Since 93, I've been mostly living in the Bay Area. I'm originally from LA. LA's traffic has always been poor but the past 5 years, I've noticed, each time I visit, that it has been getting worse and completely unavoidable, even at off or odd hours. This past weekend, we visited family in LA again, and it did not matter we were driving at 12pm, 3pm, 9pm, 11pm, or even 1am, we ran into tight congestion on one freeway or another!!!
Bay Area traffic is tight and often poor during commute hours but aside from the more eventful days in the city, traffic is generally tolerable during non-commute hours and when we do run into a jam, it has an "end", unlike in LA, it is just a continuous jam and you are practically moving at 3-5 mph the entire way through.
I read an article recently in LA Times that LA's public transit rail system, Metrolink, is finally gaining ridership due to gas prices and has reached records in June. Good! Glad to finally see people staring to take Metrolink!! Perhaps this will help ease the congestion a tad bit!
Once we got back to the Bay Area, we let out a huge sigh of relief. Traffic here is still much more tolerable then LA where pretty much everywhere we headed, no matter at what hour, we ran into congestion. It was quite a pleasure hitting 24 yesterday en route home.....every so often, we just need a little reminder that we have it pretty darn good here in the Bay Area. But honestly, give me 2 days of driving up here, I'll probably forget all about this bubble of appreciation that I have after a particularly bad weekend of driving in LA.
And BART, as well as CalTrain, ACE, Muni, and all the transit options we have up here, make it a bit more pleasant for us!
I didn't even know LA had a rail system.
I'll be in LA this weekend...will be getting around by car of course....
Yeah the rail system in LA does not get much recognition. I live in LA for 9 years and never used it. I lived in Palos Verdes and drove to LAX for work everyday, about 7 miles and 45 minute drive time!
Bay area and LA basing traffic are both terrible! I could not stand fighting traffic on the 405 daily! 91 was even worse. I am finding Highway 4 is crowded at odd hours as well! Thankfully I don't have to drive through Concord to 24 and down to Oakland for work. The 15 mile drive to N. Concord or 10 mile drive to Bay Point is a vast improvement over previous commutes.
Regardless of what highway upgrades are implemented, population will continue to increase and those new highways will be just as crowded or more so when completed. Although I don't see ridership falling off anytime soon as gas/oil continues to rise.
I grew up in LA too and one of the reasons I'd never move back there is how much time you have to spend in a car.
But I'm a bit surprised that on your recent trip it was so congested. Over the past 6 months or so, the traffic has seemed to get lighter and lighter every time I go down there. My mom says her bus is always jam packed full and some of my friends are trying the bus or subway for the first time. With so much sprawl, many people in LA just can't afford to drive as much anymore.
Overall, LA has a pretty decent public transit system (and cheap too). It's great that people are finally starting to use it.
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