…people always think it’s way too complicated or problematic or what have you until they TRY it.
This LA Times story on how mass transit ridership is starting to perk up more in the face of gas prices and, in some cases, increasing traffic delays — very, very slowly perking up, but even so — contains further anecdotal evidence of the fact. I have to remind myself more than once that I am coming from a much different position than a lot of people — I’m not switching from using a car to going it on a bus or the like, I’ve always done the latter. It’s my baseline, not something to investigate.
I’m pleased that it’s starting to happen more often, of course; at the same time I have to sigh — loudly — at some of the attitudes expressed in the story from various people interviewed (and, to an extent, the author). For instance:
She thought about it for four years. She wanted to try it, but kept balking at the last minute.
“I was scared,” says Francine Choi, a Los Angeles county employee who lives in Long Beach. “I was worried I’d get mugged.” And then a couple months ago, filling her BMW at a Chevron near work, she gasped when she saw the total pass $60. Then and there, she summoned the courage to do it at last.
Choi rode the Metro Blue Line to work the next day.
[Sykes] loves being able to read the paper and doesn’t mind having to park farther away, with all the new riders. In fact, she is elated that she lost 10 pounds walking about three miles a day to and from her stations. And the broader spectrum of riders reduces the perception some have that the train is full of gangbangers and homeless people.
Attorney Susan Seager started taking mass transit from South Pasadena to Century City. She walks to the Gold Line train, takes it Union Station, where she jumps on LADOT Commuter Express to work. “The seats are cushiony and soft,” she says “There are no homeless people. There are no screaming children.”
Brooding about the implicit class and race-based comments in evidence here could whip me up into a righteous fury if I felt like it. Another time, perhaps, but to say I’m profoundly irritated understates, and there’s more I could say about the division between ridiculously overaccesorized vehicles as private expressions of luxury vs. the seeming ‘poverty’ of mass transit in turn. If as much money had been spent on mass transit in the whole basin area as had been spent on SUVs — and the gas it took to power them — over the last two decades, things would look and be a lot different around here.
Meantime a story at the end of the article further underscores my original point in this piece, especially since it is an Orange County story:
Richard Covey, a school teacher as well, discovered an express bus from Laguna Hills to South Coast Plaza that delivers him within walking distance of his middle school in Santa Ana.
He started taking it late March — and kicks himself for not doing it sooner.
No need for me to pile on if he’s already doing the self-kicking — but it further illustrates this idea that, for so many, car transit isn’t simply an option but somehow seen as the sole approach to the exclusion of others. And that’s just not so, it just isn’t so.
Nearly everyone interviewed made the discoveries I took for granted from the start — you don’t have to worry about the road or being behind the wheel, you can use the time to reflect, work and relax, and you can simply just gain more in the way of quality of life. Are all the transit systems in this region perfect, do they cover every possible location? Of course not — would that they did, though. And if this is the spur to take care of just that, well then, bring it. It’s long overdue.