Vapid Transit

Sigh. It seems the L.A. Times never misses an opportunity to slam this city’s mass transportation system. Not that it isn’t a topic ripe for the ridicule, but then so is the newspaper’s seemingly never-ending stream of guinea pigs who get on the bus and then tell the rest of us what a fucking drag it is. The latest in that long and boring line is one of its editorial writers, Dan Turner, who gives us “Taking the rapid out of transit” on the front page of today’s opinion section. Dan lets us know that he decided to rock the MTA and roll it all the way from Hollywood to LAX ‚Äî no easy feat ‚Äî not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Or his editor did.

Like many epic journeys of exploration, mine began not out of necessity but out of curiosity — the ancestral human urge to test the boundaries of endurance and knowledge. My quest: to get from my house in the Hollywood Hills to LAX, using only public transportation.

Turner goes on to quote famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton ‚Äî even daring to compare himself in his crosstown quest for the airport to Shackleton’s doomed 1915 expedition to the South Pole. And it goes downhill from there, just fast and nasty enough to compel me to write the Times a rebuttal:

Well look at that… guess it’s time for the L.A. Times to put another one of its own on the city’s mass transportation and let the ridicule roll. Doesn’t that get boring over there? It does on this end, but in fairness I certainly agree with Turner that in getting to LAX the system comes up way short. At the same time, I can’t help but recognize that some of the woes Turner encountered were of his own doing. Assuming he did some research to find the bus and rail lines that would get him to the airport, it’s ridiculous that he didn’t make himself aware of the ticket prices and the fact that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) phased out transfers more than two years ago ‚Äî all of which is easily found on the MTA’s website.

He can hold a grumpy grudge against his bus driver and the broken Red Line ticket machines all he wants, but instead he should hold himself accountable. His failure to familiarize himself ahead of time with the cost of a $3 day pass ticket or to pack a few dollar bills made the ride bumpier and longer.

13 thoughts on “Vapid Transit”

  1. Except that the LA Times piece was right — LAs mass-transit system is a joke. Spend some time on the east coast. There were things about working in Manhattan that were frustrating as hell, but the train, ferry and subway system was NOT one of them. It works. People use them because the system takes them easily and quickly and at a reasonable price to where they WANT TO GO. That’s something LA has never figured out, and until this city does get a clue about that, mass tranist here will be nothing more than a joke.

  2. There is no way you can defend the ineptitude of the city fathers for failing to get a mass transit train to LAX. It is quite simply a joke and an embarrasment… so swing away LA TIMES!! The MTA and City Hall deserve every hit.

  3. As I said in my post the topic is ripe for ridicule and getting to LAX via MTA comes up terribly short… so Bwanster, where is it exactly that I’m defending the “city fathers” for failing? My argument is with the over-and-over “the bus sucks and the subway blows” coverage. But if you’re a fan of that technique then there will be another column like that coming along any minute now.. not unlike the bus. “Swing away?” Swing and a miss is more like it.

    As to Lee’s assertion that the system is more mass hysteria than mass transit. Gawd I wish I was able draw an easy bead on the system’s weakest link and extrapolate out that the whole thing stinks, all the while comparing it to New York’s system, which is like comparing apples to hand grenades. On second thought, no I don’t wish I could do that because that’s lame.

    Can LA’s public people moving be improved? VASTLY. Does the Times’ lame and lazy under-exposure by get it improved? HARDLY.

  4. I know this is like the old “Communism is good in theory” cliche, but LA is not NY. It’s not DC, it’s not Boston… it’s spread out. No matter where a single subway is built, 90% of the population will talk shit about how useless it is because 90% of the population is going to a different place.

    I happen to love the Metro. It’s not the best system, but I learned to adapt. I got a job downtown, and then immediately made it my first priority to get a new apartment next to a redline station. I live a minute away from the NoHo station, and I have a 30 minute commute to work everyday. No hassle, no traffic, no gas, just a chance to snooze a few extra minutes before clocking in. Granted, I had to cater to the system rather than it catering to me, but it paid off.

    When I even think of taking 101 to work, I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    As for LAX from Hollywood: $3 day pass, red, blue, green, shuttle waiting. Bring a book and sense of humor. Maybe I can call Dan a wah-mbulance.

    To everyone else in the LA who’s offended there isn’t a subway station as close as their front porch…

  5. Yes, it’s bad. Yes, the L.A. Times are doing a service to the city of Los Angeles by pointing out faults in the system. And yes, it’s ridiculous that they fazed out transfers, especially in a city that’s SO HUGE. But I no longer read the opinion section at all, because it’s stupid. And not news. “I took the l.a. metro system and it’s bad.” This was new, in say, 1995.

  6. Considering that the Times has jumped to praise every other stupid thingthat’s hit the city Council as a great idea, it’s good that the Times keeps reminding everyone that the Metro cost a zillion dollars, and yet, doesn’t go anywhere people want and need to travel to. Middle class ridership–the lifeblood of big city public transit–isn’t going to happen by wishing. Rather than berate the Times for not boosting, readers and citizens should demand some accountability from the City.
    Public transit is a good idea–the Metro isn’t it.

  7. “Rachel Cohen” spews: “Rather than berate the Times for not boosting, readers and citizens should demand some accountability from the City.”

    “Rachel” I can always count on you to miss the point. Please have either yourself or one of your several personalities point out where I’m bagging on the times for “not boosting.”

    I’m berating them for the meaninglessness of their nonstop mono-dimensional POV that brings nothing with it. If I stood in front of a pile of shit and just said “Hey, that’s shit!” over and over and over and over. And over. What does that accomplish? Nothing.

    I would LOVE it if the Times would cut the redundance and explore what it would take to make L.A.’s public transportation system better and call for the accountability you want readers and citizens to demand. But instead the Times is content just to pipe out the same old saw with a certain monotonous regularity and that makes your dark little world a little brighter because at least there’s one thing they’re not cheering for?

    That’s weak!

    And besides, what’s wrong with berating the Times AND demanding accountability from the city?

  8. And Will, we can always count on you to berate me for not agreeing with you. I didn’t make my post personal, but I can trust you to do so in any reply. Yes, it would be good if the Times offred solutions. There–happy?

  9. I agree that the LA Times articles on this subject are getting old, though they bother me for a slightly different reason–they always come from this upper-middle class perspective–wowee, I’m taking public transit in LA today, and man it sucked so now I’ll get back in my car. I’d like to see an article that focuses on the people that absolutely have to take mass transit every day, and the amazing distances traversed to get to jobs across the city–I meet people in my daily commute that travel 2+ hours each way for work and do it every day, and don’t have a choice about switching to a car. Yes, obviously for the rail lines to succeed they need to reach a middle class ridership and the Times should point out that they’re not, but that’s only a small part of the public transit story in LA.

  10. L.A. public transportation is opaque and scary for middle class people who are used to their cars. Until that changes, Dan Turner and people like him will continue to (rightfully) ridicule the bus and rail system. (more…)

  11. I’m going to agree with a lot of what is said in the article and in the comments. What annoyed me about the article was the fact that at the end of the day it doesn’t do anything to improve the public transit situation in LA. Complaining about it is such a low hanging fruit that it was pretty much a waste of words on paper.

    A much better article would have been had if they had bothered to follow up the journey with the MTA and put some of the comments to them and see what they have to say about things. Then follow up with another article six months later to see if anything has changed.

    That would have been much more beneficial to the discussion than the usual transport in LA sucks article.

  12. WRT the last commenter, what the LA Times should do is have some way where anyone can comment on an article directly, just like in a blog or a wiki. </snark>

  13. the worst part about the article is that the los angeles times does the same article every year.

    i expect it means we are now due for the stock article bemoaning the gentrification of whatever they have decided is the new los feliz this year.

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