For your Los Angeles Metro trip, you should get a TAP card for your bus and rail travel. OK, I know, yet another card to put in the wallet! Metro has decided that paper passes are just way too evil and it wants you to go green with the tap. If you have an old Metro paper stub, it'll be a collector's item!
Get a TAP card for $1 at a Metro rail stop station or in advance of arriving in L.A. at taptogo.net. Also, you can also obtain a Tap card at Metro customer centers (one in Patasouras Plaza on the low level--expect a considerable wait as I often see many people there waiting on service) or at the pass center along Wilshire Blvd (at La Brea), along with other locations.
For using TAP at a rail station machine:
Add money after inserting into the machine. The typical increment starts at $5 for a regular single all-day pass. Also, you can pay for one week/7 day pass (reg $20) or one month/30-Day pass (reg$ 75). There are other fares for transfer options. (Fares subject to change , i.e.- go higher)
Using TAP on the bus:
Feed TAP face-forward into card slot. The bus driver can read the balance on the card. If you owe any amount, add dollars and coins into money slot.
The card is tracked when a passenger enters a bus or rail entrance and taps a device that senses the card. The effectiveness of TAP is debatable as far as the green issue is concerned.
TAP card is good for use on not only Metro but for other greater L.A. county transport lines. Check website for more info.
I finally had the opportunity to use the metro on this trip and while I still think having a car gives you a lot more freedom and that the metro doesn't get you everywhere you'd want to go as a tourist, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could see without driving and parking. The 1st day I used it I bought a tap card, the card cost $1 when I bought it and then I loaded a $5 all day pass. I think the tap card is relatively new, at most stations there were no barriers which seems a little odd but maybe the barriers will come down the road.
The 1st day I visited Union Station and Olvera Street, walked to downtown LA and reboarded at 7th/Metro and then got off at Hollywood & Highland which is right near Grauman's. The 2nd day I took the metro to Pasadena which has a stop just a couple of blocks off the main road in old town. There's a very handy metro guide I picked up at the tourist desk at Union Station which listed the sights at each of the stops.
Individual rides are currently $1.50 and if you have to change lines, like I did to get to Pasadena you have to pay another $1.50 fare. On the 2nd day I had 5 separate fares so I did get my money's worth out of the $5 daily pass.
Something peculiar happened on the way from the San Fernando to Los Angeles.
I had gotten on the Metro train, and noted that the train had the appearance that it was heading back to the valley. And, no, I don't take psychotropic drugs.
There were a few tense moments, but noted that all the stops said heading towards LA. When the train finally did get to Los Angeles, I half expected to see the Sherman Oaks Galleria there, but, thankfully, this wasn't the case.
I thank my lucky stars that there are helicopters up there, in the sky.
Metro Red and Purple lines provide swift underground trips to major, entertaining stops in downtown. Furthermore, the Red line can take passengers to several attractions destinations in the county- such as Hollywoods, West, North and the original "Ho" area. Arrive at Union Station to start your underground rail journey from these lines.
Make sure that when leaving from the Union St, stop (or from major stops like Civic Center, Pershing Square, 7th/Metro stops and Westlake/MacArthur Park), that you look to see if the departing train will make a trip to Wilshire/ Western (this is the PURPLE LINE SIGNPOST!) or if it goes to North Hollywood (RED LINE SIGNPOST). Know your RED from your PURPLE! So many L.A. underground newbies get confused with this! Of course, I did in the beginning of all this Metro madness!
Check out the map on the website for all Metro Lines!
Photo of artwork by Robert Gil de Montes (1992)
I really thought the "nobody walks in L.A." thing was a joke until I went there. It seems a point of pride among some to remain ignorant of the public transportation system, so much so, that I felt quite the pioneer in my group when I actually branched out and took the metro. It is fast safe, and even interesting: a few of the stops I passed through are decorated to reflect their environment, or the movie industry more generally. Granted, they do not serve the entire huge city, but some of the main areas that a visitor would want to see.
It's a good option to take the Flyaway Bus that goes to Union Station, eventually to arrive at the Greyhound near downtown. From the airport, go on the lower arrivals area and look for the green "FlyAway, Buses and Long Distance Vans" signs.
After this, go inside of the station a few steps away after you stop. Go downstairs to take the Red line subway for about 4 min and exit the 7th/Metro stop, which is 3 stops away. Then, go up to the street again and take the MTA 60 bus from 7th St and Flower. You should be on that bus for just 6-10 min until you get to the station by 7th/Decatur (close to the major street Santa Fe).
Do try to do this in the daytime. I'd say at 7:30 PM at the latest. Walk with confidence in this area. Check website for updates on the Flyaway bus and also check mta.net for info on the MTA 60.
The duration of the entire trip should be about 1-1/2 hours, all depending on traffic and connections. One-way cost for this should be just $6.50 ($4 for the Flyway, $1.50 for Red Line trip and $1.50 for the 60 bus trip).
People(including VTers) love to regularly bash Los Angeles for having "no public transit". Or, they maintain public transit is only used by the old, infirm, poor, homeless and crazy.
A. Not true
B. Most of the naysayers have never even been on the subway
The sheer land size of Los Angeles makes it difficult to transverse by public transit or to even put transit in place. But, if you leave out the Westside and beaches, the city is fairly well-served. Overall, the system is more dependable and extensive than I've seen in Seattle, San Diego, Philadelphia...and, dare I say it, Chicago.
LA has the second largest bus fleet in America, and the second busiest light rail(after Boston's green line). By contrast, the Red Line subway, with it's limited range, ranks 9th.
But, for many visitors, the Red Line is a godsend. Top tourist destinations such as Universal City, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese, Downtown LA, and Pasadena are all connected via the Red Line and connecting light rail.
Sure, you're going to want to rent a car for the beaches and Malibu, Disneyland....maybe even for Beverly Hills. But don't believe the naysayers. Los Angeles is not the car crazy city it used to be. Residents are fed up with long traffic delays and insufferable commutes. I own a car, but use the Red Line weekly for all trips to Downtown shows, clubs, Disney Hall, Koreatown, Pasadena, Chinatown and Olvera Street. 40% of the residents of my neighborhood don't even own cars.
Los Angeles public transit still lacks for a city of its size, but it's getting there. No pun intended.
Red Line: Every 10 minutes during peak hours. Every 20 minutes off peak and weekends. Runs from 4:AM until 12:AM roughly, and until 3AM Fridays and Saturdays.
This was my first time using the Metro Rail above and below grade system.
It worked well during my stay. I used it to travel between Union Station, Pasadena and the Wilshire central corridor. I also used it to connect to local buses and the FlyAway bus (highly recommended).
From Union Station to Pasadena (Gold Line) it is about 35 minutes travel time.
Pasadena to Mid-Wilshire I connected back through Union Station to the Purple Line.
****IMPORTANT: THE PURPLE LINE DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE ANY SIGNAGE IN UNION STATION SINCE IT SHARES TRACKS WITH THE RED LINE. SO JUST HEAD TOWARDS THE RED LINE!!****
***Also IMPORTANT: make sure to wait near where other people are standing. Some of the platforms are long (specifically in the Subway) so the trains do not fill-up the entire area. I almost missed a train because I was alone far forward of the actual train!!***
My recommendation would be Pasadena, you can take the Gold Line an be in downtown Los Angeles in 20 minutes. From Downtown you have access to red line _ to go to Hollywood - Blue Line to go to Long Beach. Buses go everywhere including Orange County. I live in the heart of the city and rarely drive it is a misconspection that you cannot get around without a car. Look at:
Unless you want to go further to Orange County or Ventura county you would have to take Metro Link. Pasadena is a nice community, lots of hotels, tree lined streets beautiful neighborhood, good restaurants (Old Towne) and a few B&B's etc.
Don't pay attention to those who condemn Los Angeles's transit system. They probably never rode on a Los Angeles subway or light rail train. Here's my experiences as a regular user of the Los Angeles mass transit system. First of all I, like most drivers in Los Angeles got tired of driving in congested traffic anytime of the day and night. It got so bad that I decided to try the Metro Rail system. After the first time riding the subway from Hollywood to the Los Angeles City Center I became hooked and now I use the trains to get to places in Los Angeles I used to drive to. I even went to places I never been to like Universal City, Downtown Long Beach and Old Town Pasadena. I admit though that the trains don't go everywhere however the Los Angeles MTA is working on that problem building and expanding rail lines but until then it is still better to ride Metro trains and buses than driving.
While I'm not the sort of person who normally enjoys proving people wrong, I am going to do just that here. When planning my trip to Los Angeles I was told by EVERYONE that I needed a car. I have to admit I panicked a bit because I don't drive and would not have a car and needed to be able to get to the places I wanted to see by public transportation. So, I Googled, I checked out Virtual Tourist etc... What did I find? Los Angeles has the third largest public transportation system in the country. Not only would I be able to get around the downtown LA and Hollywood areas, I would also be able to get to Van Nuys, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica and even San Diego (with transfers) etc... I think because their transportation system is so new and developing and expanding at such a rapid rate, that people just don't know about it.
There are Super Shuttles and of course taxi and Limo services to get you from LAX to Union Station which is the main transportation hub in downtown LA. Super shuttle can cost from about $17.00 on up and taxis charge a flat rate of $43.00 from the airport to Union Station. Limos are totally out of my reach so I didn't even inquire. Of course if you are staying at a 5 star hotel there is free shuttle service - again, out of my reach.
However for people like me who travel on a budget there is the Flyaway bus service which is pictured above. These buses run about every 10 minutes from LAX to Union Station and back. I think that there is also another one that services the Beverly and Wilshire areas though I can't be sure. You can catch the Flyaway right outside the LAX Ground transportation area. It costs $7.00 of which you pay when arriving at Union Station. These buses are really nice. They are much like Greyhound and very clean and comfortable. They also accommodate your luggage whether inside the overhead bins or below. Surprisingly it only took 40 minutes to get from the airport to downtown LA. It also provides the scenic route with all the palm trees surrounding the freeway and the gorgeous skyscrapers when entering the downtown Los Angeles area. Once at Union Station I payed for my ticket then hopped on the Metro Red Line train for a 15 minute ride to Hollywood. It was a breeze.
I met a woman at Union Station who lives in LA, hates to fly and had to get to San Diego in order to catch her cruise ship to Mexico. She could have flown in a matter of minutes but because of her fear of flying she took a bus to Union Station was going to hop on Amtrak to San Diego and from there to her cruise ship. All in all she told me the entire trip would take about 2 hours at the most. That's not bad for public transportation. I was thrilled to see all the various places I could travel using their system and can't wait to get back down there to visit and experience more and more of Los Angeles. So, if anyone ever asks you how to get around LA - YOU DO NOT NEED A CAR!
The Metro Red Line was my mode of transportation while in LA. It is the same as BART which services the Bay Area with a couple of exceptions. First, these Metro lines operate on an honor system. In other words, there is no one there to accept your fare and you could basically just walk right in down to the train platform without paying. However if security decides to ask for proof of payment and you cannot show proof, you are slapped with a $250.00 fine.
When entering the station there are kiosks where you buy your ticket and are very easy to use. Your ticket is good for about 2 hours which means you can transfer from one line to another without paying again. From Hollywood to Union Station which is the main hub station in downtown LA it costs only $1.25 I was thrilled over that. It costs much more here where I live.
The other aspect I liked was that these trains are fast and efficient. It only takes 15 minutes from downtown LA to Hollywood. If you drove, depending on the time of day it would take in excess of 20 minutes and then there's the parking problem. I also found these trains to be on time which was important to me while traveling back to the airport. They run every ten minutes on the Red Line. The Hollywood and Highland station is pretty cool. When you enter the station to go down to your train there are lights above you which resemble lights on a movie set. I would have loved to see this at night but I forgot to check it out.
There are several lines to include the Gold and Purple among others which service a wide area of Los Angeles county. In all I think there are eight separate lines which take you wherever you need to go. While there I used the Red Line to travel between Union & Pershing Square stations in downtown LA to Hollywood. These lines are constantly being updated to include a wider service area.
For more detailed information visit http://www.metro.net
The metro trains makes it easy to get around and does connect to several attractions. The trains are much more frequent than the bus. It may be best to substitute buses with a taxi instead.
A day pass on the train is now $5. Now although there is no ticket agent at the train station there is a machine where you will buy your passes. You can also get them at some hotels. There is no turnstyle at the station. However, the sheriff might come on the train to see if you paid your fare. If you do not show the ticket then I believe the fine is $700. It may be best not to risk it.
The Metro Gold Line is the newest light rail to be completed by the struggling MTA. The comfy train runs from East Pasadena to Union Station, Downtown, and differs from the other light rails in a few ways: The safety concerns raised by the Blue Line(more collisions and pedestrian accidents than any other rail in the U.S.) demanded the Gold Line have long stretches of uninterrupted right-of-way. The result is an efficient, scenic source of public transit between two major Los Angeles hubs. And, unlike the Green Line that runs between lanes of the 105 Freeway, the Gold Line rambles through historic neighborhoods and feels like a true community lifeline - whether increased ridership justifies the line is still up for debate. But, as commutes averaging 13mph continue to clog the city, you can guess on the future of Metro.
Any visitor can utilize the Gold Line for travel to the tourist-heavy "Old Town Pasadena", as it connects to all other metro lines the Red Line at Union Station and the Blue Line at 7th/Metro.
On a local note, pay attention to the protest signs as the trains enter South Pasadena(Mission Station). They brazenly demand that the trains slow to 20mph and "No Horns, No Bells". Now, this is a community that engendered sympathy from me and many others for its 30 year battle to keep the 710Fwy from being linked up through their city - and wiping out Craftsman homes and the small town character. Here's my beef with South Pas. - you can't have it both ways. Sixty years ago, coal-fired locomotives roared through this town on the exact same tract - a far cry from the smooth, quiet, electric-motored metro running through, today. And, one would argue, that an anti-freeway stance, then coupled with a hostile metro stance, holds no water. You few bad apples - you embarass your city.
There. It's off my chest.
For $5 (day pass), you can go to several exciting destinations around LA. Single journey costs $1.25.
There are themes per station, so you expect the Chinatown station to have those dragons and Hollywood Station to have film reels and camera. Take the Metro Red line to the following destinations:
Universal City - Universal Studios
Hollywood Highland - to see the Hollywood Sign, Kodak Theater, Mann's Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame
Hollywood Vine - L. Hubbard Life Exhibition, Walk of Fame
Union Station - Amtrak central station, El Pueblo (Mexican community with souvenir shops, church)
one will see a real part of Los Angeles, that part which is not the fake, idealized part of the city that includes glamorous Hollywood areas. Instead, what one sees outside the Metro side windows is a rough reality of L.A.
The Blue Line is a great connection to travel from L.A. to Long Beach without the car. It must be said that it is not the prettiest. This is the most crowded and, therefore, noisiest ride of all of the Metro rail lines. Also, it is the least scenic line but the convenience of it makes up for the garish views of graffiti, unkept neighborhoods and polluted riverwater.
Metro Blue begins in L.A. at 7th and Metro (or 7th /Figueroa intersection) and ends at the Long Beach Transit Mall. During the trip, areas of South L.A., Compton and Willowbrook are reached which are almost strictly for local interest. A major Blue Line destination for certain tourists is at Artesia, where the Commerence Casino is just steps away.
One will see many garish views off the Blue Line capturing harsh reality in the southern part of the city. It is a good thing to see the full picture of a destination.
*Note: The linked Blue Line Map is a little deceiving. The straight line leading up to 7th/Metro doesn't reflect how the light rail cab actually travels. The cab makes a turn after the Washington stop and another after Grand , heading towards Pico.