Can free transit disrupt LA’s car culture? Probably not

To the editor: While transportation officials are considering making Metro buses and trains free, and experts believe that congestion pricing is a great way to encourage use of public transportation, they fail to understand what using transit represents to Angelenos psychologically.

Owning a car in Los Angeles is a status symbol. Car culture is the dominant mode of thought here and has been ever since the freeways were constructed. In LA, for better or worse, you are defined by the fact that you own a car and possess the means to use it, no matter how high the price of gas.

I thought it was a given that people do not value what they don’t have to pay for. Free public transportation is not going to change the psychology of LA, where if you own a car, you exist.

Ruth Kramer Ziony, Los Feliz


To the editor: I use the A and B Lines (formerly the Blue and Red Lines, respectively) to go to matinee shows and dinner in Hollywood. While safer and less hassle than driving, it is not a pleasant experience. The lack of policing and fare checking make the Metro system an attractive shelter option for homeless people.

I have spent years writing the various agencies responsible but with no visible results, and I am sure that I am not the only one doing so.

Once in a while, you will see a police officer standing around on the platform, usually looking at their smartphone. Some might actually get on a train, but they’ll quickly hop off at the next station.

Until the issue of policing (or lack of policing) is addressed, making the system free will only make this situation worse.

Bob Hoffman, Long Beach


To the editor: Ending fare collecting will speed boarding time, and hence make transit faster. That change alone will make transit more appealing.

Peter Jacobsen, Port Townsend, Wash.


To the editor: No, I wouldn’t ride Metro if it were free.

Anyone who has taken the subway recently can answer that question. It doesn’t feel safe. I have been on the subway while homeless people slept on seats next to me. I have listened to people scream on the trains.

The stations and trains feel unsafe and are unkempt. Last time I took a bus, I had to wait 45 minutes for one to appear. Worse yet, it feels like Metro couldn’t care less about this.

Until those issues are resolved, no amount of incentives will increase ridership. Fix these issues, and then let’s talk.

Manny Padilla Jr., Studio City

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