Why You Ride: J.E., East San Gabriel Valley

Why You Ride (or Don’t Ride)‘ is a series where you, our faithful readers, share your transportation routines in L.A. and your thoughts on how to make things better – read more about the concept here.

Want to share your story? Take the survey here if you ride transit regularly, or take this one if you don’t ride.

Who You Are:

Name: J.E.
Occupation: College student
Location: East San Gabriel Valley

Your Transit Routine:

How often do you take transit and for what purpose?

Commuting to school, visiting places west of the San Gabriel Valley for recreation.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

My commute is Azusa to UCLA.  Sometimes I visit places like Downtown L.A., Chinatown, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, etc. just to walk around somewhere interesting.

What lines/routes do you take?

Foothill Transit 492. Metro 190, 720, 920, 761, Silver Line, Purple Line, Red Line and more.

How long does it typically take?

Commuting to and from UCLA takes 2.5 to 3 hours one way, but in evening rush hour this is sometimes comparable to taking a car.  Just getting from East San Gabriel Valley to the eastern terminus of the Silver Line at El Monte Station takes about 45 minutes – add on time to that if I intend to go anywhere in the city of L.A.

Briefly, how would you describe your typical transit experience? Love it, deal with it, or hate it?

I deal with it.

On average, what do you spend each month on transportation?

Less than $50

Why do you take transit?

My home in a mobile home park has only one parking space which is occupied by my mother’s car, so I need my own way of getting around if I need to go far, or somewhere that I can’t share a ride with her.

L.A. traffic is terrible enough that when going to the Westside (by the way: to many San Gabriel Valley people, that means anywhere west of Downtown L.A.), transit and car are often comparable in terms of time.

UCLA vanpools do not fit my schedule since their last return trip leaves campus too early in the afternoon, and housing options in Westwood are extremely expensive compared to living out here.

I also value the environment and believe that more people should try to take transit and cut their consumption in general.

Other Transportation:

Do you use any other forms of alternative transportation?

I share rides with others when we’re headed to the same point.  I try to walk to places within a couple miles of my home.  I confess that I’m leery of using bikes around here – there’s no bike lanes, and I almost never see women riding on the street.

Are you car-free? If so, why? If not, why not?

I don’t have a car, so I suppose I’m car-free.  I can’t afford a car, and I have no room for one here anyway.  But even later on I want to try to stay car-free for several reasons.  I feel safer riding transit, and pollution is so bad in L.A. that I don’t want to add to it.  I also really enjoy transit as the equivalent of freedom from the hassles of owning cars: the insurance, car payments, buying gas, accidents, etc.

Your Perspective:

If you could make one change to improve your transit experience, what would it be?

Sorry, I can’t choose just one change.  Building the Gold Line Foothill Extension will be very useful to those in my area, but more frequent bus service would also be helpful.  Most buses around here have no more than half hour frequency, and when buses just don’t show up at all or show up 20 minutes late, it throws off my whole carefully-planned sequence of transfers and makes me late for appointments.

Given limited funds, how would you address L.A.’s transportation issues?

More rail lines would help in that they have better frequency and reliability compared to buses.  Bus lanes are needed on the worst streets, like Wilshire.  It would be good to see developers build more mixed-use development around transit, but realistically, those new properties are usually for rich people and not for the likes of people who live where I live, even though we’re the ones who are most likely to use transit.

Do you think L.A. transit is better or worse since you started riding? What’s changed?

It’s pretty much the same.

How would you encourage Angelenos to use transit?

Improving frequency and reliability would definitely help transit’s public image.

Something needs to be done about the problem where it takes an hour to get somewhere with transit compared to taking only 15 minutes using a car.  I don’t know how to fix that short of adding more bus lines.

Metro ought to launch public campaigns touting the safety and convenience of taking the bus.  I met classmates at UCLA who had never taken the bus in their lives because they perceived it as somehow dangerous and confusing.  I think ad campaigns on TV and online that highlight individual bus routes would be informative to a lot of people who aren’t used to transit and don’t know anything about the transit options in their neighborhood.

Lastly, I think there’s a lot of people who have never taken transit because they think it’s for poor people only, and I don’t know how to reach them.  As long as L.A. remains a place segregated in class and race, I think there will always be a lot of people who feel contempt at the idea of lowering themselves to take the bus with the riff-raff.  Fortunately, those people are still in the minority overall.

3 replies

  1. Public transportation in E SG valley is so terrible. I think it is miracle that people can commute from Azusa to UCLA in less than 3 hours.
    Understand foothill transit is the one that provide the bus service. MTA is not likely to supplment the service. foothill has less budget. therefore, we cannot expect much from Foothill. Even when RTD was in control, E SG valley was like island without bridge.
    I don’t know what determines the jurisdiction. MTA kept shedding the servicer to foothill. The replacement routes are even worst than MTA (and MTA bus routes are not much better).
    Goldline foothill extension is nice but only if there is good bus connection. The problem is too much money is spent on the rail, I do not expect to see better local bus connection to facilitate the goldline foothill extension
    I don’t think it is seterotype that only poor people take buses. The bus system is so terrible only people who have no choice take buses
    Common, trains are fantastic, but you need cars to get to train station. buses are running late all the time. They don’t go anywhere. The freq is very low. It could ruin people life by taking transit.
    The apartments in Pasade/Sierra Madre stations, but they are too nice/cozy that only rich people can stay. I wander how many of them take rail/buses. I know a person who lives there drive to work. that person prefers to take transit, but transits don’t go anywhere.
    I don’t know what politicians are thinking
    They ar celebrating railway building, but they are cutting the bus services that connect to rail. Rails don’t een go that far.
    Steve Hymen and other Metro staff have indicate the lux property along the rail line. Who can afford to live in those preoperties? The people who could afford to live in lux apartment, do they use public transit? even if they want to? Could the public transit take them many places in LA
    MTA, transit agencies, and politicians are outr of touch

  2. Bus headways of 30 minutes or more are a pain. Inevitably you arrive at the stop when the bus is leaving and the next bus doesn’t arrive for some reason. Now you’ll be waiting for at least an hour. I think Metro should make a goal of 15-20 min headways on all the lines. If the demand isn’t there at all hours, perhaps using mini-buses will bring down operating costs.

  3. I believe the cost of a smaller bus would still be comparable (still have to pay a driver, still have similar wear/tear, slightly less fuel perhaps).

    It’s a drawback of living so far out there.