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The Red Line Station at Wilshire & Vermont: Legend or Legit?
After a grueling installment of the popular local show "Public Transit in LA Sucks--We Know This Because We've Used It" last night, we've decided that there is no subway stop at Wilshire and Vermont. It just doesn't exist. It's an urban legend, a myth of social construct, a shared ideal that has only materialized in the minds of the mentally unstable.
Why do we say this? What has our dander all dander-fied about the Red Line?
Because last night we thought we'd be savvy citizens and take the subway from North Hollywood to Wilshire and Western instead of paying exorbitant parking fees to see a show at The Wiltern. It's $1.25 each way, trains run every 20 minutes until about 12:40 a.m., and it should be about a half hour ride each way. So when we crossed Wilshire upon exiting the venue at about five minutes shy of midnight last night we were surprised to be faced with a pair of smug and cavalier sherrifs. "Subway's closed," they told us. Apparently some work was being done on the tracks, and even the uniforms hadn't been informed ahead of time. What to do? We were pointed in the direction of the closest stop that should still be open: Wilshire and Vermont. The cops waved us off without any concern that they were sending two young ladies off on a late night walk, without wishing us well, or without making sure to tell us exactly where the station was. Of course, we thought it would be fairly apparent. A Metro Red Line Station can't very well hide!
Or can it?
So we walked. And walked. What looked like a thumb's width and a breeze on the Red Line timetable we'd consulted on our journey to the show was in actuality a fairly hefty trek, and at rather a late hour to boot. We crossed Harvard. We crossed Normandie. We sighed in dismay at the carnage that was once the mighty Ambassador Hotel. And on we walked. When we got to Vermont we paused. Now what? We could hear boisterous karaoke singing coming from any one of the many nightspots on the Boulevard, but there wasn't anyone in sight that we could flag down and ask where we might find the entrance to the subway. Shouldn't there be signs? We remembered navigating ourselves around any number of transit systems in major North American cities: San Francisco. Chicago. Portland. Vancouver. Toronto. New York. There was always a sign, a map, a person to ask handy. Here there was... nothing.
So we walked eastbound on Wilshire, until it became apparent that we weren't going to stumble on it anytime soon. We turned back towards Vermont. It was only then (and at about 12:20 a.m.) that we saw one of those temporary banner-type signs flapping in the darkness atop some construction scaffolding. "Metro Red Line" and an arrow seemed to point up and...over? Huh? We took the bait and trudged up Vermont. Where there's no sidewalk on one side of the street. And still no subway station.
We turned on 6th, following a hunch that the subway station was somehow affiliated with the massive construction site on our right. At this point we were convinced that we were in the Twilight Zone. Despite the fact that we'd changed trains at Wilshire and Vermont only hours ago didn't seem proof enough to us that the place actually existed. We felt like Will & Grace's Karen Walker, scoffing at talk of some mysterious system of underground tunnels where people move about on trains. Such bunk! It's not possible!
And so we cursed our city aloud. We damned the public transit system for once again letting us down. For all the pleasant and uneventful subway and bus rides we'd had in the past, this troubling adventure was becoming the exception that proved the rule. We wondered how folks new to the city or visitors learned to navigate the system. Here we were, long time residents, long time Red Line users, and we were stranded in Koreatown in the Witching Hour, legs aching and tempers flaring.
We gave up and called a cab.
It costs about $25 to get a cab from Wilshire and Vermont to North Hollywood. That's definitely more than what it costs to park at The Wiltern, and more hassle. So much for being savvy citizens. So much for supporting the transit system and trying to prove that it exists and it works. Because after last night, we're not so sure it does either.
And we still don't believe there's a station at Wilshire and Vermont. Sure, you'll tell us... but we dare you to try to find it, unaware, after midnight. We double dog dare you.
[sarcasm]Oh, and an extra special thanks to those cops for being so cool and looking out for us and seeing to our getting to the station okay. [/sarcasm]
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