I took the Vermont Line #204 Vermont to Hollywood on Friday 25 November. This is a route I everyday. The route itself is of interest as it starts at University of Southern California (which is called "University of Spoiled Children" because it is an expensive private university), through very segregated communities - Korean, Black, Mexican, and Chinese - until it terminates in Hollywood…
My experience at the Hollywood terminus was very different. The street was very dirty, with residential waste, paper and used cartons carelessly disposed of; there was a homeless person sleeping in front of the bus stop, and the area smelled of human excreta and waste. I was surprised to see food being served in such a filthy area at a hamburger shop. The magazine and newspaper vending machine and call box were covered in graffiti. I found graffiti saying "ZEEL 71" on two places and I wondered if that might be a sign of a gang since I have heard that graffiti is used to mark gang 'territory'.
We returned on the same bus and had some time to examine it. On the outward trip I had noticed that the bus was moderately clean with no noticeable defacement (graffiti) or litter. The seating was in good repair and the windows were clean.
New technology was at work in the form of two LED displays called "Moving entertainment" on the right hand. This was used to keep the passengers 'entertained' and informed, showing a variety of local and national news, local weather, and commercials. One commercial which caught my attention in particular was about English learning videos for children. Rather than a 'voice-over' - which would be meaningless to someone with little or no English -- the actress sang and danced along with children. I thought it might be targeted at people who might wish to learn English as a Second language.
On reflection I thought the 'infotainment' was geared toward recent unskilled immigrant adult workers with families who aspired to improve their personal and familial chances of success in the U.S. by staying abreast of current events, and being prepared to spend some of their disposable income on additional learning materials for their children. It's reasonable to assume that within their communities, homes, social occasions etc they would rarely use a foreign language. So public transport was being used to reach out to such people, bring them back into 'current affairs' and effectively give them some adult education they would not necessarily obtain elsewhere.
The bus driver was a black female on the outward journey, and a black male on the return journey. As I did not examine the apparent ethnicity/race or gender of other drivers, I cannot make a generalization as to whether this was the 'norm' on this route. At the beginning of the outward journey, besides myself and my friend, there were 9 other passengers all of whom appeared to be Mexican. As I did not speak to them I have no way of knowing whether they were Mexican, recent migrants or not, or indeed whether they could speak English if they chose to. I paid no particular attention to their gender or their socio-economic status. I just assumed they were going home or to work.
On the outward journey approximately 90% of the passengers were Mexican. On the return journey there was a broader ethnic/racial mix with approximately 70% Mexican and the other 30% being made up of blacks, Asians and whites. I could deduce that this was not a representative sample of the population of LA given that according to the 2000 census figures 47% of people described themselves as white, 11.2% as black and the next largest ethnic group was Asian at 9.9%
The major socio-economic groups who were not represented on the bus were the elderly, the disabled and children - ...
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(Los Angeles'S Transportation, Landscape and People Essay)
“Los Angeles'S Transportation, Landscape and People Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/sociology/286685-los-angeless-transportation-landscape-and-people.
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