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!