Today’s Headlines

  • Mayor Declares Fiscal Emergency (Daily News, Times)
  • No Matter Their Age, Cyclists Want You to Share the Road (Blogdowntown)
  • Noting Road Dangers, Downtown News Notes Bicyclists Need All the Blessings We Can Get
  • Improvements Underway for SM Beach Paths (Daily Press)
  • SF’s Newsom Supports Fare Hikes Over Sunday Parking Enforcement (SF Streetsblog)
  • Why Won’t Metro Allow Bikes on Buses But Will Give Free Rides to Crazy People? (Bus Bench)
  • Bike Commuting’s Image Problem (M-Bike via Streetsblog.net)
  • Stim Cash for Water Infrastructure Funds Maryland Sprawl (Switchboard)
  • Spokker

    “Why Won’t Metro Allow Bikes on Buses But Will Give Free Rides to Crazy People? (Bus Bench)”

    Solution 1: Round up the homeless and kill them.

    Solution 2: Round up the homeless and shelter them.

    Solution 3: Turn bus drivers into super cybernetic robots if you want them to get into altercations with passengers and deny them to board the bus.

    Pick one and get on with it.

  • I’m not saying its right to deny homeless or mentally troubled people boarding. It’s not. Our social system is broken and we probably shouldn’t start uh…I guess the word would be gentrifying the bus, but the author of this post friend was stabbed by a person who was obviously insane, so a little irritation is warranted, but hopefully this is a dialogue for something that can make public transit more user friendly. My blog isn’t the place to go for happy stories about the bus, the people on my blog actually use it and as life as not always happy, driving a car is not always happy, taking a bus is not always happy, but getting shanked thankfully is a rare occurrence, though it happens and I think this bit was pretty entertaining.

    Browne

  • Spokker

    It’s not fundamentally a mass transit problem. It’s society’s problem. What responsibility do we, as a society, have to take care of the mentally ill? The answer varies from person to person and depends on many things.

    I will say this. For a country that is supposedly the greatest on Earth and has many resources to expend on playing police in foreign lands, we could probably shelter and treat these people and not break a sweat.

  • No mental health isn’t a public transit issue, but it sort it sort of is. Taking the bus is something many people with mental health issues due owing to not being able to obtain a drivers license or not being able to afford a car because many times when you have mental health issues it is difficult to stay employed.

    You can’t compartmentalize life. The issue of public transit is an issue that greatly impacts the differently abled whether their disability is physical or mental.

    I think the issues of class, race, gender, and ability can all easily go under transit, because the reason transit is in the state that is because of who rides it and who doesn’t.

    People who are less economically advantaged ride the bus and this is why the bus in regards to the current passengers is not viewed as something that needs to have money spent on it, because who cares those people are “crazy” or they are “poor” or they aren’t from “here”.

    I think it’s awesome that you have so much empathy for a guy who shanks some one with a rusty nail, but find it odd that you seem to have less empathy for the vast majority of the people who don’t have mental health issues, but go to work everyday but owing to historical circumstances are still very economically disadvantaged. I mean is it this thing with you that you feel that poor people or working poor people should be happy with shitty, scary bus service simply because they don’t have a car?

    I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that just because you either choose to not have a car or can’t afford to have a car that you should just have to put up with people stabbing you, spitting on you, cursing at you, etc…

    I’ve seen little kids on the bus and they are sitting with their moms and then some person with mental health issues gets on the bus and starts saying these vulgar things and it really pisses me off, because that kid doesn’t need to hear that and our social service system is so broken that the bus is safe place for that person and you know at some point that kind of insanity needs to stop. The people who are the most economically disadvantaged shouldn’t have to put up with all of the crap that no one else wants to deal with. I’m not for denying entry, but as they have protection for the passengers on the Red Line and in downtown they should have protection for passengers on the buslines that this tends to happen more often or at least train the bus drivers to tell a person hey, be quiet. You know in LA no one ever tells people to be quiet and that’s not a bad idea. Just so everyone knows that kind of behavior isn’t ok. Maybe it won’t work, but at least that would be more sane. This pretending like someone who is obviously insane is not there to me is a bigger problem than acknowledging their presence and letting them know they are not acting appropriate. And I think half of the issue with the homeless is not being acknowledged. If think if we could get rid of this culture of avoidance and actually talked to the guy talking to himself maybe that guy would stop doing that.

    Browne

  • M

    Browne, out of curiosity, what are the measures in place as “protection for the passengers on the Red Line and in downtown”? Are you talking about the very random security sweeps? (Actually they aren’t so random recently — they check your ticket like 4 times in one day and ignore you for the next few weeks). I’ve seen and experienced countless things like those that have been described above minus the shanking, on the Red Line and the Gold Line. I’ve seen people screaming and chanting on the Red Lines about God, going to Hell, Jesus and other things, causing people to run away to a different car because of smells, shoot up drugs, talk very loudly and intensely with others about where they were going to get drugs once they got off the train at Pershing Square, spit on people and the trains in general, drinking alcohol and falling around the trains drunk among other things. My coworker caught a older guy masturbating while sitting next to and looking at a young child sitting next to him. I’m not sure if the Red Line is the safe haven that is implied by your statement.

  • Red Line may not be a safe haven, but try taking a bus out of Pershing Square and it will completely change your perspective on the Red Line. Have you been to the Pershing Square bus stop? The one where the 91, 10 leaves out of, oh man it smells like death. It’s nasty. People scream at you, spit at you, bother you for money…the Red Line at Pershing Square may seem bad, but take the bus from that same spot, take it to Melrose or the Valley, take it at 6am or 10pm and you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

    You’ll get while there are people who will take the rail, but will not step foot on a bus and that’s common and why is that? Go to the bus stop right outside of the Pershing Square Red Line stop and you’ll think the Red Line is a slice of heaven.

    Browne

  • M

    I’ll go with you that the Pershing Square area is not exactly the favorite tourist destination in LA. I have not taken the bus you speak of, but I have walked around in that area a fair number of times, both alone and with groups of people. I do understand there is a disproportionate number of mentally ill & homeless people in that area (I’ve experience all the screaming, spitting, money stuff you mention, plus more) and as a result, there will be more of them on the buses as well. The thing is that they all don’t just stay there. Some spread out through the train stations and public transportation lines to other convenient locations and then get off at those other places. I’ve seen the same people ranting on the Gold and Red Line move from one bus shelter to another in my neighborhood in the East SFV. I’ve seen obviously mentally ill people sleeping all over the street on Ventura Blvd, close to the Red Line (further up on Ventura, away from the Red Line, I’ve never seen this), even around and inside of my apartment building. Only minutes after I wrote my last post, I walked to the Universal Red Line station this morning and was followed by a man going to the Red Line as well, screaming profane things at no one in particular. I live in Studio City, but I’m also right next to a bus layover area and a city owned patch of land that is pretty much the public toilet and public sleeping area of Studio City. The concentration of individuals is not the same, but the same behaviors and situations pop up.

    I understand that some people will not take the bus because of the other company they might have. I don’t think this can be pinned as the only reason people will ride the train and not the bus though. If that was the case, I would expect people to not walk outside because of the company they might encounter. If that is a reason people don’t walk, most are not expressing that. Most people I talk with about not riding the bus site things like it takes too long, it’s too hot/cold/wet, too rough of a ride, too unpredictable in terms of schedule, the drivers are rude/pass them by and they like having their own personal stereo and comforts available all times (ok, some of those people I don’t think have ever used any public transportation in LA).

    Honestly, the reason I don’t take the bus more frequently is because during most hours of the day, I can move around much more efficiently to the places I need to go by bike or foot (no car for me), as it generally does not require wasting 20 minutes or more waiting for a bus that I don’t know where it will go or end up (I have an extremely horrible sense of direction and I need to bike or walk around someplace a couple of times to take in certain elements of the neighborhood so I don’t get lost – that and some of the bus routes are just bizarre to me). The reason I take the train and not the bus to work is because it is more consistent and predictable in terms of the schedule and generally the drivers will not completely skip a stop.

  • Yes people dont ride the bus because of the elements, but if it weren’t for the elements why aren’t more people taking the 2 or the 4 that goes from the outskirts of Los Feliz into Echo Park and Silver Lake, runs all night, to bars and places people want to go. Why aren’t people taking it and maybe it’s because it’s cold, but in LA I don’t think so. I think there is another reason people don’t take the bus in LA, even when they are completely drunk, even when their license is suspended, even when their job is to write about alt transit and I don’t think its only the weather, but hey I could be wrong.

    I’m not saying its wrong or right in regards to the reasons, but I grew up in Los Feliz real public transit friendly area and do you know why people told me who were my friends why they didn’t take the bus, because it’s f*cking gross and weirdos take it. My bestfriend would take the Red Line only if she lost in some drinking contest to me and then she would force me to Ron Herman or some other stupid overpriced clothing store as payback for making her take that thing and she told me that hell no in regards to ever taking the bus. And she lives about 40 feet from a bus stop that will have took her to my old apartment downtown. She would rather drive her car and drink and drive her than take the bus for 15 minutes. Now I don’t know about other parts of the city, but in my part of the city that was the main reason people gave for not getting on it. And public transit advocates and Metro need to listen to that and try to fix why that is, because in some ways yeah its a bias, but in some ways while the rail is gross the bus can be alot grosser. And there is something wrong with public transit in LA beyond just the late busses, the lack of late night service, it’s nasty. And maybe because most public transit advocates are guys or they grew up in different circumstances, but its dirty and gross and unless something is done no one unless they are diehard is going to take it or bring their kids on that thing unless they have to. Maybe I’m a snob, but I was sitting on the bus one day and I thought if I ever had kids no way would I ever have them on this thing, no way. And that’s horrible, that’s horrible that my thought came in my head.

    I was on the 4 one night and a big old roach came up and said hi to me, never seen that on the Red Line and the roach was like, “Hey girl what’s up?” It saw me wasn’t even afraid, it was just kicking it there like it wanted my phone number or something.

    It’s not like I”m trying to say you shouldn’t take bus, but hey I’m just being honest.

    Browne

  • Spokker

    “The one where the 91, 10 leaves out of, oh man it smells like death. It’s nasty. People scream at you, spit at you, bother you for money”

    This happens in Hollywood. This happens in Fullerton, where I go to school. I was at an OCTA bus stop at Orangethorpe and Harbor Blvd. in Fullerton and a guy was screaming about God knows what. It’s really scary when someone like that comes up to you and starts calling you a faggot and all you can do is duck into a store and hope he forgets about you.

    My point is that these people would be better off in a shelter where they can’t shank snooty ex-boyfriends. They are not well, obviously, and need medical treatment.

  • To me at times it seems to be a different standard in the alt transit world. If someone was on their bike and someone cursed at them and stabbed them with a homemade rusty nail and wood contraption or spit on them people would be outraged, but on the bus, hey we should just deal with it. It’s normal and we should just be happy because it’s a 1.25.

    To me what’s up with the inconsistency in outrage. When a cyclist gets robbed or harassed by a gang member I bet 9/10 it’s by a person that has a good back story of poverty, horrible parents and mental instability, but its still horrible that it happened to you. A bus rider gets some kind of odd personal invasion almost weekly and it doesn’t seem to elicit the same kind of “wow that sucks” response.

    Maybe its the same reason that the when a USC student gets killed its a much more horrible thing than when some random guy from South Central gets killed.

    Isn’t every human life the same? Shouldn’t everyone’s invasion be viewed the same or is that some people matter more than others…

    Browne

  • cph

    I haven’t had any problems on either the train or bus. Of course I ride mostly during the rush hours, or midday, when it’s mostly workers and students riding….

    Night might be a whole different story, but during the relatively few times I’ve ridden at night, I don’t recall any serious problems, though I did hear about things every so often. Maybe after 2 am, when all the drunks, etc. come out might have its issues….

    On the Blue Line, mostly, I’ve seen beggars, people selling candy, toys, batteries, etc. or the occasional street preacher. Most I just tune out with a good book, Ipod, etc.

    Why the train and not the bus? There are a number of reasons, but one reason could be that infrequent users never really learn the hundred different bus routes, like they do the rail lines (granted, LA’s rail system is still at the really simple stage…). That and the MTA buses are considered downmarket (although people that would turn up their nose at a MTA bus would probably take a Commuter Express, Foothill Transit, AVTA….hell, even the MTA #450 enjoys good choice ridership, and it’s just an ordinary MTA bus painted blue. Maybe most choice riders just don’t like to fool along with buses that make stops every 500 feet….)

  • I don’t know why we can’t be honest with a big reason why people don’t take the bus and it has nothing to do with the utilitarianism of it yeah that’s part of it, but come now it’s gross. I’ve been on the two at night. It is fast. The stops only come into play during rush hour and farther west, but even though it is quick and is frequent, I don’t like it. Something about it, I don’t like it.

    Maybe if Metro heard that maybe they would do things and get its not about adding just express bus service or late night hours, it is about the bus also being a gross and nasty experience at times. Nasty bus stops, roaches, caked in dirt from never being cleaned, building bus stop in places where its dark and scary when two blocks over there is lights and coffee shops…and I’ve been on the bus all over the city and after a few trips I will say with confidence that the locals and some of the expresses are pretty disgusting. The 460 its an express. It’s quick, but its dirty. Sometimes I think I’m going to catch body lice on that thing.

    The bus driver on the 460 makes it worth it though. He’s very funny. Maybe more social bus drivers. Maybe some music. Maybe the lights can be turned down just a little when it gets dark, that harsh light at 10pm is a bit much. I don’t know make the bus more human friendly. I think cows get taken to the slaughter house in more comfort than I get taken home by the Metro.

    I think every rider is a choice rider and you shouldn’t run a system you would feel uncomfortable for your own mother to ride. That’s what I think everyone at Metro should ask, “Would I be ok with my mother riding this?” If not fix it. I think Metro is too guy centric. That’s what I think. I think too many guys and people who don’t take the bus work at Metro. I think if it were more modes of transit and gender balances that the public transit in LA would work better.

    Browne

  • cph

    Well, considering that a city bus on a popular route is a very busy public place, I suppose MTA does what it can, although admittedly some coach cleaners might be on the lazy side.

    But most of the problem is that many passengers are slobs. I mean, really, the first sign you see as you get on the bus is “No Eating or Drinking”. Of course, a lot of people interpret that to mean “No Eating or Drinking, except for me!”. And they leave food wrappers, coke cans and other stuff behind.

    Then you run into the really gross stuff from time to time–bodily fluids and such. Again, stuff like that can happen at any public place. But unlike, say, a supermarket, there’s not always someone around to clean up a mess, etc. when it happens.

    “Every rider a choice rider”–yeah, in the broadest sense. Even if you don’t have a car, you don’t necessarily need to ride transit. You could walk, bike, ask friends and family for rides, hitchhike….or maybe you live near a friendly neighborhood raitero (look it up). Or try communications instead of transportation–use the phone, write a letter, get on the web….

    Bus stops are usually the responsibility of the city in which they are located—and yes, there are some very badly kept up ones.

    You could play with the lighting I guess, and you might have conflicts with those who want to read and those who want to sleep. (Some of the express buses have reading lights, so they don’t need to have the overhead lights on all night). Same with music–too many different tastes for everyone to be satisfied. Better to leave that for people’s personal headphones.