Thursday, August 09, 2007

When riding a bus uneventful is good

Sometime very early Saturday morning a fuckhead sideswiped my car, breaking my car door handle on the driver's side and scratching the door very noticeably. The car is now in the body shop getting repaired, I'm out $500 plus MTA day passes for the week and now teeming with the masses on the public transportation system. Wednesday was day two:

The morning has already become routine. I wake up about 45 minutes earlier, which is a good thing, although in the end it's to get to work 5-10 minutes later. Efficiency where?

The stop at Overland is again black with dirt and smelly, but not quite as smelly. I recognize no one from yesterday morning. The 333 bus has more people on it as I'm forced to head to the back for a seat. I am so not Rosa Parks. As I'm riding toward Venice, a thought I had last night hits me again. The bus could be on the most perpetuating devices of our de facto caste system. How do people get ahead in a capitalist society? They show their bosses that they're willing to do more, would be one oversimplified though not without merit perspective. But when you've got a 7.5-mile commute that takes an hour and change, each way, how motivated are you to stay beyond your shift? Especially knowing that staying an extra 20 minutes might mean another hour added on to your ETA for home. The evening bus schedule is markedly less frequent. So in the end you punch out at your prescribed time just to catch the right bus to ensure that your commute home is just an hour for 8 miles. What the fuck? And why does the fucking bus riders union fight so hard to maintain that?

The 333 gets me to my connecting stop basically on time. I take special note to remember the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut on the SE corner of Venice and La Brea, so as not to repeat Tuesday's blunder.

As the 212 NB pulls to the stop, I face a choice that regular riders probably deal with regularly. Do I board a bus, which is techincally about six minutes earlier than the 312 NB I'm scheduled for, but that's jammed to the gills and will make every stop on La Brea or do I wait for the 312, which is coming six minutes later? I opt to wait. I just didn't want to teem upstream, which I would have had to do to get on the freaking bus. On Tuesday the 312 was half full at best, I figure that I'm much safer.

I take the regularly scheduled 312. It's full enough that I have to stand for most of the trip. but otherwise it's cake.

On the return trip home, I'm once again rushed to leave the office by 6:50 to make sure I get to the Trader Joe's bus stop at 7:04. Had I not been bussing, I'd have stayed longer to edit two more stories. But I couldn't afford to miss that 7:04 bus, because I know that if I somehow miss that 7:22 Venice 33, I'm not getting home until almost 9 p.m.

The ride is easy. Bus 212 is pretty full as we head south on La Brea, but the 33 is wide open. The entire trip takes 60 minutes and I listen to the new Rilo Kiley songs on my iPod. No complaints. But inside I am still pissed. I want my fucking car. I work really hard for the convenience of commanding my work schedule. I want the freedom to stay late, be extra productive and get home promptly. This sucks. I have been less productive at work so far this week and generally kinda pissy. This really fucking sucks.

And the more I thought about this tonight the angrier I got at people fighting subway expansion. To really alleviate traffic and slash air pollution in this town we've got to get Westsiders off the roads. We're the ones with too many cars, too many SUVs and too much density (see streets like mine which are lined with apartment buildings so close you could high-five your neighbors in some instances). But we also work our asses off so that we don't have to be as goddamned inefficient as the bus--which takes 60 minutes to go what by car would be 25. Give us a motherfucking subway and I'll get off the road.

But this time, don't do a Red Line. Put parking at all the stops, not just the terminuses. I don't care how many lots and properties you need to sieze through eminent domain. But not providing parking will kill ridership. And don't get seduced by the discounted rates of light rail construction. The Gold Line has been a disappointment ridershipwise because it's not that fast. We need mass high-speed transit. Not light rails and busses.

OK, the one bit of great news. I got a call from the body shop this afternoon saying that my car would likely be ready Thursday 10 a.m., so the no-car challenge is coming to a welcome fucking premature end.

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