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Shuttle Will Add Style to Workers’ Commute

Times Staff Writer

Life in the fast lane will have a new meaning for Century City lawyers and others who travel to and from downtown in an upscale shuttle bus scheduled to start service next month.

Aimed at a clientele ready to pay $7.50 a trip, the 18-passenger vehicles are equipped with TVs, VCRs, soft mauve seats, cellular telephones and machines for exchanging documents with the home office while en route.

A cabin attendant will dispense coffee and bagels in the morning, soft drinks during the day and wine after 5 p.m. Plans call for the buses to leave every 90 minutes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Solving Traffic Problems

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City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who said he originated the idea of a Century City shuttle in his shower, called the new service an example of what Los Angeles can do about traffic problems in the years before the Metro Rail subway is in place.

“Instead of applying East Coast solutions to West Coast problems, like believing that a subway is the only way to solve our problems, you need a subway and you need things like the shuttle too,” Yaroslavsky said. “You can’t put all our eggs in one basket.”

Ralph W. Smith Jr., president of APT Transportation, was granted the licenses to serve the route with his customized Ford Econoline 350s, transportation officials said. Smith said he has three of the high-windowed, $60,000 vehicles ready to go, with two more expected by month’s end and another five on order.

“It’s the trend of the future,” he said.

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A survey of Century City lawyers concluded that there would be a demand for the luxury shuttle.

For lawyers, who charge their clients hourly fees of $150 or more, time on the bus could be a real bonus, said Susan G. Schaefer, president of the Century City Bar Assn., which conducted the survey.

A Time Saver

“What lawyers sell is their time, so if half an hour or an hour of time can be spent working rather than dodging other cars, then that’s time well spent,” she said.

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But some potential customers were dubious about the new service, even if it would save them $9.75 or more an hour in parking fees.

Century City attorney Joel M. Grossman said that he already uses his car phone to rack up billable hours en route downtown and that his fluid schedule would make it impractical to rely on any form of public transportation that leaves less frequently than every 10 minutes.

“It definitely would be nice and less tense, but my guess is that most lawyers, like me, would be concerned about the down time waiting for the next bus,” he said.


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