Prepare for detours, longer trips
As part of Metro’s extension of the Purple Line, portions of Wilshire Blvd. are being closed for 22 weekends (not including Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends).
The project of installing concrete decking over the subway station excavation site takes place in three phases: phase one with closures between Detroit St. and La Brea Ave., phase two with closures at Wilshire/La Brea, and phase three with closures between La Brea and Highland Ave.
On the first weekend of the closures, June 10-13, this reporter took the Metro Local 20 bus to see how the closures would affect the route and traffic. The Metro Local 20 and the Rapid 720 buses traditionally go east and west on Wilshire. However, for the first weekend of work, the buses were rerouted from Wilshire to Fairfax, to Third St., and then to La Brea because of the construction.
The detours clearly make the trip longer than usual, yet as I was riding the bus, I noticed that it was the congested traffic in non-bus lanes below me that seemed much worse than the bus reroute.
Car traffic has been rerouted along La Brea, Sixth and Fairfax for the first phase of construction, and those streets have been extremely congested. I have seen it from the bus and experienced it as a driver. What normally is a five-minute drive from Curson Ave. to La Brea Ave. on Sixth St. took me twenty minutes the first Sunday.
The Purple Line extension is not expected to be operational until 2023. For now, the area around Sixth and La Brea will be congested during summer weekends. This commuter’s suggestion – avoid Sixth if you can.
Trials and tribulations of trying to buy a discounted TAP Card
Buying a Metro TAP Card is simple. All you have to do is visit a Metro station and follow the instructions at an automated ticket machine. But buying a TAP Card with a discounted rate requires dealing with some bureaucracy.
When buying the card, (which has a built-in electronic chip) at a machine, you purchase one with a stored value amount ($20, $40, etc.) or one for a set amount of time (7 days or 30 days).
A 30-day pass can be quite expensive, up to a total of $100. For the everyday commuter this adds up. Luckily for Los Angeles residents, there are discounted TAP Cards available for seniors, college and vocational students, and students K-12. Each of these discounted TAP Cards is valid for one year.
As I’ve come back home to Los Angeles for the summer from college, I was hoping to get a reduced-fare TAP Card for students. Instead of paying $100 for 30 days I would only be paying $43. Because there is no way to verify my student status at the Metro station, getting a discounted TAP Card requires mailing in an application. After further research, I learned that I am not able to get a college TAP Card because I do not go to a college in Los Angeles County.
I ended up purchasing a regular TAP Card because I like taking the bus to work. It saves me money that I would have to pay at a parking meter, and it is better for the environment. Also, with the Purple Line subway construction on Wilshire, taking the bus is an attractive alternative to sitting in traffic.
What I’ve learned from this endeavor is that getting a TAP Card for a short period of time is easy for everyone, but for regular commuters, discounts are essential. After dealing with the bureaucracy that discount card applications require, finally getting a year-long TAP Card would be well worth it.
For more information about metro fares visit metro.net/riding/fares.
By Brooke Stewart
Brooke Stewart, Park La Brea, will be a junior in the fall at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.