Why You Don’t Ride: R.B., Pasadena

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: R.B.
Occupation: Programmer
Location: Pasadena

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

Monday through Friday to work.

2-3 times a week to meet up with my running club.

Occasionally at other times to friends’ homes or shopping.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

Commute to Glendale 5 days a week.

Once a week to the Rose Bowl.

Once a week to Griffith Park.

How many vehicles do you or your family have?


How long does your commute typically take?

15 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

Why do you drive?


Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

It takes around 4 times as long to use transit on my daily commute (Pasadena to Glendale) as it does to drive. I’d have a 20-minute walk to get to a Rapid Bus, 30 minutes or so on the bus to Glendale and then another 10 minute walk from the bus stop to my office.

There’s a commuter express 549 bus that is way more convenient for me route-wise, but last time I checked the last morning bus leaves Pasadena before 8:00am (I don’t have to be at work that early) and it only runs every 30 minutes max.

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

Yes, I use it for weekend excursions mostly. I actually love taking Metro rail when it’s convenient.

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

More frequent buses.

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?

More rail or dedicated bus lanes: it’s faster and less reliant on traffic-free streets to be effective.

4 replies

  1. “So many commuter buses ends too early in the morning and the afternoon.”

    You make a great point and it applies to commuter trains as well. When I worked “9-5” in Los Angeles I had to stay until 6:30PM (which is very much a normal workday in the private sector). The last train home to Orange County *leaves* at 6:30.

    Schedulers appear to believe that the afternoon rush “hour” is 3-6 when in fact it probably lasts clear until 7PM.

    The schedules appear to be tailored to the government worker set.

  2. Now the question is, how do we make transit convenient and fast in a place like L.A. – a region that spans thousands of square miles and has millions of people and no discernible center?

    Metro runs a 191 bus lines with 2,635 buses and a 1,433 square mile service area at a cost of $1.3B – making it the second largest bus system in the United States after NYC. Unfortunately L.A. has developed in such a way – sprawling, decentralized and with crippling traffic on the streets – that even such a massive system is inconvenient for the needs of most people.

    As we can see from the results of these surveys so far, almost everyone has a vastly different commute. Off the top of my head I’ve seen: Pasadena to Glendale, Mt. Washington to La Canada, Hollywood to USC, Valley to the Westside… in other words, it’s not like other cities where the answer is more likely to be “Wherever I live to Downtown”.

    Jarret Walker, of the blog Human Transit, puts the conundrum into words:

    “Everybody would really like a frequent service from their home to everywhere they ever go, which is pretty much what a private car is. But money isn’t infinite, so the [transit] system has to deliver its outcome efficiently, with the minimum possible cost per rider. ”

    I really recommend bookmarking and reading Human Transit (http://www.humantransit.org/). Jarret has a wealth of insightful information, especially his “Basics” series: http://www.humantransit.org/basics/

    One thing Jarret notes is that in a decentralized city, the only way to make an efficient bus system is to build a system that requires something most riders hate: transfers. Read more here: http://www.humantransit.org/2009/04/why-transferring-is-good-for-you-and-good-for-your-city.html

  3. I agree. I think that transit would be used a lot more if it were more convenient and faster.

    For people with long-distance commutes, missing a transfer means at least an hour of delay. Until transit can make reliability better or the potential delay shorter, there’s no way it’ll beat the car in a cost-benefit analysis. I simply don’t have hours to gamble on a late or impatient bus driver.

  4. We need to fix this problem. So many commuter buses ends too early in the morning and the afternoon. I always wandering who are those people taking commuter buses. Many of them ends service around 5 or 6pm in the afternoon. Don’t we have to work betwen 9 to 6 or 8 to 5, and we have to take bus to get to the commuter bus.

    This is also true for metrolink, but metrolink is not under MTA jurisdiction, but MTA can make transfer easier