I recently attended a Coldplay concert. Well, not really — they sold out before I could buy tickets. The closest I got to the event, held at the Los Angeles Forum, was the photo of the band my friend sent me from her cell phone — boy, she had good seats. What does this have to do with public transportation, you say? Well, it just reminded me of the numerous concerts and special events that I’ve attended over the years in my hometown of Los Angeles. Getting to venues such as the Forum to watch a concert is one thing; I know what I’m in for on the freeways, so I allow for plenty of time to get there. It’s the going home part that stinks. For the people that stay to hear the last encore, they get the added pleasure of trying to escape the snarling line of cars waiting to escape the parking lot, which of course seems to only have one exit. Large open parking lots like the Forum’s typically hire event staff to direct drivers to parking spots when they arrive. PARKING LOT HEADACHES However, when the music stops, you’re on your own. This means thousands of cars trying to inch their way out of the lot — at the same time. Some people sit in their cars, surrendering to their endless wait before a path opens allowing them to escape. If even a fraction of the concert goers took public transit to get to the venue, it would definitely prevent many parking lot headaches. I recently interviewed San Diego Metropolitan Transit System CEO, Paul Jablonski. Among other topics, he touched on how his operation “gears up” for transporting customers to large-scale public events. With local baseball (Padres) and football games (Chargers) on the roster, helping customers get to and from events is par for the course for the MTS. “We have…approximately 160 events a year that we gear up for in some special way, primarily on the trolley (the city’s light rail system),” says Jablonski. Eighty of those events are baseball games, 12 are football games, as well as other events such as Comic-Con — the world’s largest comic book convention that descends on the city annually. GEARING UP When the system goes into large-scale event mode, it places more railcars into service. While the operation has a total fleet of 134 railcars, it tries to maintain an active fleet of 110 railcars. With the bolstered fleet, the agency will operate the lines on an overlap system, eliminating the need for transfers. In addition to the trolley, MTS will make adjustments to its bus services to accommodate special events. During a recent marathon hosted by the city, MTS transported nearly 20,000 spectators and runners on its buses. Using public transportation to get to your special event sure sounds like a good choice. Even if I don’t get to take a bus or a train to the Forum next time, I’ll definitely buy my concert tickets early.