L.A. buses may be safe, but the trains are unbearable. Fix them, Metro
To the editor: I had not used the Metro B Line, formerly the Red Line, for four years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. My friend and I enjoy going to the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC, and in years past used the subway. ("How can L.A. Metro make train service safer? Look to what’s working on buses," Opinion, April 27)
This year was a shock. We boarded at the Universal City station and found it filthy and smelly. We knew immediately upon entering the car that someone was smoking. People boarded and begged for money or tried to sell items. Some we could ignore, but others were quite aggressive.
I don't blame people for avoiding the subway. Riding a bus may be safer, but Metro needs to address the problems on its trains. L.A. will be hosting the Olympics soon.
Phyllis Glantz, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: Madeline Brozen's op-ed article mentions critics of Metro who say people riding the trains are more likely to be wealthy and white than bus riders.
Regularly taking Metro trains will show that most riders are not white, reflecting Los Angeles’ ethnic makeup. It is difficult to judge wealth just by looking at someone, but from my decades of riding Metro's trains, I get the sense that the white and wealthy people of the city are not riding trains in large numbers.
On buses, drivers check fares and act as a gatekeeper and authority figure, which can lead to more civil rider behavior. Currently there is very little if any fare checking by people for Metro trains, so the absence of these gatekeepers leads to uncivil and unruly behavior.
Matthew Hetz, Los Angeles
To the editor: I use Metro on a daily basis and can attest to the erosion of social norms on the trains that Brozen points out. I've stopped taking the B Line between Sunset and Wilshire for my daily commute and opted instead for the 754 bus.
Brozen's ideas to increase rail service, allow vendors on the platform (even musicians would be wonderful) and create a sense of shared public space in our train stations are spot on.
Metro needs to completely revamp its approach to managing stations and the plazas next to the entrances. Amenities that make taking the train fun, comfortable and practical will help bring riders back.
By allowing a variety of activities, Metro can turn its stations from dicey into vibrant public spaces.
Aaron Paley, Los Angeles
The writer was the founding executive director of CicLAvia.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.