A recent survey by a local civil rights organization appears to confirm widespread notions about the lackluster quality of the city’s public transport system.
The survey, conducted by the Bus Riders Union, Los Angeles, gave the Metropolitan Transportation Authority a “D,” criticizing the MTA for high prices and slipshod efficiency.
The poll was conducted by distributing postcards to about 2,600 local bus riders, who were asked to grade the MTA on seven different criteria, according to the Bus Riders Union website. Among the categories under which the MTA received a “D” or worse were fare prices, overcrowding on the buses and shortage of service.
Though students said they shared some of the same issues with the bus riders, many don’t find the system as troublesome as other riders.
Myka Winder, a graduate student studying occupational therapy, said she uses the commuter line almost every day to get to USC from her home in the South Bay.
“I’m very satisfied with the Metro system, most of the time,” Winder said. “They don’t always have enough room on the buses and some of them break down, but it’s very efficient.”
Rahul Dureja, a senior majoring in computer science, said even though they system can be frustrating at times, he is satisfied with the overall state of LA’s public transportation.
“It is a very good service and the drivers are very friendly,” Dureja said. “[Though] during peak hours it’s overcrowded, and on the weekends the time between buses is very long.”
Though some students didn’t seem concerned, Barbara Lott-Holland, co-chairman for the Bus Riders Union, said she believes they should be.
“Students are affected, especially after rush hour; the buses are fewer,” Lott-Holland said. “If you’re a student working, when you’re running from class to class, and then trying to get to that job that helps to subsidize your higher learning, that’s very serious.”
Marc Littman, the Metro’s director of public relations, questioned the validity of the Bus Riders Union’s poll.
“They only looked at bus riders on the busiest lines. They looked at just 2,000 [people]. With our poll that we did last June, we looked at 50,800 system-wide bus and rail riders… We did not look at just our busiest lines but all our lines,” he said.
In fact, a similar survey conducted earlier yielded very different results.
“What our survey found last June was that 80.6 percent were satisfied with the metro bus service … 73.3 percent responded that Metro bus service is better now than last year,” Littman said.
Still, Littman did admit there were some flaws in the system.
“Our on-time performance is critical. We need to improve that,” said Littman.
“Our fares are the lowest of any transit property in the United States. The base fare is $1.25 … If you’re a student here, for $36 you can get a pass.”
Littman noted he has taken the bus for more than 40 years.
“You shouldn’t have the illusion that we can be as fast and convenient as a car — we just aren’t,” Littman said. “The best thing to do is go to metro.net and use the trip planner.”