Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Second Case Study of Mass Transit in Southern California

We have a second case study here of the mass transit system in Southern California. This time the itinerary was Escondido to Los Angeles, to Culver City, then up to Pasadena and back to Escondido.

As before, the experience was generally quite positive and as before where the system exists all is well. But when you fall off the edge of the different individual systems, when you fail to fit their profile as it were, then you are thrown on the mercies of the normal non-transit transit system of Los Angeles and may God Help You because you are doomed.

It is always important to remember that in Southern California in general and Los Angeles in particular, there is a well defined status system in place that is based on the automobile. Those who do not drive are untouchable, unclean, and are the despised dregs of society who deserve nothing more than a quick death.

But when you are on these new, partial, discontinuous transit lines, then things are pretty good. I used five different train lines on this trip: the NCTD Sprinter, Amtrak, and the Los Angeles Metro Red, Expo and Gold lines.

The Sprinter goes to/from Oceanside/Escondido and it is $2.00 each way and runs every 30 minutes. It is such a surprise to see this train, and it is so much better than what Los Angeles had anywhere in its system until recently.

The Gold line goes from Los Angeles to Pasadena and again it is very nice. I am not sure how often it runs, but often I think. The stations took me very close to where I was going and it even had a place by the curb for people to park temporarily to pick up and deposit passengers.

But getting from the Culver City Station to Beverly Hills requires descending to the brutal, traffic infested nightmare that is Los Angeles in the new century. It took an hour and $25.00 to get about 3.5 miles. What a piece of shit. The whole trip from San Diego to LA costs $26.00, so a cab ride for $25.00 for a few miles is not rational. Nor is the traffic rational.

In other words, if you get stuck in LA without a car, you are fucked.

The final problem is an interesting one and it is not clear to me what they should do about it. The way Amtrak works is that you have exactly two trains southbound to San Diego from Los Angeles, the 7:30 PM and the 10:00 PM. That is it until dawn. The later train arrives in Oceanside at least an hour after the last Sprinter has run inland. We live in the country out here and people go to bed early. The point is that if you need to take a taxi from Oceanside to Escondido it will cost you $70.00 and that is in the middle of the night when there is no traffic.

In other words, all is well until you diverge from their system, and then you should expect to pay through the nose to get home.

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