Los Angeles Collegian Online

OPINION: Online Learning Is Better for Commuters

New Student 2.0.
Photo by Brad Neathery entitled "Paper Heart" for Los Angeles Collegian Wired Online.

Virtual classroom eliminates long commute to and from school.

By Oliver Cabrera

(Hollywood, Calif.) — With COVID-19 cases surging in the U.S., most educational institutions from elementary school to the university level have switched to online learning. Los Angeles City College is one of those institutions that opted to transition all classes to online learning for the 2020 Fall semester and the foreseeable future.

When I found out that classes would be taught entirely online, I was excited. I was excited to be learning at home. My excitement for staying at home didn’t come from my disdain for school. It came from my disdain for the city’s public transportation system: Metro. Like many students at LACC, I commute to school by bus. I have a love-hate relationship with public transport, and I’m pretty sure it developed from my daily commutes to and from school.

On one hand, the Metro offers a cheap way to get to anywhere in Los Angeles and its surrounding cities. If you want to go somewhere, the trains and buses have you covered. On the other hand, buses and trains are always very crowded, and this lack of room can make a daily commute exhausting.

My route to go to school consists of taking one bus and two trains. The commute starts in the morning, specifically at 5:00 a.m. I take mostly morning classes and waking up predawn will ensure I get to class on time.

My commute usually takes about an hour to get to school. The bus I take is the Metro Line 102 Route.

Riding this bus is infuriating for one particular reason. The Metro Line 102 arrives at odd times. While most Metro buses arrive within 10 or 15 minutes of each other, you will definitely have to wait for a half-hour, or even a full hour for the next 102 bus to come.

If you miss the first bus of the commuter trek, tough luck.

Oliver Cabrera

I have to arrive at the stop by 6:40 a.m., as any later will result in me being tardy to class. After I get off the 102 bus, I take the Expo Line train east to Downtown 7th and Metro station and transfer to the Red Line train to North Hollywood. The Expo Line isn’t that bad. It’s only a 15-minute ride to my stop, and there aren’t many people aboard during that time of the morning.

From where I catch the Red Line train, it is only about a 10-minute ride to get to LACC. Don’t let that short little trip fool you, though. The Red Line train is the stuff of nightmares. At any hour of the day or night, you can expect to see an entire train cart packed to the brim with commuters. To say the Red Line is always crowded is like saying the sky is blue: everyone knows this.

At every stop, a crowd of people is waiting to get on board. It looks like something out of a horror movie. People come in droves, and you can expect to be breathing down some fellow commuter’s neck, or vice-versa.

The Red Line’s popularity comes from the fact that it takes you through popular areas, like Hollywood and Universal City. These are hot tourist traps, so people flood the trains. Rush Hour is every hour onboard the Red Line.

After surviving what feels like an eternity, you’ve arrived at Los Angeles City College. After a full schedule of classes, I repeat this process all over again.

There are many alternative routes I can take to get to the Red Line, which is the most important part of my commute. Each alternative route is even worse than the last.

One alternative to the 102 Line is Metro Route 53. The 53 bus is arguably the most crowded line in Los Angeles. That bus attracts a lot of people because it goes through Downtown Los Angeles. Every stop brings in more and more people. Bus operators turning people away at the door is not uncommon. If you manage to get a seat, you’ve hit the jackpot. Good luck getting off the bus at your stop, though.

The second alternative consists of taking the Blue Line to the Red Line Station. Do you know how I said the Red Line is the stuff of nightmares? I lied. The Blue Line is even more crowded than the Red Line, and stepping foot inside the train is at times, impossible. People manage to squeeze into every nook and cranny of the train. If I don’t find a way to squeeze onto this train, I’m late.

With online learning, I bypass all of that business I can make my own schedule and wake up whenever I want to. I don’t need to wake up early in order to catch a bus anymore, and I don’t have to worry if I’ll be able to get a spot on the train.

Having my classes readily accessible online has allowed me to be in control. By opening my laptop, I’ve arrived at my school in a matter of seconds. What was once a hassle is now hassle-free.

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