Why You Don't Ride: JEG, San Fernando Valley

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: JEG
Occupation: IT Manager
Location: San Fernando Valley

Your Transportation Routine:

How often do you drive and for what purpose?

Daily, to and from work, errands, drop-offs/pick-ups, activities, etc.

Where are you typically traveling from and going to?

Are you asking:  Home to work and back, School, store, theatre, etc.
Or are you asking:  I live in San Fernando Valley and commute to Downtown LA

How many vehicles do you or your family have?


How long does your commute typically take?

35 min. in the morning. 40-50 min. in the evening

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?

$300 – $500

Do you use any forms of alternative transportation?


Why do you drive?

Time and Schedule.  I need flexibility and the shortest travel time I can get (don’t we all).  L.A. transit takes 15-60 minutes longer in door-to-door time depending on the destination, if its even going where I need to go when I need to go.  I’m not close enough to the schools for my kids to ride, and with after school activities there are usually pick-ups and drop-offs on the way to somewhere else.

Your Perspective:

Why can’t/don’t you take transit?

Doesn’t go where I want to go, when I want to go, as fast as I can get there driving.  Unless I’m paid to not drive my car, the incremental cost of using public transportation is too high, especially when I have a more time efficient and flexible alternative.  I find the transit system very stressful to use.  Dealing with dirty transit vehicles, carrying all my stuff, constantly worrying about making transitions between legs of the trip, waiting on curbs in areas I’m not familiar with throughout the city, being confronted by vagrants and other undesirable people, etc., is extremely stressful to me.  The time in transit is not productive time for me.  I may be tired from having to get up earlier, there are other distractions or stress from the process, or dirty or limited space available to do anything productive.

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

Tried it and hated it.  I had to get up earlier and plan to get where I wanted to be much too early or later than I needed to.  Too many transfers and too much stress running for buses or trains.  In general, if I had a change in plans and need to get somewhere else I was usually out of luck if I didn’t have my car.  Twice, when I went home sick from work, I had to travel a longer return route (twice the in-bound time) and walk 1.5 miles (once, in the rain) to get back to my car because there was no return route to the park ‘n ride lot in the morning.  After that, and several stressful attempts to use Metrolink, I gave up.

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

I honestly don’t know.  LA is too spread out, and the freeways–such that they are–are better and more reliable than the buses and trains for me as I’ve outlined previously.

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?

Do more to encourage and allow people to have the quality of life they want near where they work instead of having to live 20-50 miles away and commute.  Focus on transportation convenience in a core area (perhaps Downtown through Mid-Wilshire to Santa Monica).  Or you could raise gas prices to $4.50+ a gallon and make the cost of driving too expensive.  Then I might start to deal with all the stress and hassle of the transit system again as long as my schedule would allow.

3 replies

  1. These replies are right on the money.

    Greater London is roughly 600 square miles. They deal with train tunnels that are over 100 years old. They have a huge population. And yet they manage to offer comprehensive public transit for the entire city; not just the dense city center.

    If London is that spread out and they can do it, so can Los Angeles.

  2. Thank you for pointing out the problem.
    This is the reason many no choice transit riders hate. We have no choice but to suffer. Public transportation is so terrible,
    Many car drivers wish to use public transportation have the same for not switching to public transportation.
    Trains are reliable. how many jobs are along the train stations? How many residential areas are closer to the train stations? How many shopping centers are closer to the train stations? Even worst, how many train stations are within 5 mile driving distance.
    I know many residential areas are in middle of nowhere. However, the public transportations are so terrible in many populous areas with lots shopping centers/jobs/hospitals.
    MTA tends to tell us that people enjoy buses. yeah right

  3. Great reply,
    and I agree with you a lot.
    Especially lately, with the constant bus service cuts – using transit has gotten extremely frustrating. (although I love taking the subway, this is the only part I consider being reliable… well, except the long 20-minute intervals in the evenings & nights).
    One thing I disagree on, though, is the notion “LA is too spread out”. This is a typical cliche that politicians (and car-makers) use to send massive propaganda – in order for people to rely in the freeway system and get us into cars!! In reality, Los Angeles is NO MORE spread-out than London, or Moscow, or San Francisco. The “too spread out” is just an excuse, but is not a legitimate reason to deprive people of public transportation.