every now and then i'll get the skeptical person who completely believes living car free and riding public transit in los angeles is just simply impossible
i understand why they think that way, but that is my everyday life and i had never not gone somewhere because i couldn't find a way and even though in the beginning it was very hard, after 5 years of riding, my perception has changed. moving around the city couldn't be easier for me if i owned a car
just in the month of June 2018 31,541,377 riders used los angeles public transit (bus and rail) you can see more stats here
so there is no denying people are using transit, even though the city as whole or more like the identity of this city does not want to acknowledge, a lot of people ride public transit
now, i have to admit there is a lot of privilege in my way of living and the life style i chose. i ride transit because i can afford to choose where to live, where to work and what to do for fun. many people who perhaps rode transit before and were finally able to get a car to commute to work 20 miles from home must feel like having a car is the best option of the two, and i agree.
this city/county is so big that riding transit is not for everyone. where you live and where you work might not depend on you as much as you'd like and moving around the city from very far distances and maybe having family obligations such as having children might make taking transit like such a nightmare.
with that being said, these tips are for people who like me, live within the central area of los angeles and are interested in riding transit but feel like it is too hard, here i present 5 ideas that might make riding public transit easier and with time make it even a pleasant part of your day!
the first thing you need to do to live car-free is to be patient. there is this illusion when driving a car that we are in control of the situation, that it depends on us to be on time when in reality it depends on the traffic (and there is plenty of that in la) so when you take transit you feel like everything is out of your control and that makes you very impatient. feeling this way can only dampen your experience. be patient. public transit works, is just NOT the same as riding your car
2. plan ahead
do research, what is the best route? what is the fastest? more frequent? more accessible for you? in advance use google maps to check the transit option of the directions to see all the options there are for you and also the estimated time it will take to get to your destination, this will give you an idea of when you have to leave to make it on time. I'd also advise to use transit app to see when the bus/train is coming. the more you plan ahead the easier it gets, if you see the bus is coming in 3 min and you know you won't make it to the stop before it gets there then you can wait at home/work/restaurant until the next one comes instead of waiting at the stop. when you plan ahead you leave on time and get to your destination on time. plan your day ahead knowing how long it will take to get to where you are going and there will be less chances of surprises and disappointments. however in the case that this happens see tip #3
3. be prepared to accept change
this ties in with being patient but it also means to be open to the possibility that plan a might not work (like bus/train not coming on time, delays and/or transit breaking down) in the unfortunate case that this may occur you need to accept the fact that things happen, nothing is perfect and that there are other options to get to your destination. maybe if you walk to another street you can catch another bus that could work for you and get you if not to your destination at least close enough to walk
4. always come prepared
when riding transit or walking for that matter always wear comfortable clothes and shoes. be prepared to be cold (ac on buses or trains can sometimes be blasting even though it is not too hot outside) also you never know how long you'll be out. another thing is that when on foot or transit you need to carry everything yourself (no car trunk where to store all you carry) so be mindful of that and try not to carry more than it is comfortable. bring snacks, water, headphones, maybe reading material if you like to read and don't forget hand sanitizer :)
5. remember the city is for everyone
keep in mind you'll be sharing close spaces with all kinds of people because transit is for everybody and so are the streets. so be kind to other riders and to the buses and trains we all use. don't blast music, don't litter, don't put bags on the seats when the bus is crowded and there are people standing and also give your seat when somebody needs it (like a mom and a baby, older people, people with disabilities etc)
hope these help
happy riding everybody!