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LAist Interview: MetroRiderLA Editor, Fred Camino and Guest Day Editor

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LAist Editor Tony Pierce has blogged here non-stop for more than a year deserving a well-earned vacation (and did he ever earn it). While out of town, we decided to have a little fun and bring some guest day editors in from around the blogLAsphere. Yesterday was Siel of Green LA Girl, today is Fred Camino of MetroRiderLA. All Aboard!

1. Age and occupation: 26 yearz old. I'm a freelance motion graphics designer, whatever that means.

2. Home town: Orlando, FL (Jamlando). National Geographic recently had a good (if harsh) article on the place, check it out here.

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3. Current LA neighborhood: Downtown Los Angeles, aka the transit hub of Los Angeles.

4. How long have you lived in LA, and where?: I've lived in LA for nearly 4 years this August. Before moving to Downtown last year, I lived in East Hollywood aka. Thai Town aka. the Hollywood Transit Corridor

5. What made you want to start up MetroRiderLA?

I had been doing the car-free thing for a while and had just started getting into LA blogs last year and noticed a lack of "cool" Los Angeles transit blogs/sites. Most looked like they were designed in '95 on Geocities, and although they had a lot of good info, I couldn't bring myself to read them in the way I'd read, say, LAist. Plus, there was nothing out there that really looked at transit in Los Angeles as a lifestyle, which is what it was for me. So I dove into the world of blogs, and with the help of my roommates (who also live car-free) we started posting stupid articles... not really thinking that anyone would notice.

6. What's the best thing thing that has happened since you started the site?

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People noticed it! We started getting linked, and people started participating in discussions in the comments, and soon we had writers coming in like "Wad" (whom I've never meet in real life) who really knew what they were talking about and really upped the quality of the content on the blog. A community of sorts has formed, and I think that slowly the idea of the Los Angeles Public Transit Lifestyle is getting out there.

7. Any down sides?

Writing, even the meager amount that I do, is a lot harder than I ever thought. It's like I always have homework, and I've always been a lazy slacker, so that kinda sucks.

8. Being car free and having off site client meetings, how does it work when they live in bumblefuck LA?

Most parts of LA are accessible by some sort of transit. Combined with a bike or your two feet, you can get just about anywhere you need to be. You just have to plan right to get the timing down. For everything else, there's Flexcar, but that's strictly a last resort since driving sux.

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9. What can we expect to see as the next step or phase of MetroRiderLA?

Well, like I mentioned, I'm a lazy a**hole... I had planned to redesign the site for the one-year anniversary this past June, but failed miserably. Ideally I'd just like to clean up the site a bit, make the discussion/community aspect a bit friendlier, and I'd also like to add more multimedia content... but this all takes time and energy that I may or may not have, so don't hold your breath.

10. In terms of planning, efficiency and service who does it best? Metro, DASH, Big Blue Bus, Culver City, OCTA, some other local entity??

For the most part, my transit use is limited to what I use on a daily basis, so there's plenty of carriers I've never set foot on, or only used a small portion of their service. A true transit nerd like Wad (who writes for MetroRiderLA) rides buses just for fun, so he could probably better answer that question. Metro is my main ride, and she does pretty good for herself (despite what other may say).

11. Should Metro focus so much on art and design?

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I think so. I think Metro does a great job with their art and design... Metro Design Studio has created some truly iconic/functional designs (in the form of schedules/signage/maps/etc) that I feel truly elevates the system to a level that maybe the service doesn't quite match yet. What Metro needs (aside from a lot of money) is good PR, and design is a key part of that, because the public's perception of Metro and public transportation in general is so low and because people are easily swayed by bullshit. Plus, Metro's contributions to public art help beautify a city in need of some beautification!

12. Your Dream Transportation Job?

I wouldn't mind blogging full time for Metro! If it was a job, maybe I could do all the stuff I dream of doing with MetroRiderLA but don't have the time/energy to do now. Just don't tell Metro about the whole "lazy slacker" thing when I apply.

13. What is your favorite book about LA?

"Walking L.A." by Erin Mahoney is pretty cool although I've only done a small percentage of the walks she writes about.

14. Describe your best LA dining experience.

An Angus Third Pounder from the McDonalds on 7th/Hill, after they posted all those huge advertisements in the subway, how could I not? I'm not even kidding. But for something more specifically LA, I'll give you one from my new neighborhood and one from my old. In Downtown: Colori Kitchen at 8th/Olive is amazing, affordable, and the people who run it are great. In Thai Town: Chaun Chim on Hollywood between Western and Wilton is amazing, affordable, and the people who run it are great. Both are transit accessible.

15. LA has the best:

Weather for a car-free lifestyle. New York City has the worst. Why are we the one's in our cars?

16. You haven't really lived in LA until:

You've lived here without a car. I swear I would not have stayed here had I not gone car-free... driving here simply sucks sucks and sucks. Living here without a car reveals to you LA the city, as opposed to LA the place between here and my destination.

17. What is your LA pet peeve?

Hypocritical libs and Hollywood libs and the Bus Riders Union (BRU). They all count as one.

18. What is the "center" of LA to you?

Union Station. I can get to anywhere I want from there.

19. It's 9:30pm on a Thursday. Where are you, and where are you going?

I'm probably Downtown and I'm probably going to get some food because I'm hungry. Always.

Photo by igetrad via Flickr. About the photo: Fred Camino the angry LA transit blogger (he had just missed a train by like 30 seconds to go to Hollywood on New Years 2007)