Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Riding around on 2 wheels

Today I spent most of my trip on the Montebello Bus Line 41 sleeping until I realized I was about one stop away from where I needed to get off. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people talk really loud on their cell phones in the bus. Apparently the guy behind me was frustrated about some Architect Committee members sending out rogue e-mails with other people blind copied. The fact that I even know this much proves how loud and obnoxious this one sided conversation was. Anyways, after exiting on 3rd and Spring I walked down to 6th and Spring to wait for the 33/333. It took about 10-15 minutes for the bus to arrive, but once boarded we had to wait an additional few minutes to allow a rider in his wheelchair on the bus.

This got me thinking how difficult it must be to get around a city like L.A. in a wheelchair. Owning a van with a wheelchair lift is VERY expensive, plus having to modify it with hand controls is another cost. But for $.25 someone can travel on Metro throughout the County. This is a huge public benefit that is not often considered when talking about public bus transit. The bus also allows disabled individuals to be dropped even closer to their destination as opposed to the fixed routes of light rail/subway/busways. Unfortunately, there remains several problems for disabled passengers when using Metro: 1) not all buses have the wheelchair lifts/they are not always working; 2) the frequency of the bus service can lead to VERY long commutes; 3) the passenger must always know where he/she wants to get off so the bus driver can assist them in debarking, which requires extra planning and research on the part of the rider.

Overall, I would hope that by improving the overall bus system for all riders, disabled passengers would benefit even more as they depend on public transit for the majority of their transportation needs.

Total transit time today: 90 minutes; 50 minutes from Whittier to Downtown L.A.; Transfer wait: 10-12 minutes; 10 minutes from Downtown L.A. to Pico Union


Leslie Moniot said...

I don't live in L.A. but I do live in Denver, where I've taken public transit quite a bit, and I always think of this issue, selfishly, because it always makes the bus late. Another issue people in wheelchairs face, which I learned working in retail, is shopping. So many stores don't provide standard ADA access for people in wheelchairs. I feel like nobody speaks up for the handicapped. I'm glad you wrote about this.

betsey said...

What time of day did you leave? I'm curious what the commute time and experience would be like during peak hours. Thanks for keeping us all focused on an important national and local issue!