Why You Ride: Jeremy Kitchen, Van Nuys

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.

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Who You Are:

Name: Jeremy Kitchen
Occupation: Systems Administrator
Location: Van Nuys

Your Transit Routine:

How often do you take transit and for what purpose?

I ride the train to work almost every day.  Even if I don’t bike to the train station I will still usually drive to the train station and take the train in.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

Home to work and back.

What lines/routes do you take?

I ride down Woodman to the Orange Line bike path, then across to the North Hollywood Station where I take the Red Line subway to 7th Street Metro Center Station.

How long does it typically take?

Overall including the bike ride, about an hour each way.  About 45-50 minutes if I drive to the station.

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

I love it!

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

$100 – $300

Why do you take transit?

Basically: to save money, help the environment and reduce stress.

There’s less wear and tear on my car, so it’s not so expensive to maintain (I drive a BMW). I get a nice workout on the way to and from work when I’m riding (which is most days) and I can get on the train and relax and get some reading done.

Also: I’m not sitting in traffic wishing I were dead, getting ticked off at stupid people who don’t know how to drive or are rude (cutting in long lines for exits, driving like idiots, etc).

The worst I have to deal with on transit is those riders who play terrible music at high volume out of their terrible cell phone speakers, making it so you can’t even understand it because it’s so distorted and nasty.  Then occasionally there’s the insane nun lady who says “you will be supervised!” – but I haven’t seen her in a long time.  Oh yeah, there’s also the green haired kid who’s really in your face about giving him money for playing his terrible music.

I do miss “the guitar man” though.  He would get on, play a couple of songs, and get off.  He wouldn’t run up and down the car going “thanks for the tips” or whatever, he’d just wait patiently for people to give him money if they wanted to.

Other Transportation:

Do you use any other forms of alternative transportation?

I bike to and from the train station most days.  I take my bike on the train with me so if I need it while I’m downtown it’s available.  My office is only a block from the station but our datacenter is about six blocks, and I really hate the walk – really, I just hate walking in general 🙂

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

Nope!  As much as it would be awesome to be, I tend to like to get out of the city with my bike and not have to ride for 3 hours to do so.  By the time I get out of town with my bike if I’m riding it, I’ve already blown half the day, and I still have to get HOME!  When I’m out on my bike trying to put some miles on or do some hill training or whatever, I really hate having to deal with traffic lights.  It takes me 25 minutes to go 5 miles on my commute, and it doesn’t matter how hard or fast I ride, it always takes me about that much time, simply due to terrible traffic light timing for bikes.  I would love to go car free, but I’m too far from the edge of the city to be able to do so, really.

Your Perspective:

If you could make one change to improve your transit experience, what would it be?

If I have to pick ONE, I think the most important one by far is more late night service, especially on weekends.

Right now, if I go out for the evening in Hollywood or something, it’s like I’m Cinderella – I have to leave by midnight or my train leaves me like a pumpkin in Hollywood. Sure, I could probably bike home, but I don’t like riding the Cahuenga Pass any time, let alone Friday or Saturday night with a bunch of drunk people.

I think the added expense and hassle of cleaning up vomit from idiots on the train is well worth every life which could be saved by taking cars off the road for drinking purposes.  Of course, since it’s clear that Metro is bound by the parking conglomerates, this will never happen, because parking is so lucrative in Hollywood (yes, I’m referring to the fact that the Green Line DOES NOT GO TO LAX.  What the heck?)

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

More rail.  Period.

It has higher capacity by far than any bus, faster service and a more comfortable ride.  I would also focus less on creating huge extravagant stations (at least above ground) and focus more on simply adding stops.  When I go to Chicago I see that most of the subway stations are just staircases cut into the sidewalk with an elevator nearby.

Resist the NIMBYs and man up when it comes to the parking cartel.  Think of long term gains rather than “oh, but we’ll put half of the parking companies in L.A. out of business, losing hundreds of jobs”. At the same time we’ll be employing thousands of new people to build, operate, and maintain the transit system while at the same time taking cars off the road, making the city a better place.

Do you think L.A. transit is better or worse since you started riding? What’s changed?

It’s better, but it still needs lots of work.

For instance, there aren’t really any destinations on the rail network.  Dodger stadium?  Nope.  Coliseum? Nope (though, yes, I know the Expo Line is fixing this).  Hollywood freaking bowl?  You could say it is, but that mile+ walk straight up the hill to get there is rather depressing.  Dropping a station at The Bowl would probably take away half of the enormous traffic nightmare that is the area around The Bowl.  My girlfriend was living near there over the summer and getting to her place was extremely difficult at times.

If you look at a place like, say, Paris – The Louvre has 3 metro stations serving it, from 2 different lines.  In Chicago, Wrigley Field has an L station across the street, and I tell you that train is PACKED after a game lets out.  It’s really awesome.  New York… don’t get me started 🙂  I realize that NYC has 100 year head start on its subway network, and got a major chunk of it built before things like ADA compliance, EI studies, and OSHA came into play – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to start catching up.

How would you encourage Angelenos to use transit?

Put more lines to more destinations.

Also, I don’t think the question should be how do we encourage people to USE transit.  I think the better approach is to encourage people to ACCEPT transit.  Make them see it’s a good thing. One more train represents dozens more cars which aren’t on the road.  If people are really against using transit, let them know how much better their drive would be if there was a train running near by taking hundreds of cars off the road.  If you do that, then resistance to mass transit installations will be less, which means that more will get done and once the network reaches a critical mass of connectivity, people will just start using it organically.  Don’t force the issue.  “If you build it, they will come” – you just gotta convince the NIMBYs, which I don’t think should be all that difficult.