Carless in L.A.?
Before you fall over laughing at not having a vehicle in California’s most spread-out city with the most clogged freeways and the worst public transportation system of any major destination in the world, hear me out here. My co-producer and co-host for PubClub LIVE!, Soul Cole, has been sans auto as the French would say, for more than two years.
He takes Uber everywhere and he not only loves it, he tells me he saves “25-50% a month” in costs from when he had a car.
Soul Cole lives in Redondo Beach, which is about 10 miles south of LAX. It is part of the South Bay Beach Cities, which also includes Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. It is about as inaccessible to what little public transportation is available in L.A., as any place in the city.
What is available – the handy Beach Cities Transit, a bus that costs a buck and travels through the heart of the Beach Cities – he refuses to take. Rather, when he needs to go somewhere, he pulls out his phone and schedules a ride with Uber.
He uses it a lot, too, sometimes two and three times a day. Soul Cole uses it to get to the store for groceries, to businesses for errands and to get to work. He runs Truly Versatile Entertainment, which supplies DJs and hosts karaoke nights at bars all over the South Bay and is a record production and video production company for ads, commercials and concert coverage. He also uses Uber for pleasure trips, some as far away as Hollywood, which is some 25 miles through the teeth of LA traffic.
One day I asked him if he missed having a car.
“Hell no!,” he responded, so quickly I had barely finished the question. Then he expanded on his answer.
“I don’t have to worry the high gas prices (which in L.A., reached nearly $7 a gallon at its pre-summer peak),” he said. “I don’t have any car payments and don’t have to pay for insurance. I also don’t have to worry about parking fees or even parking tickets. I can get work done when I’m in the Uber instead of worrying about driving and traffic.”
“Plus,” he added, “it’s like having my own personal driver. Actually it IS having my own personal driver. And that is awesome.”
Soul Cole also brought up one very important element that is no longer an issue for him, and that is drinking and driving. His job takes him to bars and he has a lot of social friends who meet out for drinks and go to events, concerts and festivals where tossing back a few is part of the fun. By taking Uber, he no longer has to worry about drinking and driving.
I can relate, tho I long thought it was impossible to be without a vehicle in the car capitol of America. Rumor has it that General Motors ripped out a rail line from Pasadena to the Redondo Beach Pier because it wanted people to buy cars. Multi-lane freeways were built all over the city and county and throughout the surrounding counties. People like to show off their vehicles, making the car culture a big part of the Los Angeles lifestyle.
Now, however, attitudes are changing and Soul Cole is a front runner in using a ride share service to take him around town. It’s certainly something for others to consider.
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