‘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.
Updated 11am 9/27/10 – I mixed up the responses in the “Other Transportation” section. They’ve been corrected and now represent Alex’s answers.
Who You Are:
Name: Alex Boekelheide
Occupation: Director, Online & Print Communications, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Location: North Hollywood
Your Transit Routine:
How often do you take transit and for what purpose?
I take transit to and from work 5 days a week (with the occasional car day for special trips). I also use transit on the weekends if it’s convenient, or I ride my bike, but that’s not very much.
Where are you typically traveling from and going to?
From my home in North Hollywod to my work at USC in Expo Park.
What lines/routes do you take?
I ride my bike from my house to the North Hollywood Red Line station (about 1.2 miles). Then I take my bike on the train and disembark downtown at 7th/Metro. I then hop back on my bike and ride the final 3 miles to campus. At the end of the day I do the same in reverse.
How long does it typically take?
Anywhere from 40 minutes to 75 minutes, but most often my trip is about 50 minutes door-to-door.
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?
$50 – $100
Why do you take transit?
I take transit for all kinds of reasons! I love the chance to read and let my mind wander during my commute. I love the 40-plus minutes of exercise I’ve built in to my daily routine. I love seeing the variety of Los Angeles in my fellow subway riders. I love riding by the construction for the Expo Line and checking to see how it’s doing. I love being free to set my own pace as I get to work, rather than sitting behind the wheel of my car stuck on a freeway. I love being able to go against the grain in a city where everyone is expected to drive everywhere. I love how taking transit forces me to integrate myself with the physicality of Los Angeles, allowing me to see how this city depends on the interconnectedness of its systems and its people.
Do you use any other forms of alternative transportation?
I use my bike as a supplement to the Red Line (even though I could be taking the bus). When the Expo Line opens I’m going to have a real dilemma!
Are you car-free? If so, why? If not, why not?
I have my car for errands on the weekends and trips to see family (spread around Southern California). My wife also drives her (separate) car to work during the week — her job requires her to go to multiple job sites every day, so transit isn’t really a feasible option for her.
If you could make one change to improve your transit experience, what would it be?
Real-time arrival info at the point of operation (bus stop, rail stop), especially for buses, would be nice. I lived in San Pedro for about a year, and I spent a lot of late evenings waiting for the 550 to take me from USC to home every night. There were other options for me a short walk away, but I didn’t have a system that could tell me which would give me the faster route — stay at the 550 stop and wait for potentially half an hour, or walk to the Harbor Transitway and hope another bus would come along sooner? Real-time transit info and GPS tracking of buses would have helped more than just a printed schedule and my own reckoning. (I understand the obstacles to these services, I’m just thinking big.)
Given limited funds, how would you address L.A.’s transportation issues?
• Find a way to make transfers between buses or lines free and seamless.
• Stop pussyfooting around with the TAP system – either implement it fully in a way that makes sense (a la DC or NYC) or drop it as a lost cause.
• Don’t let demagoguery get in the way of good planning. Don’t be afraid of hyped-up hunger strikes or talk of grade-level crossing massacres pushed by groups that don’t really speak for those they claim to represent. At the same time, don’t be beholden to one particular mode of transit over another for emotional or other impractical reasons. Focus on the goal of all transit: Move more people to their destinations more quickly and more efficiently, using whatever mode does that job best.
• Think beyond 30/10! It’s a great drive to get L.A. on the move, but start thinking of goals beyond the Measure R-funded map.
• Integrate more strongly with Metrolink, LADOT and other regional providers to make a truly seamless, easy-to-use regional transportation network.
• Look into bike-sharing and car-sharing programs to help close the two-mile gap.
Do you think L.A. transit is better or worse since you started riding? What’s changed?
It’s hard for me to say. I started riding about 5 years ago so my window of experience is kind of limited. To me it looks like it’s gotten better, but I don’t know if that’s just because I’ve started paying attention (reading The Source, thinking about transit issues, etc.). I may just be more aware of transit now than I was before.
How would you encourage Angelenos to use transit?
Make it clear that it’s a viable option for them to get where they need to go. (You guys are doing this, it’s true.) If transit makes sense, people will use it. If not, they won’t. It’s that simple, and it shouldn’t be anything more than that.