September 29, 2012

Mass transit v. class transit in L.A.

It's widely believed there is no mass transit in Los Angeles, at least not since G.M. conspired with Judge Doom to junk all the beloved trolley cars that rapidly whisked locals thru traffic. (Over traffic? Under? Don't worry, the details of how the street cars of yore worked, or didn't, aren't important). Of course, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was made by people who take their $80,000 cars to go to the dry cleaner, and couldn't imagine that anyone takes the ubiquitous buses anywhere.

Over the last few decades, there has been a lot of effort and expenditure to build some kind of a rail (or at least busline -- not bus, busline) transit network in Los Angeles. For example, you can now get from downtown LA to LAX merely by taking three different forms of rail and a shuttle bus (not a bus, a shuttle bus).

By this point, rail transit in LA can be a fun adventure, especially for tourists with a day to kill. For example, if you are staying at a hotel in Pasadena, you can get to downtown LA on the light rail Gold line and then up to Universal Studios by the heavy rail subway Red line, followed by a steep walk up the hill. The only problem is that you are then at Universal Studios. (If I had all the money in the world, I would sponsor a free outdoor showing of Idiocracy at Universal Citywalk to see if anybody gets the joke.)

Mass transit is also good for people going out drinking. Last winter I overheard an Armenian retail clerk explaining to a Mexican retail clerk that a DUI now will cost you about $10,000 all told. Listen to your Armenian pal, I wanted to exclaim They understand about money.

The question I have had is whether middle class Angelenos are using rail to commute.

As you can see from the map, you can now go anywhere ... except for the huge chunk of the left side of the map that represents the Westside, which is where most of the money and good jobs are. In theory, Westside liberals are all in favor of rail transit, except in practice they don't seem to either use it or want others using it near them.

Rail lines now go to Pasadena and Hancock Park, the traditional old money WASP capitals of Southern California, but not to Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. Back in 1986, the feds were offering to help build a subway down Wilshire Blvd., but Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) blocked it, so the Purple Line peters out in Koreatown, next to Hancock Park.

Now, there is much talk about building the Subway to the Sea (or at least to Veterans Hospital in Westwood, which is merely 4.5 miles from the beach, but let's not be picky). It seems to be held up at present by parents at Beverly Hills High School who have been making videos warning of vast fireballs erupting from the subway.

And there are no plausible plans yet for a north-south Westside rail route paralleling the 405 (San Diego) Freeway (when you read about various Carmageddons, that's the 405: in other words, this route is extremely busy and full of Important People). A north-south line running from the San Fernando Valley south past LAX would finally make it an actual network rather than a variety of gestures, but I wouldn't bet more than even odds on that crucial line being begun and finished in my lifetime.

The question with mass transit in Los Angeles is one of class transit. The poor have always ridden mass transit, and the poor we shall always have with us. But higher classes have always taken their cues from the top. In Los Angeles, the top people have always attempted to live as inaccessibly as possible. Last May, for instance, I looked up as President Obama's Marine Corps One helicopter droned overhead on one stage of his labyrinthine passage to a fundraiser at George Clooney's house in Fryman Canyon. Even if you are President, you can't get to Clooney's house easily.

If your fondest career hope is that Steven Spielberg's personal assistant calls you up and invites you over to Steve's house in Pacific Palisades to talk about that idea you have, you'd better have a car because you can't get to his house any other way. And it better be a nice car to park in his curving driveway because you don't want to look like some kind of a loser. And similar thinking goes for all the people hoping to get invited to the house of somebody who is hoping to get invited to Spielberg's house, and on down the line.

Los Angeles's car culture is much derided, but as James Q. Wilson pointed out, it made Los Angeles far more ethnically laid back than East Coast cities. Growing up in L.A., he was used to people being blissfully isolated from each other in their cars, meeting up with friends at chosen spots. When he got to Harvard, he couldn't believe the territorialism and street-level ethnic friction of the Boston area. Why do the Irish always want to fight? wondered the Irish Catholic Wilson.

For the last 15 years, the pride of the LA rail system has been the Red Line, which runs from Union Station downtown through Hollywood to North Hollywood in the east San Fernando Valley. This is "heavy rail" -- it has its own right-of-way and doesn't stop for cross-traffic. At North Hollywood, the Red Line connects to the Orange Line, a bus system across the middle of the San Fernando Valley that has its own right of way down a disused railroad spur (but still gets held up by intersections). There has been a lot of construction of medium rise apartments of fairly expensive nature around the terminus in North Hollywood, combined with an attempt to turn the Lankershim and Magnolia area into an Arts District with comedy clubs and the like. By L.A. standards of city planning, it seems to be pretty reasonable.

The subway endpoint is in a vast area of middle class single family homes in the $400,000 range (along with a huge number of lower class apartments). There is a large parking lot at the subway station for Valleyites to park their cars while working over the hill.

So, who takes the Red Line to work? Do middle class Angelenos take the subway?

Last Friday evening I decided to count subway passengers by class. I watched a large crowd get off the Red Line at 5:45 pm in North Hollywood. I scanned the commuters looking for people dressed as if they were coming home from a white collar office job. I looked only at what men were wearing because their class fashion statements are easier for me to understand. I counted each male commuter wearing Business Casual or more formal attire: in other words, trousers (e.g., khaki Dockers) rather than jeans or shorts; a buttonfront or polo shirt rather than a t-shirt; and some kind of non-gym shoe (soft leather shoes were fine as long as they made some attempt to look non-athletic).

I estimate about 1,000 to 2,000 people got off the train and streamed past me, probably half were male and the vast majority were adults. Out of those 500 to 1,000 men, I counted one man in a suit, one other in a necktie, and four guys wearing khaki pants or other business casual, for a grand total of six men dressed as if they were coming from the office. That's somewhere around 1%.

I also noticed two middle aged Jewish guys dressed in shorts who walked by holding what looked to be an intelligent conversation. Maybe there were some other guys with great jobs where dressing like a slob is de riguer, but frankly, everybody else struck my eye as prole.

It could well be that two or even three times that percentage of men getting off the subway were non-prole. But what does that put us at? Approaching 5%?

So, a couple of unsurprising conclusions:

- Yup, L.A. has a lot of proles.
- Nope, non-prole Angelenos above about 25 aren't in any hurry to associate with the proles on the subway. It's still going to be a car culture for a long, long time.

112 comments:

agnostic said...

From what little I've seen about public transit in L.A., the elite must still be afraid that Frank Booth might have stuck a bomb under the bus, or might hijack the subway car during his getaway.

sconzey said...

This is pretty odd, because in London, mass transit is pretty egalitarian. Most of the middle class have at least one car, but only the very wealthy can afford the congestion charge and parking to use them to commute.

sunbeam said...

What exactly is your point?

Do you think public transit hasn't helped the traffic situation at all? If none of these transit options existed would LA be a better place to live? Worse? About the same?

Is the point the dichotomy between what the movers and shakers preach, and what they actually do?

Also I have a jaundiced view of LA. I mentally think of it as Brazil-North. A small fraction of well off Asians, Jews, and whites, with a much larger underclass of Mexicans with the odd Black and Okie White scattered around.

Is this a mistaken view?

Sideways said...

Who shot roger rabbit?

Anonymous said...

It's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"... the screenplay was entitle "Who Shot Roger Rabbit" though...

http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2006/08/31/5534.aspx#.UGbkrniN-lg

pat said...

I'm a car fan. That means I drive an old restored sports car, I watch Top Gear and I dream of Ferraris. But I have known some "transit fans".

My army buddy Jack first told me about the National City Lines conspiracy. That's the basis for the plot of Roger Rabbit. Everyone should read up on it to be reminded that there really are conspiracies. General Motors, Firestone, and some of the oil companies had a multi year plot to destroy public transportation. As Jack told it, one day the Bay Area woke up to find that the lower level of the Bay Bridge no longer had the trolley line for which it was built. Before my time, so I can't testify as to the actual sequence of events but it is true that today the lower level is for cars only.

Jack, who had been a college educated mid manager, quit his job in LA to come to San Francisco so that he could drive streetcar - his life's ambition. That was my first acquaintanceship with transit fans. I was at his apartment one day when another transit fan came over and they listened to an LP of train noises. You know - chug, chug, chug. Very strange I thought.

Another army buddy Harry came over another day to enthusiastically recount his transit trip. Harry was the son of a rich amn. He didn't work. He rode the busses instead. He had come up from LA on a bus and flown from Oakland to San Francisco. In case you don't know the geography that's a flifgt of about five miles. He had found some flight that landed in one airport but had to take off from the other. So he bought a ticket and hopped across the Bay. He had sampled the bus lines in Portland (or was it Seattle?) too. All of these various bus, train, and plane rides had left him giddy with excitement. He was completely fulfilled.

I learned only later that all of these transit fans were gay. (So much for my gaydar.) I wonder if that means anything?

Albertosaurus

JustAClown said...

is there any american blogger on the internet that skewers both the Democratic party base (as Steve often does here on his blog) AND the GOP party base? SURELY there must be such a creature? Out of all the hundreds and thousands of american bloggers out there, why is there no blogger that skewers the GOP and Dems? I am not talking about the Libertarians. I am talking about a hypothetical blogger that sees the folly of both sides, sees that both party platforms have some good ideas, but thinks that both sides are also screwy. Why is there no such creature?

This statistical anomaly tells me something very vital about homo sapiens, or americans. I am not sure which.

Why on earth has no one else noticed this?

Steve often pretends to be neutral, but clearly he is not, as he never really skewers the GOP base. Yes, sometimes he attacks GOP politicians for their hypocrisy or for not doing the right things etc. But he never attacks the GOP base.

bbartlog said...

When Money Magazine recently published its list of the top small cities to live in, Carmel, Indiana was #1. In the article, they had a long list of 'positives' and two 'negatives': 'lack of racial diversity' and 'no public transit'. I wondered whether they were being deliberately tongue-in-cheek, there. They certainly must have realized that a lot of people would be all for those 'negatives'.

Thin Skinned said...

Nope, non-prole Angelenos above about 25 aren't in any hurry to associate with the proles on the subway. It's still going to be a car culture for a long, long time.

Even when gas costs $7 - 8 a gallon?

Israel will probably attack Iran by spring. Could a blockaded Persian Gulf get Angelenos out of their cars?

Nah, the right kind of people will still be able to afford to drive even if that means they cut back on sushi or Yoga lessons.

Anonymous said...

Most white-collar jobs offer rideshare and car pool programs (all those blue vans you see lined up in the car pool lane from the 105 to the 210).

My dad tried rail and bus for a few months several years ago; he was coming from the Claremont area to his white collar defense job near LAX. I don't know what he was thinking; I guess he figured it would be an adventure. He seemed to enjoy telling us 'crazy person on the transit system' stories.

But I guess he got sick of this by the end of the year, because he rejoined the car pool and never looked back. It means getting up earlier for him, but it must beat sitting next to proles and blacks for seventy minutes.

Also: LA County Sheriff deputies can take the transit system to their stations for free, and this includes coming in from far flung Orange County or the IE. The only trade off is, they're required to wear their uniforms and handle any "situations" that may arise. I have two friends who choose to spend several hundred dollars on gas and sit in traffic each month rather than deal with riding transit.

Anonymous said...

"framed", not "shot".

Anonymous said...

It is a common practice for the vibrant ne'er do wells of Baltimore to hop off at the end of the line of the train, commit crimes (inevitably robbery) and scurry back to their urban abodes. The area surrounding the end of the line is just a bunch of strip malls, and there aren't many blacks who live there. It's solidly middle class. The posh Spielbergian parts of LA would present an even more tempting target than some Maryland slob with fifty bucks in his wallet, or the McDonalds cash registers.

deconstructingleftism said...

I had a cousin who lived in the Valley long ago and commuted to downtown to work in IT at a bank. He loved it and was a big booster of LA mass transit. Three bank mergers later he was out of a job and out of LA for good.

The thing about a certain part of the LA population is that they have a tremendous New York envy- this includeds Jews from New York, Jews who wish they were from New York, and gentiles in both categories. New York has a subway, so LA should have a subway. The subway is for the colorful serving classes, of course.

Severin said...

One thing to remember. No one dresses up for the office anymore, and California is ground zero for this change. Gen X'ers and all the folks after this just won't accept the need to dress any differently. In the software and creative industries I hire people for its not even discussed. No one dresses up. There are still some faux pas, shorts are only allowed at the most liberal companies. However it is really common for new hires just out of college to come to work on their first day whering shorts thinking its OK. I give it 2 years, before it is. I am hoping so.

pat said...

The first lesson I learned as a Social Worker trainee was that it's hard to find a parking space in the ghetto. Contrary to what I had been taught and believed, the poor have lots of cars. They aren't very good cars of course but they still work as transportation.

I had a friend called Bob who always bought the cheapest car possible. He would never spend a dime on repairs and just abandon the damn thing when it broke down. He claimed it made economic sense to buy a another used car for $100 every month or two. And he's probably right if you can afford the inconvienience of frequent breakdowns. Of course the poor can afford just that.

I was also surprised at how many televisons that welfare recipients have. Five or six in a housing project apartment wasn't unusual. This is the reason why the poor want to get out of rural areas. Life in an American city has a lot of support mechanisms for the poor. It was quite clear to me that any normal middles class people could have a comfortable life on a welfare grant in subsidized housing. The reason so many poor people were miserable and lived amidst constant chaos was because they were poor at being people. They didn't need more money. They needed more sense and life skills.

It is true that the bus systems carry more poor people and very few rich folks (except for Harry). But in general poor people can get around just fine. They have cars. They have buses. In SF they have trolleys.

There was a trolley line that went through the Fillmore when it was still a black ghetto. I had a case with two black teenage girls who had never seen the ocean. They had only to pay a quarter and ride about three miles to get to Ocean Beach. The whole Pacific was just twenty minutes away, but they had never seen it. Their world view wasn't limited by any external factor like transportation availability. Their limits were from their own limits.

BTW Fellini said that film directors began to make lousy movies that were out of touch with people when they became prosperous enough to have a car. They stopped mixing with regular people when they no longer had to take the bus.

That observation might say something about Hollywood.

Albertosaurus

pat said...

My last comment on this specific posting - I promise.

I spent a year in planning school. Previously one had gotten a Master's in Urban Planning after earning and undergraduate degree in Architecture. But then they began accepting liberal arts majors. Big mistake.

I had always been car crazy. I had subscribed to Road & Track forever. I loved cars but in planning school I was the only one. Everyone else it seemed considered it to be their mission in life to get everyone else into public transportation. Just as they wanted to get people out of their suburban single family homes and into a downtown high rise, they wanted to get everyone (else) onto a light rail car.

As I remember every single one of them had a car of their own but that didn't seem to matter. It was a religious type conviction. In a way that's odd because Le Corbusier - one of the saints of urban planning - envisioned twenty lane automobile freeways running right through the middle of cities which were full of identical high rises.

Somehow in the fifties the planning cult turned away from the automobile. The whole idea of LA - "The City of the Future" - was an abomination to my fellow planners. San Francisco OTOH was cool. SF had streetcars.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

In New York almost all classes of society sit next to each other in subway cars. You see Wall Street-type guys in great-looking suits reading the Financial Times, the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal a few feet from smelly homeless people. There are hipsters, SWPLs reading trendy new lit fic, obvious gays, Hasidim reading the Talmud, loud ghetto youth chanting rap lyrics, Mexicans reading Spanish tabloids on their way to restaurant kitchens in Manhattan, overweight black women reading the Bible or "urban fiction" or talking very loudly on their way to clerical government jobs, guys reading the Koran on the way to their Manhattan convenience stores. You can see fashion models talking about modeling, professors checking students' papers, real preppies going home in groups after classes.

All of these people have to listen to frequent speeches from beggars, to long, loud sermons from middle-aged Jamaican preachers, to crazy guys' ranting. Recently I've started seeing real old-world gypsies begging.

Some percentage of the people who can afford it always take taxis or limos. But you still see a lot of upscale people in the subway.

Manhattan's streets are already filled with taxis. There are just too many upper and middle class people per square foot for road traffic to accommodate all of them. So there's spillover into the subway. Also, some culturally upscale people aren't rich. College professors, kids trying to lead the hipster lifestyle without rich parents, etc. Parking a private car in Manhattan is very expensive. I don't know anyone who does it, and I've been commuting to Manhattan for almost 20 years. And if used daily, cabs would get very expensive too. The subway is cheap.

Maharaja Mac said...

In a sane world an abridged version of this post would be an op-ed in the LA Times.

Similar upper-class sentiments back in the 1970s prevented the DC Metro system from having a Georgetown stop.

True, Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom are nearby, but not ideal.

Camlost said...

Atlanta public transit is primarily the domain of eloquent Obama supporters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXz-tlK2pkI

slumber_j said...

"And there are no plausible plans yet for a north-south Westside rail route paralleling the 405 (San Diego) Freeway."

One thing I learned when working for Richard Meier on the Getty Center many years ago is that you really don't want to build anything in certain stretches of Sepulveda Pass, and you definitely don't want to be on that part of the 405 when the Big One hits.

In excavating the big hole for the Getty's underground parking structure, they first sank enormous soldier beams into pre-drilled holes, then drilled tieback holes into the earthen wall as they dug down. The idea was to pump concrete into these holes (many of which extended under the 405) in order to anchor the tensioned tiebacks that would keep the soldier beams (and ultimately the concrete walls) from toppling into the big hole.

Anyway, when the time came to pump the concrete into these tieback holes, they pumped however many yards they thought they needed into the first hole...to no apparent effect. The concrete just disappeared. So they lined up more trucks, pumped, lined up more trucks, pumped some more...

It turned out they needed like ten times what they should have, because there are enormous voids beneath the 405 freeway. Evidently the people who built the 405 through Sepulveda Pass more or less disregarded the existing soil conditions--the dozens of rusting Buicks, etc.--and just plowed right ahead.

This might be an issue for anyone who wants to build more stuff (e.g. a rail line) in that part of LA.

theo the kraut said...

If there is hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses [...] could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated

Ed said...

This is an entertaining essay, and I think I know enough from reading Steve for some time to know how attached he is to the "old LA" and the car culture. Incidentally, as a New Yorker, I get the pain of watching the culture that you grew up with in your city, or came to the city specifically for, vanish (http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/).

However, part of this are just silly. I don't know where to begin.

First, as the essay actually implies, Los Angeles has an excellent bus system and has had that for some time (coming from New York, where the bus system is unusually crappy, I was impressed). So don't be misled by the patchy passenger rail network, in contrast to popular perception LA does mass transit quite well.

Second, there is a network of commuter trains that get people from various points in southern California to Union Station downtown -and no, not all the jobs are on the Westside- and there are plenty of, well, commuters, who use those train.

Third, what jobs are we talking about exactly? My impression of LA was that, at least since the 1990 defense cutbacks, that the place was a great place for rich people to hang out and do deals, and there were jobs for (mostly immigrants) to provide services to rich people, but if you were looking for what used to be a "normal" office or factory job these weren't plentiful (and what "normal" office jobs exist tend to be downtown, the Westside in NY terms being more like the Upper East Side/ Upper West Side/ parts of Westchester/ Greenwich).

Unfortunately, New York is becoming like that, and if you hang out at a subway station in Manhattan during rush hour you will see a surprising small number of people who look like they are commuting to and from offices as well. Instead it will seem to be mostly tourists. Though with more offices allowing their employees to dress down this is somewhat deceptive.

SFG said...

I will say, having grown up in America's other huge city, I would much rather commute 2 hours on the LIRR than in traffic. On the train, you can read or do something else productive or enjoyable. In the car, you have to be focused on the drive.

Shawn said...

A lot of companies have casual Fridays, including the government I work for.

DougRisk said...

Yes, attempting to turn non-walkable cities (or cities with only tiny "urban" centers) like LA and Vegas into Public Transit Meccas is like attempting to turn Manhattan or central London or Paris into car cultures.

In the case of highway heavy LA, it is simply putting lipstick on a pig.

Glaivester said...

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (movie) or Who Censored Roger Rabbit (book).

Cail Corishev said...

If this was a fancy neighborhood, where were all the proles going?

Anonymous said...

and some kind of non-gym shoe (soft leather shoes were fine as long as they made some attempt to look non-athletic).

Some people who get to work via public transit + walking wear athletic shoes on their commute and change into formal ones at the office. Me, for instance.

Anonymous said...

Class transit, indeed.

Same situation here in the East Bay, except some white people in suits take the BART during regular commuter hours, but the buses are exclusively for old blacks and poor Mexicans who frequently slip on with their large families without paying, but the black bus drivers never bother to kick them off.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't think anyone supports mass transit on the basis that it will benefit the wealthy, though it would probably reduce traffic. I went to UCLA, which definitely would have been a lot nicer if it'd had a metro stop. Three-car tandem parking is a bitch especially when you have to move the last car to somewhere far away once a week for street cleaning.

Anonymous said...

Los Angeles's car culture is much derided, but as James Q. Wilson pointed out, it made Los Angeles far more ethnically laid back than East Coast cities. Growing up in L.A., he was used to people being blissfully isolated from each other in their cars, meeting up with friends at chosen spots. When he got to Harvard, he couldn't believe the territorialism and street-level ethnic friction of the Boston area



Hmm. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we supposed to be in favor of territorialism? Wouldn't California be a lot better off today - a lot less Mexican today - if Californians of the past had been a bit more "Boston Irish" and a bit less "Eh ... whatever, it's all good, man"?

Anonymous said...

A look which many Angeleno men (many way past middle age) seem to have is T-shirt (which does not conceal a vast beer-belly that looms horribly over the belt-region, or 'hang-over' as it is termed) with tacky three-quarter length shorts, some type of sneaker and all topped off with a backward facing baseball cap.
Apart from being desigbed for men a quarter of a century younger, his ubiquitous 'paucnch uniform' - it seems to emphasise the big belly, drawing in the eye as a focus over the kiddy shorts, it reminds one of sleazy cameramen on San Fernando Valley porno shoots.
Perhaps Steve belonging to a different age with different standards hasn't come to terms with the fact that the 'paunch uniform' is, in fact, the SoCal "gent's" uniform of choice and as such is *the* 'formal' attire of the mainstream SoCal industries such as porn (production side, of course!)and general bulshitting.
In SoCal, at least, the days of Saville Row and Beau Brummel have long gone to be replaced by 'paunch chique' (as an aside the paunch is valued in such circles, as it was in Ottoman times as the ultimate symbol of portable wealth, hence the belly-dance or 'fertile masturbation', as Desmond Morris termed it, performed by harem slaves on the torpid mega-bellied Sultan).
Anyhow, back to the business in hand. My old Dad, raised in the 1920s during the days of stiff collars, Homburg hats, shiny shoes, long coats etc had a particular horror of 1970s pop stars and the young generation of the '70s. Any man seen with so much as a baseball cap (let alone jeans or long hair), wa said by him to 'look like a scrubber' 'scrubber' being an old English term of opprobation and of uncertain etymology. Such attired 'personalities' on TV were always the prime target of his ire.
My!, how standards have slipped.

IHTG said...

"Proles"? Sigma, is that you?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the ubiquity of LA men wearing sneakers, one is forced to mind another consideration namely this - Sneakers smell and sneakers smell horribly.(sorry to be blunt, but this is a scientific fact, caused, as we all know by the non-breathing properties of sneaker material - as opposed to shoe leather - and the build up of sufur reducing bacteria in hot humidity.
The thought of a car full of beer-gutted, short and T-shirt wearing lower order Angelenos in close proximity in a hot underground transit system does raise a certain queasiness in the reader.

Anonymous said...

Iran-Contra a Pyrrhic victory for conservatives?

Reagan survived that one, but what has been its legacy? That presidents, both Democratic and Republican, can get away with anything. Clinton had a whole bunch of scandals but survived them all. Bush II invaded a nation that didn't attack on trumped up charges. Obama blows up the Middle East but there's media silence.

Indeed, not just silence but media collusion.
What happened? Watergate is history. Presidents, especially with media protection, can now get away with everything.

There was a brief period in American history--from late 60s throughout the 70s--when American media might be said to have been really free. The prolonged Vietnam War was one reason. Another was Nixon, whom liberals in media hated; and Jews especially hated him. (When wasps ruled government and Jews ran the media, there was more reason for Jews to be hostile to powers that be. No longer when puppets of Jews now serve in government.) Watergate hung over the entire decade of the 70s. And when Carter fouled up, the media went after him really hard.

It was with Reagan that the media(though liberal)began to get protective and supportive. Media fell in love with him and forgave him for lots of things. Why? Maybe liberals figured they'd unleashed too much social disorder and distrust in the 60s and 70s, and so supporting or at least going easy on Reagan was a kind of an atonement. Or maybe liberals sensed that they were taking full control of media and academia, and therefore, they should prepare for the future when they would be peddling propaganda than dissent. Young boomers in the 60s had no power and so dissented. But once they had the power in the 80s and 90s, they feared dissent against them and wanted to train young minds to agree with them. Thus, there was no more real dissent and only the politically correct 'cult of dissent'.

For a time, conservatives thought they were on the ascendancy but what was really happening was the media was getting ready to go from an institution of dissent/investigation into an institution of propping up the powers-that-be from Clinton to Obama.

Another reason for liberal/leftist silence could be due to Vietnam War. Divisions among liberals/leftists during Vietnam War led to the presidency of Nixon. If not the crazy Democratic convention in 68, Humphrey might have won. So, the lesson that Democrats got was 'never fight amongst ourselvs again'. And so, Obama is well-protected.
And more recently, there was Nader's undermining of Gore in 2000. If not for Nader, Gore would have won. Some leftists said, "Gore or Bush, it doesn't matter, they're all the same", but Bush II turned out to be especially nutty and stupid. So, libs figure they should never fight amongst one another lest GOP win again.

Anonymous said...

Did libs win the Murdochization of the news?

Traditional news sought to be respectable, objective, and professional. Though there was always a kind of liberal bias in the media, MSM felt a need to maintain some level of standards.

Then came Murdoch. He played low and dirty. He gained marketshare with tabloid stuff and sensationalism. But as long as more and more people bought his papers, they were getting the news and op-eds too. So, some guy in UK might buy a Murdoch paper for tits and ass but also read news stories slanted to the right/conservatism.

Liberals attacked this as demeaning to journalism, but conservatives were happy to see a media giant on their side. So, they defended Murdoch on the basis of triumph of free markets. Why shouldn't news be more a business than a profession? And aren't liberals being elitist in saying the media should be serious and professional than populist and salacious?

And then, there was Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. It was as if the New Right Media were on the ascendancy on the basis of free markets, giving people what they want, profits, and etc. And even Ted Turner of CNN sort of started out on the right before safely turning to the liberal side.

Conservative ideology got so entangled with profits and free markets that conservatives cheered on the trash-ization of news, especially since it seemed to favor the likes of Murdoch and Limbaugh.
Since conservative ideology said, conservatism = free markets/profits whereas liberalism = socialism/no-profits, it was presumed that the future of media would belong to the Right for the anti-elitist and pro-populist free market right would have no qualms about appealing to the masses.

But it didn't turn out that way. If anything, the liberal media adapted to Murdochization and out-Murdoched the Right by a huge margin.
The left got their own Limbaugh in the form of Michael Moore the fatass slob with populist appeal. And then, there were celebrity-comedian liberal personalities like Bill Maher, Al Franken, Jon Stewart, that phony conservative guy whose name I forget, and etc.
And there's Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and etc which freely mix tabloid, gossip, trash news, and etc with serious news. Thus, a lot of people go to Huff, Slate, Jezebel, Raw Story, and Salon for gossip, trasho mondo news, and etc but also imbibe political news and opinions.

So, the current news media is essentially a case of liberalism in a Murdoctored form.

Anonymous said...

Tucker Carlson is Rachel Maddow as a conservative male, and Rachel Maddow is Tucker Carlson as a liberal female.

Anonymous said...

How very timely -- we travel tomorrow to southern California for a vacation. After studying the maps for a while had to conclude a car rental was a must. Question for locals - every book I've perused has warned about the horrendous traffic on the freeways but I saw a news video yesterday, 9:00 AM LA time, showing a police pursuit on the 101 and the traffic was lighter than it would be here on a Sunday afternoon. What gives?

Grumpy Old Man said...

Steve, this is brilliant. When you're hot, sir, you're hot!

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Last winter I overheard an Armenian retail clerk explaining to a Mexican retail clerk that a DUI now will cost you about $10,000 all told

Last week at the deli counter, I heard an Anglo worker explaining to several Mexican workers the corruption of the Fed & other central banks, quantitative easing, etc., and how they all needed to buy gold or other hard assets.

Anonymous said...

My mental image of LA and Southern California is that nobody does real work and that nobody wears a suit as a result. I only picture Hollywood agent types wearing suits.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

And it better be a nice car to park in his curving driveway because you don't want to look like some kind of a loser.

Couple of years back, the Scots-Irish financier behind our startup had a small social gathering for the principals at his waterfront home. I was the only non-Scots/Irish in the bunch.

All the vehicles in the driveway were high end Mercedes or Bimmers, save mine, which was a 10 year old Japanese 4wd pickup in nice condition.

The host's teenage daughter and several friends were about and went nuts, absolutely nuts, about my truck. This was a subject that bobbed to the surface several times over the course of the event, the daughter explaining to Dad how cool this truck was and how it was exactly what she wanted to cruise around in.

I thought maybe at one or two points the host was just going to offer to buy it from me on the spot.

Turned out to be a major status coup on my point, as being the object (or associated with the object) of teen girl adulation is among middle aged men who teenage girls invariably think are dorks.

new here said...

Pardon my nativete, Steve, but if local officials wanted the Wilshire line in '86, how would Waxman have blocked it? Not that I don't believe you, I'd just like to understand the basic mechanics involved.

jody said...

sometimes i count kids coming of school buses. take the demographics of the school bus and project 10 years into the future.

the future is not bright.

and as with the public transportation example, liberals encourage the immigration of millions of third worlders, while simultaneously taking their own kids out of the public schools which those new "americans" wreck, and send them to private schools instead.

Matthew said...

"Back in 1986, the feds were offering to help build a subway down Wilshire Blvd., but Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) blocked it"

It's those gol-damned Scots-Irish Southerners again, blocking the schoolhouse door...

Thomas O. Meehan said...

This is all true of New Jersey as well. Connecting suburbs to cities is a deep cultural taboo. All the recent rail projects have facilitated the movement of people from city to city.

In many areas local and county planning officials fight the resuscitation of rail lines that served local suburban commuters up until the early 1980's. For instance, the revival of the old Reading Line between Bucks County PA and Newark NJ would open a whole new cross-state rail alternative to the existing rail morass at little cost. The suburban leaders simply don't want to facilitate access to their domains even when they are bursting with commuters afflicted with long auto commutes.

The answer would be suburb to suburb transit, but the land is so expensive now that this may never take place.

Another interesting phenomenon is taking place. There are many antiquated bridges in exurbia. At some point they all need replacement either from flooding or decrepitude. I've noticed that residents on the roads then lobby to have the closed bridges left as ruins. This invents an instant cul de sac with no noisome threw traffic.

I wonder if during the decline of Rome, locals started tearing up roads, bridges and other infrastructure to get a little relief from passing barbarians.

Anonymous said...

The only problem is that you are then at Universal Studios. (If I had all the money in the world, I would sponsor a free outdoor showing of Idiocracy at Universal Citywalk to see if anybody gets the joke.)

Well, I hope somebody does, because I sure as hell don't.

Anonymous said...

This issue makes me realize how powerful the pull of NYC is for upper middle class people. They're moving from places where they can easily shut themselves off from NAMs in their cars to a place where this is very difficult to do. There's just not enough space for that many cars on Manhattan's streets, and Bloomberg has actually been decreasing the little space that there is by putting in bike lanes that nobody uses and pedestrian areas.

These people, me included, are spending an hour or two (or three) each day looking at, listening to, smelling some extremely downscale people in the subway, just for the priviledge of living and working in New York. It's impressive.

DaveinHackensack said...

Re using clothes to differentiate class: About 10 years ago, I had a business meeting in Los Angeles with a handful of execs from Union Bank of California. I wore a suit, and I remember one of the UBOC execs (a senior IT guy, I think) was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

Auntie Analogue said...

Money talks, bullsh_t walks.

Anonymous said...

The trains are too cheap which makes them a prole magnet. Check out the fares compared to NY's Metro North and Long Island Rail Road.

http://www.metro.net/riding/fares/

http://mta.info/lirr/about/TicketInfo/Fares2011.htm



http://mta.info/mnr/html/planning/fares/TicketFares.pdf

Anonymous said...

In the early 19th century the Duke of Wellington opposed England's nascent railway industry on the grounds that it would 'encourage the lower orders to move around the country more freely'.

Steve Sailer said...

That was the Duke of Waxman's view in 1986, as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what you're getting at. Should we be the only first world country to abandon public transportation?
LA should probably publicize their trains better to boost its tourism. I know that I prefer not rent a car for vacations.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure what you're getting at. Should we be the only first world country to abandon public transportation?" - The rest will get around to it when they get not quite as first world.

Anonymous said...

That brings up another point, how big is traffic calming in LA/California?

Anonymous said...

Re using clothes to differentiate class: About 10 years ago, I had a business meeting in Los Angeles with a handful of execs from Union Bank of California. I wore a suit, and I remember one of the UBOC execs (a senior IT guy, I think) was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

IT people should not be allowed to wear suits. They should be forced to wear janitorial uniforms.

Anonymous said...

But at Union Station there are tons?

Amtrak then Union Station in the Morning

Although I agree, mainly proles but far more than 1%

Anonymous said...

Manhattan's streets are already filled with taxis. There are just too many upper and middle class people per square foot for road traffic to accommodate all of them. So there's spillover into the subway. Also, some culturally upscale people aren't rich. College professors, kids trying to lead the hipster lifestyle without rich parents, etc. Parking a private car in Manhattan is very expensive. I don't know anyone who does it, and I've been commuting to Manhattan for almost 20 years. And if used daily, cabs would get very expensive too. The subway is cheap.

It's not just because it's cheaper. New York's subway is often more convenient and faster than taking a taxi. That's why well-off people take the subway.

Eric said...

One thing to remember. No one dresses up for the office anymore, and California is ground zero for this change. Gen X'ers and all the folks after this just won't accept the need to dress any differently. In the software and creative industries I hire people for its not even discussed. No one dresses up.

That's me. I write software for a living and wear jeans and a t-shirt to work every day. I don't talk to customers, and the computer doesn't seem to care.

Steve, you're in the wrong town to be trying to guess what people do by what they wear.

Also, as I pointed out last time this topic came up, in Southern California the women aren't estimating your net worth by your threads; they're looking at your car.

Anonymous said...

"In the early 19th century the Duke of Wellington opposed England's nascent railway industry on the grounds that it would 'encourage the lower orders to move around the country more freely'."

Cars have made his fear a reality.

Steve Sailer said...

"in Southern California the women aren't estimating your net worth by your threads; they're looking at your car."

Indeed. Which is another reason LA is stuck being a car culture for a long time.

Peter said...

Your observations bring up the question of just what sorts of work those casually dressed men actually do. Are there major centers of blue-collar employment that would lend themselves to commuting via the Red Line?

Anonymous said...

Lotta people at Northrop in El Segundo ride it.

E. Rekshun said...

@pat: "The reason so many poor people were miserable and lived amidst constant chaos was because they were poor at being people. They didn't need more money. They needed more sense and life skills."

Comment of the month!

JerseyGuy said...

Steve,
What impact do you think driverless cars will have on mass transit? It looks to me to be a game changer and will make most public transit obsolete. What say you?

Steve Sailer said...

I say I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to arrive.

Anonymous said...

Proles love their cars. Working to support a car is very Prole-like.

Whiskey said...

Steve, you kinda forgot a major issue in transit amongst diversity: safety.

Your average White guy using mass transit will be the constant target for abuse and worse by non-White men (and some non-White women). This is just a fact. Some guys who like fighting (that "Epic Beard Man" on Youtube -- an ex-Marine, Raiders fan, and Motorcycle club member comes to mind) don't mind it. But most understand that in any fight, the White guy is legally in the wrong in a "diverse" nation and legal system. Even if they win they lose, and go to jail. Which is unpleasant for most Middle Class White guys.

The LAT a while back had an article on the Blue Line. Which goes from Long Beach, straight shot, to Downtown LA where there are a number of office jobs still, in a rail-only system. Not a single White guy was on the train. Because it was filled with Salvadorans, Mexicans, Blacks, etc. all existing in an uneasy peace, with illegal street vendors selling pirated DVDs (complete with portable players to demonstrate quality of the pirated DVD) and a general absence of any law or Western standards of living.

No one will assault you, hassle you, harass you, ask you for money (and threaten you if you don't pay out), eat disgusting food next to you, urinate in the area, defecate in the area, or anything like that in your private car. You play the music you like, in your own space, and don't have to be on fight/flight edge mode 100% of the time in hyper-awareness. Its just too much for Joe Average.

Mass transit to be used by middle class White guys, let alone gals, requires heavy policing which is politically impossible (losing votes) in a diverse (read non-White) area. Not even NYC has been able to keep that up for long (Bloomberg is busy caving in and regulating sodas and salt shakers not gang members on trains) because of the votes.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm upset. Are you saying the chicks don't dig me because I'd rather take a train and read the iSteve Blog on railroad?

The train rules. I went out in Manhattan last week and got plastered with a bunch of old buddies from various commuter towns. Staggered back to Penn and let the train take me home. Nice to know I wasn't taking a $10,000 gamble getting a DWI. I'm not so sure those spur of the moment episodes of bad (but fun) behavior are possible in a car-centric city. I'm sure they are pretty common in NY, Boston, DC,SF and not to mention Paris and London.

DaveinHackensack said...

A little secret about Manhattan is that it's surprisingly drivable if you time it right. If I have a dinner meeting downtown, I almost always drive in. Street parking is usually free after 6 or 7pm, depending on the neighborhood, and I almost always find a spot within a block of the restaurant.

DaveinHackensack said...

Incidentally, a new mode of 'class transit' in Los Angeles, New York, and other cities is Uber, which seems to be for hipsters & techies who want a higher-priced cab they can order with their iPhones. Which is interesting, because most tech innovations involve lowering costs. I've never used Uber, but I wonder if they are more selective in hiring drivers. Maybe the secret feature they are offering is less B.O. than a cab?

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine was working in IT in merchant banks (in London). He said the only people wearing suits in the office were the guys who came to fix the photocopier.

Anonymous said...

Wearing a suit in LA means you're either going to a job interview, or you're a lawyer. Even that's loose - I'm a lawyer in private practice and I only wear a suit when I know I'm going to court or meeting a client.

On public transit, what is interesting is that you can convince the middle class to take transit - as long as it's a train. Metrolink captures a pretty decent ridership considering all of its routes are oriented to downtown LA, and practically nobody (on a percentage basis compared to other cities) works or visits downtown unless they've got a really compelling reason.

All of the new investment in rapid transit in Southern California these days is for buses, unfortunately. Buses are strictly for the poors only. Take a look at the people waiting for the "Orange Line" in the Valley - it looks like a Oaxaca insane asylum and Kurdish prison had a joint party.

Anonymous said...

I guess Uber will last as long as it takes to enforce diversity upon its drivers or users - or both.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, you kinda forgot a major issue in transit amongst diversity: safety."

Whiskey is not hyperbolizing, even though it is no longer the crack era, when you ride the subway, you'll notice nobody sleeps and everybody watches the doors to see who is entering.

Safety-wise, the only benefit I see to mass transit is the reduction of car accidents.

slumber_j said...

Anonymous said:

"It's not just because it's cheaper. New York's subway is often more convenient and faster than taking a taxi. That's why well-off people take the subway."

Right. Also, on the subway you don't have to deal with a cab driver.

Anonymous said...

Is there an Eastern Motors dealership in LA?

Anonymous said...

"I say I'm not holding my breath waiting for [driver-less cars] to arrive."

I agree. It requires too much of an investment from the individual driver and too much infrastructure to make it work in an urban setting. And an autopilot car would need to be highly standardized in design so that it could participate as a single particle in a highly organized state of motion on the freeway.

Of course, in his second term Obama might get the bright idea to mandate driver-less cars.

Anonymous said...

What kind of work is there in LA? Isn't it just Hollywood, porn, and property development/real estate speculation?

Peter said...

How is "Uber" different from the car services that have existed in NYC for decades?

pat said...

No one will assault you, hassle you, harass you, ask you for money (and threaten you if you don't pay out), eat disgusting food next to you, urinate in the area, defecate in the area, or anything like that in your private car.

You forgot one. When I was a teenager I vomited in the lap of the woman sitting beside me on the bus.

Lady, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"Your average White guy using mass transit will be the constant target for abuse and worse by non-White men (and some non-White women). This is just a fact."

I've been commuting to Manhattan for almost 20 years, spending about 2 hours a day in the subway. I've never felt physically threatened. Bernie Goetz is a hero to me, but no, I can't say I've felt like a target even once.

Whiskey's vision of the white guy commuting experience, very much like his vision of the male-female relationship, was obviously formed in its entirety by the study of third-party sources. These do not provide a sense of perspective. People tend to talk about things that seem remarkable to them. Rarity is one of the qualities that make events seem remarkable.

Mr X said...

I think Whiskey is right, it's more about safety, or the perception of safety. And also with having to deal with drunk, fat and crazy people.

In the Westside around UCLA the "Blue Bus" line is used mostly by students and it's OK. Amtrak train to San Diego was OK also.

Maybe if it was more expensive, more "quality people" would use public transportation, I don't know. The problem of LA is that it's to spread out and segregated for public transportation to be much useful.

DaveinHackensack said...

"How is "Uber" different from the car services that have existed in NYC for decades?"

I guess the idea is that calling for one with your smart phone is close to hailing one, whereas it's been illegal for non-medallion cab car services to pick up people hailing them.

"Wearing a suit in LA means you're either going to a job interview, or you're a lawyer."

Or a broker. Unless that's changed in recent years, the wire house guys used to wear suits, with independent financial planners usually dressing business casual.

"I've been commuting to Manhattan for almost 20 years, spending about 2 hours a day in the subway. I've never felt physically threatened."

Crime in New York started dropping precipitously around 20 years ago. See this chart of murders, for example.

Anonymous said...

"Couple of years back, the Scots-Irish financier behind our startup had a small social gathering for the principals at his waterfront home. I was the only non-Scots/Irish in the bunch."

A joke that stopped being funny the 10,000th time I read it.

Peter said...

For the past few months I've been spending as much as five hours on the road each day as I drive to worksites in New York and Connecticut. This gives me plenty of time to notice things, and something that sticks right out is a seeming paradox: why is rush hour traffic so miserable, even when unemployment is high?

I have a possible answer, though I can't imagine how it could be proven (or disproven) empirically. Many companies give workers the option of telecommuting, if not every day then maybe a day or two each week. Today, however, people are reluctant to take that option because they fear that unless they are physically present in the office every single day, they won't be seen as vital to their companies' operations. For similar reasons, I suspect that many vacation days are going unused, and that people are dragging themselves into work when sick rather than staying home.

Perspective said...

In the Toronto area you find a variety of people across income levels using public transit. Though generally the more well off tend to use trains/subways over busses. The commuter train (GO Transit) I used to take to downtown Toronto from the suburbs cost around $160.00 per month to use (it's higher now). Aside from a few students and others, most of the people on there were high income working professionals.
The GO bus that I take occassionally really reflects the changing demogrpahics of the area. It is not uncommon for me to be the only non-white on there. There's one stop where someone has put up free Palestine posters with a map showing the expansion of Jewish settlements into Palestinian areas.

Anonymous said...

How is "Uber" different from the car services that have existed in NYC for decades?

It isn't. Livery cabs that you call up have been around forever.

Beefy Levinson said...

"Remember me Eddie?! When I killed you brother I talked JUST LIKE THIS!"

I saw that movie in the theater as a kid and Judge Doom scared the SHIT out of me man.

Auntie Analogue said...

You can have my car when you pry my steering wheel from my cold, dead hands.

Anonymous said...

The main LA bus system is for Hispanic nannies and janitors to commute from Panorama City and Reseda to the Westside.

The red line subway and orange line busway are actually pretty nice, if not particularly convenient for most Angelenos. I take them sometimes with my kids to go to downtown or Hollywood Blvd. and avoid parking hassles, and we-- a skinny white guy with three blond kids-- never felt unsafe. The patrons seem to be mostly blue collar Hispanics and tourists. Lots of tourists. If an expanded system pulls more cars off the freeways and makes it more convenient for me to get around, then I'm all for it.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

It's not just because it's cheaper. New York's subway is often more convenient and faster than taking a taxi.

Right, and more predictable. Despite occasional breakdowns, track fires and episodes of "police activity" (a catchall term if ever there was one), traveling by subway usually takes a predictable amount of time. Driving is much more variable because of traffic conditions.

A little secret about Manhattan is that it's surprisingly drivable if you time it right.

Then again, that's true, too. You can thank 19th century city planners who built those nice, wide avenues and Robert Moses, who built all the parkways. Mile for mile, I find New York a much more drivable city than Philadelphia or Boston.

Anonymous said...


A joke that stopped being funny the 10,000th time I read it.


Comments from idiocrats are more relevant in the next post.

Anonymous said...

Uber can't even get off the ground here. The cities of Boston and Cambridge are both taking legal action against them to protect the cabbies' monopoly. In a town where a hack medallion costs upwards of $300K, money is flowing to the right people and they don't want it to stop.

wren said...

If I had all the money in the world, I'd build a better web platform for Steve, and then add a few kindered spirits to write and then make it into a think-tank.

Perhaps it would be located in one of those mansions on the cliffs by Torrey Pines.

Anonymous said...

OT:

Confirmation for Steve's theory that criminals today are just too dumb not to leave huge trails of incriminating evidence on social media...

from New Haven, CT

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/youtube_helped_bust_the_bloods/

Anonymous said...

i have to disagree, the scots-irish joke is very funny, because i have to think about whether they really mean scots-irish or the other thing

Anonymous said...

Ineffective public transportation means L.A. has thousands of legally drunk drivers on the road every night. It also means you can't have alcohol-involved fun outside of your neighborhood without incurring great expense or risk. It sucks.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Henry Waxman's nose - a nose job gone bad? He looks like a depiction I once saw of Dorian Gray.

Lugash said...

Ineffective public transportation means L.A. has thousands of legally drunk drivers on the road every night

Legally drunk illegals?

Perspective said...

"The GO bus that I take occassionally really reflects the changing demogrpahics of the area. It is not uncommon for me to be the only non-white on there."

Should have been it is not uncommon for me to be the only white on there.

I've never been on any form of LA transit, but I would imagine it would lean more heavily minority as others do. Perhaps more so because of the city's car culture.

Eminiar said...

A couple of years ago I drove to New York in my '61 Buick (from St. Louis.) I found Manhattan far more drivable and less scary than New Jersey.

Andrew Ryan said...

@Thomas O. Meehan

Living in southern NJ they was great interest in building the "River Line" to connect Trenton(!) to Camden (!!). I think it gets about 1/4 of the traffic necessary for it to break even. Having taken it once or twice, it seems to mainly service drug addicts heading to Camden and back to get their fix.

I imagine the real reason was to grease palms and hand out sweetheart contracts, as is the raison d'etre of all NJ politics.

MacArthur Oichs McSulzberger said...

Scots-Irish ... A joke that stopped being funny the 10,000th time I read it.

Agreed. The more politically incorrect Scotch-Irish is 10,000x funnier.

Anonymous said...

The Expo Line goes to the Westside

Anonymous said...

Whiskey's opinions are always novel but also stiff and theoretical. He's like a guy in Russia or somewhere commenting on American life based on anecdotes and articles without ever having been there.

DaveinHackensack said...

"A couple of years ago I drove to New York in my '61 Buick (from St. Louis.) I found Manhattan far more drivable and less scary than New Jersey."

It is. Having driven in a number of parts of the US, New Jersey might be the scariest place to drive. People are extremely aggressive here and merging onto highways here can be rough. Traffic in Los Angeles, for example is thick, but merging onto highways/freeways there seems to be a more orderly process. Also, the roads are in better condition there because they don't get chewed up from winter freezes.

ATBOTL said...

The last train out of Penn Station on Friday and Saturday night is called the "vomit comet."

Roads in NJ are so bad because many were built before WWII and have substandard lane width, turning radii, interchanges etc.



Dahinda said...

It makes one feel privileged to live in Chicago where there is a great mass transit system. $4 a gallon gas makes getting around LA even tougher!

Aaron B. said...

"This is the reason why the poor want to get out of rural areas. Life in an American city has a lot of support mechanisms for the poor."

True. Rural living is cheaper, but it's also more work. You can grow a lot of your own food, but then what do you do with your EBT?

Living in a rural area and having to drive so far for things, I always thought trains sounded pretty neat. Then I was in Chicago one summer Sunday morning and tried to take the train (CTA) across town to Mass. Partway there, we came to a construction site and had to switch to buses to detour around downtown. They packed us in like sardines. I'm a pretty big guy, so I didn't feel threatened, but I did feel out of place in my church-going clothes. By the time we got back to the train, it was time for Mass to start and I was still several stops away, so I started back the way I came. I tried to switch over to the Metra, walking a few blocks over to Grand Central Station, but it turned out that doesn't run on summer weekends, though none of their maps and other materials said that. So I walked back to the nearest CTA station, went back through the same train-bus-train switching, and got back to my hotel after a few hours of riding around going nowhere.

Overall, it seemed like the schedules for both systems were being made up as they went along, and the locals just knew what was up, but an outsider had better give himself a couple extra hours to cover detours and changes.

But if I ever go back to Chicago, I'll still take the train -- Amtrak to get there and CTA to get around. Driving in Chicago was even worse.

Evil Sandmich said...

I should point out that every time their is a crime story at our CLeveland area, white working class mall, there are comments about getting rid of the giant bus depot that sits across the street from the mall. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to the main users of the bus depot.