Wednesday, April 16, 2008

L.A. Excursion, Part One

I love exploring L.A., and a little while ago, I decided to explore it in a new way. It was a beautiful spring morning when I parked at the Canoga Avenue Park & Ride lot for the Orange Line, and hopped aboard.

I bought my fare at the automatic machine. The MTA works on the honor system, which means you don't show your ticket to anyone unless asked on the occasional check that they do. Which means, I suppose, you could beat the fare - except if they catch you the fine is hefty. I bought a $5 day pass, and I was good to go.

The Orange Line are big articulated buses that run on their own exclusive busway across the San Fernando Valley from Warner Center to North Hollywood. The seats were comfy and brightly colored, and there's a video monitor in the bus that (too) loudly broadcasts a Made-for-the-Bus TV channel. The busway is nicely landscaped with xeriscape plantings - purple lantana and waving ornamental grasses line a walking/bike path that parallels the route. The buses move fast, but approach intersecting streets with caution. I recall hearing there were a few run-ins with cars when the line first opened. (Hello - MTA? I have a suggestion. Why not paint the Orange Line ORANGE, instead of grey, which is the same color as the sky, the street, and the stucco-clad warehouses and strip malls that line the route. The buses literally disappear against the sky - See my photo above!)

It took about a half hour to get to the other end of the line to transfer to the Red Line. We took on enough riders to fill the bus, and it was nice to see that both wheelchair riders and bicyclists were accommodated easily.

The North Hollywood Red Line station was like a big orange yellow and green cornicopia, decorated with bright enamel tiles. The surfaces are tiles and brushed steel. The walls are bright with murals. Outside the station there's a food vendor - although you're not allowed to eat in the subway.

The Red Line is fun because each station has its own unique decor. At Hollywood and Vine, the ceiling is covered with empty film spools! At Hollywood and Western it looks like confetti! At Vermont and Sunset, it has a constellation. Cool!

We rode to the MacArthur Park station, and got off for pastrami at Langers - recognized by many as the BEST pastrami in the known world. After lunch we headed back down the escalator. The station at MacArthur Park is a little older and not so well-maintained. Discarded food wrappers blew across the tiled approach to the escalators, and at the train platform itself you could see where the pigeons liked to roost. Never mind, though, the train came quickly and we were off to the end of the line at the gracious, art deco jewel that is Union Station.

In Part Two I'll show you where we went next.


lawnguylander said...

Ok, so the buses are articulated but are they clean?

JCK said...

How cool that you did this. I've been wanting to take the kids on the train.