Saturday, August 13, 2005

Why I hate the Metro
The adventures of the Irrepressible Pansy Tham will return.

whether you like it or not...

I am one of the few people I know that actually commutes to work on public transportation. This is mostly due to the fact that the large corporation I work for has a deal where they will pay half the price of your bus pass, but will charge you to park. It's a carrot and stick deal, you see, and while I am personally averse to carrots, I am even more averse to sticks. So, I take the bus to work, and somtimes even on weekends to go out. That way I can go to Santa Monica without having to cope with trying to find a place to park or worry about moving the car every two hours.

I've had a long personal history with the Metro, at least through two major strikes, three name changes (do they think they're fooling us?), the construction of the subway (and subsequent destruction of parts of Hollywood), and the addition of the new "Rapid" buses.

The Metro has been working my nerves during this long history. They cancelled a line that I really liked that ran along San Vicente Boulevard (very scenic) that. admittedly may have been there solely so servants who worked in the big houses in Brentwood and Santa Monica had a way to work. It was usually me and about 25 women who were obviously cleaning women ar nannies. It was also one of the few busses that actually ran during the first transit strike I lived through in LA. I'm sure the fact that the then-mayor live in Brentwood had nothing, nothing at all to do with that.

Then they added the "Rapid" bus. They started out with Ventura Boulevard, which had no affect upon me, and on Wilshire, which did. "Rapid" buses make very few stops. The idea is that you get on in Whittier and make only about four stops before you get off in Santa Monica. Which is nice if you live in Whittier and crave a trip to the beach. The "Rapid" buses were fine for a while, but then the fine people at Metro came up with the bright idea to seperate each "Rapid" stop from it's lesser (and now a lot less frequent) local bus by putting it on the other side of the intersection. This means that commuters enjoy that wonderful Murphy's law effect on Wilshire. For instance, say I want to go to Santa Monica. I can either wait on one corner to see if the red ("Rapid") but I see way down Wilshire is A) stuffed to the gills or B) only going to Westwood, or C) both, or I can wait for a few years on the other corner to see if the orange (local) bus coming is actually going to Santa Monica, or just to Westwood. Invariably, after waiting long enough on one corner to need a haircut, I will switch to the other corner: the buses, who have clearly been in hiding will then release the gaggle of buses that I had been previously awaiting, which will pass me by, radioing any bus scheduled to stop at the stop I'm at that they should divert to Idaho until further notice.

I suppose there is some MBA in the Metro management that came up with this idea (most likely when he was driving into work in his Lexus), astounded by his own brilliance. I think he should be sentenced to having to commute from Covina on local buses only. It's almost as if the Metro's attitude is "If you live on the westside and don't have a car, you're too much of a loser to leave your neighborhood"

In any case, the Metro people are really enamored of these "Rapid" buses. Looking at the timetables, I can't see that they are doing much in the way of saving time for anyone but the drivers, finally giving them a green-light to gleefully pass up people who only want to get anywhere. They've been expanding the number of "Rapid" lines exponentially over the years, until last month when they finally hit me where I live: The Beverly Boulevard Bus has now been "Rapid"ed.

Previously, I could stumble out of my shower, get to the corner with the sure and certain knowledge that there will be at least three buses that will get me downtown reasonably close to early for work. Now, thanks to the MTA, I have one. I suppose I could walk the two places that the "Rapid" would deign to stop for me, but adding a half-hour walk onto my morning commute past 5 local stops makes as much sense as parking in Koreatown and walking the rest of the way. Plus it ensures that the one local bus that does come along is so choked with people by the time it hits downtown that it makes getting off the bus as easy as trying to extricate the middle anchovy from the can. Without opening it.

Personally, I think it's a plot. The car companies are behind it. They clearly want you to buy a car. Any car. And drive it everywhere

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