I sat there clenching to the silver cold bar that stood cemented into the long stretched mobile that was able to bring so many different people together. Despite what seems like a place to unite people, I was left feeling sheepish about where to look to.
Looking out the window got tiring and for someone with a weaker stomach, not the most enjoyable position. Unfortunately, if I looked straight ahead, I was stuck with the awkward view of the person sitting directly in front of me where a game of ‘don’t look into the person’s eyes’ begins to play between the both of you.
You must also know the silent rule of not sitting next to someone you don’t know..you just don’t do it. One space per person is the comfortable rule and is socially accepted. So then you would find my confusion when a man decides to sit right next to me..amateur. Of course came my next challenge, how to talk to someone on the bus.
If ever experiencing a bus ride in Los Angeles, the only sound playing includes the pre recorded voice stating, “For your safety please watch your step while exiting” at every single stop, a couple who have a hard time controlling their voice volume, and in common cases, the sound of someone’s headphones playing for more than one audience member. I was lucky enough to witness the unexpected wake up call of a poor man in the back, whose sleep was disrupted by the loud engine of the bus on a rainy day. The humorous moment shared with all the passengers in the backseat reinstated another unspoken rule, don’t fall asleep on the bus.
Still, I was eager to hear the opinions of my fellow bus riders. Looking around my choices of participants included a good amount of college students, elderly, and minority workers.
I grabbed the attention of Glendale Community College student, Abbey. She expressed her long hours on the bus using it as her priority means of transportation for work and school Monday through Friday. Although she was grateful for the public service she commented, ” I hate planning my schedule around it, the limited bus times make it really restrictive for when I have to leave everywhere.” An older gentlemen who stood to exit the bus stopped and turned to me, agreeing with the opinions of Abbey before stepping out onto the street.
After sitting on the bus for approximately 90 minutes, I arrived at my destination. Many Angelino’s are familiar with the wonderful smells that arise from The Grand Central Market. Walking into the rainy March afternoon, I took cover under the roofs of the market just like many others. Sitting down with my milkshake, I began conversation with two workers who stood waiting for their next customer.
David Walker and miss Gloria Vasquez are active participants of public transportation. With their job sitting in one of the most well known parts of downtown L.A, they both agreed public transportation was the most ideal means of transportation. Walker explains, “where my house is, I am lucky enough the bus stop is right out in front so getting to work is so simple and easy. I save so much money on gas and parking.” Gloria Vasquez seemed to be on the same page with her equally convenient route to work from home, “taking public transportation honestly isn’t bad at all. It’s so convenient because I only have to take one bus and if I ever want to drink and not worry about driving, you see a lot of people just take public transportation.”
“It’s super easy to understand what bus to take because they all keep rotating the same loop.” – Vasquez
Miss Vasquez was right, planning a trip using strictly public transportation was not as scary as I had anticipated. The Metro has made it uncomplicated to plan a trip with their Metro Trip Planner conveniently placed on the home page. After enjoying my time at Grand Central Market, it was time to head back home.
For this, I had downloaded the Transit App onto my Iphone for no charge. This application was my ticket to routing back to home sweet home. I inputted my final destination and gave myself a 50 minute wait time to walk around the city and find the final bust stop home.
I decided to begin my search for the final stop by following my small navigator as it lit up the closer to the destination I got. When my blue little navigator hit my target I looked up in horror to see a construction block off and a sign spelling in big bold letters ‘D-E-T-O-U-R’.
This began my long inflicting anxiety of what would have been my 20 minute ride home, into a 2 hour search party for the final bus stop. I rounded the giant green fence enclosing the construction corner only to realize my navigator kept pointing me back. Figuring a new stop could be at any corner, I continued forward. I reached an opening to the metro and rode the escalators into the dark underground station leaving the noise of traffic behind me. Arriving to a map of the colored bus lines, I gawked trying to find something familiar that would lead me back home.
Retreating back up to the streets, I was welcomed to honking buses and crowds of commuters practically running over each other in fear of not making it on their correct bus. After realizing grabbing someone’s attention in this chaos would prove almost impossible, I moved back to the streets in search of another bus stop without the assistance of my transit app due to the wonderful timing of having no service.
Reaching a new bus stop, I went back to my application to make sure I would make it onto the correct bus. A kind gentleman who noticed my confusion stopped to help. He pointed to the correct street to find my way back saying, “You really do get the hang of things after your first few try’s don’t worry. L.A makes it easy, you will always find your way back.” Before getting his name he hurriedly left for his bus ride waving goodbye as he stepped in to find a seat.
Although my mishap may be all too familiar with someone new to the hundreds of
routes and confusing map equations. Listening to the history of others shined a light on Los Angeles public transportation. Los Angeles has seemed to please it’s commuter population with the reliability, convenience, and ease of transportation. I hope to join these selected few and one day help the new girl on the streets.