Public Transit in LA sucks! It is very difficult and long, boring and time consuming to get around LA by public transit. It can take you hours just to do a simple trip from Santa Monica to Hollywood. Forget about the subway except for the most useless of trips. Add to that the fact that the subway can take you for no reason to a connection in a very sketchy part of town where you'll be standing around for an hour, and you'll see why LA is public transits disaster poster child. A trip from Manhattan Beach to Staples Center Arena for example can take you hours and drop you in deserted and threatening spots. Get a car.
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.
At Last! If you are coming to L.A. and wondering how best to get to a train from Union Station, be relieved to know that there is a special bus to accomodate this need. It is always important to have an official, swift, reliable airplane-train in a metropolitan sans taxi and multiple Metro connections. Why L.A. is just figuring this out -well, don't ask, just enjoy this! The Green Flyaway buses can get you from LAX, a few miles from the coastline to downtown at the Union Station in about 40 min! Traffic time is cut down, in many instances tremendously, as the Flyway will jet by the slow flowing sea of cars on the freeway. Buses run every half-hour from 5AM to 1 AM and every hour in the night between 1AM to 5 AM. They stop at each LAX terminal so they should be easy to find.
The fare for the Flyaway is now $4, was $3 for an adult. See website for more details.
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.
Despite what many may think you don't need a car to get around Los Angeles. Did you know that Los Angeles has the second largest public transportation agency in the nation that operates more than 1,500 buses? There's also a subway system that can take you from Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood in about 12 minutes!
With the Metro Day Pass you can ride any Metro bus or rail line all day long for just $3.
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.
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.
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.
...and also downtown L.A. At the Artesia Transit Center, there are many buses that go into South Bay L.A county region, including nearby Gardena and Torrance. I like the colorful art deco of the station and that big clock since I don't usually have my watch! Park and ride the bus -or just ride especially on Metro bus 444-447. A few of these express routes start/end in downtown LA and San Pedro, where there is the nice Ports O Call area for boat cruise and other beachside entertainment.
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
Ok so your staying in Los angeles for whatever amount of time you have. You cant afford to hire a car so what do you do
You simply buy an all day travel pass that lets you travel on all the bus & trains in Los angeles unlimmited for that day
How do you get the pass
Simply goto the metro station on the hollywood blvd go down a few leaves untill you reach the ticket machine
select an all day pass & pay $5
When you enter buses show your pass to the driver 7 you can get on & off any LA bus through out the day (excluding the tourist buses)
Welcome to the California USA. You will likely find that public transportation in the Southern California region less developed than many parts of the world since the automobile and a vast freeway system is the primary means of travel here.
However, you can travel the nearly 100 miles (160 kilometer) several hour distance from LAX airport to the "Coaster" train station stop called "Poinsettia" in Carlsbad by taking a bus and trains with 2 transfers. I actually live in Carlsbad near the Poinsettia Coaster train station. I've traveled this route on public transportation before.
The route from LAX via the LA Union Train station to Poinsettia Carlsbad is as follows:
LAX bus to Union Train Station (AMTRAK) on "Flyaway" bus $6
(see time tables & pick up location here --> http://www.lawa.org/uploadedFiles/LAX/pdf/FLYAWAY%20PAMPHLET%202009-FINAL.pdf
and -- > http://www.lawa.org/welcome_LAX.aspx?id=292 )
Once at Union Station take AMTRAK train to Oceanside AMTRAK station adjacent to the transit center (tickets & schedules here - -> http://www.dot.ca.gov/rail/go/amtrak/fares_tickets/index.cfm )
Once at Oceanside take either the "COASTER" local commuter train southbound to Poinsettia Carlsbad station (2nd stop) or take North County bus #101 from the adjacent Oceanside transit center ( see details and schedules here ---> http://www.gonctd.com/coaster_schedules.htm )
Once at the Poinsettia Carlsbad "Coaster" train station you'll need to arrange to be picked-up or taxi to your final Carlsbad destination.
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 ;-)
I drive from San Diego to L.A. but, of course, you can fly into Los Angeles International Airport. It is quite far from downtown or any of the sights you'll want to see in LA, but quite near some rather interesting places such as, the lovely beach communities just north and west of the airport.
L.A. has public transportation but the only thing I'd recommend public transportation for, is to get to the Getty Center--because there is a fifteen dollar parking fee. I haven't tried out the Metro yet so might have to ammend my opinion after exploring a bit.
Other than that, you'll need a car to get around L.A. but even that is not such a great way to get around.
Almost any time, day or night the freeways are jam packed and it feels more like a parking lot than a freeway!
Driving around town is also a major headache and time consuming. When making plans for the day add at least an extra hour for travel!
While not pratical for all trips LA's Metro rail can get you from the Port of Long Beach with the aquarium and what not to Pasadena -home of the Rose Parade. A day pass costs about $3. There are 4 distinct lines with most running above ground except the Red line which runs under Downtown LA and will take you to the Kodak theater in Hollywood or Union station to conect with the traditional trains.