Next Stop: Immobility

An A to Z Guide to Surviving the Death/Pause/Sunshine of the CenterLine

6:45 p.m. Woo-hoo! Arrive one minute early to Union Station. Now I go to the northwest corner of Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Broadway and board the No. 002/Pacific Palisades bus and pay a fare of $1.35. Current mood: scared like shit! Have you ever been to Union Station after dark?

7:55 p.m. Finally, I arrive at Sunset and Hammond. Only about $16 one way and two hours and 10 minutes of my life. Current mood: confused because the buses stop at 11 p.m. in Irvine, and I would need to leave the Roxy a half an hour ago to make it back home on time! (Susan Morgan)

Xisfor"X-cuseMe!You'reStandingonMyHouse"Anyone who has worked on an Orange County crew for Caltrans for more than a handful of days has likely performed the job of cleaning up a homeless encampment, usually located by a freeway entrance or exit near an irrigation channel. No matter how Orwellian or Kerouacian your homeless sentiments, there ain't no romance or Bohemia to be found. These are fucked-up people barely surviving in the bosom of the most bountiful nation on Earth. Look at the detritus they collect in order to feel connected: plastic bags stuffed with molding clothing; hardcore porno magazines; sad-eyed kid's dolls; empty syringes; empty aluminum-foil boxes; coffee-can lids; empty alcohol bottles; hopelessly weathered books and newspapers; and nothing after nothing after nothing. Amazing how the most shat-upon and reviled elements of our population hang onto the same empty crap embraced by the bourgeois. Except the no-rent district smells A LOT worse. (JB)

YisforElToroYThe El Toro Y, where the 405 freeway and Interstate 5 intersect, is the most famously congested area of Orange County, except for the Orange Crush, where the 5, 57 and 22 freeways intersect. According to the July 5, 2004, LA Times article "The Road More Heavily Traveled," between 1975 and 2002, "Interstate 5 traffic in Orange County doubled or tripled along many sections. At the El Toro Y . . . the number of vehicles has jumped from 102,000 to 356,000 a day, enough to fill the Dodger Stadium parking lot more than 22 times." (NS)

ZisforZzzzzz(SleepingontheBus,Gus)Philosophically, I'm a big fan of public transit. It really seems like the only equalizing, democratic institutions left in the U.S. are mass transit and maybe public libraries. A strong public-transit system also features such cool by-products as environmental responsibility and the waging of a tiny war against consumerism. However, the sad truth about Orange County's public transit is that it sucks, although it's not entirely shocking that the home of the highest-grossing Mercedes dealership in the world is host to a shoddy system of buses. I've traversed a staggering network of subways, streetcars, buses and trains in a variety of cities and through vast expanses of northern Ontarian wilderness, and I've never encountered a system that quite matches the OCTA's feeble offerings. Not to be all "where I come from," but where I come from, the mayor rides the subway to work with all of us plebeians. This kind of mass-transit promotion and inclusiveness wouldn't even be possible here. A few days after moving to Orange County, I boarded the bus in Laguna Beach and headed to the OC Weekly office in Santa Ana. My trip included a one-hour detour into Costa Mesa due to a still-unfixed flaw on the trip-planning page of the OCTA website. Going home took a little longer—four hours—because an OCTA operator forgot to mention that my final bus home would leave me deserted on the side of the PCH. In the dark. During the rainstorm. This all went down on my 24th birthday—if there hadn't been an ample supply of celebratory Pacificos waiting for me at home, I may have thrown a palm tree through an OCTA-owned windshield. This very morning, after a few weeks of feeling a little more on-point with the bus situation, I stood yawning at my stop to catch the first of six buses I ride each day, only for my bus to speed by. Maybe the driver didn't like the look of me. In an attempt at living all California Zen-like, I've found a few pockets of greatness in my OCTA experiences. I get to zone out for four hours a day with my Discman and a book—it's like enforced leisure. Alternate forms of bus entertainment include inventing fabulous life stories for my fellow passengers because the likely reasons they take the bus (socioeconomics, DUIs, lack of American car insurance—cough) are really boring. I also get to admire the pretty ocean and take naps. The other passengers on the bus are a crap shoot: either mega-entertaining (some skate rats being denied a lift due to their lack of both money and bus passes, resulting in their screaming, "Fag!" at the amused driver and spitting on the bus) or terrifying (being invited to a party in a young gentleman's pants, called a stupid cunt in response to rejection of said invitation) or baffling (older woman imploring me to "find my truth") or awfully sad (the myriad individuals who appear so downtrodden and dejected, reaping no benefit from a region so wealthy it could goldleaf the freeways, that it makes a person's heart stop). I guess it all comes down to the math: 40 bucks per month + cool bus drivers + never having to drive hungover < four hours per day + sexual harassment + nearly useless public transit system = fuck this bullshit. (KC)?

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