With class starting at 10 a.m., an alarm sounds. A groggy student rolls over to see the clock say eight. They take a deep breath and roll out of bed, prepared to start the day on a good note without feeling rushed.
On the other side of the Valley, a different student makes the same roll over. Only this student jumps out of bed and begins to rush to get themselves ready. This is because they are taking the bus to school, and because of that, they need to give themselves extra time to account for a bus being late, or a potential accident on the road, making the bus run even later, or longer.
The challenge of deciding whether or not to risk taking the bus is a big one, affected more so by the COVID-19 pandemic. The upside is that you get to save money and help out the ecosystem, but you will be doing this at the risk of your own privacy and safety.
Privacy, safety, and transit time. These are the three main points brought up when talking about this topic, and they all have valid arguments.
It may seem obvious to some, but there is truly no real privacy on a bus, subway or even in an Uber. So if you are a person who likes to enjoy getting things done in private, or without other people listening over your shoulder, driving may be the way to go. A USC survey revealed that 89% of people had used a personal vehicle in the last year, compared to 44% for ride sharing services and only 35% for public transportation.
Secondly, safety. How safe do you feel when you are around 20-100 people you don’t know in a confined space?
For most Angelenos, the answer to this is to grab the keys and start their own engine. Doing this may be more wise than experiencing that paranoia. Another study done by LABarometer found that over 40% of people have concerns over other riders’ actions.
The final point to consider is transit time.
Despite the allure that mass transit will get you somewhere quicker, in LA at least, that is a misnomer. With the traffic on the streets being such that buses run late and so few Metro stops, it is challenging for many to use public transit even if they wanted to.
According to a New York Times article from April 2021, “Over the past 65 years, the United States has spent nearly $10 trillion in public funds on highways and roads, and just a quarter of that on subways, buses and passenger rail.”
This fact is extremely pronounced, since Los Angeles is well known as a “car” city, which inherently means that there are challenges with getting anywhere without your own vehicle.
This fact is still true today with LA Metro being considered one of the most scattered systems in the U.S.
Because of these reasons, it is clear to see that here in LA the best value to your schedule, your safety and your sense of privacy is to have your own ride, drop the top and feel the wind in your hair as you cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway.