Transponders, do you want your own transponder?

ll 020 still missing the Boston Aquarium

It is 8 in the morning and I am at the Annenberg Beach House Café having a spinach omelette. I can see the ocean. I can see Santa Monica Beach stretching away. I see bikers and walker. It’s too cold for swimsuits, umbrellas or kids with tiny plastic shovels. There are people running with strollers, with dogs, with other runners. It looks rather exhausting from here.

I was here twelve house ago for a packed very successful reading at the Beach House. The first two readers are people I’ve met before, but don’t know at all, Nathalie Handal and Cecilia Woloch. They are both wonderful readers and I really like their work. The audience loved them. David St. John was the moderator. He is a prince of a moderator. Instead of skidding through the writer’s publications and awards as I sometimes do, he reads them slowly and lovingly. Eloise Klein Healy, who I do know was the last reader. She was terrific and tonight she is reading at the Central Library with Caroline Kennedy, and we’re going out afterward to the Library Bar.

Why am I up so early, having breakfast at the Beach House? Well, my non Los Angeles readers, I have a meeting in Santa Monica at 10 am. If I got up at 7:30 and left the house at 8 am, I might not make it. So, I did what we do in LA. I got up at 6, left the house at 6:30, got Starbucks, was on the freeway by 6:45 and pulled in here in just over an hour. With two hours to look at the beach and think and work before I go to my morning meeting and then my lunch meeting at USC and the afternoon meeting in Pasadena, and drinks at the Standard with Kim, and then Eloise’ reading at the Central Library and the after party, and I need to get up at 5 am to go the gym tomorrow before I go to work. Living the dream.

Okay, let’s go to the transponder situation. Four of the most congested freeways in metro LA are the 110 south of USC, the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, the 101 (all of it?) and the 10. The transponder works on the 110 and on the 10. I bought mine for $40 so I would have a few extra miles on it. At the point 100,000 Angelenos have bought these, let’s say for an average $40, some will pay less through AAA, others will pay more and buy more extra miles, the city will have made four million. And that’s just the beginning. Because whenever you’ve used up your money, they will take more money out of your bank account.

I bought mine for emergencies. Yesterday, when I approached the Fast Track Expressway, the sign pointed out to me that for the twelve miles I needed to traverse, the cost would be $3.90. I decided to pass on that. You can see how that would add up. If you did that twice a day for your commute for a five day a week job, you’d be spending $1950 in tolls a year. One of the arguments against the “Lexus Lanes” is that rich people can afford that two grand, but the rest of us can’t. Well, the way I see it, if rich people want to help pay the city’s bills by riding in the fast lane, God bless them.

I am not going to use the transponder for a commuting device. I am going to keep getting up before 5 on the days when I have a long drive, getting to the gym and then hitting the freeway as close to 6:45 as I can. I am not in the right income bracket to use the thing all the time. But I like the way it is planned out. I like that you know in advance what you’re spending. And I like knowing that I can use it in case of emergency.

But I expect a lot of people will use theirs all the time. That’s the problem with Los Angeles. Your whole life feels like an emergency.

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Published in: on April 9, 2013 at 8:06 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. That’s a beautiful photograph.


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