'm heartened by the fact that there's a sharp and pronounced move
toward mass transit nationwide (the ridership levels are the highest since 1957) in the wake of $4 gasoline. So heartened, in fact, that I wanted to join the movement. My current commute to work is a straight line, rare in Los Angeles, where I could conceivably take Santa Monica Boulevard all the way from my house to the office. I calculated the options for bus service, and figured I could save $2 a day and a gallon of gas worth of carbon emissions (L.A. buses are, for the most part, clean-air vehicles) without an appreciable increase in my commute time. I went on the Metro
website and located the proper bus route, and made out this morning to catch my ride.
It never showed up. The bus route initially offered on the site was inaccurate, and a separate bus didn't pick up at the stop offered. There was no corroborating information at the bus stop, and after about a half-hour I just walked home and got in the car.
I believe I've remedied the situation and now see a way clear to using the proper transit system. But the arduousness of the task is the real point. At a time when gridlock is literally making Angelenos insane
, and the reduction of just a tiny percentage of cars on the road
would alleviate it, at a time when gas is so expensive that violence is breaking out as gas pumps
and fuel thieves
are resorting to siphoning gas out of engines, the structure of mass transit in the nation's second-largest city is a total embarrassment. I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford the high cost of gasoline and don't need to use public transit; furthermore, I am able to stagger my schedule and the commute is not even that taxing. But I want
to ride clean, out of a sense of social responsibility and simple peace of mind. Somehow the entire Northeast corridor
can be lined with all sorts of rail systems and we can't get a bus to stop every few blocks on a major artery serving multiple communities (Santa Monica, West LA, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Los Feliz). The city of Los Angeles actually has more density per mile than Portland, Oregon, which has an excellent public transit system
. There's no ingenuity put into transit, or resources for that matter, and the overlapping jurisdictions of public officials just dissolve any policy prescription into a squabble among supervisors and city councilmen and the like. They don't even bother to update the signs; guess it's too costly.
On the other hand, there's a freeway in Marina del Rey that's 2 miles long. It's probably the most unused freeway in America. But it had a federal stamp of approval and was an accomplishment local pols could point to, so up it goes.
What character remains in L.A. is being crushed by endless parades of cars and the honking of horns. The society has become hyper-local out of necessity (and actually the best transit systems, like the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, serve a small, local area). But that could all change so easily, with a little personal responsibility and a bus that runs on time.
Labels: climate change, gas prices, Los Angeles, mass transit, Metro