WHY I DON’T LIKE LOS ANGELES
R. and I just about have our trip to N. California all planned. There is one remaining detail, and it involves getting from LAX to L.A. Union Station. Before I go further, I will digress and link you a bit of L.A. history as once told to me by my friend Lisa (who lives in– and loves– L.A.).
The Seven Eras of Rapid Transit Planning in Los Angeles
I suppose you probably are wondering what that story has to do with the “one remaining detail.” For the sake of comparison, I will digress again and give you a couple of examples of similar journeys in other towns:
(The following figures are based on being ready to depart the airport at 8:30 am on August 8. Driving times don’t account for likely rush hour traffic.)
O’Hare Airport to Union Station
Driving: 22 minutes; 17 miles
Public Transit: 47 minutes; 1 train; cost= $1.75
Logan Airport to South Station
Driving: 11 minutes; 5 miles
Public Transit: 7 minutes; 1 train; cost= $1.25
Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Airport to Midway Station (St. Paul)
Driving: 23 minutes; 8 miles
Public Transit: 45 minutes; 1 light rail+ 1 bus; cost $2.00
Okay, now we see how relatively quick, easy, and cheap it is to travel from the airport to the main Amtrak hub in each of these three major U.S. cities using public transit. Next we’ll see how it shakes down in L.A., the automobile driving capital of North America:
LAX to L.A. Union Station
Driving: 22 minutes; 19 miles
Public Transit: 1 hour 25 minutes; 1 airport shuttle+ 1 bus; cost $1.25
Now that time, almost 40 minutes longer than the runner-up (Chicago), may not seem like much to you, especially given the low price. Consider, though, that our flight is scheduled to arrive at 8:09 am, and our Amtrak train is scheduled to depart at 10:15 am. Given those times, in any other of the listed cities we’d have time to spare. This could be important should our flight be late, or if road traffic is a mess (who ever heard of that happening on a Monday morning in L.A.?), or both. The L.A. public transit parameters give us no margin for error, assuming that boarding the train so close to the scheduled departure would even be possible.
The alternatives to public transit aren’t cheap. A shared van company promised a 9:45 arrival (again, cutting it close), but at a cost of $30. Taxis are 40 bucks. There had been a bus company that ran a route directly from LAX to Union Station, but it is no longer in operation. In fact, the number to the now-defunct company is forwarded to a private car service, whose customer service rep quoted me a price of $45, “plus tip.” (R. will attest to the fact that I am usually an extravagant tipper for someone on a fixed municipal income, but the notion that a tip should even be mentioned in a price quote strikes me as inexcusably crass.)
I really don’t like L.A. Fortunately, we’ll just be passing through.