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Changing the Tune of the Bus Stop Blues

June 09, 2002

Re "Putting the Rapid Back in Rapid Transit," June 4:

While waiting for an MTA bus at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue after spending another fine Friday evening at the L.A. County Museum of Art, I had the most curious experience. At the Metro Rapid bus stop is an electronic marquee, and it was announcing that the next Metro Rapid bus would be at the stop in five minutes. A veteran of MTA bus service, I was not only skeptical, I chuckled: Another grand idea by the MTA, announcing approaching buses. I was certain that the announcement was off and had probably been stuck for hours at "Five minutes for the next bus."

But then it changed to four minutes, and then three minutes. I thought to myself that there was a fat chance that an MTA Metro Rapid bus would be at this stop in the announced time. Then it read two minutes. And then the marquee boldly pronounced that the bus was approaching. I was incredulous at the nerve of the MTA to announce that a bus was approaching. There was no way on Earth that the MTA could have engineered a working bus stop.

I looked up Wilshire Boulevard and there was the bus, coming to my stop. I could not believe it--it worked. I nearly missed the bus as I almost fainted from the shock of the whole ordeal of experiencing the timely efficiency of this MTA bus route, but I revived myself to board and began my journey home.

Matthew Hetz

Los Angeles

*

For about a year I took the Metro Rapid line back and forth to work from 14th Street in Santa Monica to Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills and nearly always found the ride itself a pleasure. However, actually getting on the bus was often difficult. Metro Rapid may take great pride in its speed, but it ought to be more concerned with actually picking up and dropping off riders.

Few things are more annoying to a bus rider than to run a long Beverly Hills block only to see the bus speed off when your fingertips touch the door; to walk to the bus stop while being passed by five buses tailgating or passing one another, only to wait more than 30 minutes for the next bus; or to be refused entry to a bus waiting at a light, only to again wait 30 minutes at the official stop.

And not once did I see the use of the much-advertised device that delays signals from turning red. I suggest the following: No Metro Rapid bus should follow within sight of its predecessor; drivers should wait for runners; buses already waiting at a red light should be allowed to let passengers on or off as long as it does not delay them. This last suggestion would do much to alleviate rider frustration at being passed by numerous buses while walking to the widely separated official Metro Rapid stops. I sent these suggestions to the MTA many months ago, but of course never got a reply.

Chuck Almdale

Santa Monica

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