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10 Reasons to Use Mass Transit

May 25, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Metro 761

On Thursday morning, another sunny and beautiful Los Angeles Spring day greeted me, so I decided that I wanted to go to a museum.

I then checked the list on the Free Museum Days link on Travelin’ Local, and discovered that the Skirball Cultural Center, is free to the public every Thursday.

Although I’m going to the Skirball, I’m not driving there. Instead, I’m taking the Metro, and the Big Blue Bus.

More often than not, I just don’t want to drive and enjoy the freedom of not having the ball and chain of my automobile all of the time. Taking the bus affords me much more than that though:

10 Reasons to Use Mass Transit

1. Getting to be outside, walking, in touch with your local environment

2. While waiting for the bus, you can talk with clients, friends, and family uncluttered by having a steering wheel glued to your hands.

3. Read a book, magazine, or even a Kindle.

4. Save time because many buses have their own bus lane. Plus, if you’re stuck in traffic, it’s much more relaxing to sit back and let someone else do the driving.

5. Save money—Just think, no parking fees, no meters, no high gas prices, and less wear and tear on your car.

6. It’s easy – with a monthly Btap card.

7. The opportunity to be independent and free.

8. Added time to work or play on your laptop; or to just relax and daydream.

9. To save the planet by reducing carbon emissions, reducing pollution, and reducing smog

10. Set an example for others in your community

 

Learning by doing is sometimes just a cognitive step toward change; but for me it feels natural and right. Hopefully more and more people will get used to Los Angeles’ continuing mass transit system upgrades; though not yet perfect—it can and does assist you to be more productive and less stressed out.

If more and more people started to realize that it’s actually easier to ride the bus than to drive, the point of taking mass transit would be more astute—it’s just easier and more fun.

For example, on this trip I was able to write and edit an entire story about Malibu’s Adamson House, from my previous notes.

streetsblog.net

There are two sites that already do a great job of covering the numerous bills, committees, plans, and other energy, public infrastructure, and additional issues of Metro news that affect us all here in Southern California, totally categorized, often explained or even advocated at Los Angeles Transportation Headlines, and at LA StreetsBlog.

For most intent and purposes we have the mass transit infrastructure in place, but often times, it’s underused or not used at all.

The objective of these Metro Monday stories is to provide readers with actual real world experiences by various Metro rides and information.

Today’s Jaunt

I didn’t start with Metro, as I usually do, but started with the Big Blue Bus.

What is the Big Blue Bus?

It’s the bus system run by the City of Santa Monica. Some of their routes are Santa Monica exclusives; however others cross into LA proper. In this case, I needed to get from Santa Monica Boulevard to the corner of Westwood and Wilshire, so I could connect to Metro’s 761– which would and did take me to the Skirball’s front entrance.

Big Blue Bus

Interestingly, out of a fleet of 210 Big Blue buses currently operating, 43% are powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which is 77% cleaner burning than diesel-fueled buses.

I didn’t have to walk too far before getting on the Big Blue Bus, so it was easy. Because it stops every 3-4 blocks, most people should be able to board the bus with relatively ease. I have a Btap card for Metro–which is what I use most of the time. For the Big Blue, the Btap card doesn’t work, so I drop $.75 into the money taker.

And off I went as I sat down and enjoyed the ride toward my destination—the Skirball Cultural Center high atop the hills of Mulholland Drive. It didn’t take long before I got off to transfer to the Metro 761. For those astute folks, the green bus in front of the big blue bus in this photo is part of Culver City’s bus system, the Culver City Bus.

The Metro 761 Bus

Metro Trip PlannerAlthough, I’ve never ridden the 761 before, and it raised my level of respect for Metro drivers as the bus ride traversed Sunset Boulevard, our driver had to navigate the curves, hills, and turns that every driver knows can be a challenge just with a car, but for a bus driver to navigate this famous and infamous twisting and narrow street with an expanded bus is applauded and appreciated.

The Metro Trip Planner

Before starting today’s trip, I consulted the Metro Trip Planner; so I knew exactly where, when, and how to properly plot a course for today’s trip. Some people state for the record that the Metro’s reputation for not being on time is legendary, but for me, this trip arrived right on time.

As I disembarked, I immediately took a mental and visual look at this:

The 405 from the Hills

And then a thought quickly reared into my psyche–I realized that my destiny lies in my ability to utilize those things that my civic community has invested into, which provides me the ability to lead a better life. And so my day began not with a headache sitting in traffic; but by easily jumping on the bus with a tad of planning, making good use of my time while traveling to my destination, and being able to spend a wonderful and gorgeous day at the exciting, meaningful, educational, and wonderfully esthetic, and historic Skirball Cultural Center.

Skirball Cultural Center

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17 Responses to “10 Reasons to Use Mass Transit”

  1. Henie says:

    Awesome suggestions, Lisa! I admire you for utilizing this! Imagine the possibilities…hmmm, it’s *doing* the possibilities in this case! :~)

    Henie’s last blog post..Memorial Day

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  2. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts) says:

    I’m inspired to do some bus riding myself. Great post and great list.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..My ‘Salad Days’

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  3. Sarah says:

    Love it! I went to a workshop for work a few days ago, and they mentioned aspects of communities that people want to live in– one was transit. The speaker made sure to mention that people like living in an area that has transit, but eh, most won’t use it, they just like the idea of transit. Hopefully this list will get some folks out of their cars!!

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  4. Diane C. says:

    I think it’s great that you’re setting and example and raising awareness that “it’s just easier and more fun” to use mass transit. As you pointed out there are so many reasons to use it.

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Cactus Monday – More Bloomin’ Saguaros

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  5. David says:

    You’re right, choosing between sitting in traffic opposed to enjoying the fresh air and being able to do something constructive to get to where you want to go doesn’t take much brain power. Does it?

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  6. LisaNewton says:

    @Henie LOL………….Yes, I like the “doing” part. Plus, I really get a chance to see LA. If you’re not drivin’, you’re lookin’.

    @Paisley The more the merrier………..:)

    @Sarah I hope so, too. If people actually see someone using it, they might be more inclined to do it themselves.

    @Diane C. Yupp, and I enjoy everyone of those reasons.

    @David Nope, it doesn’t. I really hope more people start to use it. Plus, Metro provides 2 bike racks on all of their buses. With the combination of a bike and Metro, it only gets better.

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  7. D. Travis North says:

    My favorite reason is somewhat similar to #7. I like the idea of not having to get back to the same point in the city just to go home. For example…I’ll do a day-trip into the city, do my thing, but I like to wander. Well, I can pick up the train at any number of stations and still get home okay. Philly’s trains are awesome. But the bus system really isn’t that great – at least not compared to other cities.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..SP@Flickr: Sand and Rock by Lisa Newton

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  8. LisaNewton says:

    @D. Travis North The train in LA is good, too, but there isn’t any stop close by me. I have to take a bus to get to the train. But, one of the freedoms I love is the idea that I don’t have to look for parking, which in many locations here, is a premium, or expensive. I hate coming back to a meter only to discover I’m 5 minues late and have a ticket sitting on my windshield.

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  9. Positively Present says:

    Great list! I live right next to a Metro station in DC and I really should use it more often. Thanks for posting this!

    Positively Present’s last blog post..it’s a bella life

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  10. Urban Panther says:

    I take it riding the bus is not a way of life out there? Most of us commute to and from work using public transit. And quite a number of people who who live right downtown don’t bother owning a car. If they need one to leave the city, they simply rent one.

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..Embarrassed by my fellow females

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  11. Patricia says:

    We have car sharing which I wished we did, but I kind of do that because the office car is parked in our garage and I can use it when no one has signed it out or for hauling bicycles and gear. We have great transit, which I use when I can not just walk there – small is good. I wish we would get better rail across our state, and to and from Seattle and Portland…what to do with the car once you get there? Great post. I would go and do more if I could get to the centers easier – I do adore my public library!

    Patricia’s last blog post..Hesitation

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  12. LisaNewton says:

    @Positively Present I lived for many years in and around the DC area. In fact, many years ago, when I first moved there, I was car-free for several years. Back in the day of calling the Metro service to find the various routes. It’s hard not to take advantage of the DC Metro, especially the subway system.

    @Urban Panther Yupp, riding the Metro isn’t common here. In fact, the figures I’ve read put the number at around 6%. I’d love to see that number go higher.

    @Patricia Many cities are now playing catch-up as to the best mass transit routes to put together. A system between Seattle and Portland sounds like a great idea. And you’re right, small is a fantastic start………..:)

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  13. D. Travis North says:

    @Lisa – I think you have just uncovered one of the issues of public transportation…the ability to get to it. I think NYC is probably the model for public transportation – you never have to walk more than a few blocks to get to a subway station. It’s pretty well covered in that regard, and that’s why it works. The parking lots are therefore only really used by outsiders. Even many residents on Manhatten Island don’t bother to own vehicles. Especially now with the Car Share programs that are available.

    But we’re seeing a bit of a shift in the planning world. It is now starting to be desirable to live in the cities, again. And with that comes more of a need (and justification) for public transportation. Bus routes are certainly part of it, but you’re starting to see light rail expansions popping up.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..When There’s a Will…

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  14. Lance says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I wish at times that we had mass transit closer to us. What I really do love about it is the idea of not having to find a place to park, and of reduced stress from not fighting heavy traffic. Thanks for the reminder on the many benefits of public transportation! And I love the big blue bus!

    Lance’s last blog post..This Is Funtertainment

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  15. LisaNewton says:

    @D. Travis North I totally agree about NYC, at least the part I’ve visited many years ago. I went there, parked my car for three days, and then used the subway system. All I had was a map, and that was good enough. DC also has a good Metro system, with great access even from the suburbs.

    I agree with the light rail. LA waited so long to get anything started, so it was extrememly expensive when they finally did. There are plans to expand the light rail lines, and the stimulus packages looks promising for mass transit.

    @Lance For a smaller bus system, the Big Blue does a good job. Santa Monica has a large group of older citizens, and for some, they don’t drive, so the Big Blue is their only means of transportation besides walking. It definitely works……….:)

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  16. FrugalNYC says:

    Hi Lisa!

    Love the photos as usual. I’m a big fan of Mass Transit, right after walking ;) It’s much easier to get around NYC using Mass transit, for the most part. Though it does depend on your destination and if you are traveling with little ones.

    I’ve recently been doing tons of walking, mostly around my own neighborhood and the surrounding areas.

    Thanks for sharing and for describing the Big Blue Bus :) It’s like a name out of a children’s book ;)

    FrugalNYC’s last blog post..Cataclysmic Climate Effects

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  17. Alek F says:

    Great article;
    and I fully agree with you!
    I’ve gone nearly 100% car-free, and use mass transit frequently (buses, subway, and light-rail),
    up until recently…
    MTA keeps cutting bus service, making it extremely hard to reach many destinations nowadays…
    I’ve been writing letters to legislature and MTA, but… to no avail. While they keep reducing service and shortening (some of the busiest) bus routes, they’ll lose customers, while luring drivers back into their cars.
    Shame on MTA! and Shame on our legislature!
    (let’s all strive to improve our public transportation, like normal European countries do!)
    Alek

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