Why You Don’t Ride: Karl, Hollywood

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
Occupation: Business owner
Location: Hollywood

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

Almost everyday, mostly for work.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

House to work and vice-versa.

How many vehicles do you or your family have?


How long does your commute typically take?

30 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?


Why do you drive?

Convenient and fast.

Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

Lately when I am on the road, bus drivers (some, not all) are careless. They run the red lights and don’t follow the traffic. I’d rather be safe in my own car than with someone driving carelessly.

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

Yes. The experience was not good. I tried it just to see if I would like it. I asked the driver where to get off, but he forgot to let me know. He was kind of annoyed that I asked too.

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

I would put a sign saying “hows my driving” with a phone number, so I can complain about the driver. Customer service sucks.

How do you feel about buses?

I probably wouldn’t ride a bus.

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?

More rail lines, clean ones.

8 replies

  1. This is why everyone in the transportation community needs to advocate for Pay As You Drive (PAYD) insurance, and mileage (VMT) based taxes instead of gas taxes. These are the are policies that link the most progressive and conservative policy people out there, and will have the most immediate benefits for people’s individual choices, and the environmental welfare. AAA & State Farm are both going to start offering PAYD insurance.

  2. Hey All,

    Thanks for helping me flush out all the nuanced factors that influence people’s transportation choices, cost being just one of several.

    As Fred mentions, the fact that so many people say they hate driving suggests that there is a huge untapped constituency for alternative transportation, which is really exciting to me. But indeed access remains difficult for many, and often in today’s LA, driving is significantly easier to offset or justify some of its higher costs, especially on a trip-by-trip basis.


  3. My opinion? Carter brings up a good point, and I do think it’s worth educating people on the *true* cost of car ownership – there’s a lot of hidden costs that we’re all aware of but never really add up.

    That being said, Spokker hit the nail on the head: unless you’re planning on dumping the car completely (something I did, but realize it’s not for everyone), the fixed costs aren’t really going to change significantly.

    Also, even being completely car-free like I am comes with costs that I might fail to include when asked what my monthly transportation costs are. It’s easy just to say “My transit pass costs $75 each month”, but some months I may end up using a car-sharing service or a taxi, taking the FlyAway or a Metrolink train, taking care of bike maintenance, etc.

    What I find interesting about the survey results so far is that despite the reported monthly costs of driving being lower than some of us expected, most respondents say they “hate” driving and would take transit if there was a route convenient to their needs.

    To me this tells us, that at least to our readers who drive, *access* may be a bigger deal than cost.

  4. Fixed costs are irrelevant if you are going to supplement your commute habits with transit. You have to pay insurance, registration and the car payment no matter how much or how little you drive the car. You only include fixed costs if your choice is between a vehicle and not owning a vehicle.

    Variable costs are gasoline, depreciation and maintenance. I would argue that a portion of insurance is variable in that if you get into an accident your rates are likely to go up.

    There is also the increased risk of injury and death in an automobile, which isn’t all that high in the first place, but there is a difference.

    What no one probably thinks of are external costs. I don’t blame them. These can only be internalized by setting a proper gas tax and congestion pricing.

    There are external benefits to taking transit that can only be internalized by subsidies.

    It’s fun to think about the complex transportation choices we make (and don’t make!).

  5. Steve,

    I definitely agree, and I apologize if I’ve been beating a dead horse.

    Indeed, I would probably fit in with most Source readers. I share a car with my girlfriend and take transit when I know it will save me money on that specific trip, namely gas and parking.

    I was mostly hoping to illustrate the benefits of going Metro, not trying to take pot shots at the Source.


  6. I think your cost of “transportation” question is ambiguous, and that’s why it’s getting ambiguous answers. Some people think it’s cost of commuting per se, and that’s how you get answers like $100. But Streetsblog, and a few respondents, took it as the total cost of having a car, including maintenance, insurance, parking etc.

    If you just want to isolate the cost of commuting by car and transit, and assume that most of your respondents have a car, call it cost of commuting.

  7. I suspect that many of our readers taking our poll are just supplying their day-to-day driving expenses. We didn’t ask for a line item list of total expenses.

    With all due respect to Streetsblog, I happen to think most people do know more or less what their driving expenses are. Even if the numbers listed on our surveys seem low, it’s fair to consider that many people are probably not thinking of selling their vehicles to take transit. They still need the car, but they’re looking for a way to maybe save a few bucks on gas and parking and enjoy some of the benefits of transit.

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source