A friend of mine is currently in graphic design school, and he was recently assigned a project designing materials to fix a problem he saw in Los Angeles.  His first thought was public transportation, and therefore he immediately came to me, as his token urban planning friend, to bounce some ideas around.  He had lots of great concepts about what needed to be fixed, but there was a catch- everything we discussed that seemed feasible in the foreseeable future is either already in effect, or is in the city’s upcoming plans.  In frustration, he ended up settling on a completely different project (one relating to job creation, actually), and I was left to ponder the most troubling result of our conversation:  the people in Los Angeles have no idea whats going on with public transportation.

This lack of knowledge of the buses, trains, and light rail systems that criss-cross our city shouldn’t be surprising.  In a city where most are commuting in 5-seaters all alone, often from one side of the metropolis to the other, it probably doesn’t cross the mind of most Angelenos to even consider another option.  For those of us who grew up in the suburbs, having a driver’s license (or cool older friends with one) was considered the only way to get anywhere.  While Los Angeles in certainly not known for its transit in the past, and is still given the evil eye for the destruction of the Red Cars, its a city that is currently focusing heavily on revamping the system- and many of the residents have no idea.

I’m not trying to point fingers here- but I do want to make a difference.  So before I get all preachy, and shout about riding buses I know nothing about, I’m starting to ride them.  I’ve been taking the subway to downtown, the buses around once I get there, and the train to go inland.  There are so many different bus and rail systems with Metro that it can be confusing at first, but like any other system, it just takes some getting used to.  Check out Metro’s Trip Planner, Mobile Resources, and all the timetables and maps you’d ever want.

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Besides what already exists and everyone should be checking out, Metro has many interesting new projects in the works, including but not limited to:

For all kinds of transportation news, I highly recommend one of my new favorite article collections, The Metro Library’s Blog, and of course its fun to see what LA is thinking for the future with the 2009 Long Rage Transportation Plan.

Happy Travels!

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