This past summer, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority began to crack down on freeloaders of the Metro system by locking turnstile gates and placing Metro employees throughout the subway stations for random fare checks.
Though the Metro is not wrong to want people to pay for their transportation, the system itself is pricey for riders and is not friendly to the everyday working- class citizen who uses the Metro. Moreover, Los Angeles’ subway and bus systems are infamous for being dangerous. On Aug. 6, a 35-year-old man was killed by a Metro train at the Pershing Square stop in downtown Los Angeles. Accidents like this one cause commuters to lose faith in public transportation.
Beyond safety concerns, the Metro is also agonizingly slow; the trains have to stop at traffic lights just like cars and buses, causing delays and long travel time for riders. While the L.A. Metro worked with the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and successfully synchronized traffic lights in Los Angeles, little improvement in commute times have been seen thus far.
When the syncing of every traffic signal in L.A. was first announced, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl said, “I’m excited for all Angelenos to experience the benefits of this project, whether they’re traveling by car, bike or on foot.”
Rosendahl did not even note the effect the sync would have on public transit in his approval of the newest addition to Los Angeles.
When the Expo line opened its light rail in May of last year, Neal Broverman of Curbed Los Angeles wrote, “With all the line’s delays, it can be safely assumed that many don’t even know it’s operating yet.”
The newest problem with the Metro system, although not necessarily new at all, is its price.
Unlike in New York, where one swipe of $2.50 gets you into the subway and onto all lines, the Los Angeles Metro requires a fee of $1.50 every time you transfer stations. To put this into perspective, to get from USC to Koreatown requires two line transfers, and would therefore cost you $3.00 each way. Though the Metro does offer daily passes for only $5, as well as monthly passes for commuters and discounts for students, many people unfamiliar with Los Angeles are unaware of these options and also don’t know how much more they will be spending if they opt out of a day pass.
Ever since the crackdown on freeloaders of the Metro, the number of riders has significantly decreased. Paul Gonzales, who works with the Metro, told Southern California Public Radio, “We found in most cases that we’re seeing fewer riders during the testing period but more revenue.” While this may be a victory for Metro, there are now people who cannot afford to commute by Metro, which is the cheapest available method of getting around the city.
Without a sufficient public transportation system, people make the decision instead to drive their cars everywhere they go, further polluting the environment and perpetuating the monstrosity that is L.A. traffic. With a faster, cheaper and safer system, fewer people would have to drive their cars to work.
If Los Angeles ever wants to see its public transportation systems compare to those of other major cities, there are many things that need to change. The unfriendly pricing of the TAP card makes public transportation seem like an elitist system, and it only encourages people to drive their cars to work and create even more smog in the Los Angeles air.
If Los Angeles were to eliminate the charges that arise from switching Metro lines, commuting would cost less in the long run and enable those with lower incomes to use public transportation. If the city also made it a bigger priority to get the Metro and buses running more efficiently, Los Angeles would be more accessible without a car.
Morgan Greenwald is an undecided sophomore.
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