The Chronicles of Los Angeles: The Homeless, the Subway, and the Lack of School Shuttles

Let me just start by saying Los Angeles is known for many things, but quality public transportation is not one of them. I should also say that my school should not be known for their transportation abilities either. And the company delivering my car from Naperville definitely shouldn’t be known for being prompt.

It’s Monday morning, my second week on campus, and I need to get 10 miles from my apartment to school by 9:00 AM. My car was supposed to be in California a week ago, but is nowhere to be seen, so I spent the night before planning my trip to school on the LA Metro website. First, I would Uber to the North Hollywood train station. Next, I would take the subway to the 7th Street stop. Getting off there, I would walk a block to the LLS Temporary Shuttle stop, where I would get on the bus that would take me straight to campus, and I would be 30 minutes early to class. 

I really don’t make plans, so when I do, I should know that they won’t go as intended.

The first leg of the trip was normal. I get in an a $20 Uber (far more expensive than I planned) and made it into the metro station. At the self-kiosk, I purchase my Metro Card and loaded it with a one-way trip for $1.75. Then I go down the escalator and make my way to the subway.

We board, and everyone seems to be minding their business except one guy who just keeps standing and sitting in the same spot. We take off from station, and the speaker is pure white noise, and there’s no monitor that indicates where the train is stopping. So not a great start to the trip, but I pull out my kindle and continue to read Big Little Lies. Interesting characters get on and off the subway, and there’s not enough seats so people are standing and shuffling around. But nothing crazy. Although I do think a homeless person sitting behind me was reading my kindle over my shoulders (I feel kind of bad, I was in the middle of the story, so I’m sure they were confused by the plot).

After a close call of missing it and some help from some strangers sitting around me, I get off at my stop, thinking I’m on the home stretch, but in reality the adventure has just begun.

Issue #1: AT&T does not have good service in Downtown Los Angeles.

Issue #2: Campus is probably a 10 to 15 minute walk from the train station, but that requires going under the 110 freeway. Any overpass that connects to the freeway is filled entirely on the sidewalk with homeless encampments, so you can’t walk under the overpasses. 

Issue #3: My school hasn’t updated the campus service subsection of their website.

Issue #4: To quote Erin Denton, I am a very approachable person. 

So I have no service, I need to walk a block down a street to the school’s bus stop but I don’t know which direction I’m supposed to go. I am relying on my school shuttle to get to campus because I cannot walk to campus. Little did I know, the campus service subsection of the website hadn’t been updated and there was no shuttle. And I appear to be the best person for people on the street to come ask questions. 

I’ve walked up and down 7th street in both directions, and I see no sign of a shuttle or a stop for LLS. Upon realizing that no bus may come to my rescue from the busy streets of DTLA, I’m sitting on the steps of PwC beginning to tear up because the time is now 8:47 AM and class starts in 13 minutes. Suddenly, a man walks up to me with his chihuahua asking if I can help them get a meal. I just start blubbering about being late, tears running down my face, and he high-tailed it away. I felt bad, but it just really was not the time for me.

With 8 minutes until class, I gave up hope on a shuttle after trying to call the service number [“This number is not a working number”] and ordered an Uber for the 3 minute drive, which was another $20. My driver, Michael, worked with great speed, and I made it to class with a minute to spare.

The day went by great on campus, but I am stressing out in the background on how I was going to get home. At 4:10 PM, I make my way to the security office to ask about the shuttle location, to which they inform me that the shuttle is not running yet, but would be soon. Well, I don’t need soon, I need right now. So off I go to order another $20 Uber for a 3 minute drive.

Back to the metro, I reload the card and board the subway, but there’s no seats, so I’m left standing. $60 in Ubers seemed like enough for the day, so my roommate Taylor graciously offered to pick me up from the station. 10 stops later, I am waiting a minute or two to get in the car, and a man on a bike with large sunglasses rolls up to me, and the interaction goes something like this like this:

“Excuse me Miss, what time is it?”


“AM or PM?” 

AM OR PM?! SIR! What is going on, what are you on that you don’t know what part of the day it is? The sun is out and shining at it has to be at least 85º, it is not dawn.

I thought maybe he was blind, but then I remembered he was on a bike. I still remain curious as to this man.


“Okay, PM. Are you okay, do you need a ride somewhere?” 

Sir, you are on a bike.

“Nope, I’m just waiting for my ride!”

“Good, good. God bless you and have a great day.” 

And then he rides the bike down the metro stairs. A great summation of the city of Los Angeles, truly.

So Taylor picks me up and I go to take a fat nap because it was truly a day of… character-building experiences.

Taylor drove me to school the next day. We came to the conclusion that I wasn’t built for public transportation in Los Angeles.

Today I ordered an Uber straight to school, and it was $23.00. Could have saved myself so much trouble if I would have just thought to do that first. Anyway, hopefully my future experiences with the buses and subways here in the City of Angels is few and far between. 

My car is arriving this afternoon, God Bless. 


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