Thursday, July 23, 2009

Metro Musings

So, I've been wanting to post something about this for a long time, and today seems like as good a day as any. Since January, I have been commuting to work using a combination of bus and rail. In that time, I have driven a car to work exactly twice- both times to accommodate a dentist appointment. On the whole, I enjoy it. It gives me a chance to read and do the crossword and takes away the stress of having to drive in rush hour in LA. It is, however, not without it's quirks. And why write a blog if you're not going to complain a bit, eh? So here we go, my observations on LA Metro:

1. I'd rather take the train. Our subway system is fantastic. The trains are relatively clean, they run on a tight schedule, there's plenty of information about schedules posted and updated throughout the stations. The only problem is it doesn't really go anywhere. At least, not anywhere that most people need to go. Melissa and I use it to get to the Ahmanson (Spamalot was a riot, by the way) and the Arclight (the one in Hollywood, not the abomination in Sherman Oaks where we saw Harry Potter. That theater should be ashamed to call itself an Arclight), and I can take the train to Hollywood and Highland and transfer to a bus. In a real city, I'd be able to take a train to West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, but that just isn't the case. And the buses run on no apparent schedule whatsoever, especially in the evening. I arrive at my bus stops at the same time every day. Sometimes I wait 5 minutes for a bus, sometimes 45. And it has nothing to do with traffic. Most of the time I'm waiting long stretches, traffic is moving easily. My bus in the morning is usually there within the same 5 minute window, but once or twice it just hasn't come at all. What we need is a system (like they have in Chicago and other major cities) where the public has access to the bus's GPS (and they are being tracked, you can follow it on a screen when you're actually on the bus). Port that information to a web or mobile phone app and the system becomes much more tolerable. It makes it easier to decide whether I should wait for a bus or hike to the train station.

2. One person, one seat. This may seem like common sense, but I'm amazed at how many people put their backpacks or purses on the seat next to them and won't move them if someone asks for the free seat. Also, 90% of men I see on the bus sit with their legs spread as far apart as possible, making it impossible to sit next to them. Your junk's not taking up that much room, fellas, let other people sit.

3. You're Fat. I get it. Americans have been raised to think of eating large amounts of food as normal and admirable. But this is getting out of hand. Busses are not built for the Rubenesque. If I am sitting and there is a seat between me and the next person on the bus, most patrons can not fit in that single seat. This does not stop them from trying. This morning, I sat on a seat next to a wall. The seat on the other side was unoccupied. A large woman came on the bus, and I saw right away where she was headed. She wriggled and squeezed her fat ass on the seat, forcing me to turn my body and give up 1/4 of my seat if I didn't want her sitting in my lap. I took out my iPhone to load up a new podcast, and I could not have put it back in my pocket without literally lifting her thigh flab off of my leg. I was cramped, uncomfortable, and disgusted. Airlines have started charging the overly overweight for a second seat, and I don't think it's out of line to consider similar behavior on busses. Obviously Metro can't enact anything, but have a little courtesy, people! And as if to rub it in my face, Metro doesn't enforce their "no eating or drinking on the bus" rule, so I'm constantly watching people cram fast food into their faces while they ride. Today I saw a woman drinking coffee creamer straight from the little cups at McDonald's. She must have downed half a dozen of them in the short time I was watching. Seriously, people, put down the burger and make an effort to take a little care of yourself. If not for your sake, then for the sake of people around you.

4. No one cares what you have to say. Please put down the phones, and keep conversation with the friends riding with you at a polite volume. The bus is loud, but there's no need to scream at the top of your lungs. If I can hear every word your saying from 7 rows away, the person next to you (or on the other end of that call) can hear you just fine. An observation (not a judgement): People, especially women, who speak in a foreign language speak it at least 5 times louder than everyone else on the bus.

5. "Please use rear exit" means "Please use rear exit." There are signs and announcements everywhere on the bus imploring people to use the rear exit. And yet, about half of the people at any given stop will march up and push their way out the front of the bus. The rule is there for a reason- People are entering at the front door. If they have to wait for you to get off, that holds up everyone. This will often cause a bus to miss a green light that it normally would have made. Congratulations, you just made a busload of people late because you couldn't follow instructions. (Note: This complaint doesn't apply to bike riders who are supposed to exit at the front so the driver knows not to run over them when they go to take their bike off the rack). Similarly, when buses are standing room only, the first place to fill up is the well by the rear door. This may put you out of the aisle, but it also blocks the rear door, forcing everyone to push and squeeze past you to exit. Again, courtesy, people.

So, thanks for bearing with me while I vent a bit. There are other pet peeves I have (people who pay to ride the bus for two blocks, people who "hail" the bus as if it were a taxi, people who wait 30 minutes for a bus only to not have their fare ready when it pulls up), but like I said, I mostly enjoy taking public transportation. It's cheaper than gas, and I get to be all smug about my carbon footprint. See you on the rails!


1 comment:

  1. Glad to see public transportation is just as terrible in LA as it is in Atlanta.