It’s your turn: tell us why YOU ride transit (or let us know why you don’t)

Why You Ride (or don't)We want to know:

For the last month we’ve been sharing stories of Metro employees who use transit to get to work in our ‘Why I Ride‘ series.

Now we want to hear your stories, and we’re just not looking to hear from regular transit riders – we want to hear from those of you who don’t ride as well.


In terms of sheer passengers, Los Angeles is number three in the nation when it comes to transit ridership (according to APTA), but the percentage of the overall population that rides is lower than many other cities. When it comes to commuting, according to U.S. Census data, in the L.A. metropolitan area about 7.2% of the working population uses transit to get to work. Compare that to 44% for New York City, 19.6% for San Francisco and 13% for Chicago.

Of course, these numbers don’t fully explain each region’s unique transportation history – such as the fact that L.A. spread out across its sprawling geography thanks, in part, to a massive urban streetcar system that was subsequently dismantled and replaced by a car and freeway culture that has reigned for the last 70 years. (Read more about L.A.’s transit history by visiting the Metro Library’s web page.)

Attentive readers know that urban rail of any kind was completely absent from the Los Angeles area from 1963 to 1990. That’s almost three decades that L.A. had to grow and mature – and the population of L.A. County increased by nearly 3 million in that time period – with the automobile as the dominant transportation mode and the only alternative being a bus system that traveled on those ever more congested streets. In contrast, places like New York, San Francisco and Chicago still make use of historical rail systems that have been around since the turn of the 20th century.

But things are changing. L.A. has gone from 0 to 79 miles of urban rail in the last 20 years, and the plan is to vastly expand the system in the next 30 – possibly the next decade if the 30/10 Initiative is a success. But more than 70 years of car culture – both physical and social – will prove to be a challenge to overcome. Traffic is often terrible, our region is vast, job centers are disconnected and we’ve invested considerable money, space and – heck – love into our private vehicles and the infrastructure they require.

As we as a region move forward and invest in alternative modes of travel it makes sense to discuss what we want from these alternatives and what it will take to get us to use them.

These surveys are a chance to share your stories – whether you’re currently a regular transit user or part of the majority of Angelenos who drive a car but voted for the Measure R sales tax increase in 2008 to bring billions of dollars in new transit projects to our region.