Why You Don't Ride: Alan, El Sereno

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: Alan
Occupation: IT
Location: El Sereno

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

Every day. Weekdays for work, Sundays for church and everywhere else in between.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

El Sereno to Arcadia for work, and El Sereno to La Puente for church.

How many vehicles do you or your family have?

3 in my family.

How long does your commute typically take?

20-30 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?

Work purposes and the convenience factor.

Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

At work, as an IT guy, there are many instances where I have to drive out to remote sites to handle issues, and since we in the IT department are not allowed to use city-owned vehicles (contracted employees), we have to use our own cars to go to the remote sites. If they ever change that rule, I would most definitely take the bus to work.

For going to and from church, it’s a frequency and convenience issue. Although I’ve done it, it’s just not very convenient to go between El Sereno and La Puente on bus, especially on Sundays.

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

I used to be a regular rider on Metro Bus, dating back to my days in junior high school. To this day, I still love riding it whenever I can, but a lack of free time prevents me from doing so.

I’ve been on systems in Seattle, Chicago, Honolulu, New York, Boston, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Nothing in the U.S. compares to the JR system in Tokyo and the MTR in Hong Kong in terms of cleanliness, frequency, and the overall quality of the service.

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

I can deal and have dealt with a lot of Metro’s shortcomings (buses not showing up, rude/incompetent drivers, etc.), and if I’ve been able to deal with Metro (and to a degree Foothill Transit) for the last 15 years and I still love taking the bus and rail here, I don’t think I would need any additional encouragement to take transit more often.

It just depends mostly on the work environment as to whether or not I can take transit to and from work.

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?

I’m not a big fan of making downtown L.A. the central focal point of the entire Metro system. I have always been a reverse-peak commuter, and I am sure that there are many others out there who also commute away from the downtown area (or who don’t commute in to downtown at all). It would have been a greater convenience (at least in my case) if local agencies would also cater to the reverse-peak commuter.

I would say that if and when expansion takes place, do it smartly, but not so quickly that it lacks quality. Build rail and expand services to destinations where you know people will take them, but don’t concede so much when issues or suggestions arise that, for example, a rail line wouldn’t be any faster than a Rapid (or a limited-stop) bus.

Also, learn from other agencies, especially overseas, on implementing a smart card system. I’m all for a system like that, but it’s got to be done right. The Octopus Card in Hong Kong is a great example.