Ruth and I sat in Los Angeles traffic for 3 days. We learned to double our time to every destination. If, say, we figured it would take 1½ hours to get somewhere, we’d leave 3 hours early. This did work. On our last morning, however, we decided to Go Metro. Our hotel was within walking distance of a station on the Green Line, so we got instructions from the front desk and headed to it.
Not able to figure out the ticket machine, we asked a friendly teenager for help. He told us to first get a tap card. They cost $1 each. Then he told us to put in $1.75, the base fare. We didn’t have exact coins but our mentor assured us that the machine returned change. We inserted a 10 dollar bill and now have several dollar coins. We went to the platform and figured out which side to stand on. It took about 20 minutes for the train to arrive. Our destination was Downtown LA.
Instructed to transfer to the Blue Line at Willowbrook, we found the right platform by following the people who got off. The next stop south on the Blue Line was Compton. About 9 stations further south of it was Long Beach. It took us almost 2 hours to get to the 7th Street Metro Center. We had been led to believe that this trip would take about an hour. We had to return our rental car and be at LAX in less than 4 hours. If it took us 2 hours to get back to our hotel, which seemed likely, we might have a problem, given the distance, airport traffic. etc.
We decided to forget about seeing The Bradbury Building. Instead, we had a cup of coffee, reloaded our tap cards as instructed, and boarded what we thought was a Blue Line train. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong Blue Line and headed for Santa Monica. Fortunately, we realized this quickly, got off at Pico, and returned to Metro Center. Locals assured us that this happened all the time because the system is difficult to master, signs aren’t helpful, etc.
It took us 2 hours to get back to our hotel. By that time I was tired of hearing the often repeated warnings not to take out any electronic devices and not to sexually harass other passengers.
We now consider this experience to have been both culturally fascinating and an adventure, but we’re not likely to repeat it. LA Metro operates 2,200 busses and maintains 6 rail lines. Unfortunately, if our experience was typical, it takes as long to get to a destination on the Metro as it would in a car where our GPS consistently took us through neighborhoods instead of directing us to freeways. Is there a solution to gridlock in LA LA Land?