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.