New York, London, Washington D.C. and Paris all have extensive rail networks and the buses are punctual and run quite often. These cities, and even smaller cities like Minneapolis, have airports that allow a person to board a train to nearby hotels and nearby city centers directly at the airport. The rails are often found either in one of the terminals or right outside the airport and connected by a covered walkway. In New York, it is possible to board a rail from John F. Kennedy international airport into New York City but it is not possible to do so from La Guardia which is a smaller airport used for domestic flights. Those interested in flying to New York from within the USA and getting around on rail should pay the additional airline fees rather than flying into La Guardia and where you’ll need to spend money on rental cars or cabs. In all these cities people can get around to hotels, restaurants, malls and attractions almost exclusively on rail from the airport and it is only necessary to take a buses occasionally in you want to get to more residential areas of a city.
Minneapolis provides rail service from the Minneapolis-St Paul airport (MSP) to the Mall of America, which is the largest mall in the USA, on the Metro Blue Line. The service runs every 10 minutes and it takes 20 minutes to get to the mall. In Paris, the city offers a free rail ride and shuttle from Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG), also known as Roissy Airport to the Aeroville Mall. Its also possible to get to CDG on rail from the Eiffel Tower and you can take a bus from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre Museum and other attractions. I was also able to book a hotel in the nice part of Paris and getting to the hotel was as simple getting on a rail inside the airport terminal. In both Paris and Virginia I had rail service directly from the airport to and my hotel was across the street from the last stop.
The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico doesn’t have a rail at the airport but it does have a bus running every 20 minutes or so that takes people directly to Downtown Albuquerque and you can board the bus right outside the terminals. In Albuquerque, an accessible Amtrak is available along with clean and punctual buses that go to most major attractions. In Albuquerque, I was able to take the Amtrak and buses to two different casinos, to several different hot springs and to a national park. The buses in Downtown Albuquerque ran to all the museums and to a botanical garden. This mode of transportation allowed me to relax, dose off, enjoy the scenery and take notes on other places to visit in the city and its surrounding areas. On the way home, I was able to order a cab online and receive text message updates without having to install an intrusive app that steals all your contacts through the Google Play Service. The cab arrived at my hotel in under 3 minutes and the driver wasn’t chatting to me about entrepreneurialism or their college courses. He just drove to my destination and answered a few questions I had about the estimated fare and ETA to the airport, very professional. Both Albuquerque and Minneapolis are cities with populations of around a 1/2 million people and both show excellent city planning on par with larger metros like New York, London and Paris.
This is not the case in Los Angeles County, the most populated area of the United States. The closest rail to the airport, the Green Line, is 2.5 miles away from the airport. There is a shuttle that goes from the airport to the Green Line rail but it is often crowded and it may take several shuttles before you are able to board one. It took me 45 minutes to board a shuttle and then I had to wait another 15 minutes at the Green Line station for the rail. When I got to my final transfer point, the buses were no longer running as there tends to be no bus service in the area spanning from Boyle Heights to La Puente after 10 P.M. Other areas of Los Angeles have bus service as late as 2 A.M. but usually at least until midnight.
When arriving at LAX and taking the free shuttle to the Aviation/LAX Station; from the Green Line rail, a transfer is necessary to the Blue Line rail to get to Downtown Los Angeles or to Long Beach. After taking the Blue Line rail to Downtown L.A. a transfer to the Red Line rail is necessary to get to Hollywood or San Fernando where the Red Line has a station near Universal Studios. After taking the shuttle to the Green Line to the Blue Line to Downtown L.A., two more transfers are necessary to get to Pasadena. One transfer from the Red Line rail to Union Station Square and then another transfer to the Gold Line rail to get to Pasadena. There is also an Expo Line rail that can be transferred to in Downtown L.A. to get to Santa Monica. Santa Monica is another area in Los Angeles County with lots of jobs and attractions and their community college is rated top notch for the area along with Rio Hondo Community College and Pasadena Community College in the San Gabriel Valley.
To get to Santa Monica from LAX on the rail, you would have to wait for the shuttle, wait at the Aviation/LAX Green Line station ride the Green Line to the Rosa Parks Station transfer to the Blue Line heading towards Downtown Los Angeles get off on Pico and finally transfer to the Expo Line rail which will drop you off near the beach where there are lots of hotels, jobs, restaurants, a mall and a famous beach nearby. The transfer point between the Green Line and Blue Line seems dark and isolated at night and is in a high crime area. There are always Sheriff’s at the Rosa Parks Station to make the transfer point a little safer but this station is a major hub between Long Beach, Downtown Los Angeles, LAX and the San Gabriel Valley so it needs better lighting, better sanitation, better cleaning and less crime. The Downtown L.A. transfer is necessary to get to Santa Monica, Hollywood or Pasadena so the Rosa Parks Station serves as a first impression for people interviewing for jobs in those areas and commuting from Long Beach, San Gabriel and the Redondo Beach areas.
Another major pain point regarding Los Angeles Public Transportation is the cleanliness around Los Angeles Trade Tech College and East Los Angeles College which are accessible on the Blue Line rail and Gold Line rail respectively. Getting off from the Blue Line Rail at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and walking to Hill St. and Venice Blvd. to catch a bus heading to look at potential housing in Downtown L.A., Chinatown or along San Fernando Road make the whole area seem unsafe and unsanitary because you will need to walk by this area daily on the way to school or work. If you are visiting the area with the intention of working, going to college part time and living in the Los Angeles Area this does not make a great first impression as you envision yourself making this same commute over and over again for years to come. Those thinking along those same lines and taking the Gold Line rail to the last stop on Atlantic Blvd. in East L.A. with the hopes of exploring the more positive aspects of Chicano History such as Cesar Chavez and the Chicano push for affordable education might get off on Atlantic and immediately walk down Atlantic Blvd. towards Whittier Blvd. to check out the local stores and ride a bus back to East L.A. College. The cleanliness of the streets along this path are a stark contrast to other parts of Los Angeles and do not form a great first impression when combined with the experience of the LAX shuttle, the Rosa Parks station, and having to take 3 trains to get to East L.A. This area of East L.A. has had major improvements but the cleanliness of the sidewalks, parking lots and roads could use some additional attention.
Buses in Los Angeles have greatly increased in punctuality since 2010 but there are still occasions when the buses are late or don’t show up at all and this can cause an employee to get fired for being late too many times or face the alternative of waiting outside of work for up to one hour before a manager or building security arrives to open up the office or retail location. Some of the buses only run every thirty minutes and if a transfer has to be made to another bus that runs on a thirty minute or more schedule, arriving an hour early to work may still be the only option in 2019. This is a reality in 2019 in the most populated area of the United States when most of the working population is concerned with reducing their environmental impact, living in walkable neighborhoods, taking more public transportation and having no more than 30 minutes commute between home and work on public transportation.
In Los Angeles, other than the major pain points listed above, some things to work on is extending hours of buses along major streets interconnecting communities until midnight. This will allow people working late or visiting major attractions to get home on public transportation if they leave at 10 P.M. The region between Boyle Heights and La Puente needs major work as it is part of Los Angeles County which in turn is a part of the United States. This area needs to be accessible to people of non-Chicano origin for housing and at least a portion of its limited jobs. The younger population in this area also needs to be able to leave and return to the area for school or work on public transportation. Ideally, they should be able to meet another adult in Hollywood, Downtown or Santa Monica and return to this area on public transportation. If they were to meet with an adult at a bar or restaurant serving alcohol at 8 P.M. and hung out for two hours before heading home, they should not be forced to take expensive taxi’s or ride sharing 3 times a week during periods when they are dating or searching for a partner.
Students from Pasadena Community College, Rio Hondo, Santa Monica Community College, Los Angeles Trade Technical Institute and East L.A. College all need to be able to meet with each other and exchange ideas and study notes. Ideally Long Beach City College and El Camino College would be included in this group. Long Beach would already have transportation to meet in Downtown L.A. or to have students from other areas come to the beach via the Blue Line rail and El Camino has access via Crenshaw to the Green Line rail.
From an industrial and corporate point of view, it is necessary for City of Industry and Santa Fe Springs to be connected to the Downtown L.A. area. This is going to be most feasibly done via public transportation as business owners and executives don’t want to be driving around in personal vehicles traceable to their home address and handing out cards with the location of their primary work place. Santa Fe Springs already has a connection via Telegraph and City of Industry can connect via El Monte Bus Station where a freeway bus can take professionals to Union Square Station via the 10 freeway.
These changes are suggestions but should be considered mandatory for the County of Los Angeles to continue to expand its population because the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles are both experiencing major growth bottle necks due to congestion and conflicts of schedule on both the freeways and public transportation.
This assessment and suggestion for change requests can also be used as a blueprint by other major metros experiencing similar problems. It is only requested that their changes and assessments to their own cities be documented and posted on the internet as a public document.