Don’t Give Up on Metro Rail Services
June 23, 2009 Leave a comment
My preferred route from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles is the LA Metro Rail Blue Line. I pay $1.25 for a one-way trip, $5 for a day pass, and an additional investment point-to-point of around 45 minutes. That actually returns an ROI of +25 minutes during the evening, as the commute via rail is nearly half the time as driving on the 710 or 110 freeways.
Most of the Blue Line riders are blue collar workers, with a few professionals – such as myself – peppering the platforms in the Long Beach area. The Blue Line route takes you through some of the more famous (or notorious) sections of Los Angeles, including Artesia, Compton, Watts, and So. Central LA.
In 5 years riding the Blue Line I have never seen an incident of misconduct, other than the occasional over-zealous sheriff deputy asserting himself as a combat-ready ticket checker, ensuring no miscreant traveler has dared climb the train platform without having paid their fare.
All-in-all the LA Metro Blue Line is convenient, low-cost transportation serving the needs of Long Beach and South Los Angeles Country workers and commuters.
Each day LA Metro rail services carry around 300,000 riders, with very little drama compared to other large city transit systems. If you add Metro Bus Services, that number bounces up to around 1.6 million riders each day, making it the third largest public transportation system in the United States.
About once a year you have an accident involving a bus or rail car which results in a serious injury or death. Thus, if you believe in averages, one person in around 584 million passengers will be in danger of death or serious injury using Los Angeles County public transportation.
Compare this to the road and freeway system, where the California Highway Patrol site lists an average of around 60 serious traffic accidents (injuries) each day in the LA County area. To the credit of Los Angeles, the police do enforce strict jay-walking laws, limiting the number of pedestrian accidents in busy intersections.
The recent tragic accidents on the Washington DC Metro highlights the scale and violence of a train collision. Nine people died, and many more seriously injured. Tragic. And since the collision was head-on, it likely had human error as the cause. Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty described the Monday evening collision as “the deadliest in the subway system’s 33-year history.” (AFP)
Even with this globally viewed event, and the violent images displayed, metro rail and bus transit is a good thing. Metro moves a tremendous number of people, for a very reasonable cost, with very good frequency. Metro is environmentally sound, using electricity and CNG (compressed natural gas) for fuel. Metro rail is good for the people of Los Angeles, the city, and our precious So Cal environment.
Let’s not use Washington DC’s tragic event to influence or sway our confidence in the LA Metro. Rather let’s continue to concentrate our efforts to encourage development, construction, and use of public mass transit systems. We will develop safer, more efficient, and more attractive trains and buses, even in a city with a traditional love affair with the automobile.
Ride the Metro, and send comments with your impressions and experiences!
John Savageau, Long Beach