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  ยปPublic transportation? In L.A.? Surely you jest.
June 15th, 2010

With my departure from Spain and return to California quickly approaching, my head has been filled with all kinds of plans for what to do when I’m back. And living the tourist life for almost a year has made me want to continue seeing the world that way even after I return to the city I’ve spent my entire 21 years in. I want to take daytrips to cute nearby towns, like my current daytrips to places like Toledo and Salamanca. I want to discover adorable, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops like the countless establishments I pass by every day in Madrid. I want to visit all the museums in L.A. I’ve somehow managed to avoid my entire life (though I may die if I have to see one more 16th-century religious painting). I’ve taken advantage of all these things in the ten months I’ve spent in Madrid but never in the 21 years I’ve spent in L.A., but it’s not too late to start.

One of my favorite things about Madrid (and all of Europe) is the ease of public transportation. I walk a minute to the metro station, hop on a metro for a few minutes, maybe do a transfer or two, and then I’m at my destination, without having to worry about gas money or parking or focusing while I drive. Whenever anyone here asks me how the public transportation is in Los Angeles, I loudly guffaw and then answer some variation on, “Horrendous!” And L.A. public transportation definitely does get a bad rap, though I have to admit, I have very limited experience with it, so is it really as horrendous as I proclaim? I’ve taken the Gold Line from Pasadena to Olvera Street, which was easy and eliminated the parking problem, and I used to take the local bus the few blocks from my middle/high school to my house, which also worked well. I think people in L.A. believe public transportation to be full of smelly vagabonds and dangerous gang members, but I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near as bad as some think. Besides, I’m very accustomed to visits from dirty, limbless, singing beggars in the Madrid metro. How bad could the patrons of Los Angeles public transportation really be?

So my plan this summer is to experiment with L.A. public transportation. I have a fantastic car with great gas mileage, but this will be an adventure. I’ve checked out Metro.net, which has a handy trip planner, and though there may not be metro stops conveniently located every few blocks like we have here in Madrid, and though public transportation, in most cases, takes a lot longer than driving by car, it’s definitely possible to get around. There’s a bus stop about a two minute walk from my mom’s house and a train station thirty minutes away (or five minutes by car, though a 30-minute walk seems minimal after all the walking I’ve done here). I’m sure the summer heat will make the walking considerably less fun, but it’s worth a shot, right?

Anything I can do to keep pretending I live in Europe. And maybe I can spend less money and save the environment while I’m at it.

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