I do, I really do. I used to car pool to the Metro every morning and take the Metro to work. 30 minutes door to door. Now I’m working about 17 miles from my house and the last two days I’ve averaged about an hour and a half commute. ONE WAY. Everyone says you have to “find your own way” when fighting LA traffic, but every time I get off the expressways I end up losing my way and spending even more time in the car.
With the new job, I don’t have much free time right now, so I decided to dust off this old draft on the LA Metro that I wrote when I was still car-less and Metro commuting to work. I didn’t make any edits to reflect my new locked-in-my-car-for-3-hours-a-day state.
Los Angeles has a Metro. No, really, LA has a subway and light rail system. It’s definitely not a comprehensive system, but it takes me to and from work and saves me the costs and hassle of driving. I still need to buy or lease a car, this definitely being a driving city and all, but due to finances and the fact I haven’t regularly driven since 2004, I’m trying to avoid it for as long as possible. So, until I can avoid it no longer, the Metro is just fine by me.
The train doesn’t take you everywhere you might want to go. It doesn’t go very west at all – nothing to WeHo, Century City, Beverly Hills, or the beach. But, the gold line that’s walking distance from us takes you north to Pasadena or south to Chinatown, Downtown, and Little Tokyo. The purple line takes you to K-town and the red line to Hollywood. There are two others, but they go pretty south and I’m not sure yet if I’d have an occasion to take them.
Given the fact I’ve never even heard LA had a metro system and no one I know rides it, I thought it was going to be some dinky little Detroit People Mover type situation. Untrue. It’s a legit train and people really take it. Train comes every 10 minutes, which is a lot longer than the 3 minutes it took in DC during peak hours, but still much better than the 20 minutes during non-peak hours.
The only super odd thing is how you pay to ride…
Apparently, LA Metro operates on the honor system. You purchase a ticket for the ride, but there’s no where to insert the pass. You just walk on through. Or you can get a Tap card, which is like a DC Smartrip or a Chicago CTA card, and load that. You tap at the turnstile to deduct from your card. But, if you don’t tap your card, nothing would stop you. Apparently, they’re working on having the turnstiles lock (like every other public transit system ever), but they haven’t figured it out yet.
I guess they keep riders honest with the threat of a Metro cop waiting as you exit. The cop asks to see your ticket or Tap card and if you don’t have one you pay a sizable fine. In the two months I’ve been here, I’ve had cops checking my station once. But even then, he just asked to see my Tap card without any way of knowing if I tapped it. Personally, I load and tap religiously because I’d be crippled with the powerful combo of Catholic and Asian guilt if I didn’t it’s illegal. The other day, I forgot my Tap card. I bought a paper ticket, but still felt nervous walking through like I was doing something wrong. Something tells me not all riders feel the same way.
Now, I honestly don’t care that some people end up riding for free. It just seems strange that a public transportation system that’s been in its current modern state for the past 20+ years forgot to implement a standardized way of getting paid. Just one of many quirky LA things I’ve noticed.