Why You Don’t Ride: Karl Fielding, Sherman Oaks

Why You Ride (or Don't)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: Karl Fielding
Occupation: Environmental Planner
Location: Sherman Oaks

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

Five days a week for work over the Sepulveda Pass. With the construction, this has become a very unpleasant experience. Also: random errands and events on the weekends and evenings.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

From the valley to the Westside. Again, with the 405 construction, this is something I dread.

How many vehicles do you or your family have?


How long does your commute typically take?

40 minutes.

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

I deal with it.

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

$100 – $300

Do you use any forms of alternative transportation?

If I’m commuting to downtown for a meeting or event, I try to take a local bus to connect to the Red Line. I’ve done this twice over the past year. I own a bicycle, which I barely ride – it’s mainly for recreation.

Why do you drive?

Convenience and efficiency. Unfortunately, it’s still the best and fastest way for me to get where I need to go.

Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

I wanted to take the 761 express, but the connection on the Westside almost ruins the benefit. Either transfer to the 720 in Westwood, adding 20 minutes, or the 14 on Sunset – but that doesn’t have reliable return times in the evening. I haven’t had the patience or courage to try it yet, and I consider myself a transit-savvy person.

Have you tried to use transit before? What was your experience?

Yes. Taken Big Blue Bus for short trips in Santa Monica, and used local bus service and Orange Line to connect to the Red Line. Very convenient and enjoyable when it works and goes where you need to go. Unfortunately, that is not often the case in our sprawling urban landscape.

What could local transit agencies do to encourage you to take transit more often?

Better inter-agency coordination to help people understand the best way to get across town. Update the trip planner! For all the work that Metro has done to revamp the website, the agency should be ashamed of how outdated that tool is. The map is completely useless, and the results are not always the easiest to interpret. I often have to manipulate the variables to get the trip planner to show me more efficient routes that I know exist. This is a major problem, and probably a big reason people don’t ride: it’s a confusing old tool instead of an intuitive way to show them how easy it is!

Obviously Measure R and 30/10 will greatly improve things, especially with the Westside Subway, but it’s still frustrating to know that in a city with bus service as impressive as LA, the perceived barriers to ride are as high as they are.

I almost forgot, how dare you offer transfers to another agency but not to your own fleet? That KILLS my willingness to ride. The fact that I pay a full Metro Rail fare and that doesn’t allow me to transfer to a local bus is ridiculous. How is that world class? No way should I have to fork over a whole new fare, especially when Metro offers transfers to Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus! Where is the logic there? I don’t see it. Please correct this, connections and transfers are one of the big obstacles for taking the system, and creating additional and unneccesary cost at that point in the chain is crippling, IMHO.

How do you feel about buses?

I’d ride a bus if there was a route that served my needs.

How do you feel about rail?

I’d ride rail if it there was a route that served my needs.

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

Let me recap: free or drastically reduced transfers within Metro’s own systems (bus/rail/whatever), overhaul the trip planner, create a modern and robust mobile website instead of the shell that you offer now, coordinate with other agencies to communicate the best ways to get across town and jurisdictional lines and make it easy for people to understand!