Photo by Thomas Hawk.

This morning I did something completely ordinary and mundane that somehow made me feel special and unique: I took public transportation to work.

Now, in most major urban centers, taking the bus or train to work is common practice. Los Angeles is not like most major cities. Most people have their own cars, so public transportation is generally relegated to the license-less. There's even a stigma associated with riding the bus. When I mentioned to some co-workers that I was considering taking the bus and subway to work, the most common response was "why in the world would you want to do that?"

REASON #1 - MONEY: As I filled up my gas tank for $3.70/gallon yesterday, I was reminded just how expensive it is to drive these days. The average price of regular gas in L.A. today is $3.78. That's up from $3.30 a year ago, and 17 cents more than just a month ago. My commute is 17.2 miles round trip, and even though my little Honda Civic gets anywhere from 28-35 miles/gallon, my gas costs per day are at least $2.25. Add in car maintenance and insurance, and the driving cost per day is anywhere from $6.15 to $14.75 (see AAA's 2008 driving costs). An unlimited day pass for the L.A. Metro is $5. A monthly pass is $62. You do the math.

Photo by vgm8383.

REASON #2 - CONVENIENCE: My bus stop is less than a half-block from my apartment.The Universal City Metro stop (red line) is actually closer to my office than the garage I'm required to park in. How's that for irony? Taking the Metro actually requires less walking than driving myself. It only took 25 minutes to get from point to point, which is slightly longer than my morning commute usually takes, but significantly less than the hour or more I spend driving myself home.

REASON #3 - FEELING SUPERIOR: Wanna get in good with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio? Going green is all the rage these days, haven't you heard? While I'm still holding out to spot Leo at the Vermont and Santa Monica Metro station, it's true that our little planet needs some TLC, and every car we get off the road helps. Plus, you can feel good about helping fund a public works project that makes Los Angeles a better place to live.

REASON #4 - LOOKING AT SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE ROAD In my opinion, this is the best reason to ride the Metro instead of driving. On the bus and train, I can use my eyes to look at anything I please, whether it be a book, a video on my iPhone, or that hot guy across the way. When I drive my car, this is all I see:

Photo by The Infamous Gdub.

The most conspicuous thing about taking the Metro today was how empty it was. My bus had about 10 people on it. The train's seats were mostly full, but it was by no means crowded. And this was rush hour. The whole experience was very easy, quick, convenient, and stress-free.

Go Metro!


g_12 said...

It's a good idea, but if everyone does it, you have London and hell. What you need is to get rid of two of those lanes, one each way, and put an overground, air-conditioned and clean rapid transit system in. Pay for it by taxing the hell out of motorists. Hmmm.

Not Goth said...

I live in Redondo and work in Venice - you'd think there was an easy way to get from one beach city 16 miles down the coast to the other right? No. They suggest (metro.net) that I take a bus to downtown LA (thereby going in land and off route) and then back down to Venice.

Sadly I will not be taking the bus anytime soon. I did take it for the first 2 years I lived in LA when I was license-less and it was totally fine aside from grocery shopping and at night.

I am lucky (?!) that my boyf and I work at the same place and do the same hours so we carpool.. I guess that is one less car on the road right?

cindylu said...

One thing I often see left out of these "take the bus/metro" and save money posts is the cost of parking. If I drove to school/work, I'd have to pay about $60 a month (with a permit) or $8 for a day pass. I pay a quarter each way on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, the subsidized student rate. I've found that I've saved a lot of money on filling up less and not buying parking permits. My only gripe is that it takes bit longer 'cause the bus takes the busy route to UCLA.

-K said...

not goth - you totally get points for carpooling, and you get extra points for working with your boy!

cindy - I'm totally going to take the bus to work one of these days, maybe next week. Now I just have to decide whether to head west on Santa Monica, Olympic or Pico?? They are all pretty evil. I find it hard to believe that they will make my 6 mile commute longer than the 45 minutes I spend in my car.

panda525 said...

karma points scored, leo will be proud. once i have a job again, i'll be all about commuter rail.
now, tell me more about the cute boy sitting across the way...