In 2014, Socorro Blanco was told she had cancer. Surgery made it possible to stop the illness, but she still has to visit the oncologist regularly. Now, every time she has a medical appointment, she leaves her home in Sun Valley, takes the Metro 169 bus and in just 20 minutes, she arrives at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City.
Hundreds of seniors like Socorro in Los Angeles County rely on Metro to travel to their health care appointments. Metro offers reduced fare programs expressly for seniors and will be holding a Senior Transportation Expo tomorrow in Pasadena for older adults to learn more about how they can best utilize the Metro system. Click here for details
“I often go to the hospital because due to my pre-diabetes, I have to go to nutrition classes every Saturday,” says the 66-year-old Socorro. She was a teenager when she learned to drive in Nicaragua and had owned a car since arriving in Los Angeles in 1998 but decided to stop driving and travel solely by public transportation five years ago.
“There were many reasons. One of them is that I have anxiety but knowing that there will be an operator at the wheel me makes me feel relaxed and safe on the road. In addition, spending money to pay for gasoline, insurance, and car repairs was already very expensive. I like public transport because it is more convenient for my economic situation.”
Socorro says that for people who do not have a car, the Metro services are crucial. “Without it, I would not be able to get to the store, to school, or to my medical appointments. Now I am exploring traveling by train. So far, I have made it to Union Station,” she says happily.
Another person who has used public transportation since coming to the United States from Guatemala in 1987 is Justa Flores.
“In one of my first jobs, I used to take care of a child. The family wanted me to get a driver’s license to take him everywhere, but I didn’t want to. It was a lot of responsibility to take him with me in the car, and we ended up using just buses. Little by little, I got used to going from my home in South Los Angeles to my job in Santa Monica only by public transportation. Since then, I have always moved through the city by bus.”
At 77, Justa says that in addition to using transit to attend events at a senior center, she also uses Metro to visit her primary doctor, the ophthalmologist, the dentist, and even the podiatrist — all of them located in several parts of the city. “Some medical appointments are close, like in Huntington Park or Vernon. If it’s further, then I have to take two buses.”
Justa feels that her trips are easy by bus. A few years ago, she underwent knee surgery that led to a week in the hospital and two weeks of convalescence. During her rehabilitation, she was required to use a walker.
“Despite everything, I kept taking the bus. Everything turned out well because the driver used to wait for me to get on the bus and also lower the ramp so that I could get on with my walker. That made that time period easier for me,” she says. “Another thing that makes her feel safe is that the operators drive carefully.”
Victor Ramirez agrees. He feels calm when he rides the bus, especially when he goes from his home in Huntington Park to his doctor appointments in Cudahy, where he goes to pick up his medications and have his blood pressure and heart checked. “I just take the 111 on Florence [Avenue], and in less than half an hour I get to the clinic on Atlantic Boulevard,” says the 73-year-old.
Since he came to live in Los Angeles after leaving Mexico in 1970, he has owned a car. Yet for years, he went to work in Beverly Hills by bus. “I think public transportation is a necessity. I feel that it is easy to use,” he says.
Another advantage of the bus is traveling relaxed without worrying about traffic. Also, he says it’s a very convenient service because he doesn’t waste time looking for or paying for parking when going to downtown Los Angeles by bus or train.
Additionally, due to his age, Victor pays less than a regular fare of $1.75 after he qualified for a Metro reduced fare program for seniors. People over 62 years of age can also combine discounts with other transportation systems, such as the EZ Pass.
Seniors interested in learning more about Metro’s discounts and programs are encouraged to join Metro’s annual Senior Transportation Expo, taking place tomorrow at the Pasadena Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s theme is Make the Connection! The event will be filled with information and resources to help older adults travel on public transportation with ease. Admission will be free.
Categories: Transportation News