Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sayonara, Metro

So it's not exactly news, but I'm going to soon be purchasing a car. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been saying so for a few years, but I've been seriously shopping in the last week or so. Most of this is year/price-comparison and insurance-quote-comparison, but I'm thinking in the next month or two to have a set of four wheels at my disposal.

Friends have joked that at that time I should change my Twitter account from CarlessValGirl to something more fitting.

I've been taking public transportation on and off for about five years. Within that five-year period it has been workable. However, the last six to eight months have definitely been far from pleasant. From buses that don't arrive on time to buses that don't arrive at all, to having to deal with wonky Sunday schedules and even weekday schedules that aren't conducive to having much of a life, it's gotten to be a bit of a thorn in my side having to fight with Metro day-to-day. Predictable commutes are one thing, and taking the Orange, Red, and Blue (etc.) lines are fine in and of themselves. The Rapid buses aren't a problem, either. Rather, it is the local bus system that is making it an inconvenience to get around in LA. Since I live in the relative suburbs of Los Angeles and not over the hill... well let's just say I'm in the market for something a bit more practical in making spontaneous jaunts as well as fixed.

Now, monetarily, going Metro is probably a good idea right now. Even more so, riding my bicycle is probably a lot easier on the wallet. I don't intend on giving either mode of transportation up, at least not my bicycle. Don't believe me? I don't think I ever shared the story of the few times I've house-sat for my folks for a couple of weeks. They let me borrow one of their vehicles so I could get to their house, my house, work, school and wherever else. It was great. But after about three days I kinda went stir-crazy. I felt like I was zooming in a capsule without feeling the air on my face. I actually panicked. It actually sunk my mood to such a low degree that I rode my bicycle into work the next few days, came home, and drove the car to their house. I have a feeling that when it comes to some local things I will make full use of my bicycle. For recreation, for here-and-there things. But if I have to run around town? It would be nice to have a car. Trends in the availability of the local bus arrivals, etc., have driven this point home more than ever expected.

Bicycling is as much a part of who I am as anything else, so I won't be giving that up. But as far as most other things go, it has been my view that it is only practical to go without a car in Los Angeles if you're at a place in your life where everything is centered and you're not looking to expand upon it. I'm twenty-five years old. Single. I'm not at that point and time yet.

Maybe I'm frustrated. Maybe I haven't explored all the options. But in this case, the car would be the option, not the sole everyday go-to. Tell me how many people in Los Angeles will tell you that.


  1. as a recent convert from about 2 years on my bike -- off cars completely except for an every-few months weekend rental -- i can're gonna love it!

    i moved from SF to San Jose -- San Jose has even worse walk/bike/transit infrastructure than SF -- and i hated my non-car life. now, with a car, the world is my oyster again. it's amazing. i love it. it's almost impossible to overstate the benefits of actually having access to a car in a car-dependent city.

  2. I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering when you were going to post again. I know you'll still be a cyclist first so just do what you gotta do.

    Thanks for updating us.


  3. Writing from the perspective of someone whose parents moved to the Valley when she entered high school; spent summers with them in the Val; had a temporary stint living with them between grad school and the acquisition of a full-time job:

    I wish to commend you for going car-free for as long as you did. There was a time (before I got "enlightened") when I asked for a car in the early 2000s because I was sick of getting heckled on sidewalks on the streets of Van Nuys. Last summer, though, when I came home between grad school and said job, I was car-lite. I commuted between home and my job at UCLA via kick scooter and the 761 (total commute time: 75-90 minutes). I rode my bike through summer heat up to 10 miles to see friends. And I borrowed a car from my parents to park 'n' ride occasionally.

    Going car-free or car-lite in a suburban area (even as urbanized as the SFV) takes commitment, whether you're rich or poor.

    I assume you saved a TON of money (and cut a lot of your carbon footprint) during the time you went car-free.

    It's a shame that carsharing isn't more prevalent in our area.

  4. It is too bad that you have to buy a car. Just make sure that you don't spend too much time locked up inside it.

  5. It's a shame Metro doesn't work and our city, county and fed doesn't truly support alternative transit. You're not really making a choice, in the suburbia in order to economically thrive you need a car. I also assume you'll be graduating from school soon. Looking for a job without a car in the economy is going to be hard. I'm doing a series called "there ought to be a law" that looks at the jobs in fields that most women have and the fact that many of them require car ownership even for the good jobs.

    Women are not supported in taking alt transit. Once you have children it will get even more difficult to not have a car. It's too bad.

    Good luck on your journey.

    Your case to me points out that truly it's not just about individuals. Alt transit needs to be supported and not just by positive attitudes by selective people who work for transit agencies or want to work for transit agencies. A smile doesn't make the bus show up.


  6. Thank you all for your comments. You raise some great points and sentiments, all of which I agree with. It's been an interesting journey and I'm still on it. It is absolutely ridiculous sometimes, and I'll admit it isn't always the fault of Metro. But let's just say that 80 percent out of 20 it is a fight more than a pleasure trip, which makes plunking down the cost of a monthly pass seem like a joke sometimes. I think it's time for a new chapter. Car lite instead of car free, 'car-less'. This parallel journey will be an interesting one.

    Again, thanks. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. :)