Living in LA requires a car. Two problems with that:
1) Not everyone who lives here can afford a car and they rely on mass transit, which, in modern times, had been almost entirely made up of buses until 1990. That's when the Blue Line train opened, followed over the next 26 years by the Red, Green, Gold, Purple and now the Expo Line. But still, mostly buses.
2) Because there are so many cars and the majority of mass transit is buses, the roads are crowded.
LA had a history of great rail transit with it's Red and Yellow car system, but due to high costs, they were phased out for buses, the last rail lines dismantled by 1963. So to build subway and surface rail lines in a city that for decades relied on vehicles on surface streets is no easy feat, I'll grant you. And LA is big. Let's look at a map (click on it for a bigger image).
The five boroughs of NYC are large. The greater LA area is also very large. This map incorporates other cities that live within LA (Long Beach, Santa Monica, Culver City, etc) and starts to touch on Orange County ("WHICH IS NOT LA OMG!"). Just to reiterate that restarting rail lines is not easy after all those years. And not just geographically. The amount of people who are against mass transit is astonishing.
I went to a few of the planning meetings for the EXPO line (as it is two blocks away from our house). I met many neighbors who were vehemently opposed to having it near us. "Crime will go up!" There is plenty of crime in our part of town already, trains or no trains, sorry to say. "We don't want those people come to our neighborhood!" Who are *those* people? People who want to use mass transit, like me?? "Our property values will go down!" In fact, property values generally increase. "The noise of above ground trains will be unbearable!" This part I can't judge because we live two blocks away from the train, not across the street from it. However, we do live three houses away from the 10 freeway and that sucker is LOUD. I doubt people can hear the train over the sound of the rushing freeway!
I couldn't wait for the train to get here and all this preamble to say: THE TRAIN FINALLY OPENED ON MAY 20!!
They had free rides on Friday the 20th and all day Saturday the 21st. We hopped on after work on Friday and went to Santa Monica to have dinner. What a blast!
On Saturday the trains were PACKED. But we went again, meeting friends in Culver City and taking the train down to Santa Monica for lunch. While we had to stand the whole way, both ways, it was still a pleasure.
I'm currently working in Culver City and made it my goal to take the train at least once a week. It actually takes less time to drive, but I love have a little walk, a little ride, then another little walk. And after being on so many other city transit systems in my travels, it's almost surreal to use a train to get around in my neighborhood in LOS ANGELES! It's almost like living in a modern city.