A Short Vacation in Los Angeles, Transit Nerd Style

Last week I went out of town and took a trip to Los Angeles. It was largely uneventful, which is is exactly what I wanted. However, whilst doing all the things I wanted to do, and did so using the fine public transit options offered by Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Every city has its positives and negatives, but it was interesting to note a few things the good people of the SFMTA/SamTrans/BART might learn from their colleagues down south. While I was able to get around just fine with buses and the LA Metro, if you live down there you still need access to a car for some things, depending on where you live.

Still, for my needs it was fine, since I had no obligations to anyone or anything, and also don’t mind walking (!) either.

I took some photos and posted them to Instagram, but there were a few I thought I’d spotlight here for fun:

One thing that stood out was how LA Metro and Santa Monica’s “Big Blue Bus” systems both had air conditioning on the buses and were CLEAN, no matter where I went. Also? The wild upholstery patterns on trains, buses, rapid buses, etc.:

Dig this groovy upholstery on #expoline

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

More psychedelic seat upholstery from @bigbluebus

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

Today in Zany Bus Upholstery: LA Metro Bus 33!

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

Another Zany Bus Upholstery moment: an LA Metro Rapid bus. Clean, also #lametro

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

Joking aside, one thing I noticed right away was how LA MTA uses the same machines the SFMTA does for selling/reloading TAP cards (their version of Clipper) but they were easier to use, and didn’t have an interface that looks like it was done in MS Paint circa 1995. It also had big flashy signs explaining how to do commonly requested functions that pretty much anyone can understand.

But the real shocker was the Area 51 technology the Greater LA Area acquired from the aliens that allow for functional escalators INSIDE the stations, and (shock!) functional escalators with hybrid technology that allow escalators to operate outside.

The one thing I noticed was that it was not as easy to reload the TAP card if I wasn’t within a few blocks of an LA Metro station, and finding out WHERE to reload at, say, a CVS or whatever, wasn’t forthcoming. Another thing I noticed: the apps one uses in place of Routesy aren’t as refined or easy to use, which made me appreciate Routesy’s simple UI, and it applies to mulitple agencies. That said, these are NBD overall.

Anyway, the weather was nice, it was sunny, and it was nice to have a little change of scenery. This photo seemed to be popular, and like many that seem to generate attention, was one I took quickly without really trying:

Vacation Sunset! #Venice #losangeles

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

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