Metro Diary: It’s 9:30 P.M….Do You Know Who’s Riding Metro?

Night riders on the Expo Line include people headed to L.A. Live and a 24-hour recycling center on Alameda

“Can you really take your bike on the train??” one of the two girls at the Expo/Vermont station asked me, incredulous.

I had just ridden up from a meeting with the folks from City Lites about their upcoming sports and health event and thought it would be a good opportunity to see who was riding the Expo Line. I’d been keeping an eye on the stations all week and hadn’t seen more than a few people at the stops at any given time.

“Yes, of course,” I told her, a little puzzled. Then it dawned on me. “Have you ridden the train before?”

“No, this is our first time!” she looked at her friend. “We’re really excited!”

Although now at the end of their first year as grad students at USC, they complained they still found L.A. “really hard to navigate” and the idea of riding a bike “terrifying.” So, the Expo Line represented a painless portal to adventure and freedom to them.

I was a bit surprised at how full the train was when it pulled up. I mean, it wasn’t Red or Blue Line-full, but there was at least one rider on each side in every row of seats. I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised — it was 9:30 on a Thursday night and many of the folks on board were headed either to L.A. Live or somewhere downtown to go out.

Night riders on the Expo Line.

But not everyone was looking for a party.

One man (whose name I didn’t catch) was headed to the 24-hour recycling center on Alameda. He had a pretty good-sized haul piled on a stroller. He’d been collecting around the Leimert Park area and gotten on at the Expo/Western stop.

I asked how long it had taken him to gather all the cans and plastic, thinking it might have been an all-day effort. He laughed. He was strategic about it, he explained. He had hit a dense area where there were about 4000 units, so it had only taken a few hours to fill up his bags.

“Anyone bother you about getting on the train with all this?” I asked, gesturing at the stroller.

“Oh no,” he said. “That’s a stroller under there. You can ride with strollers.”

“You know what you’re doing, is what you’re telling me,” I said.

“Oh yeah, I certainly do!” he laughed and nodded emphatically. He’d been collecting recyclables for years and found that he could make a decent enough living. He used to take the Blue Line to the recycling center. The opening of the Expo Line had expanded the range of territory he could cover.

He stood up as we approached the Pico Station.

“Now, you have a nice evening,” he said and, with a wink, he was gone.

Have you been riding the Expo Line? Tell us about your experience.

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