Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"A Tale of Two Cities," Los Angeles version

An old friend of ours recounted this tale of a trip that she and her husband had taken to LA to attend a conference. Having arrived early on Friday and wanting to stock up on food and other necessities before Shabbat, they went to the hotel desk and asked how to get to a shopping area via public transportation. The person at the front desk looked at them as if they had three heads, and informed them that there was no such thing as public transit in LA. Didn't they have a car? Stumped, they walked away from the desk—and were promptly called over by a lower-ranking employee, who lead them outside and showed them a bus stop, clearly marked, within a block of the hotel.

The same thing happened at the other end of their trip: When they asked the store manager how to get back to their hotel, he hadn't a clue, but a lower-ranking employee gave them step-by-step directions for getting there by bus. Apparently, the bus system in LA is not great, but it's manageable, and, more to the current point, it exists.

My friend concluded that LA is two different cities—one for those who can afford cars, and another one for those who can't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in LA, I can vouch for the fact that this is true. Nowhere is the divide more visible than in my suburban hilly neighborhood where the homeowners drive around in their SUVs while their cleaning ladies have to hike for more than a mile (often in the raging heat) to get to and from the bus stop -- if there even is one nearby.

Tue Nov 14, 11:09:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I haven't taken a bus since the days of the RTD.

Public transportation here is just a little spotty.

Tue Nov 14, 02:30:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mariata, that's unbelievable.

Jack, consider yourself fortunate. RTD--vuss iss duss?

I consider myself fortunate, too, but coming from the opposite angle--when it comes to public transit, I'm very spoiled as a New York City resident.

Wed Nov 15, 12:34:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not from LA, but I can vouch for the fact that in most American cities, people who do not ride transit tend to underestimate its usefulness.

(In fact, to help solve this very problem I created "Auto-Free in ..." web pages in some of the cities I have lived in; unfortunately, enough time has elapsed that most of the specific route information is obsolete. I am working on creating another one for Jacksonville, where I live now; the blog links to the earlier web pages and will link to the Jax one when I create it).

Fri Nov 17, 12:31:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

". . . people who do not ride transit tend to underestimate its usefulness." Mike, I'm sure you're right. We have to rent a car almost every time we leave the metropolitan area. I've found that one can always get from one big city to another, but heaven help you if you want to go from small town to small town. Suburban transit can be difficult to navigate, given the constant necessity of transferring from one bus to another, and I'm not sure that public transportation even exists in rural areas. Your car-free guides sound like a wonderful idea. Keep up the good work!

Fri Nov 17, 09:55:00 AM 2006  

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