DOWNEY - Exasperated with sitting in Saturday traffic, I set out with a to-do list and a friend, Julie Ledesma, and hopped on the Downey Link to get a taste of Downey's public transportation.The afternoon began as we walked to the Downey Link bus stop on Suva right near Maude Price Elementary School. Being the first time since we obtained our driver's licenses that we attempted a different method of transportation other than our cars, we were both pretty excited. However, my complete lack of direction and knowledge of the bus system worried us both. Regardless, we confidently approached the challenge, and equipped with a full print out of all the routes and times of the Downey Link, we mapped out our next location. First, the Northwest Route carried us into Pico Rivera territory, until we got off the bus at the bus stop off of Gallatin. The help of the kind bus driver ensured that we did not get completely lost on our first bus ride. Then, after arguing over what color route we were supposed to take, we got back onto the bus, this time on the Northeast Route, which happily transferred us to the Stonewood Center on Firestone. Luckily, we had extra time on our hands, for the bus took the scenic route, giving us a tour of Downey's notable landmarks, including the Civic Center, the Downey City Library and Theatre, and even Downey High School before dropping us off at the Stonewood Mall. With Halloween just around the corner, we both searched the mall thoroughly for possible costumes, although we did not find much. As we were about to leave, we encountered our first problem. Waiting at the bus stop at 2:15 p.m., we realized that the next bus was not to arrive until 2:45. Fidgeting in front of the bus stop for half an hour, which seemed an eternity for two extremely impatient girls, our energy returned with the sight of the timely bus, which arrived exactly at 2:45. Our growling stomachs acted as a magnet towards the Downey Landing, as we hurriedly jumped off the bus towards food central. Elephant Bar was the lucky winner of the afternoon, as we spent two hours munching away, completely forgetting about the adventures on the bus. After the complaining of our stomachs subsided, we ran over to Michael's and bought five cases of heavy duty paint. Lugging the paint, we hurried back to the bus stop in time for our next destination. Unfortunately, the Southwest route stopped at Stewart and Grey, a ways away from our destination, Warren High School, but the walking exercise was welcomed since we had gorged ourselves on Elephant Bar cuisine. The paint cans clattered heavily till we arrived at Warren's parking lot, as we plopped down on the asphalt. Opening the paint cans, we set to work to paint our parking spots, which are a senior privilege to have. Ironically, we had taken the bus around Downey in order to paint an area for our cars. From Warren, and I must admit we cheated a bit, we were able to hitch a ride to Wilderness Park, a lovely locale with a convenient bus stop. After a brief rest as we laughed at the frantic ducks escaping the grasps of eager children, we decided to call it a day. The bus return home looped around Gallatin, around Unsworth Elementary School, straight down Telegraph then Paramount, till the comforting sights of Suva returned to our view. Quite frankly, the day had exhausted both of us, and we parted ways and walked back to our own homes just a block away from each other. With bus rates at 50 cents a ride, with free transfers to other Downey Link routes when transfers are sequential, we collectively spent $4 for our transportation. Calculating the amount of gas we would have used, the Downey Link was definitely a money saver, although the scenic routes of the bus took longer than if we were driving from location to location. On the Downey Link, we discovered niches in the city that are generally overlooked when driving in our personal cars, as the bus turned out to be an interesting addition in running our weekend errands.
********** Published: October 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 27