By America Hernandez, September 20, 2014
As a 22-year-old lifelong native of downtown Los Angeles, I’ve never driven a car.
dance classes in Koreatown to schools in Los Feliz, and the odd
Hollywood rock gig or two in between, all I ever needed was the
underground Metro Red Line.
But what if you live in Sunland and
want to shop at the Americana in Glendale? The Metro 90 and 91 buses
both will get you there in just over an hour, and a quick hop on the 780
Rapid connects you to Paseo Colorado in Old Town Pasadena.
about getting from Compton to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for
exhibits on ancient Korean vases and African paintings of the cosmos?
Taking the Blue light rail line to Seventh and Metro, followed by 25
minutes on the westbound 20 bus leaves you five minutes away on foot.
day, I’m one of about 2 million people who rides the buses and rails in
L.A., according to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. And
it’s not just people who can’t afford cars.
“There’s a change
underway, from the baby boomers to the millennials,” said Marc Littman, a
spokesman for Metro. “People are fed up with traffic and want options.”
Even if you have a car but don’t want to deal with parking at
the beach, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus will take you to the pier or
Venice – whether you live in Culver City or Brentwood – at L.A. Live or
near Los Angeles International Airport.
Most buses in Los
Angeles today are clean and air-conditioned, but packing a pair of
sunglasses is always helpful if you find yourself near the window at a
And don’t let the transit time dissuade you: Take a
book, or better yet, keep your eyes peeled. Walking and getting to look
out the window while someone else steers are the best way to learn the
city and immerse yourself in its diverse cultures.
are relocating to cultural centers, and yuppies and hipsters embrace
the stress-free walk to work in up-and-coming neighborhoods.
there’s anyone who doubts Los Angeles people ride mass transit, I tell
them to go to Union Station at rush hour and see the 70,000 commuters
streaming out of the tunnels to and from work,” Littman said.
Angeles Metro is the third-largest transportation agency in the
country, after New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and
Chicago’s Transit Authority.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard and experienced is that buses in this town are famously unreliable.
can be true, but technology is here to help: A few key phone numbers,
websites and applications can make sure you always know where the bus
you want is in real time.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
you already know your route, Nextbus uses your location to show the
nearest stops from all agencies in a scroll-down format, with two
upcoming arrival times tracked live.
Moovit has both a trip-planning feature and fixed schedules updated using GPS.
me, the simplest option is often best. Metro’s Trip Planner website
lets me input starting and end points and shows me all the options,
including how much walking I want to do.
Once I’m at the stop,
I’ll call the number on the signpost to see whether the bus is a few
minutes early or if I’ve just missed it.
Of course, for those
times when I’m running late or want to head somewhere not easily
accessible by bus or rail, application-based car services such as Uber
let me enter my desired destination, then sit back and relax as my
chauffeur does the heavy driving.
For all the talk of
constraints that come along with public transit, I find knowing how to
get around independently in Los Angeles truly liberating.
The Missing Persons sang “Nobody walks in L.A.” in 1982, the group had a
point. Back then, the California dream was cruising Pacific Coast
Highway with the top down and the music up.
Forget that song. You don’t know this city until you’ve punched up your iPhone playlist and walked L.A.