Journalistic Bias

(Based on an unpublished letter to the editor sent to the Los Angeles Times.)

Am I the only person who is tired of Sharon Bernstein's pro-auto, anti-transit bias?

Her articles purport to be "transit vs. auto challenges" but she seems to deliberately undermine the use of transit in those challenges. In her latest such article, even though she finally -- almost grudgingly -- admits that public transportation has improved, she consistently fails to put any research into how to properly use it.

If Ms. Bernstein was a regular user of transit service, she would have checked the timetables for the Red and Gold Lines -- readily available at the Metro website -- and planned when to leave the office to make her connection. Instead, she "leaves the office, thinking I have plenty of time" and then bemoans missing a Red Line train by one minute. And this is somehow Metro's fault, in her eyes.

Here's a reality check for Ms. Bernstein: Prior to the Red Line extension to the San Fernando Valley in 2000, it took nearly two hours for me to get downtown from the central Valley, because I had to take three buses to do so -- the last of which was a freeway express bus which usually got stuck in the same traffic she rightfully complains about. Now it takes me a little over one hour, using a single bus from the stop closest my residence to North Hollywood Station and the Red Line subway from there. But -- and this is a big "but" -- if I didn't use timetables for a little advance planning, I might well still be using two or three buses just to get to the subway, and my travel time would not be significantly better.

On the other hand, I suspect she overlooks the assistance Metro gives to even the most casual of users. I'm not sure what she means by her recent comment that "the signage at Union Station is poor"; the signs directing Red Line passengers to the Gold Line were recently upgraded and are hard to miss. Her conclusion about service being "poorly connected" would likely be disputed by the thousands of Red Line passengers who make daily connections not only to and from the Gold Line, but to and from Metrolink as well.

Well, Ms. Bernstein, anytime you want to be shown how well the system really works, call me. After close to fifteen years' experience with the system, I think I'm qualified.

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