Adventures on the LA Metro, Part III – Bus vs. Expo Line – To Culver City We Go

LA Buses That’s right people, I didn’t just stop at the rail lines.  I also attempted buses.  Since I was attending a 4th of July party across town and figured, what a perfect time to test out the new rail line to Culver City.  But according to Google Maps, the bus trip would be much faster, so I went for it.  On the 217 bus from Hollywood to Venice, I got a seat and witnessed all manner of people who ride regularly.  From the elderly to those who look like they’re down on their luck, the LA bus accepts all people, along with their overflowing grocery bags.  One woman had such a load of baggage as she stepped on the bus from the area around the Grove that she needed a whole other seat just for her bags.  I would’ve worried about how she was going to get home, but the determination in her face told me she would’ve hauled those bags 50 miles rather than ask for anyone’s help.

I got off the bus on the corner of Venice and Fairfax, along with three British girls who were definitely clones of Jessa from HBO’s Girls – dressed super hip with adorable hats and all wearing some kind of American flag print (what? Brits can show their American pride as good as the rest of us).  As we waited for the bus, they asked me about the liquor laws on the beach.  Being the good, law-abiding citizen I am, I told them to hide hard liquor in bottles of soda or juice, the police will never know the difference.  When they asked me what to do if they got caught, I told them to use their accents and talk their way out of it.  Then they asked me if we were really strict on the drinking age here.  That’s when I hit my facepalm moment.  So not only did I give terrible advice that could get these foreigners in trouble, they weren’t even old enough for my terrible advice.  But I learned an important lesson not to trust the advice of people (me) that you meet at a random bus stop.  I was setting an example, a bad example, but hey, someone has to.

All in all, this trip took about an hour, 1/3 of that waiting for the second bus, which was packed with eager 4th of July beachgoers.  I’ll keep that idea in my back pocket for the next random holiday that would make an excellent beach day.  Take that $20 holiday beach parking!   The bus was probably the biggest step for me in the world of public transportation.  I can’t explain it, but I was completely intimidated by those giant orange vehicles.  But in LA, only the bus lines can guarantee you access to anywhere.  The rail lines are very limited, though they continue to grow.  But the bus is easy enough to use as long as you know what route to take, and it definitely takes the stress and headaches out of navigating the streets of LA.

Expo Line – We’ve arrived at the end of my public transit adventure thus far.  After the 4th of July party, it was about 9:30PM, and I was a little nervous at the prospect of hanging out at a bus stop on my own at night.  If I’ve learned anything living in a big city on my own, it’s that you’re pretty safe as long as there are people around.  It’s when there’s no one around and that one creeper walks up to you that you need to worry.  So instead of a return journey on the bus, I opted for the rail line.

The surrounding area of the new Expo Line stop at Culver City is still under construction and, I won’t lie, a little bit sketchy in the dark.  I walked pretty quickly up to the platform, but there was a train right there so I hopped right on.  Now the thing about the Expo Line is that it pretty much goes straight through a part of LA that I’ve been conditioned to never go to, so though I was confined in the safety of a train, I was a little apprehensive about riding through there at night.  The first few stops there really weren’t many people (I chalk this up to the line being new), but right about when we hit the center of the area that made me nervous, a TON of people piled on.  Families, students, etc. all crowded into the train, excited from their 4th of July activities.  There was nothing to be concerned about, it was all just average people using the train system to go out or get home.

This is really what I love about public transit.  Having a car in this city places most people in a certain group.  It dictates a lot the kinds of people I run into because I’m secluded in my car until I reach my destination.  I rarely see people who don’t run in the same circles I do, be that my neighborhood, workplace, favorite restaurants/bars, etc.  Public transit is such a utilitarian experience.  I go where the bus or train takes me, so I’m taken through areas that I wouldn’t normally see (even if it is just through the glass of the train), and I’m exposed to people I probably wouldn’t be around normally.  People of a different age range, class, race, culture.  I haven’t gotten up the courage to talk to any of these people yet, but it’s so refreshing to be around them.  An besides, when can I experience a crazy old man singing an a capella Sammy Davis Jr. song for tips while sitting in my car?

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~ by sarahjeanne on July 24, 2012.

One Response to “Adventures on the LA Metro, Part III – Bus vs. Expo Line – To Culver City We Go”

  1. Love the photo!

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