We Want Mass Transit, NOT Crass Transients--It's Just That Simple

GETTING THERE FROM HERE--Maybe some of us are so scared of lawsuits that we've forgotten how to defend the rule of law itself.  Maybe some of us are so politically correct that common sense has been tossed into the dustbin of history.  And maybe some of us are just friggin' morons.  Yet the efforts to make LA (and, by extension, California) safe and convenient to use mass transit merit some respect for those who use it. 


The sentiments of "requiring those who budget and plan mass transit to use it on a daily basis" has been expressed so frequently that it's hardly nothing new to raise them yet again...but we still have most of our transportation advocates as single males, men with either no or grown children, and who primarily use cars to get around that the safety/security issue, which I touched on in my last article, gets shrugged aside and dismissed as legally unenforceable and perhaps downright racist and discriminatory. 

At this time, we live in a state which has twice ignored our city, county, and state law enforcement agencies and passed Propositions 47 and 57 to allow "non-violent offenders" out of prison against their strong opposition.  So ... what do you know!  Both non-violent and violent crime is going back up.  But hey, we showed George W. Bush, Donald J. Trump and those Washington, D.C. Republicans a thing or two! 

Not certain how one has ANYTHING to do with the other, but it's amazing what comes up when you raise the crime/safety/security issue up in certain crowds...and ditto for when you raise issues related to the homeless)., and those who choose to live in their RV's rather than seek help and become self-reliant, contributing members of society. 

As for this doctor, who loves more transportation options for my patients, and who takes care of homeless and poor patients, and single and married women every day, I can pretty much conclude what I've stated for so many years:   


That whole Uber/Lyft thing, and bicycling, and car-sharing/vanpools, all merit discussion and debate, but let's just stick to the safety/security issue.  Los Angeles County's Metro and related agencies have DONE a GREAT job with respect to planning and maintaining its Metro system.  The most recent transportation-related countywide measure, Measure M, has the budgeting for maintenance that other cities and counties nationwide can only dream of. 

In particular, Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco have big problems with restoring old tracks, purchasing new train cars and buses, and achieving safety and security improvements for their riders.  And to repeat, let's focus on safety/security: 

1) New York Mayor Bill deBlasio certainly is an advocate of improved mass transit ridership--it's good for the economy, environment and quality of life for all when it's used in high volumes.  Yet his hypocrisy is the stuff of legends, and typical of the cariacature we paint on our shifty political class when the homeless are rousted from the cars he uses to make a press statement and photo-op promoting mass transit. 

It's not hard to ask whether Mayor Eric Garcetti of LA has ever had the pleasure of riding incognito to really get the idea of how tough some of our bus routes are to take, or whether he's ever taken the Metro Green Line--a line with amazing access to the periphery of our county, as well as future access to LAX, and which is the FASTEST light rail line in the nation--but which is also called "the ghetto line" by those who use it because of how unsafe and unsavory some of the riders are who use it. 

And no, it's NOT racism to decry any scary activities of those who too often are left unchecked and without police presence to limit the victimizing of those who just want to ride it in peace. 

What IS racist is to shrug our collective shoulders, and presume that the brown and black riders who use it because it goes through their neighborhoods have to just "deal with it".   

What IS racist is that brown and black riders, including and especially women, will be ignored if they express sentiments that they want better security, and will be ignored if they want frequent and readily-available police presence on virtually all trains. 

2) Fortunately, Los Angeles hasn't become as bad as San Francisco, where they threw their riders to the wolves because they didn't want to stereotype or punish brown and black youths who were causing BART crime rates to go up 41% for assault, rape, and robbery. 

BART had the videotapes, knew there was a blazing problem, but actively ignored the problem because of political correctness and the fear of...what, now? 

And considering how things have progressed in increasingly-political correct Los Angeles, with homeless and others habitually thwarting and breaking the law to an extent that defies compassion and compromise to their plight, are we that far behind?  Perhaps it'll take an African-American or Latino politician, particularly a prominent Democratic politician, to at least declare that Metro and its rail lines, and also its bus lines are off-limits to: 

1) Homeless individuals who choose to "live" on the trains and buses rather than use them to access destinations (which is their right). 

2) Gang members and criminals who seek to bother, harm, rob, or assault honest, law-abiding, working taxpayers who deserve nothing short of a first-rate rapid transit system. 

There used to be a time when this was all common sense.  I've ridden trains in Chicago and other locations where everyone behaved, everyone was respectful and courteous to their fellow transit riders.  So have most reading this. 

So why is this so hard?  Because we CHOOSE to make it hard. 

Simple, common sense is all we need. 

Simple, common decency is all we need. 

Simple, common respect for others is all we need. 

It's just that simple.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)