Lessons in LA Public Transportation

When you are new to an area, there are costs accrued in learning to get around. Sometimes you pay in transportation fares or gas, sometimes you pay in time; often, it’s both.

When I first moved to New York, I’d often get on the D train at Broadway/Lafayette and wind up in Brooklyn instead of midtown. Seems so elementary now, recognizing the difference between the downtown trains and the uptown trains, but it took me a while to figure it out. When I got lost, I’d just exit the train and cross over to the opposite platform. I mostly paid in lost time, which I had plenty of back then.

20131014-110141.jpgI’m back to being a n00b here in L.A., and it sucks. On the way to the Central Library today, I paid $17 for a round trip Metrolink ticket + $1.50 for Metro Red subway. But when I got there, the homeless folks and I clustered around the entrance only to find it closed for Columbus Day. (I have never had a job that gave me the day off on Columbus Day. It is not a real holiday!) So I stepped on the wrong bus and paid $1.50 (fuck) before I took the Metro Silver bus back ($2.45), thus learning that it is a much cheaper and more efficient way to move between my hood and downtown.

Well, that’s what I thought while I was on the bus. Then I realized that it takes about 25 minutes to drive to the El Monte bus station, which is about how long it takes to drive to the library. The only thing I avoid by taking the bus is having to navigate the confusing, swirly one-way streets of downtown L.A. Oh, and I also don’t have to deal with the confounding business of parking validation. (I once parked in the wrong lot and had to pay $15 for parking. $15! On a Saturday! That is outrageous.)

So the morning was a complete bust and I generously donated $23 to the Metro. I’m not even going to calculate the cost of gas used on roundtrips to pick me up from the stations.

All of which is to say that I miss the simplicity and reach of my unlimited NYC Metrocard. Do you know how much freedom you have, my New York friends, and how cheap it comes? I don’t know that I did.




  1. Danielle

    I recently finished a 2,000 mile bike ride down the coast. We finished in L.A. Probably not the best place to end 2 months of no cars! It was my first time there, and I have to tell you that riding down the 1 and then beginning to navigate the suburbs, I thought of you and your adventures of returning home.

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