Taking Time to Tell a Bus Story

This weekend the Times profiled one of Los Angeles’ many bus riders, focusing on a young woman who chooses the bus over the car to commute from the Westside to Beverly Hills.  The rider, Jacquelyn Carr, authors her own blog about her riding experiences at Snob on a Bus, and both the blog and the Times article tell a charming story of a woman who first takes the bus because she feels she has to and ends up integrating herself into the culture on the Westside part of the Metro 720.

While the Times piece is hardly groundbreaking stuff for someone that reads transit blogs or rides the bus; it is great to see Los Angeles’ paper of record delve in to transportation culture beyond the culture of the car.  As someone who has been critical of much of the Times’ coverage in recent months, especially Ari Bloomekatz who wrote this piece, it’s great to read a piece that reads as though it were part of SF Streetsblog’s "Muni Rider Profile," or a Fred Camino piece at The Source than a Times story.

Consider these couple of paragraphs, that describe riding the bus as a fun place to be:

They agreed to leave for home at 1:30 a.m. Carr had never taken the bus
that late and was not sure what to expect. Stumbling but rushing, the
group got to the bus stop just before the coach pulled away.

They piled into the front seats and started talking with the driver.
Before long, the bus was echoing with alcohol-fueled hoots and
laughter. The driver seemed to take great pleasure in playfully
needling the group, at one point calling them "idiots" for being so
boisterous. The group called her Patty, even though Carr can’t remember
whether that was her real name.

The group told "Patty" she deserved an award for best late-night bus
driver. And the ride home ended up being the most memorable part of the
evening.

  • I’m glad Bloomekatz picks up on the term “transit virginity” (i.e. “. . . recalling her virgin voyage . . .”), LOL. Can you imagine peer pressure to ride transit? That would be awesome.

  • The sad thing is the L.A. Business Jourtnal did a profile of a rider from Pico/Union who commuted to her job on the westside over a decade ago. Sad that it took this long for the Times to finally put a face to bus users.

  • I found Bloomekatz’s tone horribly condescending. Most of the commentors in the LAT article did too and I think the girl profiled was unfairly attacked. The article could have gone so many ways and it was disappointing to see he took the “wow, unlikely girl on the bus!” route.

  • I dunno, I like the angle of the story. Someone who was predisposed to write off transit finds herself trying it and it’s (gasp) actually not so bad, even good, even worth writing about (who would be crazy enough to do that :). I think that’s just the kind of thing people should hear.

    It’s all about how we need a culture that regards transit as normal, and how, maybe, we’re slowly starting to get it.

  • Nice article! Great story. Would love to see more stories like this in LA times.

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