Good question, Abbigail54. Hopefully we can get an Angeleno to answer this one, but from what it looks like, it is good, but it still needs improvement. According to discoverlosangelos.com, “LA is home to one of the country’s best public transportation networks.” It would make sense that a website created to promote Los Angelos would say something like this, and it might be true, but that just means that their public transportation is only as good as the best, and maybe the best is still not very good. I am not saying that it is not good, but I have found some people that have had frustrating experiences and some that claim it is “underdeveloped and inadequate.” While the frustration with public transportation probably happens everywhere, the inadequacy may hold some truth when you see pictures like this:
photo: respres, flickr
Hope this helps!
Having lived in Los Angeles for five years and used public transportation as my primary source of travel, I was very satisfied with the transit system. The bus routes are comprehensive and could get me anywhere I needed to go. Additionally, they all have bicycle racks. Los Angeles has a very well maintained subway system, although the subway route is very limited, due to the high cost of constructing earthquake safe subway tunnels. There is a trip-planning website that allows you to type in your origin and destination and it maps out the best combination of bus routes. The one drawback is that Los Angeles traffic can often make for very slow bus rides. There were several occasions on which I opted to ride my bicycle several miles in order to reach my destination quicker than the busses would. One time I recall sprinting to a corner to make a bus, didn’t quite make it in time, so I ran as fast as I could, hoping to catch it on the next block, I almost did but it pulled away, so I chased it a third block, and then the absurdity hit me that I could reach my destination on foot just as fast as I could by bus. By the fifth block, I did board that bus, and the driver smiled at me and told me I was crazy.
There is always room for improvement. Los Angeles’ public transportation falls behind drastically compared to any other major city, New York, Tokyo, Berlin, UK. The US Census reported in 2004 that only “1-in-8 workers (12 percent) in Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest city, use[s] public transportation”. This is compared to 55% of people who use public transportation in New York. But there have been definite improvements, with the expansion of the LA Metro stations and increased bus routes. There is still a major lack of subway transportation going from the east to west side of Los Angeles. The Metro is seeking the best routes and has initiated a Westside subway extention project that will take a few years to be in effect.
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