Why I Ride: Jody Litvak, Community Relations Manager

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Jody Litvak
Position: Community Relations Manager

How often do you take transit?

It depends.  My job requires me to be out in the community and sometimes I just have to drive if I’ve got a lot of back to back meetings.  But I’m especially grumpy if I have to drive more than 2 days a week.

What lines/routes?

You mean until the subway is built?  That’s an interesting question since they just discontinued what had been my regular Commuter Express bus.  I’m experimenting with a different Commuter Express route which takes a bit longer.  But, I live near UCLA so I actually have a lot of options coming from downtown. I can also take the Metro Purple Line and transfer to Metro’s 720/920 on Wilshire to Westwood Village. I can find a way to get home from there.

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

Let’s just say not yet.  It’s something to aspire to.

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I should walk more but that’s really about fitness.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Of course.  It informs what I do every single day.

Why do you love transit?

I’m about to have two kids in college so saving money is my top reason at the moment. But I think my time on transit is usually more productive than when I’m driving.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Here is a story about my husband who is not a transit guy.  One day, out of the blue, after our oldest left for college, he commented that perhaps we really only needed one car since I take transit so often and we’re not far from the Zip Car locations at UCLA.  First, I looked closely to make sure he hadn’t been abducted by aliens.  Then I realized that there may be hope for him yet.

Why I Ride: Doug Goodwin, Web Developer

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Doug Goodwin
Position: Web Developer

How often do you take transit?

5.5 days per week.

What lines/routes?

Gold line, Red line and Rapid 704 (express to the beach).

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

Nope. I need my truck to keep my house repaired.

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I love my folding bike.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Hmm, important? I think of it more as a great perk.

Why do you love transit?

As Amtrak used to remind us, ‘There’s something about a train…’

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Give me NextBus if you really want me to give up my car!

Why I Ride: Elizabeth Bain, Senior Designer

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Elizabeth Bain
Position: Senior Designer, Creative Services

How often do you take transit?

Almost daily.

What lines/routes?

Metrolink – Ventura, Antelope Valley, Burbank Airport and sometimes Amtrak. When I’m downtown I use Metro Rail (Red Line and Gold Line) and the Dash.

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

No. I live on a hill away from stores, etc. I have to do errands and see art. I have to take a car to the rail station.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Yes. Absolutely. We need to know how things work, who is riding and what they like and/or dislike about their ride.

Why do you love transit?

It’s fast. My commute is 10 carefree minutes. I get some exercise walking.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

I go all over LA. I’d use transit more often if the connections between bus and rail were better and some lines were safer. As more lines are built, we’ll be able to go all over the city easily and faster.

Why I Ride: Steve Jaffe, Finance Manager

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Steve Jaffe
Position: Finance Manager, Office of Management and Budget

How often do you take transit?

Five days a week to and from work.

What lines/routes?

Most days I walk from home toward the closest bus stop for Route 156. If I get to the stop more than 5 minutes before the bus is due, I continue walking to the intersection near the Orange Line Valley College Station, where I board whichever of the 156, 902 or Orange Line buses arrive first, then ride to North Hollywood Station. Then it’s the Red Line to Union Station and work.

Most days the trip home is the reverse order. However I frequently exit the red Line at Universal City Station and ride a Metro rapid westbound on Ventura to meet my wife for dinner.

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

I am not car free yet because there are places I like to go that are less convenient by bus. For example, I am an avid golfer. My equipment is heavy and bulky, and lots of golf courses not easily accessible by transit. I am also a weekend chauffeur and errand runner. If I had to, I could find businesses on transit routes, and make more and smaller shopping trips, but those things are easier with a car.

What is your job at Metro?

My job involves spending days at a time looking at spreadsheets and data about Metro.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Personal experience as a transit rider is not essential to my work in the Office of Management and Budget, although I think using the product informs my decision making. I have a regular group of friends from my morning commute, who are more than happy to share their experiences and opinions about our service. Riding with and hearing from them is a constant reminder that our job is about public service.

Why do you love transit?

As a child I was fascinated by anything with wheels. My parents have pictures of my brother and I as young kids. In one picture of my brother in our back yard, he is surrounded with every kind of ball and sports equipment. In a similar picture of me, I am surrounded by every kind of toy car, truck, bus or plane.

As a teenager, I would ride RTD buses from my home in Monterey Park, and transfer in Downtown LA to 424 or 425 bus to spend weekends with friends who lived in Tarzan and Woodland Hills. I loved the independence. I loved people watching. I loved the adventure.

As an adult, I have chosen a career in transit. Frankly I can bore the heck out of any of my friends who make the mistake of asking me about transit. I ride to save money, hassles from traffic, and maybe (overly dramatic) the planet.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Introducing friends and family to transit can be tricky.  In my experience, it works best when you make it fun and social.

Why I Ride: Timothy Porter, Gold Line Maintenance Supervisor

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Timothy Porter
Position: Gold Line Maintenance Supervisor

How often do you take transit?

Tuesday through Saturday.

What lines/routes?

I ride Metrolink from Rialto to Union Station and ride a Gold Line train from Union Station to the Gold Line rail yard along the L.A. river, just east of Chinatown.

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

I drive a GMC Yukon back and forth from my home in Bloomington to the Rialto Metrolink station (about 3.5 miles). Unfortunately, if one of my tenants has a problem, they won’t let me take my ladder and tools on the bus.

What is your job at Metro?

I work 3rd shift as the maintenance supervisor at the Metro Gold Line

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Riding the Metro trains gives me the opportunity to talk to the operators, get feedback on how well we are serving their needs, and it gives me the chance to see how our riding patrons are enjoying the ride. I can also feel the ride quality, see if we are meeting goals for cleanliness, and develop action plans for correcting or improving our performance.

Why do you love transit?

The up side is that riding the train in to and out of L.A. takes all the stress out of the commute. The only down side is that on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I’m stuck in L.A. until the first Metrolink train rolls out, Saturday at 7am and Sunday at 9am. Despite the small disadvantage, it still beats driving.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

I met a really interesting fellow on the morning Metrolink train. He is a special-needs patron and he is a walking, talking transit schedule library. Whenever another patron has a question about how to get somewhere using transit, he can tell the person at which station to debark, which line to take and at what time it arrives, where to transfer, if applicable, and so on. He innately knows the schedules for Metro, Omni, Torrance, Montebello and Foothill. He himself is car-free by necessity, but he copes by riding his bicycle everywhere, or taking his bike on whatever transit will permit it.

Why I Ride: Marc Littman, Public Relations

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Marc Littman
Position: Public Relations Manager

How often do you take transit?

Every weekday I ride the bus and subway to work and back. I often take my special needs son riding Metro on weekends to familiarize him with public transit.

What lines/routes?

I mostly take an LADOT Commuter Express Bus from the SF Valley and transfer to the subway downtown. Sometimes coming home I take the subway to the Orange Line and transfer to the Metro 734 or 234 and the 158.

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

I do have an older car. I need one because of my son and the need to quickly access medical care.

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I walk a lot.

What is your job at Metro?

I manage the Public Relations Department but I have been a frequent bus rider in Los Angeles for more than 40 years. I also am a lifelong member of the Sierra Club so reducing my carbon footprint matches my personal philosophy of safeguarding the environment.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Sure. When I worked in PR at Magic Mountain I rode the roller coasters even though they scared the heck out of me because how can you promote a product or service if you don’t use it?

Why do you love transit?

I love dozing off on the bus after a hard day at work so I can catch a few zzzz’s before my Blackberry rouses me.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Often if you are a regular rider, you meet the same people everyday on your commute and enjoy their camaraderie. It’s also great to save money on gas and other driving expenses. I only buy a car once every 10 years or longer.

Why I Ride: Nathan Baird, Bike Program Intern

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Nathan Baird
Position: Bike Program Intern

How often do you take transit?

Six to seven days a week.

What lines/routes?

The Gold Line the most often, but also the Red Line. When I was in school, the Silver Line & the 184/190 at least two days a week (out to Cal Poly Pomona). As a Pasadena resident, I frequently take advantage of the 780 Rapid to get to Glendale, Griffith Park, and Hollywood adjacent destinations. I also take Metrolink now and then. Occasionally I even take the 460 to visit my grandparents in Anaheim.

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

I got rid of my car in November 2006. Almost four years later, I’ve put myself through graduate school with the savings, had a lot more time to read, and have been a much happier person due to not having to deal with a daily car commute and all its hassles.

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I work with the Metro Bike Program, so I’m obviously a big fan of bike-transit integration: taking my bike with me on rail and buses, parking my bike at stations and stops, etc.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Yes. It’s incredibly important to understanding how Metro policies work in everyday life.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Here’s one quick tip: the new Metro bike maps includes Rapid Bus route info. They’re marked with a dashed gray line and a number indicating the line number.

Why I Ride: Zipporah Yamamoto, Public Arts Officer

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Zipporah Yamamoto
Position: Senior Public Arts Officer, Creative Services

How often do you take transit?

Almost every day. I rarely drive unless I expect a late day at work.

If so, what lines/routes?

I either take the LADOT Commuter Express 438 to the Metro Red or Purple Lines.

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

My husband and I both drive cars because the places we need to go are not accessible by public transportation, or because public transportation just takes too long to get to the places we need to go. I would love to see us become a one car family in the future if public transit grows to become a reliable option for our daily needs.

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I carpool with my husband on days when our schedules line up. He teaches at a community college so his schedule changes with the semesters. I enjoy carpooling because it gives us a chance to catch up and spend time with one another. Sometimes we take advantage of carpooling and go out to dinner or run errands together on our way home.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

I do. Riding Metro on a daily basis puts me in touch with the overall customer experience and gives me a deeper understanding of the unique context in which our art program exists.

Why do you love transit?

I love people watching, the high energy context of big city transit, and the time and space to reflect and unwind at the end of the day before I get home so I can be more present with my family when I arrive at my home.

Why I Ride: Dennis Lytton, Train Controller

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: Dennis Lytton
Position: Train Controller, Rail Operations Control Center (aka the ROC)

How often do you take transit?

About four days a week.

If so, what lines/routes?

I take the Red, Purple, and Blue Lines regularly to work (from Hollywood to Blue/Green Imperial Wilmington Station).  Sometimes I take other Metro bus routes, Amtrak and Metrolink.  And I use the Gold Line to go to my UCLA football games.  I’m a season ticket holder, Go Bruins!

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

Not quite car-free, though my coworkers would tell you that I just barely own a car.  I own a SmartCar, the smallest car in America (about 40 miles-per-gallon).  I drive it to work about one day a week or less and use if for errands around LA.  It’s great.  I only buy a tank of gas about once a month.  I also have a 1986 Honda Elite scooter. 80cc engine, 80 miles-per-gallon of zipping around LA fun!

Do you use any other alternative transportation (bicycle, rideshare, etc)?

I own a bicycle that I use for recreation and errands around Hollywood.  Cycling around Griffith Park and riding over the top of the Hollywood Hills through Laurel or Runyon Canyons to the Orange Line bike path from Hollywood are great workouts.  I’d love to cycle to work, but at nearly 19 miles it would be a bit arduous.  If I worked closer to home, such as Downtown or at Division 7 in West Hollywood, I’d definitely ride my bike to work.

What is your job at Metro?

I’m a Rail Transit Operations Supervisor.  I supervise the Metro Rail system from ROC and also in the field.  ROC looks kind of like air traffic control, but way cooler because it’s our trains.  And I take our trains to work, ironic, I know.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

It definitely helps me understand what riders on Metro Rail and Bus go through by being a passenger.  I was also a regular passenger for many years before I worked at Metro.

Why do you love transit?

I’ve been a train geek since I was a kid.  I also like seeing how transit connects communities, from the suburbs like Orange County and the Inland Empire where I grew up to the heart of Los Angeles where’ve I’ve spent most of my adult life.  Hollywood and Downtown have really come alive in recent years with all the residential development and Metro is a big part of that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

The first time I took Metro was June of 1995.  I had just been accepted as a transfer from community college to UCLA and wanted to visit for the school for the day.  I took the Amtrak San Diegan from Santa Ana and the Red Line to where it ended at Westlake MacArthur Park.  I then took the 320 bus (no 720 back then) to UCLA.  It was quite an experience for me.  I would have never guessed that I’d ever work here!

Why I Ride: David Gutel, Operations Instructor

Why I Ride

Why I Ride‘ is a series where Metro employees share their transit routines – read more about the concept here.

Name: David Gutel
Position: Operations Instructor

How often do you take transit?

Five days a week, except for an occasional day when my wife lets me have the car (every 5 or 6 weeks).

If so, what lines/routes?

I live in Westminster and I report to work at Operations Central Instruction and Improvement (OCI) every morning at 6am. Either my wife or one of my boys drives me to the Wardlow station to catch the Blue Line train at 4:32am. It arrives at the 7th Street Metro Center Station at 5:09 and is usually on time. I then catch a Red or Purple train across town to Union Station and walk across the street to report to work. I love my job so it is no hardship for me (don’t ask my wife or boys their opinion on driving me to the Blue Line).

Going home is very different. I generally leave work at 2pm, walk across the street to catch a Red or Purple train to connect with the Blue Line to go home. I then ride the Blue Line to the very end in downtown Long Beach. I then have a choice depending on what time I get to Long Beach: I can catch the Metro 577 from downtown Long Beach to CSULB to connect with the OCTA 60 that takes me within 100 yards of my home or I can pay $.35 for a transfer and catch the L.B. transit # 91, 92, 93, or 94 from downtown to CSULB to connect with the OCTA 60.

The OCTA 60 previously came to downtown L.B. but with their service cut-backs, they stop at the Veterans hospital. The connection to the 60 can be tight, so sometimes I have to wait 25 minutes for the next 60. I usually walk in the door at my home around 4:25 or 4:50. If I am really lucky, occasionally I can be home at 4.

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

We are a one car family. My wife and I share our car with our two teen-age boys as best we can.

What is your job at Metro?

I am an instructor at OCI, training Metro bus drivers.

Do you think being a regular Metro rider is important to your job?

Absolutely! As an instructor I tell all my students to go out and ride a bus after they have been here at OCI for a couple of weeks. You would be amazed at the number of bus drivers that have never ridden a bus as a passenger. It would definitely make them a better, more empathetic driver if they ever did. As an instructor that rides buses regularly, I see both good and bad driving; habits that drivers have learned, both good and bad. That helps me as an instructor.

Why do you love transit?

I don’t fight traffic, saves on fuel, car repairs, etc. I read, sleep, balance my checkbook, play sudoku, or just watch people on my way home (the Blue Line can be very entertaining).

Is there anything else you’d like to add (anecdote, advice, etc)?

Whenever my family grouses about sharing one car I politely (or not so politely) inform them that sharing one car is one reason we are (usually) a close- knit family. The day we, or my boys get a second or third car, and I know it’s not in the too distant future, we will not be as close as we are now. I will miss the cooperation that we share now.