So, it’s been a week Metro fares went up from $1.25 to $1.50. Now, I’m not opposed to this increase per se – time passes, seasons change, bus fares go up, thus is the way of the world. However! as a very regular bus rider (Line 2 from West Hollywood to UCLA, represent!), I have a few ideas about what Metro should be doing my with my 25 cents per ride, suggestions that, if implemented, would make the buses of Los Angeles much happier places to be.
So, dear Metro Transit Authority, here are three humble suggestions for things you can do with my extra 25 cents a ride:
1. Please offer transfers from one MTA route to another. It is absolutely ridiculous that riders have to pay the full fare additional times if their route requires switching busses and/or trains. This is a major city, right? I can’t think of any other major cities in which transfers from one bus to another, on the same bus system, are nothing more than a heady fantasy.
2. Some better bus stop infrastructure would be nice. I don’t know if this is the purview of the MTA or if it’s a municipal responsibility, but I have had to wait for busses at some amazingly skeevy bus stops. To wit: One might assume that the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire, an intersection of two fairly major thoroughfares, could be a fairly major transit hub. However, waiting for the Eastbound bus on Santa Monica means waiting at a bus stop where the bench might as well be a board balancing on some cinderblocks. And there’s no shade. And the stop backs onto an empty lot. As street corners go, it is probably among the least conducive to encouraging people to wait around for a bus. And it’s not the only stop like that. We need more bus shelters, or, heck, even some trees for shade, and there also needs to be some work put into making bus stops safer at night. Having waited for busses in the wee hours even though my mother always told me that I should just take a cab, I have often found myself wishing for some kind of lighting so that I don’t feel like I’m liable to get jumped at any minute.
3. And, my most important suggestion: Now that you’ve got an extra quarter from every rider, you don’t need the income from Transit TV anymore, right? Right? Please, please, get rid of Transit TV, oh please, god. This is absolutely key to the maintenance of my sanity. Supposedly, 84% of people prefer being on a bus with these televisions on them, which leads me to conclude that they surveyed people who have never ridden a bus in Los Angeles. When I get on a bus and those horrible televisions are on, I want to stick pins in my eyes. TVs on buses are not an inherently bad idea. However, whoever is behind the current programming on bus TV should be fired and not allowed to work in any media-related field, ever. The Transit TV lineup includes news headlines, read in a monotone, by pasty zombie people; triva questions and brain teasers that seem to be compiled by someone with a less than secure grasp on the workings of the English language (my favorite example, from a few months ago was the following trivia question: “Yogurt is a member of which food group?” Answer? “Milk.” Which is not really wrong, I guess, but it’s not quite right either); horrible, often offensive jokes; and stupid commercials advertising inane things like mail-order college educations, or, advertising the ad space on Transit TV. Like, honestly? Do they really think the people who are riding the bus are the people who are going to buy ad space on the bus? Do they think we are not agonizingly aware of the presence of ad space on the bus? Oh, and the volume of the sets can’t be controlled by the drivers, and they’re loud and obnoxious, and all of this programming is presented in the most irritatingly patronizing tone possible. “It’s like they think everyone on the bus is an idiot,” I said to my roommate one day. “Or maybe,” he replied, “the people who make Transit TV are idiots.” Truer words were never spoken.
So, dear Metro Transit Authority, these are the humble propositions I put forward to you, in all your infinite wisdom. My alternate suggestion would be that you use your newfound revenue to buy me a car, but that somehow seems less within the realms of possibility.