Sunday, January 01, 2006

Buses and trains in LA

I love riding public transit. I love riding along with the other people. I love watching the city sights rather than the car two feet ahead of me. I love not having to move my foot from the gas to the brake every 15 seconds, or plod along at 20 miles per hour surrounded by thousands of other drivers on the freeway.

I started using public transit on a regular basis when I discovered the Amtrak train from LA to San Diego. I will never drive to San Diego again. The Amtrak takes a little over three hours and is a beautiful, lovely ride along the coast once you get past Orange County. The train goes closer to the ocean than the highway does, and you can enjoy the view because you do not have to look at the road. I can get work done on my computer, or I can read a book, or I can just enjoy the ride. No traffic, no pressure.

If you have not yet been on one of the LA subways, you should take a trip to just to experience it. Each station has a different artistic theme; in fact, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) offers a free station tour. The cars and stations are clean and safe. It is an excellent transportation choice if the subway is going where you want to be. My biggest complaint about the subway is that there is not adequate parking at most of the stations, so a “park and ride” concept does not work.

My most amazing discovery has been that we actually have a pretty good bus system in Los Angeles. The system is very extensive; taking one or two buses will get you within half a mile of almost anyplace you want to go. With the exception of a portion of the Red Rapid Bus line that has a dedicated bus lane, the buses cannot get you there any faster than the traffic flow allows...but not much slower either. Even with stops and a transfer, the trip from my Fairfax area home to Santa Monica took only 10 minutes longer on the bus than it would have taken driving. I find the little extra time at a more leisurely pace without having to worry about traffic helps me feel more calm and relaxed during the rest of the day.

Taking public transit requires a bit more planning to be sure you arrive at your destination on time. The MTA web site ( has a handy Trip Planner to help you find the fastest combination of buses and subways to your destination. It is hard to effectively cover a decentralized city like Los Angeles with mass transit, and I find the best time to abandon the car and take the bus is when I have a straight shot route, or perhaps one transfer. The Wilshire Boulevard Red Rapid Bus is my favorite. I even take it from my office when I have a meeting in Beverly Hills, Westwood or Santa Monica. Fast, frequent, no hassle, and no $25 charge for parking, either.


Blogger the ultimate object said...

you're a nut case, but i love you.

8:33 PM  

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