Why You Don't Ride: Nirad, Downtown L.A.

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: Nirad
Occupation: Web Designer
Location: Downtown L.A. (Historic Core)

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

2-3 times per week. I work from home, but I use the car to run errands, get groceries, go out to eat, etc.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

I have no typical route. But usually I am going from Downtown L.A. to somewhere west or north of here.

How many vehicles do you or your family have?

1 car for 2 people.

How long does your commute typically take?

No commute. I work from home and my wife walks to work.

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?

$50 – $100

Do you use any forms of alternative transportation?

No. It is too dangerous to bike in this city.

Why do you drive?

Convenient, comfortable and fast. It goes where I need to, I can transport groceries and other things. It’s safe at night.

Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

The bus is not a viable option for people who own a car and can afford to operate it. It is too slow and crowded. The Red/Purple Line only takes me a couple of places but I use it when I can. Transferring between lines is a hassle (especially to the Gold Line at Union Station), and diminishes the financial savings of taking transit.

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

I take the subway sometimes. If I take it during rush hour, I am amazed at how fast and convenient it is. At other times, it seems like you have to wait forever for the train, and the lack of people makes it feel less safe, especially late at night.

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

To convince anyone who can afford to drive to take the bus, agencies need to create dedicated lanes so they are as fast as (or faster than) driving.

Having to pay twice to ride two different lines diminishes mass transit’s economic advantage in many situations. There should be one flat rate for the entire system like in New York. Switching between the Gold Line and the Red/Purple at Union Station takes too long (perhaps the Downtown Connector will help fix this). Going from Old Town Pasadena to the LA Convention Center via rail illustrates both of these points.

Lastly, for transit to be truly effective in L.A., the cityscape needs to be redesigned so that sidewalks are clean, wide and well-lit. Perhaps some transit funds could be spent on street improvements for pedestrians.

How do you feel about buses?

I’d ride a bus, but only if it has a dedicated lane.

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?

If funds are limited, the best solution is to reexamine the existing right-of-way. I would put in more dedicated bus lanes. I would also put it barrier-separated/grade-separated bike lanes. This is probably the best bang-for-your-buck approach to getting people out of their cars.