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Los Angeles, ‘Car Capital USA,’ Coming Around to Public Transportation

Los Angeles is synonymous with different things depending on who you ask — the Lakers, sunshine, celebrities — but one of the most universally accepted is its place in the world of automobiles. From the infamous traffic to the seemingly exclusive nature of high-quality cars you’ll see on the street, LA was made for cars. Except that in many ways it wasn’t.

According to The New York Times, more and more people seem to be coming around to the idea of public transportation in the City of Angels and one of the biggest recent implementations is a big reason for it. The city put in an extension on the Expo train line earlier this year and also on the Gold Line rail, improvements that have led many in the city to adopt this new-old form of travel in lieu of the typical traffic.

“For the car capital of America, if not the world, this is a bold new chapter,” said the city’s mayor, Eric M. Garcetti. “It doesn’t ignore cars. But it really builds out a mass transit network that gets you from Point A to Point B.”

Brian D. Taylor, the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, was quick to point out that the new lines aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they do show a change in commitment.

“In incremental terms, these new lines aren’t revolutionary,” he said. “They are more revolutionary in symbolic terms. They are a very public and specific commitment to spending on public transit.”

Due to factors like the weather, lifestyle, and socioeconomic status of typical LA residents, cars have been an intricate part of the city’s culture. Neglecting vehicle maintenance costs the economy approximately $2 billion annually, but most people living in LA probably don’t fret the service costs too much. It’s the actual traveling that will cost you precious time. Unfortunately, as more and more people have flocked to the city over the years, the sheer volume has simply overwhelmed the city’s streets and highways at times.

“We want to once and for all solve the transportation infrastructure challenges in Southern California,” said Phillip A. Washington, the head the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “It’s a big challenge. Los Angeles is the car capital of the county. And it’s getting worse with 2.3 million more people expected in the county in the next 40 years. The roads are not built to accommodate the influx of people.”

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