If you think you go it without a car in LA, you’re sadly mistaken. There is no way you can feasibly use mass transit — the city (and its suburbs) are so vast, you could easily spend two or three hours trying to get to a destination that would only take you an hour tops to get to in a car. Just like you can’t live in New York without a winter coat, you just can’t pull off the car-less, eco-friendly lifestyle in Los Angeles.
It is impossible. I can’t stress this enough. You can certainly indulge your taste for big city living and take the Metro to one or two locations, but if you’re feeling like exploring, you’d be hard pressed to navigate the overlapping, byzantine bus schedule with any kind of success. Los Angeles does not care about your green aspirations. Actually, it could not care less.
Maybe you ended up in LA thanks to a big old jet airliner. Maybe now you’re eager to stay (it happens) and now you need to find a way to get around town. There are certain necessities for living here: housing, food, and a car. You argue which comes first, but I think it would be hard to get home or to the grocery store without a car. There is a reason why LA traffic is a cliche. In fact, the latest ratio of people to cars clocked in at 1:1. So, with about 9.9 million people calling the greater Los Angeles area home, you only have about 10 million cars to contend with.
Sure you can ride your awesome Schwinn bicycle around, especially if you live in Silverlake or Santa Monica, but if you’re like the rest of us not-so-privileged masses, you need to go and go fast and usually go long. The old saw about anywhere you need to be in LA takes you twenty minutes is now more like forty-five. In fact, if you get caught in the traffic zones — that is between the hours of 6 to 10 AM and 3 to 7 PM you will be spending a great deal of time in your car. Make sure it has air conditioning and a decent radio or CD player. Or at least make sure you have headphones for your iPod or iPhone.
If you’re in LA, you need a car — and fast. The longer you delay, the longer its going to take you to be involved. Need to find a job? You have to have a car first. Your best bet will be finding a used car. The good thing about trying to find a used car in Los Angeles is that you don’t have to try very hard. The city abounds with relics, racers, and Rolls Royces. OK, so you can’t afford the last one, but you can certainly find a clunker that gets decent mileage and won’t conk out on you on the 101 or 405.
If you think you can go without a used car Los Angeles is certainly not the place to prove your point. Be a human being and just get a car.