Buses, Los Angeles
Don't assume that bus transportation is horrible in L.A. There are good routes you can take to look around the city and greater area without worrying about someone turning right in front of you without warning as you drive and no worry over tailgating.
Relax yourself and spend $7 dollars (one- day pass; $1.75 for one -way ticket*) per person to ride about town. *Prices subject to hike. These prices have been increased to these amounts in 2010. Oh, the times are getting expensive but still, great compared to other city metro transits in the U.S.
Bus drivers tend to be adequate as far as customer service. Comparably, overall service is much better in Orange county (on OCTA transit) and on smaller municipal lines of the greater Los Angeles area. There will be those drivers who can be rude, curt or aggressive like a New Yorker but most always they are determined to get the bus moving.
One nice bonus about MTA buses is that many of them have entertainment aboard in the form of Transit T.V. which includes delivering news in English and Spanish, as well as trivia and other games linked to giveaways for MTA riders, such as cash and free bus passes. Some days the best entertainment, however, are funny, "kooky" passengers aboard- that is, when they are NOT super annoying and disruptive.
They say that you need a car to get around L.A. That's not entirely true. L.A. has a fine public transportation system and you can go to many tourist attractions either by bus or by light rail train.
If you already have your itinerary, you can go to the travel planner at www.mta.net (Metropolitan Transportation Authority's web site). Enter your starting and ending addresses (and some other information) and the travel planner will give you directions on when and where to go, what bus to take, how much to pay, and whether to take a transfer. The web site will also tell you where you can buy tokens or passes. Who knows? With the above information, you may decide to rent a car after all. :-)
From Downtown L.A., you can reach the following destinations by taking one ride: Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica, Beverly Center, Hollywood Blvd., Universal Studios, Long Beach, etc.
Day passes costing $3 are now available. You can get them when you board any MTA bus or at any MTA ticket dispenser. With a day pass, you can ride MTA's buses and trains for the whole day. You may still have to add a quarter or two, however, if you take MTA's longer routes like the route going to Disneyland.
Took a bus from Haciendas Heights to Disneyland.
It was terribly long as I have to change bus at downtown LA as well as the bus will stop every bus stops. So double the usual time it would take me to drive.
Good thing is that the bus will go on the central bus lanes which is free of the traffic crawl. So it was fun when the bus stop at the middle of the freeway bus stop and one walk across the freeway on a pedestrian bridge to see the busy cars speeding below
If possible, I rather drive than take a bus.
RTD is now called MTA (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)
Public transport in L.A. is poor compared to Europe but it's certainly possible. The first thing to keep in mind is that when people say "L.A." they're talking about a *HUGE* area. Think of it like saying Belgium. :-) Trying to cover it all in a few days even with your own car would be madness. It's best to spend a day in a specific area within L.A. and then, yes, you can walk around and take short bus or subway rides. You can always call a taxi but because of the distances that can get expensive. Example: Don't try to see the stars of Hollywood Blvd. during the day and see sunset on the beach in one day. Instead, spend one day in Hollywood, there's plenty to do with great nightlife. Stay there overnight. Then the next day, take the long bus ride to the beaches, do it up and then find a different place to stay in Santa Monica, Venice, or wherever you want.
Okay, anyway, you can do public transport in L.A. It works. You can buy a day pass for $3 which covers all of the subway AND busses for 24 hours. Otherwise, I think a one-way ticket is $1.25 - there are no more "transfers" anymore (got rid of them, two years ago now, I think?) You can buy the passes from the bus drivers, or in a subway station from a machine, or also at some convenience stores (the equivalet of European tabbacs).
Okay. Enough of my yammering... It's all just my opnion anyway.
in a jiffy! Well, maybe not rocket fast but somewhat convenient is the Metro bus 460 going from downtown LA to steps away from the main entrance of Disneyland. It is advantageous to catch the 460 by 5th and Grand Ave, close to the Bunker Hill Steps to catch a good seat before the crowd stumbles in.
The cost one way is $2.90* (subject to change), a little higher because public transit on the freeway is at a premium in L.A. If you have the TAP card already, you still have to pay additional $1.40* to board if you want to go on the freeway. Warning: This bus does get packed everyday. Tourists will have to compete with locals on the bus. Often it is standing room only but still the convenience to D-Land or downtown LA (and also to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park) is worth the jam.
*Fares are subject to change! Check MTA website for the latest on rates and much more.
We found that there was a huge variety of day trips to choose from and the one that we chose covered pretty much all the high lights of LA in one day. It was great to be picked up and dropped off at our hotel and although we had a hire car we would never have been game to tackle the freeways into LA or to know where we were going so the bus tour provided us with a safe trip. We organised it from home (Australia) and when we got to Anaheim we went to the Anaheim Tourism Centre and booked the Day and time we wanted to go. The people at the centre were really nice and couldn't help us enough. Most hotels have booking facilities at or near their front desks for even more convienience but we found the Tourism Centre had so much to choose from and an excellent service!
Here is MY 200TH tip of Los Angeles!!! :
Foothill Transit is one of the better public mass option in greater Los Angeles, serving mainly the San Gabriel Valley (SGV), a modest region of L.A. county where one may encounter and appreciate a more "normal" L.A. My experience on FT has been very good (bus is clean, ride is smooth, comfortable seating, etc). The FT system covers a huge area, easily covering 40 miles.
If you are going from downtown L.A., a Foothill Transit is a good option for being on your way to discover several off the beaten paths in SGV, in cities such as Pomona (where the L.A. county occurs), El Monte (major county transit hub), West Covina and Claremont (the latter three good local shopping points of interest.
Specifically, the Silver Streak route is a great option for region to region travel. Whereas a taxi can run $30+ for a one-way trip from downtown L.A. to an east SGV city, take the SS for around $2.45*.
The vast route hits stops where commuters want to go for everyday conveniences and entertainment ( Cal State L.A., El Monte Station, Pomona Station (with rail connections), Plaza at West Covina, etc). Inside the SS is quite roomy- as it is an accordion bus. Unless it's a super crowded, one can get a good choice of seat. Run times include late night/early morning alternatives. Duration of trip time from most further two stops is about 1 1/2 hrs- not so bad considering tragic commute times in southern CA.
Other L.A.-S.G.V. connections of FT: 481, 497, 499, 699. All do M-F routes, catering to local workforce working roughly the "9-5". However, for a day trip, a tourist can take advantage of getting to and from.
Other key FT routes: 285 and 286. Both go into Orange County, the 285 in La Habra and the 286 goes to Brea, directly to the Brea Mall (one of the best traditional malls in the greater L.A. region)
Regular FT routes (non- SS, express bus) to board are just $1.25 one-way, which is such a great deal for a major transit option. See website for full info on rates and much more.
* Rate subject to change
Getting around Los Angeles is not that easy. Our metro system is limited and doesn't get you to every reasonable destination in Los Angeles. Some parts of town by Metro is possible but most tourists who do not want to rent a car will have to ride the bus.
Google maps is great. You can enter your starting location and ending destination and it will give you a route by car. Above the routes is 4 icons, a car, a bus, a person walking and a bicycle. Choose the bus icon which represents public transportation and it will give you the route and bus locations and numbers on how to go. It's a great tool where ever you are, not just in Los Angeles.
The main bus station for Los Angeles is downtown, far from connecting local service or metro - and in a horrible neighborhood. The skid row station is a travellers worst nightmare. If you plan to arrive in Los Angeles by bus, make sure to request that you arrive in "Hollywood". This terminal is less than two years old, clean, efficient, and in a far superior hood. Furthermore, the Hollywood/Vine Subway Station is a quick four block walk down Hollywood Blvd. Sharky's, across the street, has great organic fresh-mex food.
Having a car is best but if you don't have one, the public system will do. Most buses and trains will take you where you need to go. For further afield like Disneyland there are Amtrak special deal that include transportation and park admission.
this is the most touristy thing to do in Los Angeles as the various attractions of los angeles is across a wide area and if you are pressed for time in touring these famous locations like hollywood boulevard, santa monica, venice beach, downtown LA, etc and you want to to it in your own time, the best thing to do is via the hop on and hop off buses which have designated stops along the attractions where you can spend as much time as you want along these attractions. you can buy the tickets in front of the hollywood boulevard in front of Grauman's Chinese theater or via the desginated stops of the buses where you just pay to the driver and are available in 1 day and 2 day passes of $ 32 and $ 48 respectively. they have at least 70 stops along the various attractions and are available from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm everyday.
they have different routes which are color coded and they provide you maps of the attractions and the route served by the hop on buses.
We had a whole day free before making our way back to LAX after visiting Hawaii, and we really wanted to get a proper look at the main beaches and bars. The only problem was, we had a loads of baggage with us because we had given the rental car back earlier.
But we had a cunning plan, we dragged our baggage into the reception of a large hotel, and sat down on some chairs in a lounge area for a few minutes, then I got up and went over to where the hotels stores baggage for guests.
I told the man guarding the baggage that we had booked out, but aren't due to be picked up until later, and so would he hold our bags unitl we return. He said no problem, and that was it, were were free to get around without bags for the day :)
We got on a red Ocean Express bus, that looks like a tram, but is a bus. It covers an area including shopping centres and the beach, and that was just perfect. We had lunch at the beach, and then spent a few hours at a shopping centre, before picking our bags up at the hotel that wasnt even our hotel, and off to the airport.
Most definitely rent a car when visiting L.A.! There are many places and things to see and they are very far apart. My daughter was visiting my sister there a while back and she waited an hour for a bus at a designated bus stop and finally someone walking by told her that the bus never shows up - ever!
If you are a sports fan, one of the musts of a stay in Los Angeles is to visit Chavez Ravine and see a baseball game or concert at Dodger Stadium but that is much easier said than done.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Metro Bus Service will offer Dodger Stadium Express bus service from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Dodger Stadium beginning today (April 1) and throughout the 2010 regular season under a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC).
Service will be provided starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the games and will end 45 minutes after the end of the game.
Service will be provided every 10 minutes prior to the start of the game and run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the game.
Dodger tickets will be honored as fare payment to ride the service. Those without a ticket will pay regular one way fare of $1.25.
Metrolink and Amtrak trains are available and Metro operates many bus lines that serve Union Station where patrons can easily transfer to the Dodger Stadium Express.
I have visited and even lived in L.A. over a long period of time. Obviously, a car will take you everywhere BUT I have noticed that one has a greater appreciation for the "feel" and architecture of this vast city by taking public transport, especially the bus.
Keep in mind that the public buses are usually filled with the very poor, the very elderly and the very auto-phobic (like myself) so don't expect Beyonce to be sitting next to you.
However, I will tell you that (at least on the Wilshire Boulevard corridor buses) there is a very civilized system that announce automatically the current stop and then tells you the next stop to follow. Not even the NYC buses have this feature!
Keep in mind that bus service gets a little thin on certain routes the later the evening gets except on major artery routes.
The best thing is to get a comprehensive bus map as opposed to using the half-baked website listed below. I found that the tourist info stand in the main waiting room of Union Station was especially helpful and courteous in directing me towards my ultimate destinations.