....And along came the Orange Line in the (San Fernando) Valley of Los Angeles- a godsend mode of getting around in the beloved/hated region. Although mainly of local interest, the Orange Line can be convenient for one visiting the L.A. area.
There is a dedicated lane for the gray-colored Orange Line, cutting east-west into the Valley. At first, the line ran into some problems- literally, a few automobiles! In the first several weeks after it premiered in 2005, there were some vehicular crashes into the bus liner. At different street intersections, there has been some confusion for motorists about crossing and turning lanes. Since then, there has been less incidents but on occasion there are some issues. Street signals alerting an on-coming Orange bus have been added and enhanced to cut down on accidents. However, I think the bigger perplexion about the Orange line is the color scheme of gray and yellow for the actual bus liner and bus stops for the ORANGE Line!!
Perhaps serving as the best stops on the Orange for tourist purposes are North Hollywood(NoHo-see my pages dedicated to this part of L.A.) and Balboa. For NoHo, one is just walking distance to small theaters for the arts, eccletic shopping and dining experience. As for Balboa, the stop is about 20 min walking distance to the main part of Balboa Park, which is great for sports/ recreation including paddle boat and carriage biking.
Once stepping on the Orange, just grab a seat as one would on the rail lines. Travellers do not show a pass to the driver but it is expect to have a pass in possesion. Ticket booths are at each stop.
A very nice, small yet critical thing about the Orange is that at every stop, there is an electric sign that constantly gives the estimate time for the next bus liner to arrive.
Los Angeles has two major sides : east and west. There is a tendency for travelers to go west, which is justifiably more fun and glamorous. However, highlights of the east do get somewhat ignored out of ignorance, fear or both.
So, here, I recommend that travelers go east by way of Metro Gold Line to discover Chinatown and the Southeast Museum (dedicated to indigneous indians) which are both just a few steps away from Gold Line stops. The Chinatown stop is pictured here. From the train, historic Lake Arroyo (Seco) is visible.
Los Angeles is a large city and the metro system is too small to reach easily all locations. It is better developed in the north-south direction than east-west. Nevertheless it is a good means of transportation integrated by a decent bus system that can take you slowly almost everywhere. Most famous spots can be reached by metro in a relatively short time such as Hollywood, Universal Studios, Downtown, El Pueblo, Chinatown. Little harder but still ok to reach Ghetty Center and Griffith Observatory or the coast at Venice-Santa Monica. If you want to visit other places it is better to rent a car that will allow you also to move freely at night. In any case it might be an interesting experience to spend at least one day moving around LA using the metro and bus system. You can seat, relax, watch all the sorroundings and explore all the neighboorhoods of LA.
If you move by public transport I strongly suggest you to use the "Twelve minute" map available on-line at the MTA site (see link below) or find printed verions in almost every hotel. It's a quick map with all transportation lines and stops where you should wait less than 12 minutes for your bus.
You'll need a car for lots of sights in LA, but the reality is that you can also hit a week's worth of activities on the surprisingly clean and nice subway/light rail system. The buses here are horrid, but set aside a day or two to catch the touristy stuff by subway. There are stops in Hollywood, at Universal Studios, Old Town Pasadena and Koreatown. The daring can even take the train to the Watts Towers (safe in the daytime) or down to Long Beach (the Aquarium, Queen Mary and the ferry to Catalina Island). Visit the MTA website, which offers a great online guide to attractions near subway stops. Surprisingly, only visitors from the UK seem to have picked up on riding the subway, but those that have usually leave LA with a completely different view. There are also a couple of super bargain hotels near subway stations that are clean, nice, safe and (thanks to the subway) allow for visiting of a week's worth of activities without renting a car. A great example is the Ramada Inn Wilshire in Koreatown, only a block from the Wilshire/Western subway station. ExperienceLA.com also offers a great itinerary for a day spent on the new Gold Line which begins at Union Station (near Olvera Street) and travels to Pasadena. Very picturesque ride, including crossing the infamous conrete berm that is the LA River. Best way to take a day-trip into Old Town Pasadena.
A lot of people say avoid public transportation in Los Angeles, which should not be necessarily true. Traffic and parking hassles tire even local Angelinos pretty quickly. For a visitor, it can only be much worse. The Metrorail system allows direct access to Universal Studios, Grauman's Chinese theater and Hollywood Blvd., Downtown Los Angeles including Olvera Street, Chinatown, and Disney Hall, LAX (with a shuttle) and other areas like Downtown Long Beach and Pasadena.
If one has time, it makes a lot of sense because of the size of the city to stay near a Metro stop in Downtown, Hollywood, Wilshire District, or other area and use the system for a few days and then maybe head to a different hotel in Santa Monica or elsewhere on the Westside and then rent a car for the areas that are not Metrorail adjacent (which would mean the beach areas, Beverly Hills, Melrose, and other areas). This way you save a lot of time and money and don't spend your days fuming in traffic (if you stay the entire time in Santa Monica, you'll be caught in traffic going just about anywhere outside of Santa Monica).
The trains and stations are new and modern and compare favorably with just about anywhere in the world, even if the growing system is still too small for the city. Busses aren't too bad for short trips as long as you don't have to transfer (good for going down Wilshire for instance). A day pass is only $3 and allows for trips all day all over LA County, which in my opinion is one of the best values in all of the United States.
For anyone interested in seeing some of urban and poor LA, head down the Blue Line to Long Beach, which was rebuilt on a line that was previously used in LA's original transit system. It is perfectly safe on the train, despite the rough neighborhoods that it goes through. It goes within a couple of blocks of the Watts Towers.
For three dollars you can take the Gold Line from Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. You will basically be able to catch the metro all day long and even the buses for the same three dollars so save your ticket.
One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to Pasadena to hang out. Pasadena is a very pedestrian friendly town and you dont really need your car over there just learn to ride the metro.
Pasadena is very different from Downtown Los Angeles and theres alot to do there. Its a very clean city and has many restaurants, shops, and theatres. You can easily spend hours walking on Colorado Blvd.
Theres also really great nightlife in Pasadena.
Yes, belive it or not , on a major fault line , LA has a brand new metro transport system .
With three lines built already , you can basically cover the entire LA county . Yes, this is an extremely large city and the metro has been desparately needed for years .
You can go down to Long beach for only 3 dollars , not bad concidering the distance you are covering . There is also a train that goes to LAX airport and this is a big plus , it can be hell to get there in a car with all the traffic .
Even with the risk of Earthquakes , IT IS SAFE an extremely efficient way to get around .
Not expensive either ;-)
A new good way to get around is on the Redline Subway.....all undergound and don't be thinking about earthquakes down there....
Picture is of Movie Camera now on display at the Hollywood and Vine Station....
The Metro is LA's subway system. It's limited but great to use if you're not planning on seeing a lot.
Here's a link to the metro system map:
And here's the metro site homepage:
I have only taken the LA metro once & it was a nice ride from N. Hollywood to Hollywood Blvd. It's cheap & pretty safe. Too bad it doesn't go more places.
The metro stations are located near the most mayor attractions Hollywood Blvd. (Hollywood Highland station), Universal City or downtown (7th Metro Center). Since summer the new "Gold line" opens and makes it possible to get to Pasadena. The cheapest for the visitor is, to buy a weekly pass for
12$ ! With this you can use all public transportation in Los Angeles.
The Gold Line Light Rail connects Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. Both places are worth visiting, and the train is a convenient way to get to them.
The line follows a pastoral route through mountains, over freeways, and even right through little neighborhoods.
Stop off in South Pasadena for a visit to a sweet little town.
In July 2003, a website was launched as a public service by several Los Angeles government agencies promoting the use of the Los Angeles Metro fixed rail and rapid bus lines to get out and experience Los Angeles. The site known as ExperienceLA.com promotes the use of the Red Line, Blue Line, Gold Line and Green Line along with the Rapid Bus Lines on Wilshire Blvd and Ventura Blvd to get around Los Angeles. The website includes neighborhood tours along these lines for Hollywood, NoHo, Thais Town, Original Farmers Market. In addition, the site talks about getting to and from LAX using this system. A trip on the Gold Line from Union Station to Pasadena has much to offer. It is possible to see Los Angeles without a car.
The Los Angeles subway system is clean, efficient, and a great bargain. For $1.35 you can go anywhere on the route (one-way; you can use 90-cent tokens as well), and for twice that you can pretty much ride around all day. Tickets are on the honor system. I've been checked pretty often, usually around the big tourist spots (Hollywood, etc.). If you're caught without a fare you usually get a warning but the fine is over $200.
If you're staying in Downtown LA or Hollywood, the subway is particularly easy to use. It starts at North Hollywood, home of an arts-and-theatre community, then stops at Universal Studios, Hollywood & Highland (near Chinese theatre), Hollywood & Vine (Pantages theatre), several more stops, then 7th & Metro (heart of Downtown's financial district), Pershing Square (near Grand Central Market, Biltmore, & more), Civic Center (for the Music Center & new Cathedral), and finally Union Station (a monument unto itself. and close to Chinatown, Olvera Street).
At Union Station you can transfer to the Gold Line which goes to Pasadena. At 7th & Metro, you can transfer to the Blue Line which goes to Long Beach and also meets the Green Line, which goes to LAX.
Staying downtown, you're really at the centerpoint of all public transit in LA. It's about the only place you could stay without a car.
One final note: docent tours of the art at each station are offered. Check www.mta.net/metroart for details. Each station was commissioned by a different artist, and they are all treats.
Everybody say that there is no way to go around LA without a car.
The Metro system and the bus system are good and not very expensive. The only big problem is that it is difficult to have the information about lines itinerary and timetable, but buses run often and covers large areas of LA.
The information about metro and buses and their itinerary can be obteined in www.mta.net, or at the posters in every metro station.
The metro/bus fare is $1.35 per ride plus if needed a $0.25 transfer (for changing bus/train).
Getting around Los Angeles is easy with a $3 all day metro pass. Buy one at the Airport and beat the traffic chaos.