Many Lives, One Space on an L.A. Bus

A reporter rides the bus in Los Angeles and discovers the interesting, complicated, and sometimes heartbreaking stories that riders bring on board.

2 minute read

May 8, 2019, 10:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Los Angeles Metro Bus


Frank Shyong writes about his experience riding on the Line 2 local bus that runs between downtown Los Angeles and Westwood near the UCLA campus. "The route connects some of L.A.’s richest ZIP codes to some of its poorest, the eastbound route starting in Westwood and taking Sunset Boulevard all the way downtown, where it terminates in front of a Jack in the Box on a block that always smells like urine."

Most Metro bus riders are people of color, particularly Latino, and poor or lower income, and many are dependent on the bus as their sole means of transportation, says Shyong. He describes the bus as a complex and diverse world:

What I most appreciated about the bus, and what I think a lot of us love about the idea of public transit, is the people. Because a city is its people, and in L.A., people are from everywhere and go through everything. Poverty, mental illness, struggle, exhaustion and kaleidoscopic diversity — the bus makes you look all of that in the face.

Shyong shares snippets of the lives of the various people he meets during his week of riding the bus. One rider is a woman named Adela who is headed to the Westside to clean houses, as a number of women on this route do. "During the two-hour ride, she often stares out the window and thinks about her family back in Chiapas, Mexico. Her mother is getting older, and Adela wants to be with her. Maybe next year, after she saves up enough money. Maybe in two years. One house at a time."

Monday, April 29, 2019 in Los Angeles Times

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