LA TRANSPO - Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains along the Sepulveda Pass, the Getty Center is one of the most visited museums in the U.S. with around 1.8 annual visitors. A favorite place of mine, I go there to see its arts holdings (But with COVID the visits inside were very brief.), the spectacular views of the city and Pacific Ocean, for its quiet, and to become lost in powerful beauty of the complex designed by architect Richard Meier.
I had not visited the museum since the COVID pandemic lockdowns in March 2020. I returned for the first time on the Winter Solstice 2022 to enjoy the Getty Center, and to the see sun set on the shortest day of the year.
My Winter Solstice trip to the Getty Center by buses was the same time wasting experience as before the COVID shutdown.
Like many others, I believe the science that man made carbon gasses are the reason for the observable rise of global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, and believe the threats we now live through are from this man made rise of temperature. The science states that without humans making drastic and immediate reductions in releasing more carbon gases into the atmosphere, life on this planet is headed towards a very unstable and likely dangerous future for all living creatures.
To reduce my carbon footprint I drive less and instead ride buses and trains. This change has given me a perspective that decisions on bus routes may make sense to governmental transit officials, management and planners, but make little sense to we bus riders, who endure routes which are a waste of our time.
To get to the Getty Center from near LAX I first take the Culver City Bus No. 6 which is the only bus for long distances on Sepulveda Boulevard north of LAX. Its route is from the Metro Rail Green Line Aviation/Imperial Station, passes near LAX, goes through Culver City and West Los Angeles, goes to the Expo Line, then on to Westwood Village to end its northbound route inside UCLA which very short of the Getty Center.
To get to the Getty Center I need to get off the Culver City No. 6 in Westwood Village and transfer to the Metro 761. This bus begins at the Expo Station, travels a very short distance on north Sepulveda Boulevard, turns east on Olympic Boulevard before turning north on Westwood Boulevard to take its route through Westwood Village.
The Metro 761 then continues north and passes the eastern and northern flanks of ULCA via Hilgard Avenue north then Sunset Boulevard westbound to eventually return to Sepulveda Boulevard, and then pass the Getty Center with a stop there.
This route continues over the Sepulveda Pass on through the San Fernando Valley to its end at the Metro Link Sylmar Station, but since my destination is the Getty Center, points north are not of my concern.
With my latest trip to the Getty Center the route of Culver City No. 6, which I was riding, turns east on Wilshire Boulevard before turning north to get into Westwood Village. At the intersection of Wilshire and Sepulveda there is a clear and dramatic view of the Getty Center. While on this bus before turning on east Wilshire, I can see looking north the straight line of Sepulveda Boulevard as it passes the Los Angeles National Cemetery on the way to Sunset Boulevard which is in sight, and is where the Metro 761 has its route.
Had a bus on Sepulveda Boulevard northbound just continued north past Wilshire, to reach Sunset and Sepulveda would be about five minutes with light traffic. With traffic it would probably take ten to fifteen minutes. Either scenario is much faster than the tortuous, snaking route of the Metro 761 to get to Sunset and Sepulveda as its route now follows.
Once the Culver City Bus No. 6 turned east on Wilshire, it took around ten minutes in light mid-day, Christmas Holiday traffic to arrive at the transfer bus stop for the Metro 761 at Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue. This was traffic anomaly day. Once there, I waited ten minutes for the Metro 761 to arrive, making twenty minutes from Sepulveda.
Had the traffic been the normal gridlock, this twenty minutes would have been longer.
Had a bus, any bus, perhaps the Culver City No. 6 or the Metro 761, just gone straight at Wilshire and Sepulveda and traveled along Sepulveda to Sunset Boulevard and then continue on Sepulveda that twenty minutes needed to transfer between buses would have placed me very close, if not at the bus stop for the Getty Center.
Instead, I was now at Westwood and Le Conte to begin the Metro 761’s winding, tortuous drive around UCLA, then onto Sunset westbound, then back onto Sepulveda to arrive at the Getty Center.
In light traffic, it took the bus, and me as a passenger, thirty four minutes to go from Le Conte and Westwood bus stop to the Getty Center.
Here is the time I marked for travel to the Getty Center from Sepulveda and Manchester in light traffic.
Begin trip at Sepulveda and Manchester
to the transfer bus stop for the Metro 761
at Le Conte and Westwood: 53 minutes
Wait ten minutes for the Metro 761: 10 minutes
Travel time from Le Conte and Westwood
to the Getty Center: 24 minutes
Total travel time: 87 minutes
Hypothetical travel time If a bus remained
on Sepulveda at Wilshire
From the starting point of
Sepulveda and Manchester to
Sepulveda and Wilshire 43 minutes
Then remain on Sepulveda to Sunset 5 minutes
On to the Getty Center bus stop 5 minutes
Total travel time: 53 minutes approximately
While hypothetical, there is a thirty three minute added travel time compared to the real life time it took me to get to the Getty Center.
Coming home, I followed the exact same route which I used to get to the Getty Center. At the Getty Center southbound bus stop were around fifteen to twenty others, and from hearing them speak, they were visitors from other countries, or tourists, an invaluable part of SoCal’s vital tourism industry.
While recorded from the pre-pandemic economy, Southern California’s economy remains solidly dependent on tourism. From Business Wire, “Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) today announced Los Angeles County’s record-setting 48.5 million visitors pumped an all-time high $22.7 billion directly into the L.A. economy in 2017, generating a record $34.9 billion in total economic impact (including the induced and indirect benefits).”
The Southern California tourism industry needs to be more aware of the many tourists who depend on buses and trains for their stay here. Wasting their time, along with residents’, does not show hospitality for our guests.
Real time return from the Getty Center
to Sepulveda and Manchester
Waiting for the southbound Metro 761
at the Getty Center: 20 minutes
Board the 761 at 5:25PM, and arrive
at Sepulveda and Manchester at 7:10PM 100 minutes
Total time of waiting and traveling 120 minutes
With the Christmas Holiday traffic was light. Had there been the usual heavy traffic, particularly on Wilshire, around UCLA while in session and the normal gridlock, this trip from Westwood Village to the Getty Center would have taken much longer.
Granted, I could have driven, but I willingly ride buses and trains to reduce my carbon footprint. I also enjoy a less stressful time not fighting traffic, see the city from the more human perspective of a pedestrian and not a driver, and am able to read, catch up on e-mails, use text messaging and use the internet on a mobile device without creating a hazardous driving condition. I also get in some needed exercise walking.
It must be mentioned that the Culver City and Metro buses were clean and well maintained, and not littered like too many train cars on Metro Rail subways and light rails. Both agencies have buses with more colorful interiors than Metro’s light rail and subway trains. Why are Metro Rails train cars without colorful interiors and colorful signs and designs?
All levels of governments, scientists, environmentalist, and anyone concerned about global warming from man made carbon gases know the threats, and the need for immediate action to reduce carbon gases, and the quickest way to do this is to drive less.
That alternative in spread-out Los Angeles is riding buses and trains. But wasting time of bus riders for meandering bus routes when more time efficient alternative routes seem available will not entice people to leave their vehicles and get on to buses and trains.
(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found at https://www.matthewhetz.com. He is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His dedication to transit issues is to help improve the transit riding experience for all, and to convince drivers to ride buses and trains to fight air pollution and global warming. He is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College and a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.)