By Lily Tam
Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula
[3 minute read]
Not having a car in LA makes life hard. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Despite the strong and ever-improving public transportation system in LA, taking the Metro or another form of public transport just isn’t the same as having the luxury of driving. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken the Metro to Santa Monica quite a few times, and I definitely recommend it since the stop right outside of campus is so convenient. The best part? Not having to worry about parking and traffic-an absolute dream come true.
The story’s a bit different if you want to explore a little outside the city, however. My roommate and I are from the farthest ends of the United States, the East Coast and Hawaii, so it wasn’t really feasible for us to bring or drive a car all the way to California for use during school. Fortunately, we both have our driver’s’ licenses, which is why when we got the chance to rent a car with the school’s new partnership with Maven, we did.
My roommate had just finished one of her most dreaded midterms and was looking to celebrate that accomplishment with a meal out. We decided to head down to East LA for some great Mexican cuisine. However, we were so excited that we forgot to take into account something LA is notorious for: rush hour traffic. Yes, we decided to head out exactly at 5 PM. On a Friday. About to go on the 110 Freeway. Not a brilliant idea, I’ll tell you that much. In fact, the traffic flow was so bad that the Waze app directed us to square around (like a circle around, but we went in a box shape) two blocks just to come back to Figueroa. The lanes were insane though, and the maneuvers I saw some drivers making really took some skill. A drive that was supposed to take 15 minutes took 40 instead, and we arrived at the restaurant disgruntled and very hungry. It ended up being alright though because in our eyes a good meal is worth anything.
It was starting to get dark on our way back, but the traffic didn’t stop. In fact, the headlights from the oncoming lanes and the rear-end lights of the cars in front of us made it seem like a stream of Christmas lights. I guess no matter the time of the year, LA will have the festive feel of a city lit up at night. Despite our frustration at the endless traffic, we took away one important lesson: appreciate the relaxation of public transportation.
Note: In case you haven’t heard of it yet, here is a little more information about Maven. Most of you may be familiar with the term ZipCar, which is the company that USC partnered with in previous years to provide transportation services to students. Maven is a mobility service that is offered by General Motors. It is a car-sharing system that can be conveniently accessed at the touch of your fingers, and the membership is free! The user can choose from a selection of cars that are available in the nearby area, and will be charged an hourly fee for renting the car that he so chooses. There is also an option for renting it by the day if you are looking to do a day trip to a nearby city. Unfortunately, Maven only provides roundtrip services in Los Angeles, which means that the user must return the car to the same spot that he retrieved it from. For more information, just visit their website and all the steps for sign-up are there. This is a great way to get off of campus for a short time if you feel like you haven’t yet gotten a chance to see some of the great sights LA has to offer!
Lily is a sophomore studying Industrial & Systems Engineering (Info Systems) with a minor in Business Finance. She is from Honolulu, Hawaii but has lived internationally for 10 years of her life. Lily is involved with various organizations on campus, including Value Investment Group and Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity. She is also a huge music (anything from baroque to classical) fan, and performs with the concerto concert orchestra on campus. She is fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, and knows a little bit of French, but is always down to learn more about other cultures!