Sat, Jul

Putting Rowdy Dodgers Fans Inside a Gondola Does Not Seem Like A Good Idea


LA TRANSPO - In my personal fight for the environment, which is really a fight for all of us, I have been a regular transit rider in Los Angeles since 1993. First just riding buses, and then once Metro began its needed construction of light rail and subway lines, riding those trains. 

This has not been without frustrations and stresses. But over the years Metro has made efforts to improve the riding experience for its customers. However, they still have ground to cover. 

I have been in the trenches, riding transit, becoming aggravated at a sometimes seemingly disjointed system, such as why is there not a bus which carries riders along northbound Sepulveda Boulevard directly to the Getty Center,  but instead require us to take a tortuously time wasting long route through Westwood and around UCLA? 

I served on a Los Angeles City Advisory Transit Committee, created by the late City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, to try to improve the transit riding experience. I tried. Was I successful? I am not sure. 

In those meetings, and in other settings there have been discussions of modes of transit for Los Angeles which seem fanciful, and far from the realities of on the ground transit riding. 

One fanciful mode is a gondola in Los Angeles. This idea has been around for years, and now has somehow made it to some type of Metro project to move people from Union Station to Dodger Stadium for games. It is posted on their website

This project does not seem to be an organic idea from Metro, but from the former owner of the Dodgers, Frank McCourt. We Dodgers fans remember McCourt’s years as owner of the Dodgers. 

He sold the team and stadium, but, this being Los Angeles, held on to the parking lot and its revenue. 

For us regular transit riders this becomes issues of why is Metro remotely considering getting involved in this project when the rest of their transit network needs more work and improvements? The San Fernando Valley is in great need of more transit for everyday transit riders. While Metro has made great strides to clean up its trains and buses, constant vigilance is still needed. Today on the K/Crenshaw Line at an underground station a guy felt no restraint to light up a joint. 

More service and better connections are needed throughout Los Angeles for trains and buses, particularly in underserved communities. Why is Metro spending any of its funding and human resources in this fanciful idea of a this gondola? 

Yes, there are places in the world where gondola are used as a type of mass transit, and that is good. But it seems transit planners in those areas examined the areas served and the type of rider. 

Currently Metro provides bus service between Union Station and Dodger Station. Why is that not good enough? Ideally this should be expanded to a program similar to the Hollywood Bowl’s Park and Ride buses throughout the city. With Metro undertaking the conversion of its bus fleet to electric buses, this negates the zero emissions promise from the gondola, and that would be, of course, if the electricity for the gondola comes only from renewable sources. 

I am not against gondolas per-see, but when the Metro system to serve the entire community needs more buses and trains, why is this gondola to a particular parking lot getting high priority? 

And the potential riders of the gondola from Union Station to Dodger Stadium and back must be examined. The parking lots at Dodger Stadium are still under McCourt’s ownership, and they can become violent places. 

Fights break out between fans of opposing teams. Fan, riled up from the game and fuels with beers from Dodger Stadium, and who know what personal substances they use, create dangerous situations. 

A very famous and sad incident was after a Dodger game against arch rival San Francis Giants, and Giant fan Brian Stowe was severely beaten. He still suffers from the incident. 

The internet is full of links on the violent behavior of Dodger fans. Some calling Dodger fans the worst in the country. 

So, consider a number of people after a Dodger’s game and the history of aggression in the parking lots and those people are now in a gondola car filled with people suspended high in the air. A fight could break out. A terrible fight could break out, there is a history of fights, and what would happen inside that gondola. How could bystanders escape the mayhem? What if someone is hurt? How would they be cared for with that gondola car dangling high in the air? 

With the history of aggression of some Dodger fans in parking lots, there is nothing to stop that aggression going into a gondola. Baseball is a game for kids. What would kids see inside a gondola with fights breaking out? What if you take your family to the game and inside the enclosed gondola, suspended in the air, a fight breaks out? How do you run for safety? 

What would keep some fans from drinking alcohol and doing drugs on the gondola? A police service person could not be in every gondola between Union Station and Dodger Stadium. 

To ignore the past and current situation of violent behavior of some Dodger fans and think that behavior will just disappear because there could be this new, shiny gondola is not realistic.

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found here.  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.)