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No getting around it: It’s not L.A.

Sat., Aug. 8, 2009, midnight

The following is part of my continuing series on the subject of: We have no idea how easy we have it here.

Today’s topic: transportation.

Today’s inspiration: A quick visit last weekend to Los Angeles.

Now, I am perfectly aware that Greater Los Angeles has some significant advantages over Greater Spokane, one of them being weather. The other being Disneyland.

However, transportation isn’t one of them and neither is traffic. In fact, leaving your house in L.A. for any reason is a horror show compared to what we are accustomed to here.

Take, for example, getting to the airport. Here are the exact instructions we attempted to follow in getting from central L.A. to Los Angeles International Airport:

•Take the 101 Freeway south. This is also called the Hollywood Freeway.

•Merge onto the 110 Freeway south. This is also called the Pasadena Freeway, but since you are going south, it’s called the Harbor Freeway.

•Merge onto the 10 Freeway west. This is also called the Santa Monica Freeway.

•Now, just to recap: You are taking the 101 to the 110 to the 10. Isn’t that easy to memorize, under stress? (Apparently, Los Angeles operates strictly on the binary system – we’re lucky we didn’t have to take the 10001 to 00010 to the Eleventy-Ten.)

•Now merge onto the 405 Freeway south, which is also called the San Diego Freeway and which also totally screws my binary theory.

•Exit onto Howard Hughes Parkway, which will take you to Sepulveda, which will … oh hell, you get the idea.

All of this merging and exiting is done, by the way, on freeways that are 10 lanes wide and jammed with 100,000 of the most cheerful and courteous drivers you’ve ever rear-ended.

Compare that to how you get to Spokane International Airport:

•Take 1-90 east and just, you know, follow the signs to Spokane International Airport.

Then there’s bus transportation. Los Angeles, contrary to popular belief, does indeed have a transit system. It’s just that it’s even more complicated than the freeway system. For instance, here’s the ordeal my daughter would have to endure to get the eight miles from her home to her work:

•Take one bus to a busy corner next to a freeway and wait there for more than a half-hour.

•Pay a second fare to get on another bus which will roam erratically around L.A. and eventually drop her within semi-walking distance of her work.

•Total elapsed time: 90 minutes for an eight-mile commute.

Here in Spokane, here’s what I go through to take the bus to work:

•Walk to the end of my block. The bus shows up and takes me to work.

•Total elapsed time: About the same as it takes to drive.

I know, I know, it’s not fair to compare Spokane, a metro area of just under 500,000, with Los Angeles, a metro area just under 13 million.

That makes L.A. 26 times larger than Spokane. But my point is …  Oh wait. When it comes to traffic and transportation, that is my point.

Reach Jim Kershner at or (509) 459-5493.

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