Announcing Off Peak — a podcast about getting there in L.A. County

A four-part, story-driven podcast, unearths the rich history of transportation in Los Angeles and gives us clues about its future. The most recent episode is posted above. 

Did you know that bus operators occasionally get lost? Also, that they are all freaked out beyond belief on their first day? And sooner or later (usually later, thank goodness), they have seen at least one naked person while on the job?

Metro is trying something new. We are kicking off a mini-season of a podcast called Off Peak. Off Peak explores the secret histories and rarely-told tales about getting around the Los Angeles area.

In this first episode we interviewed bus operators about the things they experience that mere mortals like us never get to see. We talk with Jack Bailey, who retired after 65 years (65!) on the job. In fact, when he started back in the early 1960s he actually spent a few years behind the wheel of a streetcar, except of course streetcars didn’t have steering wheels.

We hear from Leilia Bailey (no relation to Jack) who spent 20 years with RTD and moving all the way up to director of transportation. When she started in 1971, Leilia was the first woman operator hired — until then, the agency had a decades-old unofficial men-only policy. And, as you might guess, not everyone was thrilled to see a woman captaining their bus.

We also talk with Metro’s Steve Rank and Bob Holland, who have moved up to management, but started out as bus operators and have never forgotten certain shoeless drivers and pint-sized passengers.

And, of course, we hear from operators in the trenches now, like Cesar Valle and Vorice Lombard, whose grace and humor through some tricky situations remind us that there’s a lot more to navigating a bus than being a good driver — although that certainly helps.

There are so many fascinating stories in the past and present in Southern California that go well beyond cars, congestion and Sig alerts. Off Peak’s mission is to bring you a little closer to the people and experiences that are part of our region’s mobility story.

Episodes will be released every other Friday for the next two months. Please subscribe and like us on iTunes if you do, so others can find us and we can keep bringing you these stories.

Off Peak is produced by The Glue for Metro. 

Subscribe now on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, Stitcher, Pocket Cast or your favorite podcast catcher!