A Parent's Guide to Public Transportation in LA

Back in September 2001 as terrorists were crashing jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania farmland I was starting a book tour. So much for my sense of timing.

I bring this up not because I want to sell more books. Don't get me wrong, I do. But to the best of my recollection there's little in A Parent's Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Flunking Out: Answers to the Questions Your College Student Doesn't Want You to Ask for those interested in public transportation, complete streets, and smarter uses of urban public space as 100,000 Angelenos experienced on 10-10-10 at CicLAvia.

And anyhow, at one cent each for a very good condition previously owned copy of my book on Amazon I will hardly be getting rich on sales any time soon.

Nonetheless, the experience of researching and writing a book for parents, students and college administrators on how to avoid the pitfalls of college life holds lessons for those like me committed to seeing LA become a more public transportation oriented city. The first lessons are, keep your head down and your hands off the children.

As one reader wrote in her comment on my last post about the preferred wisdom of locating the Wilshire Subway Century City station at Constellation Blvd, "...There are no guarantees but I am not willing to play Russian roulette with my kids. And I find it very distressing that you would."

Russian Roulette. The implication that I would endanger her children by having Metro carefully tunnel under the Beverly Hills school property. Was it something I said? And what was I writing about anyhow?

In penning Constellation Blvd Is the Best Choice for the Wilshire Subway Century City Station I had committed the cardinal sin of expressing a preference for a stop at Century City's heart rather than a less convenient location along Santa Monica Blvd. Constellation would require tunneling under a few homes and part of the Beverly Hills High School property while Santa Monica Blvd would not.

To her credit, this critic is not a NIMBY or "not in my backyard" type and has been personally supportive of the Wilshire subway to the sea. But as was captured in an excellent recent piece by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, some Angelenos do not love the different vision of LA that the 30/10 Initiative and Metro's expansion of LA's public transportation network portend.

Hawthorne's piece captures how when it comes to more public transportation and programs like CicLAvia we are in a culture war over the future of Los Angeles. While many love both trends, an equally vocal if smaller group is quite hostile to the subway, 30/10 and ideas that make LA more livable.

Critics of my last post also took issue with my lapsed lawyer advice to the Metro board that it could stem the number of lawsuits against the subway and other pending projects by showing some backbone in its response to the handful of Beverly Hills homeowners who oppose the tunneling.

If as usual the only ones getting rich over this controversy are the lawyers I hope the firms hired by both sides will at least be enlightened family friendly ones like those profiled in Law & Reorder, my sister Deborah Epstein Henry's new book.

Yes, that is a shameless plug for a must read for anyone who enjoys the practice of law or not, is concerned about the glass ceiling, or takes issue with stone age concepts like the billable hour. Let's face it, the billable hour costs clients obscene sums of cash and is the cause of many a lawyer's divorce.

When I was regularly commuting on the Metro 704 bus to Century City not too long ago, there were still a lot of lawyers in those offices near the planned station at Constellation. I hope they are reading.

The argument against safely tunneling under Beverly Hills for the subway is as illogical as saying we should not power our homes with natural gas because of the one in a million disaster that occurred recently in San Bruno.

Prone as we are in LA to earthquakes, fires, floods, civil unrest and terrorism, there are many risks associated with life in the big city. Tunneling under a small portion of Beverly Hills is not one of them. That is why I say let's extend the subway already, and let's build the new stations at locations that ensure the train's use by the greatest number of commuters smart enough to ride.

In the end I admit that this piece may disappoint in that I haven't really written a parent's guide to public transportation in LA. I am sorry. You'll just have to wait for my next book or visit Metro's new
Bee Safe bus, bike and rail safety site with your kids. Bee Safe is a fun way to teach young children about being safe around public transportation. One suggestion though. Maybe the new site should have a section on tunneling. I know some folks in Beverly Hills who have some brushing up to do on that topic.