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Even in LA, where our love affair with the automobile is legendary, everyone should take the bus

Even in LA, where our love affair with the automobile is legendary, everyone should take the bus…at least once.


Before you do, you may want to educate yourself. The internet is a good place to start, it’s infinitely better than the signs posted at the bus stop. (Try  from your computer or smart phone.)


Let me explain why.


As a result of the “ Not If, When” rule, I was “bumped” by a fellow motorist a few days ago while stopped at the light at Van Nuys Boulevard. It wasn’t serious, just a gentle jolt and the grinding noise of a Lexus trying to free itself from its new perch on the rear fender of my SUV.  After a right turn into the parking lot of a bank, Ben Hur and I agreed that I would have the damage checked out by my local auto detailer (Handy J’s) to determine if any bodywork need be done beyond a good detailing.


That’s when the fun began.


I’d made arrangements to have a friend pick me up from Handy J’s Carwash and take me to work while the detailing crew removed as much of the damage as possible. I was earlier than planned, so I decided to take the bus to work.  How hard could it be?


I got lucky.  Just after the fourth bus sped passed the stop where I was waiting, a black Porsche pulled over and the window rolled down. As I crouched down to peer into the opening (fanaticizing that Susan Somers from American Graffiti would be behind the wheel), I recognized my friend Steven. He ordered me to get in and I dutifully folded my 6’3”, 260 pound frame into the front seat and we were off!!! Wow, this commuting thing is simple.


The return trip was not.  May I take a moment to explain the difference between the red and orange buses? The red bus is an express bus, meaning it doesn’t stop at every bus stop. Orange buses are “local” and stop at any bus station where there’s a sign and a bench. I, of course, did not know this when I boarded the red bus heading east toward Beverly Glen (and Handy J’s Carwash). I boarded at Sepulveda. Easy enough.  Slipping two one dollar bills into the change counter for the $1.50 fare, I jokily told the driver to keep the change to which she told me she didn’t give change to which I said, “Keep the change,” to which she said she didn’t give change, to which I said, “Just drop me at Beverly Glen,” and headed to my seat.  Shortly after our stop at Van Nuys Boulevard, I stood up and pulled the chain above the window indicating I wanted the bus to pull over at the next stop, Beverly Glen.


That may have been where I wanted to get off, but then, I wasn’t on an orange bus.  I was on a red bus and red buses only stop at designated stops.  Which stops?  Good luck trying to get that information from the signs at the bus stop. So there I stood, captive and at the mercy of the driver.  The next stop after Van Nuys wasn’t Beverly Glen, nor Hazeltine, or Stern, but finally Woodman. OMG, it would have been faster to walk to Beverly Glen from Sepulveda.


I crossed the street and waited an eternity (about 10 minutes) for an ORANGE bus to take me back to Beverly Glen. Finally, I decided to hoof it west. Bad call, because a block and a half after I started walking, the bus passed me, of course. Oh well, the exercise will be good for me.


Fifteen sweaty minutes later, I arrived at Handy J’s and was face to grill with a beautifully detailed Liquid Copper Infiniti FX35.  Oh sure, there were a couple of dings and scratches still evident, but all-in-all, it was practically as lovely as the day I drove her off the lot seven years ago. What joy to be behind her wheel again!


Will I take another trip on a bus?  Why not?

I’m always complaining about the traffic here. Everyone in LA should ride mass transit occasionally, if not regularly.  That might open the roads a bit.

But educate yourself at the MTA website before you board a bus…or just ask one of those lovely ladies sitting on the bus bench for a little guidance. Their advice will be far easier to understand than those bus stop signs.


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