How Could Better Public Transit Help Los Angeles?

2011 08 23 - 1626 - Washington DC - McPherson Sq Metro Station

You can get an idea from this Streetsblog Capitol Hill post, which shows what Metro has done for DC. Among other things, please note that transit = economic growth.

Photo by thisisbossi via Flickr.

Why Drivers Should Want More Cyclists, Not Fewer

Look how much more room there is for your car when people bike or ride the bus! Lavish!

Image is poster in city of Muenster Planning Office, August 2001. Credit: PressOffice City of Muenster, Germany

Commuter Express Congestion

I hope that LADOT realizes that they don’t just need new buses. They need more buses. And, by extension, more drivers. Yesterday there were 16 people standing the entire way from the Encino Park and Ride (and most of those got on a few stops before that point) to the first stop in Westwood. That’s a long time to stand, especially when there aren’t good places to hold on. (Seriously, LADOT officials, try holding onto an overhead bar for an hour in stop-and-go traffic. Not good for the wrists or elbows or my carpal tunnel. And what about the people who can’t reach the bar?

Five Years of Public Transit

Commuter Express Neoplan

For the past five years, I’ve commuted primarily by public transit. I had a brief flirtation with multimodalism (I used to bike to the bus stop on the home end of my commute), but that ended when the need to take our daughter to day care began.

When we lived in our apartment, I took Big Blue Bus to work. When we moved, we started taking Metro. I took the Orange Line to the 761, and John biked to the bus. But both of us found it really onerous–me, because my commute involved a lot of backtracking, and therefore took two hours in the evening, and John because he usually had to wait for at least 30 minutes to find a bus with an open spot on the bike rack.

Then we discovered LADOT Commuter Express, which picked us up and dropped us off just as conveniently as Metro, but on a much more direct route (and with better odds of bike space). So for nearly three years, we’ve used that as our primary mode of commute transit.

Yes, there are days that we drive–but they’re decidedly in the minority. I rode the bus until my last day at work before maternity leave, and started up with my first day back.

So, what are my thoughts on five years of riding the bus?

Well, I feel good about how I commute. I am delighted that I can get to work without being the one behind the wheel. I love having a chunk of time every day to read. I’m happy that I only have to pay for a tank of gas about once every 10 days. And I’m thrilled to be using our cars much less than many Angelenos do.

I’m also really looking forward to those new buses that LADOT is supposed to be rolling out this winter. Trust me, a 22-year-old bus is old.

Photo by LA Wad, via Flickr.

Going Green

Nuts About Southwest, the blog for Southwest Airlines, has a new post about ways to go green.

I’m not sure why this post is appearing now (it refers to Earth Day, which was in April, and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which was last year), but the suggestions are still good–even if #5 and #36 are the same thing.

For the record, we’ve done about 3/4 of these. I think the one I feel best about is #13: Stop using paper plates. We have a lot of cookouts in the summer, and it quickly became obvious that paper plates were going to make up too much of our trash if we allowed them to. So we didn’t. We bought cheap reusable plates at IKEA and Target, and now we can host about 15 people without throwing away a single plate.

Three Cheers for Method Home

Although I haven’t had the best luck with Method’s omops in the past, I do have to credit their customer service. As promised, my replacement mop has arrived. They even sent me a couple of the washable, reusable pads, which is a nice, unexpected touch. Here’s to clean floors!

Oh, No, omop!

I’ve long been a fan of Method cleaning products. Some work better than others, but one standout is the omop. Washable, reusable pads attach to the mop head, so that you’re not throwing out paper pads every time you clean the floor. But you’re also not dealing with a disgusting mop head that’s hard to clean.

Although you can buy Method’s floor cleaning solutions–and I do buy the one for wood floors–I prefer to make my own all-purpose cleaner (hot water, glycerin soap, washing soda, spray bottle). It works well, and it’s unbelievably cheap.

The only downside to the omop is the handle. When we moved into the house, I bought my first omop. “First” is an important word here. About a year later, the little plastic pieces that kept the head attached to the pole broke off. Not wanting to start with a whole new system (I have quite a few of the pads already), I e-mailed Method. They said that they had redesigned the mop, and would send me a voucher good at Lowe’s. Right about the time I started to wonder when that voucher was going to show up, I got a package. Method didn’t send me a voucher–they sent me a new omop!

Fast forward to this morning, when the handle snapped off in my hand, while I was mopping the floor. And this time it’s less than a year–more like nine months. I’ve e-mailed Method again to see if they have a new design (the plastic does not seem to be durable, in my opinion).

In the meantime, I feel like the janitor at the beginning of The Right Stuff, who had to sacrifice part of his broom handle to help Chuck Yeager fly the Bell X-1 with broken ribs. Except that the handle of my omop isn’t going to fill such a compelling need. I’m not even sure if it can be recycled.