July 21st, 2003


Why can't LA be like normal cities?

For those of you who have never been to LA, (and if you are on my friends list most of you probably have, if not live here), you know that this city is impossible to get around. It's a city that covers the area of some New England states, and has 16 million people in it, and we some how quaintly call it a city. I've never got that, but then again, if you ever saw Sullivan County, Missouri, you would know why Los Angeles County is an amusing misnomer to me.

Anyway, so my dear friend copperdragonfly is coming to see me next week. There was much confusion about how to get her around, but with her recent problems she thought it would be smarter, and more cost efficient to not rent a car. I agreed, I didn't want to strain her finances. Then my best friend pointed out to me that she was insane for not doing it. This caused an hour long discussion on why this plan was nuts, and me realizing that LA is truly just the worst public transportation city in the world.

You here of cities such as New York, London, San Francisco, Tokyo, and there public transportation systems are things of myth and legend. Speed trains, subways, you can't go anywhere where you can't get home again, no matter the time of day. There a bus, train, cab, tolley, something that will get you home again. It sounds all wonderful, magical, like some fairytale shangr-la that I only dream of getting to. But none can ever exist in LA.

Los Angeles has two essential problems, geography and politics. Now politics plagues many cities. But politics here means that trying to get anything done is like trying to run a 5K race while covered in quick drying cement...you are going no where fast. Thanks to politics and much mismanagment of funds, LA's public transit is the joke of the city. Slow running, ecological insane buses, some of them that run on schedules completely incomprehensible to most human beings. There are rude drivers, many of whom seem to completely ignore traffic laws, timetables, and your own personal safety as they are getting paid $20 an hour to be on the scrap of metal that they are driving.

Then there are the trains. Los Angeles has two, with a third starting this weekend. Sadly, the trains don't go that terribly far out to the areas where they can be most useful. Rather, they inexplicably stop at points which confuse me. Perhaps it's a fund thing.

And then there is the layout of the routes. How come it takes me three hours to get from the East side of town to the West side, but half that time coming back. And why is it that I can run around Hollywood all night, but I can't even get home to Monrovia unless I take another bus line that quits running after 11 at night?


Then there is the geography. In case any of you haven't noticed, LA is not only sprawled, it's built on a bunch of mountains. Where there is mountains, there is hills. So they have to put bus lines around and up lots of really tall formations. Rather than work this in to the grid of public transit, perhaps getting someone at Cal Tech to invent some sort of public transit to work around this, (the Japanese can do it for God's sake), they instead just use that good old 'Yankee ingenuity' and stick with the same old plan that every other city has. And because of this, buses are torn to shreds because their engines can't handle going up and down the geological patchwork that is LA.

But it gets better. To get around some of these land form problems, we built freeways. Freeways around mountains, under mountains, so that cars can get through. Except the freeways suck and traffic, bus or car, can't get through. They are death traps if there is an accident, and if there is, you are backed up for miles. And the slightest hint of an accident or rain in the area around a freeway, guess what everyone takes...city streets. Guess what are on city streets. Buses. See what I mean.

LA's public transit was planned by a three year old and a monkey with crayons.

Sorry, I don't mean to grip, but it really bugs me, as my friend wants to see LA and I have to force her to shell out money to pay for something she REALLY can't afford, and neither can I. But she's going to have a good time if I have to go into debt for it, and LA and it's public transit can both go to hell.

Sometimes, I wish I had moved to San Fran instead, while I might get raped and mugged on Market Street, at least I can always get home afterwards.
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