The Commuter Life: Riding Metrolink

By Pleres Choi

Believe it or not, Los Angeles does have a train system. Within LA, there is the light rail (mostly) underground metro system, and, for those who must commute from outside LA, there is Metrolink. If you ever need to use Metrolink, I would suggest packing a whole lot of patience and your smartphone (with your social media apps in tow); because, the truth is, your time will always be at the mercy of this public transportation option.

Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr

This summer was the first time I’ve had to commute daily to work using Metrolink, “Southern California’s premier regional passenger rail system.” My daily starting point always began at the Buena Park station and my final stop at Union Station in L.A., giving me approximately thirty minutes inside the train. But, when the train would arrive at Buena Park and, consequently, when I would arrive at Union Station was an entirely different matter, and unfortunately completely out of my hands.

According to my summer experience, I learned that you have to be incredibly forgiving and flexible with your time. My train frequently arrived late at Buena Park, anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour late. We commuters had no idea when such a delay would occur, although many of us soon learned to usually expect at least some delay. And yet, a daily commuter cannot ever risk the chance of herself/himself arriving even a minute late to the station, since Metrolink does warn that the train could arrive “up to five minutes ahead of schedule” (though obviously not too frequently).

It doesn’t end here. When I use the Metrolink to commute from L.A. to home, it happens to be incredibly precise with its schedule, leaving Union Station exactly on time, unforgiving of a few extra minutes. Of course, this is Metrolink simply doing its job right. But there have been more than a few times when I sprinted to the train as fast as my legs would allow, only to have its doors shut in my face for having arrived fifteen seconds too late. During these times, I think to myself, “if only you were so punctual when coming to pick me up!!!”

So…why then do I still choose to commute to L.A. with Metrolink, you may ask.

Despite having a on-and-off relationship with punctuality, Metrolink has allowed me to do things I surely would not have been able to do if I drove my car to and from L.A. First, the daily total commute of one hour gives me a special moment to collect myself, rest, and mentally prepare for the day/night. Not only do I avoid SoCal traffic, but I get to have some serious “me” time.

Also, riding Metrolink has taught me a bit more about life. Being a perfectionist can be good and bad. The bad is that I often become distraught when things are out of my control. While utilizing Metrolink, I’ve learned to let go and be more flexible with time; to understand that delays happen and the simple thing to do is to just accept and overcome. Also, if not for Metrolink, I’d have to deal with congested traffic, parking, and paying for not-so-cheap gas. Although the public transportation system isn’t always perfect, it definitely has much to offer; it saves stress, money (with great student discounts), and (usually) time. Thus, I continue to be more appreciative of Metrolink and the fact that , in the end, it always gets me to my destination.

If you ever need a reliable, speedy (though perhaps not always punctual in the mornings) ride, I recommend commuting Metrolink rather than trying to beat traffic on your own. They even offer air-conditioned cars to help you escape the California summertime heat.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Pleres (pronounced Paris with an ‘L’) is a junior pursuing a double major in International Relations and Economics and a minor in Korean Studies. Though born in New Jersey and raised in LA, Pleres considers herself a Seattleite since she graduated high school in the Evergreen State. She treasures her time making green smoothies, running long distance, and exploring new locations with her DSLR and iPhone. She is also currently working on her research project related to improving North-South Korean economic relations and hopes to learn new languages (especially Mandarin) in the near future. Having grown up with parents who emigrated from South Korea with limited English, Pleres totally understands the difficulties of speaking a new language in a foreign land.