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There are some who’d have you believe mass transit was destined to fail in Los Angeles. And that’s fine. It’s a reliable old eyeball-grabber like New York City descending into anarchy and Florida man [insert preposterous situation here]. Even Lethal Weapon 3 has its sacrificial lamb remark “L.A. has a subway?” before the baddies escape into it.

Thing is, New York City has not descended into anarchy (Can confirm. -Ed.), not every man in Florida has forced a small alligator to drink beer (I know a guy in Florida who has definitely never done that. -Ed.), and mass transit was never a dead issue in Los Angeles. (Come on—“Speed”wouldn’t have been possible if it was! -Ed.)

Glitter sprinkled atop a sprawling expanse: L.A. by rail
Mass transit was never a dead issue in Los Angeles.
Glitter sprinkled atop a sprawling expanse: L.A. by rail

Believe it or not, in North America, L.A. is behind only Montreal and Toronto in mass transit construction; fifth to Toronto, Minneapolis, Vancouver, and Seattle in already-paid-for expansion; and number one in overall proposed expansions. Los Angeles has embraced mass transit—and they city’s doing it with a dash of style, too.

The starting point is easy: the Mission Moderne Union Station. Somehow in a region so utterly dominated by the car, pretty much everyone knows L.A. Union Station. That’s a testament to good design, which the current-day Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority tries to uphold. Stations are well designed, well ventilated, and well maintained. From the perspective of the average New Yorker, that's bananas crazy talk.

And yet here we are, with America’s foremost West Coast metropolis building rail mass transit like it’s going out of style and charging only $1.75 for a ride. It’s the sort of thing that gives New Yorkers and Chicagoans pause to wonder why this isn’t happening in their cities, the sort of thing that reminds Bostonians and Washingtonians of how their mass transit systems mostly just erupt in flames, and the rest of us cause to think about how mass transit can enhance our communities while connecting them, too.

If nothing else, it's the only way to get around L.A. endorsed by Ed Begley, Jr.

L.A. by Subway [via The New York Times]

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