Diego Gonzalez is a 4-year-old boy who goes to preschool, enjoys sports, and likes strawberries. He also has a precise sense of direction, an enviable memory, and loves riding Metro trains and buses.
Diego’s living room in Koreatown looks like a miniature transit system. He has assembled a train using magnetic tile building blocks, and inside he has placed a miniature driver and passengers that Diego likes to push on little trips across the carpet to makeshift E Line stations written on pieces of paper that his family has pasted all over the walls. As a result, Diego has learned all the stops on the route by heart.
“I think Diego has memorized the stations because he has traveled on the E line, from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica, and along the way he pays attention to the person announcing the stops over the loudspeaker,” says his grandmother Doris Gonzalez, who is also his legal guardian. “He also likes to watch videos on YouTube about trains, seeing where they go and where they stop… He loves the train; I think he is excited to feel how fast it goes.”
Gonzalez does not drive and has always relied on public transportation –– so Diego has been riding on Metro since he was a baby. “In his stroller, I used to take him to the park, to the daycare, and to the doctor,” says his grandmother, who adds that Diego was diagnosed with autism. Today, every time her grandson boards a bus, “he gets excited and tries to sit at the top to see the neighborhoods along the way.”
Diego also has an unusual talent for remembering bus lines and bus routes. He knows that Rapid Bus 720 goes to UCLA and that bus line 212 goes to La Brea (that’s where his favorite toy store is). “I used to take him to speech therapy on line 16;” Gonzalez says. “That´s why he learned that route takes him to Downtown Los Angeles.”
The family owns a vehicle; however, if they need to run errands, Diego prefers to take transit. During those trips, he eagerly asks the names of streets and avenues. If he sees a bus, he immediately wants to know what number it is and where it is going. “He has made us all learn the routes,” says his grandmother.
Jackie Martinez, Diego’s godmother, noticed that her godson had been interested in transit since he was 2. “Every time he sees a bus he is filled with happiness.”
He also loves trains. His first train ride was aboard the B Line to the Universal/Studio City station to go with her aunt to the Universal City Walk.
Recently, Diego convinced Martinez to take the A line to go to Pasadena. When they returned, instead of stopping at Union Station – where they had parked their car – his godson asked her to continue to Long Beach. “He already knows how far the train goes and he doesn’t want to get off… When we returned, he had already learned the stops,” says his godmother.
Martinez usually drives, but she also takes the train to the Coliseum and takes the shuttles to Dodger Stadium and SoFi. She says transit is convenient because she saves on parking and avoids getting stuck in traffic. Moving around the system also keeps her up to date on transportation events. “I recently took Diego to the TrainFest [at Union Station] and he was fascinated by the displays.”
Martínez recently learned that Metro has just launched Christmas decorations with figures of buses and trains and is already eyeing them for this festive December. “Diego is going to go crazy with excitement when he sees this.”
To review the list of Christmas decorations, where you can find ornaments that you can hang on your tree, as well as postcards, mugs and even wrapping paper with transportation figures, visit: shop.metro.net/collections/holiday-shop
Categories: Transportation News