Metro Freeway Service Patrol, Your My “Random Hero”

photoI don’t know what I did or what I said but whatever it is, someone out there loves me and is watching out for me. Today was an unusual day that could have taken a turn for the worse, but thanks to the Metro Freeway Service Patrol, it ended nicely. My friend calls me up asking me to help her take one of the dogs to the vet because the cabeson broke his leg last week. We get there, drop him off and make our way to a gas station because my friend didn’t put oil in her car and it was smoking harder than a hipster at an art show. ZING!!

photo-21So we put in oil and make our way when while on the 5 freeway the car starts to make a weird clicking noise. It starts to smell funky and we feel the car dying. So she decides to get out at the next exit, but the car didn’t make it to Glendale. Instead she had to pull onto the shoulder as cars and trucks rocked the car back and forth as they whizzed by. By this time it was high noon and we were baking inside that fucking car. She makes some calls while I twitter and out of no where, almost as if he’s riding clouds, the Metro truck pulls over, backs up and the guy ask us if we needed help. Damn straight we needed help.


I ask him if he could get us outta the freeway because I remember all those horrible fox specials about car crashes. The guy is SUPER NICE and helpful about everything. Getting us to a safer spot as we wait for AAA and driving us to a store to buy snacks. We chitchatted with him the whole time, making jokes and having fun. My friend asked me if we should tip him and I was like, “I don’t know what’s the etiquette for being towed. We bought him a bottled water and gave him our eternal gratitude. I knew of the Metro service, but in my infinite wisdom didn’t realize to look it up or call for help. I was to busy twittering. photo-4

All you have to do is dial #399 on your phone and they’ll come and get you. FOR FREE !!!! They won’t drive you to your house, but they can help tow you to a safe spot or hook you up with jumper cables. They’re job is to literally drive around freeways all day and help people out. Amazing. Needless to say my friend learned her lesson and is regretting not servicing her car regularly. Lesson of the day…

photo-2make sure your car has water, oil and all that regular stuff. I don’t drive so I’m not sure what other maintenance is needed. Be safe out there people and if you get stuck on the freeway dial #399 and a “Random Hero” will come to your aid. Just like they did for me.

18 thoughts on “Metro Freeway Service Patrol, Your My “Random Hero”

  1. Im glad you guys got off the freeway and into a safer location, being stranded there sucks. My ignition was getting funky and turning off, almost every time on the 10 between eastern and Soto where everyone speeds. Fortunate for me my car would turn back on right after I stopped on the shoulder lane, but each of the 3 times that occurred some pendejo would swerve into the slow lane (from the fast or 2nd to fast lane) at high speeds and get up my butt, despite me having my hazards still on and waiting for a clear patch to begin putting the pedal to the metal, driving brings out the worst and most stupid in many people. I used to get into road confrontations, but now the most idiot drivers have gotten out of me is “was that really worth risking your/my life and safety for?” or a sarcastic thumbs up. I sometimes throw mock child tantrums about lanes in my car to relieve my stress when someone isnt letting me in, cutting me off or any of the myriad of jerkish things people do when they know they can zoom off in a 1/2 ton metal forcefield; I suggest this exercise because it works and is funny and sometimes even the offending driver gets a laugh or is wondering what the hell yer doin enough to stop their mean driving.

    Anyways, it sounds like your friend’s car is toast. Which is a shame because that car looks too nice to be the sacrificial ” I dont know how to keep up my car” car. Maybe some oil treatment will help if they havent gotten it dealt with by now (which may be possible given what made you pull over to begin with).

    And I second Browne’s comments, why the F does Metro pay millions to help stranded drivers. When an MTA bus breaks down there’s always a 45+ minute wait for riders at stops that the MTA doesnt seem to have the resources to get a backup bus or shuttle going, isnt bus/rail transit their actual duty and priority above motorists? Im glad homeboy helped you, think that tow truck idea is great (for motorists and small indiv tow truck operators whom they contract, the highlight to me) and needed, but why cant Caltrans or an org actually in charge of freeways be responsible for this? Caltrans doesnt put $$$ for rail or bus, in fact I rarely see them much in the city, they are usually building overpasses to exurban nowhere’s that havent been built yet (most recently south OC and up past magic mountain) which is a bunch of BS.

    Metro could use that 27 mil a year to make the bus/rial muchnicer for its patrons, which would also affect much more peolel than the tow does. Since everyone has phones now, this service is actually only really saving drivers the tow costs; while PT riders still have no alternative choice but to sit and wait.

  2. I agree that metro screws bus riders and the metrolink is such an obviously class divided rip-off, but the free freeway tow program is good. Otherwise people are forced to call private rip-off tow truckers who charge unbelievable rates just to get your car off the freeway. This program has rescued me before too!

  3. Hope you didn’t do permanent damage to the engine, El Random Hero. Anything resulting from low oil is not good. Best of luck there.

    Yes, this service is great. They have it here in Sacramento, too. It should be in every city. In LA, it’s as necessary as the freeway system itself. I certainly don’t mind my tax dollars going to a service that will get stalled cars off of the freeway efficiently and safely during peak traffic hours. I’ve always felt tow truck companies should be regulated from price gouging, because they can get ridiculous. But, this will work, too.

  4. It’s certainly a helpful service, but while it may be free to the user, it costs the city nearly 70 million every year if I remember correctly. To put this in perspective, the city’s previous city wide bicycle master plan for 1996-2002, with bike lane additions, improvements, parking, and more, but for the most part never really happened, was estimated to cost about 60 million.

  5. Having trouble finding sources for exact figures, but apparently it is “Funded by state highway funds and by Proposition C, the voter approved 1/2 – cent Los Angeles County sales tax” according to Metro website. I’m not saying this service is bad, these services tend to produce cost savings in increased efficiency as well make conditions safer, I just get jealous because I don’t drive and it takes LA 3 years to put some paint on the ground for cyclists.


    This is for 27 million, but the press release stated the contract ended in 2007, I’m sure it’s more now.

    “but why cant Caltrans or an org actually in charge of freeways be responsible for this” Art.


    “To put this in perspective, the city’s previous city wide bicycle master plan for 1996-2002, with bike lane additions, improvements, parking, and more, but for the most part never really happened, was estimated to cost about 60 million,” Gary.


    A free service fine, but a free service paid for my METRO when I have to stand around in pee fragranced bus stops, no, not right, not ok. Not when I get stranded and I have to just stand there. Not when the bike lanes are so unsafe (and could easily be made safe for what they are paying to implement this bullshit) that at times I’m forced to take public transit when some places I would rather bike to, but don’t like the idea of getting hit and surviving.


  7. They have the same thing in Mexico, where they’re called the Green Angels:

    A couple of breakdowns during rush hour can shut down an entire freeway for hours during rush hour. I’m glad the service exists. I’ve been on several buses when they broke down and all it did was extend our trip by half an hour or so. Shutting down an entire side of a freeway would inconvenience thousands of people for hours.

  8. A bus breaking down does not extend the trip by just 30 minutes. If you live in downtown yeah, if you live along Wilshire, Sunset or Santa Monica yeah, but not if you live in South LA or Montebello or Downey or Tujunga where a broken down bus can cost a two hour delay.

    While I do have empathy for people. When I see Metro coming to give someone gas on the freeway, which I saw doing the height of the gas crisis is is kind of like, wow if you don’t have money for gas don’t get on the freeway. You know that can happen. If your car acts weird, don’t get on the freeway. Not saying this was the case with the above story, but most people whose car’s break down have a sign that’s going to happen. I got my first car when I was 16 and drove for more than 10 years before I gave it up, so I’m speaking from two perspectives. People are never all that shocked when their car stops working, they just don’t care that it stopping could cost everyone else problems. It’s the individual type attitude of screw everyone else of car culture.

    And why can’t Chevron or Exxon pay for this service? They are making plenty of money. The service should exist, but LA’s transit which is always complaining about not having cash should not have to pay for it.

    The other problem I have with this service is I think its just away for the old boys club to work. Give my friend this big juicy contract that is supposed to be about helping people, but really it is about paying some rich guy even more money at the expense of the most economically disadvantaged. Why because in general most bus riders don’t complain.


  9. The Freeway Metro motorist assistance program is hardly “free.” As a motorist, you pay for it everytime you pump gas into your car.

    $00.40 per gallon of gas you pump goes directly to Arnie and crew in Sacramento. How it gets spent once it gets there is another matter – but you are paying for it…

    ~I forgot to mention the 1.25% County and local sales tax should be included in that 40 cents per gallon…

    The trucks that patrol the freeways are not owned by the MTA. They are privately owned – tow truck companies – and get the gig by bidding with the MTA. Lowest bidders get the contracts – I’ve been involved in the process for the city I where I work.

    I agree that bus riders are not a priority when it comes to govenment spending. But keeping the freeways clear and helping motorists who find themselves stranded isn’t an example of “wasteful” spending IMHO…

  10. I agree that the program is good and needed (it has been beneficial, especially in regards to mitigating possible traffic jams), but it still should be paid for by a Caltrans or whatever entity is in charge of freeways.

    You never see any road entity paying for public transit amenities, and the MTA acts as if it is broke in every other situation.

  11. People who drive more, and/or drive vehicles with poor gas mileage, pay more than others for metro freeway patrol. I’m cool with that. A convenient and necessary freeway service, while the subsidization of it works as an incentive for people to carpool, use public transit if and when feasible, walk to destinations that are within walking distance, and consider a gas efficient vehicle when buying one. Sounds good to me.

  12. Haha the same friend I wrote about on this post just had her car break down again on the freeway and she called me to ask for the help number. I remembered this post and gave her the number. Man I love this blog 🙂

  13. That was my brother helping you, his name was Marco. I work with him in the same program too. 🙂

  14. I would like to thank Jorge Ramos, truck # 17D , Sunday November 13 at 2 p.m., for letting me use his phone for three phone calls cause I forgot to take mine ON THE DAY MY CAR HAD A CRACKED RADIATOR and lost all power on the 10 at the LaBrea north and south exits. I had to make it over three lanes to the side of the freeway with all those swishing cars zipping by. Scary. Of course, I couldn’t remember any phone numbers!!! He called AAA for me, and even waited by the side of the road with his emergency lights flashing to warn on coming traffic. Thank you very much, Jorge. DeeAnn Bowater

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