I Get Around

The continuing adventures in Los Angeles of Renzie Baluyut.

Everytime you find yourself in a new place, one of the things at the top of your to-do list is familiarizing yourself with the territory.

Whether you do your exploring on foot, via public transportation or with your own car, surveying your immediate area can prove to be very invaluable.  At the very least, you want to know where you can get supplies.  You want to know where you can hang out when you feel like having some fun.  And later on, you’d want to explore options for making cash or gaining some form of employment.

It’s true that Los Angeles is mostly freeway- it is by far, the quickest way for anyone to get from one point of the city to another.  However, if you’d like to really explore the city streets, you’ll want to take the bus instead.

Coming from Metro Manila, I can’t help but wonder how the Philippines coudn’t have a much more efficient public transportation service.  The buses in Los Angeles work like clockwork- there are designated stops which they get to on a predetermined schedule, so you have a fairly good idea when your bus is coming.

There are route information pamphlets available on board so you can find out where each bus plies its route, as well as its schedule for the entire week, so you can plan your trips ahead in advance.

You get on and pay your fare- a flat rate (a dollar twenty-five, for example)- so it eliminates the need for conductors, and you can get off anywhere on the route.  If you think you’ll be taking several buses in the course of one day, you can secure a day pass from the driver (5 dollars), which allows you to hop on any bus in the city and ride all you want all day.

Buses stop only at predetermined areas, mind you, so you have to have an idea when you’re getting off.  Unlike in the Philippines where you can get on and off pretty much whenever and wherever you’d want, there’s a sense of order with buses in Los Angeles.

Oh and they come to a complete stop too, so you don’t need to hit the ground running like you probably need to do in Manila.  And ramps and safety harnesses for wheelchairs for those who need them.

For newcomers to the city like myself, the habit of taking buses can prove to be invaluable since it allows me to get familiarized with the major streets, avenues, freeways, landmarks, destinations and other points of interest.

It’s not that different in other cities within the United States, I imagine.  All you need to know is which bus or train heads for say, Las Vegas, San Francisco or Seattle, and pretty much, you’re on your way.

Planes are a different thing altogether- something I hope to write more about in the near future.

Cheers, everyone

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