Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest BlogPost Today at Charmed Weddings

I'm really excited that my very first Guest Blog Post is up, check it out here.

I don't know how many of my readers are planning a wedding, but just in case a great resource is Liz Coopersmith at Silver Charm Events. Not only does she write a very helpful blog, but she hosts teleconference calls with industry professionals about all questions wedding including catering, photography, and choosing a venue. Last but not least she is a regular contributor to one of my favorite wedding blogs around the Broke-Ass Bride Blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Featured on Metro's the Source Blog

I'm so excited to report that my "Why I Ride" profile I submitted to Metro was posted today to the Source blog. I've appreciated reading the different profiles about why people choose to ride Metro or in some cases choose not. I've also thought the suggestions provided by many of those profiled have been useful and constructive. My main suggestion (despite being a daily rail user) is to improve the quality of the bus system in LA. The infrequency, unreliability and lengthy trip times of the current bus system make them a choice for only those without any other option.

The bearded man and I discussed yesterday why we love where we live so much yesterday. And despite the cute neighborhood of shops and cafes the real reason we love it is our commute. We both manage to have 20 minute commutes to our workplaces. The key thing in the future will be a) always considering our commute when we choose where to live and b) being willing to move if the job is worth it so that we can live approximately halfway between both of our jobs. This also means that purchasing a home does not work with this philosophy, because that will essentially root us in one place. As much as I would love to be able to rip out the carpet in my living room or throw large outdoor BBQs in a big backyard it does not outweigh all the extra time I have added to my day by not driving.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Adventures in Crafting- Favors

I like to craft. Growing up in the Girls Scouts I would spend time making handmade Christmas ornaments and using rubber stamps on just about anything. In Junior High I got into scrapbooking and most recently have tried my hand at sewing. The problem with all of these is that I don't like mistakes and once I've screwed something up (in my mind) I tend to just give up on the whole project.
Once engaged though it became evident that crafting and DIY (do-it-yourself) are super popular ways to make your wedding feel personalized and help save some dough. I decided I would only craft things that a) I couldn't find somewhere online for a decent price or b) didn't exist and would be forced to create myself. So far I've taken on two major craft projects for the wedding: favors and invitations.
Our favor idea came from one of my favorite Christmas gifts- a pint glass with a rectangle of chalkboard paint that lets you put your name on it infinite amounts of times. Here's the inspiration:
Image courtesy of Incredible Things
Unfortunately those cost $4 each and black does not go with my color scheme. (Side note: I don't really have a color scheme, I have a color- green.)

So I decided to do a test run and try my hand at making my own. The bearded man and I picked up 6 Vanlig pint glasses at Ikea for $3.99. We then headed over to a true Los Angeles gem- Jill's Paints to pick up primer and chalkboard paint. We decided to go with a foam roller at the suggestion of the friendly staff at Jill's and picked the only green shade that we liked from the selection at hand. The primer, chalkboard paint and foam rollers came to about $45. I randomly taped up some rectangles on each glass and got to priming. Here's what they looked like after Step 1:
I decided to leave them over night to dry before adding the first coat of green chalkboard paint. I didn't love it with the first coat so I waited another 24 hours before adding a second one and voila:I'm really pleased with how they came out and have already put them through the dishwasher once to see how they hold up. Next we'll be buying the remaining 200 (YIKES!) pint glasses at a restaurant wholesale supplier and getting to work. I might reconsider this as a good idea around #150, but oh well I'm in for the long haul now!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

No I'm not starting early for 2011, but I was about to write out a To Do list when I came across my 2010 New Year's Resolutions. I'm so glad I kept this, because it's fun to see which of those things I've crossed off, which I still haven't done and those I completely forgot about even promising to do.

1. Exercise 3x/week and go to yoga 1x/week.
I haven't kept this up consistently throughout the year, but this was by far my healthiest year yet. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I'm not commuting 45 min or more each way to work and have an extra 90 minutes a day to spend at yoga or working out. Funny enough I also canceled my gym membership this year, because with 2 people and 1 vehicle having to drive to a separate location to work out was not convenient. Instead I've switched to yoga classes down the street from my train station, running outside and Jillian Michael's 30-day Shred at home in the living room.

2. Take a trip to a different continent.
This was one of the worst years for traveling. Although the bearded man and I managed to fit in a lot of shorter trips: Grand Canyon, Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco (twice), San Diego; there was no international travel. Our last trip of the year will be to another national park which is great since we'll probably not be able to fit one in next year with the wedding.

3. Consolidate IRAs.
A major fail on this one, especially since it's been on my list for 2 years! I hate dealing with the paperwork, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to try and get this done by the end of the year. Due to my plethora of jobs, I have about 5 disparate accounts all just languishing.

4. Cook food I like.
I have to hand it to Real Simple for all of the awesome easy recipes with a few ingredients. The bearded man and I cooked through all 20 of the dinners listed in their 4-week menu plan for dinner. I would say we enjoyed more than 75% of them and there are some we have already made again! I also need to credit again my lack of a commute for my ability to cook more often.

5. Organize apartment/purge.
We have a constant "outbox" where we put stuff that we want to give away and every so often I go through my wardrobe to look for items I no longer wear, are worn out or don't fit. The best plan I can think of for doing this is Apartment Therapy's Home Cure, which just finished but there are awesome short videos to lead you through it. Coupled with the book makes it easier than you might think.

6. Invest in home furnishings/art.
Only made modest progress on this one. We bought a big mirror for the living room and finally framed our favorite photo from a trip to Brazil, but that's it. The majority of our walls are still just plain old white. As for furnishings we purchased a chest for the living room to hold the pull-out bed sheets/blankets, a liquor cabinet/board game holder, and some new throw pillows, but that's about it.

7. Run two half marathons.
I ran three this year, so here's one resolution officially checked off complete.

8. Finish college scrapbook.
I have made so little progress on this one that I wonder if I'll ever want to finish it, but I think I'll make the commitment to finish this one and then maybe go for easier digital versions in the future (Shutterfly, Costco photobooks, etc.) I just never want to take the time to get out all of the supplies, make the necessary amount of mess and clean it up.

So out of 8 resolutions I've managed to do at least most of them a little and 3 of them completely. Guess it's time to start thinking about some new goals for 2011, maybe blogging a little more frequently?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SF vs. LA Transit

So the SF Giants have managed to make it all the way to the World Series, take down the un-hittable Cliff Lee and win the first of four games to be crowned Champions of Baseball. But how does the Bay Area's transit system match up to LA's?

1. The airport: SF's rail line picks you up at the airport. LA makes you take a shuttle that can be confusing and time consuming. 1 point SF.

2. Price: This is tough, because it depends what system you are using in SF. There are two main transit operators: BART- the Bay Area Rapid Transit and Muni which is the local bus and light rail provider within SF proper. BART's prices are based on geographical distance with a heavy premium for the airport. It cost $8.10 from SFO to Civic Center station (approximately 25 minute trip). The Metro line is $1.50 per ride with no transfers, so if you happened to only take the Green Line to the LAX shuttle it would only cost $1.50. If you had to transfer a day pass might save you some money and runs $5.00, still cheaper than BART. Muni though can be significantly cheaper than Metro, because it allows on and off privileges for 90 minutes for $2 and we managed to go from brunch, to Golden Gate park and to lunch all on one fare. Metro does not allow transfers and taking four buses would have cost $6.00 at a $1.50 per ride. 1 point for SF for Muni's transfers, 1 point for Metro for non-geography based fares.

3. Convenience: Now here's where SF really stands out from LA. First, BART has a paper fare card that can be reused, reducing the number of times you have to visit the fare machine. Times for when the next BART or Muni will arrive are available online and via the iPhone. In the station, times are listed for the next arrival of a train (soon to be available in LA, but should have been around for awhile now). Metro only recently created an iPhone app, but it still does not provide real-time updates for bus/rail arrivals and there is no mobile version of bus/rail schedules (only a painfully slow-loading PDF version). 1 point for SF

4. Style: Now I know this is not as important, but I do want to at least give props to LA for not putting carpet and fully upholstered seats on their rail like BART. I always worry about the number of germs and nastiness that must be living in them. Also, MUNI has weird seat set-ups in their buses with seats facing each other that seem like space wasters. Plus, the public service ads in MUNI paled in comparison to the beautiful Metro ad campaigns.
1 point for LA

Final tally: SF, 3 vs. LA, 2. Looks a lot like our baseball season, they're better than us, but not by much. And with today's approval of the expansion to the Westside, we'll start being able to build a system in the near future that can compete with our Northern neighbors.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

L.A. ranked #4 among workers using transit

A recent release from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey listed the LA Metro region #4 in terms of the number of workers using transit, but the percentage of workers using transit LA is still lagging behind at 6.2%. I think there may be several reasons for the lack of more transit riders, but here's a few:

1. Employers are more willing to subsidize parking rather than transit. Until parking becomes a scarcity it is a difficult sell. Metro has already put in place reduced transit fares for employers through its B-Tap program. Unfortunately, Metrolink's sizable expense results in employer reimbursements' accounting for a very small portion of the cost. In other cities such as SF, DC and NY the cost of a monthly parking spot can equal rent on a small studio.

2. Many of public transit riders in LA are not workers, but rather students, elderly and of course those people who don't ride i.e. the unemployed. Not that other Metropolitan areas don't have the same types of riders, but I think LA has a disproportionate amount of non-working riders. I would be interested to see how LA matches up against other areas when all transit riders are considered.

3. LA has several areas where the majority of workers are headed. Traveling to DTLA via transit is very doable, but other city centers: Century City, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Westwood, Burbank, etc. are so spread apart that having reliable, frequent trips for workers is difficult.

The reasons I ride transit have a lot to do with the fact that my transit is subsidized by my employer; I work in DTLA at a transit hub, i.e. Union Station; and I learned how to ride transit from my time at USC where parking costs over $300/semester (parking scarcity). Take away one of those and I might be with the other 93.8% of workers in the LA Metro area- stuck in traffic, in a car by myself, listening to NPR and cursing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A New Topic for a Bit

As much as I love writing about transit, it's been getting a little tedious. Mostly because I tend to travel the same route 5 days a week and except for the occasional rant or transit-related news item there isn't much for me to write about. But I have been ditching my usual reading of transit and policy blogs/articles for a much different topic- Weddings.

The bearded man and I got engaged a couple days after our 4 year anniversary. He couldn't do it on the actual anniversary date, because I'd be "expecting it and it wouldn't be a surprise." So instead he chose to wait to a random rainy Saturday after coming home from brunch with his Dad. There was no grand gesture, but it made me laugh and I started cursing once I realized what was actually happening. So fast forward 7 months and we are now 6 months away from our wedding date- 04.02.11. And interestingly enough my dependency on public transit has affected some of my wedding planning decisions- so this blog won't totally lose its feel. But since I've managed to already change it once, I thought why not one more time? This will be a whirlwind of activity and I thought that it might be fun to invite the internets in on the fun/chaos.

Thanks for putting up with me!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Constructive Tweeting

I had a bummer experience on Metro last Friday. After leaving a little early to be able to purchase some breakfast on my way to work, I arrived with a good 3 minutes to purchase my one-way pass with my pre-paid token. The first machine I used ate my token. I put it in and nothing happened, no ticket, no returned token. Now instead of being a smart Metro rider, I decided to try the same machine again. I thought maybe my first token was stuck and the second would jar it. Bad idea as my second token was promptly swallowed up.

The Mission Gold Line station only has two machines for each direction. The other was being used by what I could only assume was an infrequent Metro rider, as she used at $20 bill to purchase her $1.50 pass and spent several moments trying to count up her $1 coins. Luckily, she finished up her transaction in time for me to put my 3rd token in the second machine and retrieve my fare with time to run to the train. So after $4.50 spent in tokens I finally had valid proof of fare. Needless to say I was not pleased and promptly fired off a tweet to @metrolosangeles. I received a reply tweet a few hours later that I should call the 323.Go.Metro customer service line to report what had happened or use the intercom located next to the ticket machines in the future. Unfortunately, neither of these options would work for me, because the Customer Service line has notoriously interminable wait times (over 20 minutes) to reach an agent and I was not going to miss my train just to talk to someone on the intercom. Plus, I feel that Twitter is a great forum to receive real-time information from customers about service issues and relay the information to whomever needs to know and if @metrolosangeles is not the appropriate Twitter handle to respond to, I suggest the Customer Service folks at 323.Go.Metro to start their own.

I guess to add icing on the cake, when I exited at Union Station I was greeted by no less than 6 Sheriff officers asking for proof of fare. If I had been someone who could not afford to waste 3 tokens or who only had exact fare I would have been fined despite my good faith effort. I made sure to relay to them the problem at Mission Station's ticket machine and they did seem to be at least mildly interested in the information.

For better or worse, my tweet was posted on Metro's Source blog. I hope to be listed under compliments in addition to rants one day, because no one likes a Debbie Downer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

TAP Cards and Turnstiles

Metro's electronic fare system, TAP, was in the news again for the cost of installing locking turnstiles that are still not being fully utilized and the slow adoption of riders from paper to electronic. Although, many of the assertions made in the Daily News article are true there is little doubt that the majority of other public transit entities in the U.S. struggled through the same issues when they transferred from paper to electronic fare systems. Other systems do have advantages though to LA's Metro including having staffed stations that allow for confused riders and problems to be addressed in real-time by a Metro employee and a much larger rail system that was built with turnstiles originally in mind. I never quite understood what made Metro choose to start with a honor system except for that when the Red Line was built it was feared to be rarely used by anyone let alone have to worry about fare evasion. As the network has grown and lines are added the increased need for oversight has made this system a problem. As a regular rider, I take offense to being constantly asked by Sheriffs and fare checkers for my proof of transit. I often see them paying more careful attention to patrons that one might expect to be potential fare evaders: teens on skateboards, individuals that are asleep, etc. Without a system that ensures every rider has paid the profiling will continue.

As for the article's questioning as to why more riders haven't adopted TAP, I believe that until paper tickets are no longer an option for students and seniors, there will be little motivation to move to the new system. People enjoy what is familiar and will not change unless forced. With the increase of use there will hopefully be more outlets to purchase a TAP and remove the burden of finding an outlet near you. And maybe one day soon, Metro will be able to lock those pretty new turnstiles once and for all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Am I a loser?

According to Hollywood, I just might be. Slate has a great article entitled "Dude, Where's your car?: How not having a car became Hollywood shorthand for loser". This is an idea not lost on me. I often wonder what people think about the fact that I live in L.A. and there's only 1 freeway-drivable car in a 2-person household. I would argue that not having a car to get me to all my destinations, has increased my cool factor.

1. I'm not stuck in my car for 90-120 minutes a day commuting 5 days a week. Although this means I don't get to listen to endless amounts of bad radio, I do get to spend my commuting time listening to my iPod and This American Life podcasts.

2. By having only 1 car, we were forced to move to a transit-friendly neighborhood. In addition to being near transit I also live within two blocks of a local wine store, Trader Joe's, two yoga studios, half a dozen restaurants, two coffee shops and a bakery.

3. I'm able to shop at the weekly Thursday farmer's market, something I never got home in time to visit when I drove. I can also make almost any yoga class or dinner date within 30 minutes of me being off of work, even on a Friday! (Gasp! Has taking public transit turned me into one of those crazy hipsters who only shop locally? And if so, isn't that the definition of Hollywood cool these days?)

4. A weird side effect of not driving during the week is how little I drive on the weekends and nights. The bearded man and I tend to stay within the 10 mile radius area around our place, which just happens to include Downtown LA the newest cool spot to be in Lala land.

So I guess I will dust off those weird stares and uncomfortable pauses when I tell people I don't drive very regularly. I'll remind myself there are millions of New Yorkers who never even care to get their license and not worry about being called out like poor Cher.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Too many transfers, too many delays

My coworker is a brave soul. She travels on 3 Metro rail lines a day to get to work: Green to Blue to Red. The total distance of her commute if she drove would be a little over 13 miles. For the most part taking public transit works for her. She doesn't spend close to an hour in traffic, her car isn't forced to put on mileage and since work pays for the majority of her monthly pass it's cost effective. But there's something that is rarely taken into account: the psychological toll of relying on transit day after day to get you to and from a place 10+ times a week. The problem is that with 3 rail lines that's 3 times as many places for things to go wrong, multiply that by a round trip and that's 6 times a day things could go wrong, multiply that by 5 days a week and you're up to 30 times...you get the picture. The problem becomes when the days that the trip goes off without a hitch start to seem fewer than the number of times SOMETHING goes wrong. This can range from something minor like one or two doors not opening on a train causing momentary chaos at every station to a crash with a car, requiring everyone switching to a bus bridge. In LA it tends to be the Blue Line with problems more often than the others, and in Washington D.C. it typically was the Red Line, but when one of these "problem" lines are on your daily commute your ability to rely on transit as a timely and efficient option starts to dwindle. Not to say Metro isn't trying the twitter feed @metrolosangeles has started keeping much better with transit alerts and continues to be responsive via the source blog for issues being raised by customers. Check them both out if you're a rider or just a transit enthusiast.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The end of $2.00 for a monthly pass

Today is the end of June which for most people means that the year is halfway through, but for those transit riders out there it means the start of a new fiscal year and LOTS of changes. Tomorrow LA Metro will increase the base fare by $.25 to $1.50 and the monthly pass will go from $62.00 to $75.00! I am lucky that my employer pays for $60 towards my transit costs in lieu of paying that same amount for parking. The tough decision now will be whether to continue buying the monthly pass or switching to tokens. There are a few pros and cons to each.

Pros for tokens- I will only buy $60 worth a month and therefore have no out of pocket expense.
Cons for tokens- I no longer get to TAP my way on to the bus/train each morning. Not to mention the inconvenience of having to purchase my pass everyday. And it's possible I'll use up all of my tokens and need to pay out of pocket anyways.

I've decided to try tokens for one month and see how it goes. Tomorrow should also mean a shakeup for Metro's bus routes which means new schedules/routes/stops, etc. Trying to figure everything out is difficult, but we have 511 to the rescue! Similar to 911 for emergencies, 511 is for transit and transportation. Southern California recently unveiled it's go511.com site with transit planning information, traffic alerts, carpool and bike information. It's a lot more user friendly then the trip planner offered on Metro's website AND more comprehensive than Google transit. (Sidenote: This may not be Google's fault since transit companies must be willing to provide the site with route and time information for this to work.) 511 might not be everything to everyone, but it is the dawn of Southern California transit being integrated on a regional scale that is easily accessible from any computer! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stranded on the Gold Line

Yes I have to admit that for two evenings in a row, my favorite method of transport, the Gold Line, left me stranded. Monday evening I left work to ride the 6:10pm train to Sierra Madre Villa station from Union Station when an announcement comes on that the train will be leaving in approximately 3 minutes. This is odd, considering this will make the train late something that I'm happy to report is relatively rare for the Gold Line, particularly during morning/evening rush hour. After a few minutes, the driver instructs everyone to exit the train, as it will be going south to Atlantic Station. We are then told that a train running north will be arriving shortly. Two more trains arrive traveling southbound and still no northbound train. Finally, we get the real update there is police activity at the Chinatown station and train service between Union Station and Lincoln/Cypress station has been canceled for an undetermined amount of time.

Rather than being smart and heading over to the nearest happy hour I decide to go on a bus adventure with the goal of reaching Gold Line's Lincoln/Cypress station and continuing on my trip home. Unfortunately, Metro's website does not include a mobile transit trip planner and loading the full version on my iPhone takes an excruciatingly long time. I decide to wing it and board the LADOT DASH to Lincoln Heights/Chinatown. Turns out this bus goes by the Gold Line station, but stops about 1 mile away. I decide to transfer to Metro Line #45 which also has a head sign of "Lincoln Heights" but alas this bus also does not meet up with the Gold Line. I decide to exit and transfer to my third bus, Metro Rapid Line #751 which travels along Daly and does meet up with the Gold Line station. To make a long story short, my 15 minute ride turned into a 90 minute ordeal.

Considering I've been using the Gold Line as my main commuting transit option I am pleasantly surprised that in 6 months I had only two days when getting to/from work had taken significantly longer than it would have driving. That was until yesterday when I was stranded again for the second time. Luckily, this time I was already at Lincoln/Cypress station when the police activity shut down the northbound trains and I quickly phoned the bearded man to come retrieve me and spirit me away home. But what about those riders who do not have a back-up option? In order for public transit to become a viable option for those who do not HAVE to take transit, giving riders a sense of security that they will be able to reach their destination in a reasonable amount of time or offer options in the event of emergency is key. I was hoping that the new Twitter feed @metrolosangeles might be able to alleviate this by reporting in real-time issues affecting service. This is not currently possible, but I'm glad to see that Metro's blog the Source was at least responsive to the fact that its passengers are talking on Twitter about service issues. I'm particularly excited that my frustrated tweet from Monday evening made it to the Twitter Tuesday post, check it out here. Hopefully, this will be the last of the mysterious shutdowns due to unexplained police activity at least for awhile, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed as I stand on the platform.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dodger Game Express

I had the privilege of attending the Dodgers' home opening on Tuesday afternoon and utilized the free Dodgers Express bus from Union Station to just outside the field level entrance at the stadium. For someone like me that works at Union Station there could not be a more practical means of transport to the game and this service will save me a considerable amount of money ($15 per game). It being a sold out game, the Express bus was running fairly frequently and I waited a mere 10 minutes to board. My fellow riders were particularly rowdy as we had less than 30 minutes until the first pitch and the traffic on Cesar Chavez was brutal. Some suggestions I heard from the riders included: 1. creating a bus only lane before game time to allow for faster trip times
2. allowing the bus to turn right from the far most left lane into the parking lot rather than having to travel in the congested center and right lanes
3. having a bus only travel lane once we've entered the line for parking
My personal suggestion is that they make more than one drop off to allow those people with reserve and top deck level tickets to disembark closer to their seats. I would imagine that those individuals sitting at the field level will probably be driving to the game seeing that $150+ per ticket was in their budget. I didn't take the Express back to Union Station as I was lucky enough to have the bearded man pick me up and take me to dinner, but I will at some point during the season and report back on how it fairs. I suspect that it might be faster to walk down to Sunset Bl. and take a regular Metro bus (Route #2, 704) but that will also be part of my research. Finally, I want to test out if I can make it back from a 7:00pm game to Union Station in time to make the final Gold Line train (that is if the game ends in 9 innings, and doesn't last 5+ hours like Wednesday's game). All good information to know whether it is truly possible to attend a Dodger game in L.A. sans personal vehicle.

Overall, I was impressed with the Metro representatives on hand to direct people to the bus, and especially amazed at the driver for putting up with all those awesomely rowdy and crazy Dodger fans. Here's hoping that after this year, it will be seen as a reliable and necessary service that either the Dodger organization or Metro will make available every season and not just if funding is provided by the Southern CA Air Quality Management District. For more information on why and how this was funded, please read the LAist article.

Monday, January 25, 2010

There will never be enough $

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority (aka Metro) released its operating budget for the next fiscal year and anticipates the operating budget will be far below what it needs to be. The obvious solution for Metro is to reduce service and increase fares. Yet, one of the main reasons Metro does not raise more money from its fare box is that the system as it stands today is inefficient and difficult to use as a primary form of transit. The long wait at the bus stop and the number of transfers necessary to get from Point A to Point B is why ridership continues to decrease. The only people left to ride Metro are those who are forced to because they have no other option. There will not be an increase in ridership until Metro realizes that cutting service and increasing prices is not the only answer. How about optimizing a system that has not been radically changed in several decades? Why not work on creating an integrated Regional System where local city transit systems connect to a concentrated Metro System which serves Downtown, major commuter routes and other centers of L.A. life. There was going to be such a system, it was called Metro Connections, and it was basically shelved after barely even getting off the ground 2 years ago. I'm just hoping that with this new set of impending service cuts Metro finally does something about Express Route #460 which travels a whopping 27 miles each way from Downtown to Disneyland! I really would like to know what the ridership looks like on that gem as well as an explanation as to why the L.A. County Metro is paying for service that should be left to the Orange County Transit Authority. For more information please read the LA Times article.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gold Line Drama

This past week in L.A. there's been a deluge of rain and wet weather, but luckily for this public transit commuter the actual trip time hasn't been severely affected. That is until this morning when around 4:00am a tree fell on the tracks and caused closures from Sierra Madre Villa Station to Southwest Museum Station. As my home station is Mission in South Pasadena, I knew I'd be in for an adventure to get to work. I assured the bearded man not to worry and feel free to take our one rain proof vehicle (Scooter in pouring rain didn't sound like a good idea). I departed at 8:10am hoping to at minimum catch Route 176 that travels to Figueroa and York and transfer to Route 81 that travels down Figueroa through Downtown L.A. Lucky for me I managed to walk right on the bridge bus transporting passengers between the stranded stations and Southwest Museum Station. For the 2 stops we visited (Highland Park and Southwest Museum) I found Metro staff to be informative and quickly moving people along as best as possible. I made it to work in about 50 minutes, or about 3 times as long as it would take on a normal operation day.

I did hear from other co-workers at stations farther northbound (Fillmore) there was little to no Metro presence or explanation regarding the situation. I understand that it is difficult to react quickly, but information is key. With the no-cost, instant ways to transmit timely information via Twitter, there is little excuse for Metro in not keeping their riders informed of service disruptions. I know a few months ago Metro was looking for a blogger to keep the public abreast of developing transit issues, but it appears they have a greater need for a Twitter account manager transmitting issues like today's in real time.

Luckily for me, close to 25% of my department takes the Gold Line to work so there was much sympathy and understanding when I arrived to work 30 minutes late. Looking forward to taking the Gold Line Eastside extension this afternoon to Mariachi Plaza for a michelada at Eastside Luv!