On the Metro

from the hills to the chills it’s a quick fall down
it’s a great big city, it’s a real small town

~Jude, “Out of L.A.”

I will talk about some knitting on this knitting blog, eventually. But first, I have to talk about Los Angeles. Specifically, I have to talk about public transit in Los Angeles.

Hey, I can hear you laughing. But L.A. does, in fact, have public transit. It has a subway system called the Metro.

I don’t take the Metro very often. For the most part, it doesn’t actually go where I need to go. But when I need to go downtown, it works just fine.

The last time I took it, I was in such a good mood that I gave a homeless lady my 75 cents change from buying my ticket. Today, I was not in such a good mood. Last night, I found and charged my iPod specifically to make myself less approachable.

It didn’t work.

While I was buying my second ticket of the day, a clearly unwell man crowded me at the machine, and when I didn’t talk to him, he poked me in the arm. I think he was a little surprised when I responded with “Do not touch me.”

Let’s talk about that machine for a moment, and why I needed two tickets.

I’ve taken public transit in several cities. New York. London. Paris. Chicago. In Chicago, I took it a lot, because I lived there for a little over a year. I had a MetroCard, which I regularly stuck into a machine to add money for the next few weeks’ worth of rides. Every time I got on the bus or went through the turnstile for the El, I ran the card through a machine.

The Metro has no turnstiles. It also has no MetroCard or anything similar, which makes sense, since there’s nowhere to scan such a thing. Instead, if you take the Metro regularly, you can purchase monthly passes. If you take the Metro every once in a while, like me, you have to stop at the station and purchase a ticket from a machine. Tickets are $1.25 each way, with a Day Pass costing $3, so you can’t even get a round-trip ticket. If you are caught on the Metro without a valid ticket, it’s a $250 fine.

I have never been asked to show my ticket. And, yet, I buy one every single time I take the Metro. And, more often than not, I get approached while at the ticket machine.

This is a very weird system. And I haven’t even mentioned the part where you can buy tokens elsewhere for slightly less than $1.25 each – tokens that you still have to put in the machine to buy a ticket when you get there.

Still, it’s less frustrating (and less expensive) than driving downtown and parking for the day. And considerably more conducive to knitting.

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