One of the immediate reactions I got when announcing my move to Los Angeles was that I would need a car, patience during rush hour traffic and a decent GPS. Instead, my experience is that an authentic LA is best experienced from the sidewalk or on a bus.
For many, LA life revolves around finding parking, changing lanes and maneuvering the freeways. Conversations start and end with phrases such as “you should take the I-10 West to the 405 North”, a jargon quickly adopted by newcomers. “We call freeways parking spaces” candidly exemplifies this view of the car as an integral part of everyday life, where fashionably late simply means you’ve underestimated the rush hour traffic yet again.
In stark contrast to this single-rider, somewhat entitled view of the city, I have a second story to tell about discovering LA. It is not as people say, “that nobody walks or takes the bus or uses the metro”. In fact, it is used by a great number of people, offering you a different story of Los Angeles. The past 6 months I have been using one of the more crowded bus routes traversing the city, the 720 Wilshire Rapid, from East LA to Santa Monica.
The 720 route runs along Wilshire Boulevard, offering a 23 miles socio-economical journey. After leaving East LA, the bus passes through Skid Row, the high rise landscape of the inner city and further through Koreatown on its way westward. Passing the museums at the Miracle Mile, the route takes you to the shopping mecca of Beverly Hills before greeting the UCLA campus and rolling downhill towards Santa Monica beach. This daily routine has taught me that LA is more complex and honest than I had imagined.
Yes, it is sometimes a few minutes late, and yes it is often crammed full of commuters. Still, you haven’t experienced a true LA until you have seen the city from the inside of a bus. Here are 3 reasons why everyone should take a bus in Los Angeles:
1. It’s cheap and effortless. It only costs 1 dollar and 50 cents to ride the bus for an entire hour, and it lets you read or listen to a book and relax instead of worrying about changing lanes or insurance policies.
2. It’s efficient and clean. Busses in LA are remarkably climate friendly and clean, making a great effort to cutting emissions. In rush hours, many are equipped with smart technology to aid with traffic lights and keep to the schedule.
3. It gives you a reality check and a new perspective. Riding the bus brings you closer to everyday people with everyday lives. It helps you stay grounded and in sync with the regulars of the world, and allows you to find your place among the many different people of Los Angeles. Try it, and you’ll learn something new.