Wednesday, August 29, 2018


(NOTE: The busiest bus station west of the Mississippi is in my hometown of El Monte. It turns 45 years old this year. When first opened, back in 1973, it seemed so futuristic, with the buses pulling into it's 6 berths and the dispatcher announcing the buses and destinations.  With the advent of newer, longer buses, the station grew outdated and the whole thing was demolished. A new, replacement station opened in 2012. 

This is a 'day in the life' of commuting from that station from 2015. Since that time, two things have happened...I switched my work commute to the Gold Line light rail train in 2016 and then retired completely earlier this year.  

Other than the now $2 a day charged for parking, I'm sure the following is still pretty true...)

It's ten minutes, more or less, from my front door to the bus station. Only a few slowpokes that are easily passed. Don't see the guy in the Fiero who goes 50 mph and heads straight for the fast lane and there are just a few of the double gravel haulers that tend to clog up the 605 as they bring their loads out of the quarries of Azusa and Irwindale.  A sea of red lights up ahead just past the Santa Anita exit on the 10 but the bus station is at that exit so I avoid that mess.

Construction takes a chunk out of the parking lot. Luckily I start very early so I don't get shut out of the musical chairs of the late parking lot. Up on the upper level of the station, more construction awaits, taking away half of the upper deck.

The tamale cart is setting up like it always does at this time of day. I'm always too early to take advantage of that $1.50 breakfast. In the afternoon when I come home, they're taking it down.

It's a cloudy day as I enter the almost new station.  For the first time in a week, the escalators are working so I hop down to the bottom.

During construction, my bus...the 481...has been relocated downstairs.  Of course, if I make it ontime, the 6:20 bus is nowhere to be seen. Either it left early (judging by the lack of line, this is my guess) or the driver called in sick on a Monday again after a grueling weekend.

6:23 and still no bus in sight, I hustle upstairs to catch the Silver Line, which I can take to another stop one block farther from my usual one. It's also packed to the gills.

Luckily, I get one of the last seats, squeezed in by my seatmate like a bad economy section on a plane. They're all here this morning...the lady talking to herself; the gentleman with hygiene issues; the gang banger with the prison tattoo peeking over his collar...but we're in luck this morning because none of the usual suspects makes any problems.

It's no fun being squeezed into this standing-room-only bus but those Metro drivers and their lead feet make it just a 10 minute ride to the other end of the busway and my stop.

Not so bad this morning but the things I have seen on rides...the guy in the far back corner sipping on his tall boy Budweiser thinking no one notices, the other guy on a well air conditioned bus opening all the windows yelling that he's being poisoned (and hitting anyone that wants to stop him), the hygienically challenged, the guy who has to do an exercise routine the whole ride, the seatmate who thinks they can just lean on you and take a nap, seeing a bus overturned, the just released jail inmates who talk their way onto the bus without any fare, the sniffly sneezy coughy person sitting next to you...the list goes one. It can be entertaining but, mostly, it's just annoying. Rarely, it can be dangerous.

I make it to my stop, navigate around the homeless and the trash and walk the two blocks to work.

The afternoon finds me taking the Silver Streak home. This is not to be confused with the Silver Line. The former is run by Foothill Transit, the latter is Metro. Newbies often show up at the bus stop, a bewildered look on their face..."Do I take the Silver Line or the Silver Streak?"...but with time, they're able to tell the difference (the Silver Streak runs from Montclair on the San Bernardino County border to downtown L.A. while the Silver Line runs from El Monte to Torrance. Both go via El Monte and the San Bernardino busway so the mid portions of their runs are almost identical).

It's almost empty, a nice sight at the end of a long day but...what's this?...a jailbird pleading with the driver to get on with no money. Of course, the driver lets him. They always let them and wonder what went wrong when they start causing problems.

Today, he wanders to the back of the bus and starts talking loudly and obscenely to himself but, other than that, doesn't cause any more problems. At least until El Monte, where I get off the bus and drive home.

All in all, thankful for a relatively peaceful commute. I'll pick it up again in the morning and cross my fingers that it goes well again.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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