23 January 2008

And the transportation saga continues...

The outlook this week in Los Angeles has been abysmal at best. Just as I started to hit my stride, just as I was getting into the wacky roller coaster of my schedule for this semester, I started to get sick....and then it started to rain. And since all of this happened, the highlight of my week thus far has been purchasing a pair of red galoshes with a gift certificate (i.e., free) which made trudging around in the rain on Wednesday a little less unbearable.

Before the rain, and the bronchitis, hit, I visited a temporary outpost of the SmartCar dealers on Abbot Kinney in Venice. And you have to admit, these things are cute:

So, you can imagine what I was thinking as I went from bus to soggy, overcrowded bus this week...."oh if I only had that SmartCar". Last night I discovered that my regular bus route home from school changed, even though there was no notice of this anywhere. And of course I would have loved to bike this week, but even if I did have fenders on it, using it would have been impossible anyway since I barely had the energy to walk in the first place.

On top of all of this comes the news that ZipCar has bought out FlexCar in Southern California. As a FlexCar member, I was assured that the service would be just as good, and that the transition would be seamless between the two companies. Then I heard from another friend in West LA that they got a notice from ZipCar which stated the following: "In Southern California, we have decided to remove our vehicles from areas outside of the universities we serve (cars will remain at UCLA, USC, Pomona, UCSB, UCSD and UCI)." Apparently ZipCar didn't feel the need to send me this notice since I attend USC, but what they don't understand is that it makes the most sense for me to use the cars parked directly behind my building in DOWNTOWN LA. Which are now, in fact, gone.

So I'm back to being frustrated again. What it boils down to is the fact that Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the country, and there is not a truly viable public transportation system here. I hate it when people tell me, "well, you're in LA, you should just get a car". No, that's not the point. I live in one of the most culturally, socially, and economically diverse regions in the world, and the point is that the people in charge of it need to be better stewards of their city. Why is this so hard? What is it going to take to get some proactive leaders, and for the people here to realize that a fully operational public transportation system is in everyone's best, long-term interests? The writers may be on strike right now, and that's hurting us in ways we can't understand quite yet....but what I really want is for the highways to go on strike. Perhaps that would wake fellow Angelinos up from their foggy, fume-induced haze.

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