I have been taking public transit, specifically the Metro Red Line and Gold Line, for over a year now, and though I've had my run-in with some crazies ( oh, I mean crazy), I'd say it's been one of the greatest experiences of my time here in L.A. The term "hands free" has never been so pertinent. I've taken naps, read books and even wrote most of this article on the train.
So, I don't know if you've heard the news but the Metro Expo Line is scheduled to open in April. Throw the confetti and ring your cowbells with all of us won't you. The Bruin in me is raging that USC is so lucky to have a light rail line pass through its quarters; and towards the Westside nonetheless. Currently, the farthest any rail line travels is to Wilshire and Western, right in front of the Wiltern. And if you want to head over to the Westside, you'll need to take a bus. Now, you can go from USC all the way to Culver City. Pop the bubbly, hip hip hooray, let’s all eat cake! It’s been a long time coming.
We all know that when you live in Los Angeles, having a car is a must, but I can debate the fact that having to use it ALL the time just doesn't make economical sense. One word: Gas. Obvious, right? The most micro example is the idea that every time you start your car, money you have in your checking account is slowly being drained and siphoned straight to who knows where. That isn't the worse part, but it is something that affect me the most. If I zoom out from my own little world, the sociopolitical and economics of our dependence on oil is just astounding. I can't claim to know all the details. All I can claim is that I hear bad news about it every day.
Still, I keep hearing the ludicrous idea that no one in Los Angeles takes public transit. Ha! I bite my thumb at you and spit on the ground you walk on. And don't tell me that rich Trojans are too bourgeoisie to take public transit either. In reality, the advantages for time, money, energy, health and the environment (at least for me) beat the luxury of driving.
I admit, it's been a slow transition to building transportation infrastructure projects in Los Angeles. So far the regions that have it good are Downtown, Pasadena, Hollywood and now with the Expo Line, areas near Culver City. If you're in the Valley or the Westside, you're out of luck. Also, depending on where you live, a Metro Line might be too far to be worth it.
But it’s a step towards transitioning our car-dependent culture towards something more sustainable. The truth is, right now L.A. is car country; and you can blame the social dynamics of our parent's generation. Class and prestige was based on owning a house AND a car. It was the Don Draper-esque American dream. It was suburban sprawl. Instead of building up, they built outward. Places and people rapidly drifted further apart. Suddenly you had no choice but to have a car. But it wasn’t always this way. Long ago, there was the Pacific Electric Streetcar or “Red Car” (literally it was red) which was like the cousin of the San Francisco trolleys. They were all over L.A. However, the streetcar system was soon dismantled and put in its place - more freeways and parking structures. (There’s actually a conspiracy that the auto companies purchased the streetcar system, thus wielding the power to destroy them. Whether this is fact or fiction, you can’t deny the effect this has today.)
Many students around USC have seen train testing for weeks now, and it’s exciting to know that it may actually be happening. Not only can you step outside the insular bubble of USC, but you’re free to explore what L.A. has to offer, as most of the railway stops are within walking distance to popular destinations. Well, except the beach. This is in the works however.
But, the best part of using rail is not wasting time in traffic.
Yup, traffic can suck it!
For more information about the Expo Line, visit metro.net.