Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

The Metro

Posted by Russell on August 11, 2007 at 11:09 p.m.
While I was on jury duty last week, I rode the train from Pasadena to the courthouse in Downtown LA every morning. One of the best things about jury duty, I think, was riding the train. I took the Gold Line from the Lake Street station in Pasadena, switched to Red Line at Union Station, and then switched to the Blue Line at 7th Street, and hopped off at Grand, less than a block from the courthouse. The whole trip took took about 40 minutes when I caught a local train at Lake Street, or about 28 minutes if I was lucky enough to catch the Express. Driving from Pasadena during rush hour would have been... excruciating. At least an hour and twenty minutes.

I miss the train. It was quiet (except, inexplicably, for the tunnel leaving 7th Street), fast, and comfortable. I was always able to find a seat, even during peak hours. The stations are nice. I got a lot of reading done, and the scenery is interesting. If anything, my opinion of Angelenos has improved considerably from the random sample I encountered.

Now that I've been released from the jury, my trips to UCLA in West Los Angeles are by car. The train doesn't go here, and the buses from Downtown are slow, infrequent and astonishingly crowded. My most recent ride on the 720 bus featured a fifteen minute interval smashed face-to-face into the enormous pot belly of a 400-pound black man, who didn't seem to enjoy the experience any more than I did. No amount of shuffling and begging ones pardon were sufficient to disengage skin contact. The only solution was to stare out of opposite windows and wait for the rumbling glacier of sweat, flesh and steel to reach its destination. Riding the bus sucks.

West LA needs to get with the program, or it's going to become a slum. All the interesting new development in Los Angeles is happening Downtown, and the new zoning changes are only going to accelerate that. Running the Red Line down the Wilshire corridor to Ocean Boulevard is only a start. The proposal to turn Pico and Olympic into paired one-way streets is utterly idiotic, but understandable given that people in West LA would probably chew off their leg before allowing a even a single precious lane to be sacrificed for a light rail project.

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