Sunday, May 16, 2010

Valley Metro Service vs. Over the Hill (or Slave to Oil)

As mentioned previously, Thursday and Friday last week involved my heading over the hill to the Century City then Beverly Hills region of Los Angeles for some film press coverage (said coverage that has so far taken me three hours to transcribe fifteen minutes of Q & A, but I digress). What I discovered is that as long as I have music, a book, paper, and a pen, I am fine with taking time to get where I need to go, even if it takes much longer than use of a vehicle. However, I had it kind of hammered into me as to why some people in the Valley choose to have a car over taking a part in public transit. While over-the-hill may have a lot more surface street traffic at odd times of the day than the Valley, there is one thing that it does have that the Valley would find far more valuable: more transit, more often.

Getting where I needed to go took just under two hours, with traffic. Getting home, however, took two and a half hours, without traffic. The buses over the hill came so often that there was no need for a timetable. Back in the Valley though, the longest wait involved the 165 heading west from Vanowen and Van Nuys. I must have waited about thirty minutes, because I got through a good portion of Coraline on my iPod nano. Not only was that ridiculous, but... well, I'm just going to leave it at ridiculous. Because ridiculous it was.

In talking with my friends yesterday (and riling up my feelings about it all), I am still lacking understanding in how the Valley is left with such poor service when we have as many people if not more as over the hill? Especially when you consider the amount of residential space and that perhaps it would be nice to get home under an hour at 10:00 pm, or even make it twenty blocks without having to wait a full thirty minutes for the metal contraption that will take you there. What about the West Valley? The Orange Line ends at Canoga station, just before the Westfield Topanga Mall - a mall that conveniently caters to just cars. There is no pedestrian pathway to the mall. In order to walk to any of the stores, no matter where you enter, you must walk through a parking lot. How's that for safe? In addition, there is no bike lane and no bus that won't take less than 20 minutes of your time to wait for it to arrive. So even trying to get there in a greener sense will probably make your temper burn a slight red.

I realize that I'm going off on a rant and ramble here but the issue runs mighty deep. In another example, I used to go to Los Angeles Pierce College and every night that I got out of class at 9:45pm, I had to wait an hour for the next (and last) bus of the night. It was the only option, considering the bus that ran parallel to the street I actually lived on would have stopped service about an hour and a half prior. Spring nights weren't so bad, since they meant breezy rides on my bicycle. But the winter nights were plenty irksome and uncomfortable at times, waiting in the cold.

I'm just saying, if people with cars work weird shifts or go to night school or need to make a late night run to a CVS or whatever the case may be, isn't it at all possible that people without a car might need to do so as well? "That's the way things are" doesn't cut it any more, neither does "Well if you don't like it, get a car." Forget that nonsense. Any bustling city's inhabitants should be able to span its distance with little problem or fuss. It should be a given. I hate pulling this card, but what else are our taxes going to that is making this a relative impossibility? What will it take for the car to be an option, and not something you'd be lost without?


  1. You are absolutely right to be upset. Maybe, with the various activist bicycle groups springing up, we'll finally be able to get some people into positions of power who can and will do something about the situation (and at the same time, maybe we'll be able to get rid of the people in positions of power who just can't seem to get anything done). Meanwhile, lead the charge.

  2. Hmm. Your comment just sparked a whole new level of interest in perhaps a career motive. Might as well try on any level possible, and find out more info. I couldn't think of a better group of people to be involved with.