Despite its reputation as the busiest city in the United States, there are still ways to get around Los Angeles that save time and money.
Read on to find out what there is to know about Los Angeles public transportation.
Los Angeles: Public Transportation
Most public transportation in Los Angeles is handled by the Metro system, serviced by buses, subway lines, four light rail lines, and express bus lines. Additionally, it offers maps and trip planning aids on its website.
The most convenient way to travel on the Los Angeles transit system is with a reusable TAP card, available at TAP vending machines for a $1 fee.
The regular base rate is USD 1.75 for a single trip or USD 7 for unlimited use during one day. For a week and a month it costs 25 and 100 USD, respectively.
Also valid on municipal bus services and DASH buses, these cards are easy to use. Just slide over the sensor at the station entrance or on board the bus.
Top-up can be done at the vending machines or on the TAP website here .
The Metro system operates nearly 200 bus lines in the city of Los Angeles with 3 types of services: Metro Local, Metro Rapid and Metro Express.
1. Local Metro Buses
Orange painted buses with frequent stops on their routes through the main roads of the city.
2. Metro Rapid buses
Red units that stop less frequently than Metro Local buses. They have minimal delays at traffic lights, which is a great advantage in a city like Los Angeles, as they have special sensors to keep them green when approaching.
3. Metro Express buses
Blue buses more tourist oriented. They connect communities and business districts to downtown Los Angeles and generally run on freeways.
Metro Rail is a Los Angeles public transportation network made up of 2 subway lines, 4 light rail lines, and 2 express bus lines. Six of these lines converge in downtown Los Angeles.
Metro Rail Subway Lines
The most useful for visitors to connect with Union Station (station in downtown Los Angeles) and North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, passing through downtown Hollywood and Universal City.
It connects with the Blue and Expo light rail lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center station in downtown and with the Orange Line express bus in North Hollywood.
This subway line routes between downtown Los Angeles, Westlake and Koreatown and shares 6 stations with the Red Line.
Metro Rail light rail lines
Light rail line that links downtown Los Angeles and Exposition Park, with Culver City and Santa Monica to the west. Connect to the Red Line at the 7th Street/Metro Center station.
It goes from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. It connects to the Red and Expo lines at 7th St/Metro Center and to the Green Line at the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station.
Light rail service runs from East Los Angeles to Little Tokyo, the Arts District, Chinatown, and Pasadena, via Union Station, Mount Washington, and Highland Park. Connect to the Red Line at Union Station.
Links Norwalk with Redondo Beach. It connects with the Blue Line at the Willowbrook / Rosa Parks station.
Metro Rail express buses
It serves a route between the western San Fernando Valley and North Hollywood, where passengers connect with the Metro Rail Red Line heading south to Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.
It links the El Monte Regional Bus Station with the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, in Gardena, through downtown Los Angeles. Some buses continue to San Pedro.
Metro Rail Schedules
Most lines operate between 4:30 am and 1:00 am, Sunday through Thursday, with extended hours until 2:30 am Friday and Saturday.
The frequency varies at rush hour between every 5 minutes and from 10 to 20 minutes the rest of the day and night.
Municipal buses provide ground transportation services in Los Angeles and nearby boroughs and cities through 3 companies: Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus and Long Beach Transit. They all accept TAP card payments.
1. Big Blue Bus
Big Blue Bus is a municipal bus operator serving much of western Greater Los Angeles, including Santa Monica, Venice, the county’s Westside region, and Los Angeles International Airport, popularly known as LAX. The price of the trip is 1.25 USD.
It is based in Santa Monica and its express bus 10 makes the route between this city and downtown Los Angeles, for 2.5 USD, in about an hour.
2.Culver City Bus
This company provides bus services in the city of Culver City and in other locations on the Westside of Los Angeles County. Includes transportation to the Aviation/LAX station belonging to the Green Line of the Metro Rail light rail.
3. Long Beach Transit
Long Beach Transit is a municipal transportation company that provides bus service in Long Beach and other locations in southern and southeastern Los Angeles County and northwestern Orange County.
They are small shuttle buses (buses that travel between 2 points, usually with high frequency on a short route) operated by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
This is the most environmentally friendly among the bus lines in Los Angeles California, since its units run on clean fuel.
This mode of public transportation Los Angeles has 33 routes in the city, charging 50¢ per trip (0.25¢ for seniors and people with special limitations).
On weekdays it works until 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm The service is limited on weekends. Some of the most useful routes are as follows:
Beachwood Canyon Route
It operates Monday through Saturday from Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, to Beachwood Drive. The ride offers great close-ups of the famous Hollywood Sign.
There are 5 separate routes serving the hottest spots in the city.
Route A: between Little Tokyo and City West. It does not operate on the weekend.
Route B: goes from Chinatown to the Financial District. It does not operate on the weekend.
Route D: between Union Station and South Park. It does not operate on the weekend.
Route E: from City West to the Fashion District. It operates every day.
Route F – Links the Financial District with Exposition Park and the University of Southern California. It operates every day.
It operates Monday through Saturday and its route includes the Beverly Center Mall, Pacific Design Center, West Melrouse Avenue, Farmers Market Los Angeles and Museum Row.
It runs daily covering Hollywood east of Highland Avenue. It connects with the Los Feliz short route at Franklin Avenue and Vermont Avenue.
cars and motorcycles
Peak hours in Los Angeles are 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The most well-known car rental agencies have branches at LAX and in different parts of the city. If you arrive at the airport without having booked a car, you can use the courtesy phones in the arrival areas.
The offices of the agencies and the car park are outside the air terminal, but the companies provide a free shuttle service from the lower level.
Parking is free at the cheapest hotels and motels, while the fancier ones can charge anywhere from $8 to $45 a day. In restaurants, the price can vary between 3.5 and 10 USD.
If you want to rent a Harley-Davidson you must pay from 149 USD for 6 hours or from 185 USD per day. There are discounts for longer rentals.
Driving in Los Angeles
Most highways are identified by a number and a name, which is the destination.
Something about Los Angeles public transportation that is often confusing is that the freeways have 2 names in the center of the city. For example, I-10 is called the Santa Monica Freeway to the west of downtown and the San Bernardino Freeway to the east.
I-5 is the Golden State Freeway northbound and the Santa Ana Freeway southbound. Highways facing east-west are even numbered, while those running north-south are odd numbered.
Getting around Los Angeles by taxi is expensive due to the size of the metropolitan area and traffic jams.
Taxis roam the streets late into the night and are lined up at airports, train and bus stations, and major hotels. Requests for taxis by phone, like Uber, are popular.
In the city, the flag costs 2.85 USD and approximately 2.70 USD per mile. Taxis departing from LAX charge a $4 surcharge.
Two of the most reliable taxi companies are Beverly Hills Cab and Checker Services, with a wide service area, including the airport.
Arriving in Los Angeles
People come to Los Angeles by plane, bus, train, car or motorcycle.
Arriving in Los Angeles by plane
The main gateway to the city is Los Angeles International Airport. It has 9 terminals and the LAX Shuttle Airline Connections bus service (free), which takes you to the lower (arrival) level of each terminal. Taxis, hotel shuttles and cars stop there.
Transportation Options from LAX
Taxis are available outside the terminals and charge a flat rate based on destination, plus a $4 surcharge.
Flat rate to downtown Los Angeles is $47; from 30 to 35 USD to Santa Monica; $40 to West Hollywood and $50 to Hollywood.
The most comfortable ride is on the LAX FlyAway, which goes to Union Station (Downtown Los Angeles), Hollywood, Van Nuys, Westwood Village, and Long Beach, for $9.75.
A more economical way to leave the airport by bus is to take the free drive to the LAX City Bus Center, from where lines serving all of Los Angeles County operate. The trip costs between 1 and 1.25 USD, depending on the destination.
The free LAX Shuttle Airline Connections service connects to the Aviation Station on the Metro Rail Green Line. You can make a connection with another line to go to any destination in Los Angeles from Aviation, for 1.5 USD.
Arriving in Los Angeles by bus
Greyhound Lines interstate buses arrive at the terminal in the industrial area of downtown Los Angeles. You should preferably arrive before nightfall.
Buses (18, 60, 62, and 760) leave from this terminal and go to the 7th Street/Metro Center station in downtown. From there, trains head to Hollywood (Red Line), Culver City and Santa Monica (Expo Line), Koreatown (Purple Line), and Long Beach.
The Red Line and Purple Line stop at Union Station, where you can board the Metro Rail Gold Line light rail bound for Highland Park and Pasadena.
Some Greyhound Lines buses make the direct trip to the North Hollywood terminal (11239 Magnolia Boulevard) and others go through Long Beach (1498 Long Beach Boulevard).
Arriving in Los Angeles by train
Amtrax trains, America’s leading intercity rail network, arrive at Union Station, a historic downtown Los Angeles station.
Interstate trains serving the city include the Coast Starlight (Seattle, Washington state, daily), the Southwest Chief (Chicago, Illinois, daily), and the Sunset Limited (New Orleans, Louisiana, 3 times weekly).
The Pacific Surfliner operates off the coast of Southern California making several trips a day between San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, via Los Angeles.
Arriving in Los Angeles by car or motorcycle
If you’re driving into Los Angeles, there are several routes into the metropolitan area. The fastest route from San Francisco and Northern California is Interstate 5, through the San Joaquin Valley.
Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) and Highway 101 (Route 101) are slower, but more scenic.
From San Diego and other locations south, the obvious route to Los Angeles is Interstate 5. Near Irvine, Interstate 405 branches off I-5 and heads west toward Long Beach and Santa Monica, bypassing full to downtown Los Angeles. The 405 rejoins I-5 near San Fernando.
From Las Vegas, Nevada, or the Grand Canyon, take I-15 South and then I-10, which is the main east-west highway serving Los Angeles and continuing on to Santa Monica.
How much does the bus ticket cost in Los Angeles?
The most used buses in Los Angeles are those of the Metro system. The cost of a trip is 1.75 USD with the TAP card. You can also pay in cash, but with the exact amount, as drivers do not carry change.
How to get around Los Angeles?
The fastest and cheapest way to get around Los Angeles is via Metro, an intermodal transportation system that combines bus, subway, and rapid rail services.
What is public transportation like in Los Angeles?
The modes of transport that use highways and streets (buses, taxis, cars) have the problem of traffic congestion.
Rail systems (metro, trains) have the advantage of avoiding traffic jams. The combination of bus-subway-train that makes the Metro system allows you to move more efficiently.
How to get from the airport to downtown Los Angeles?
It can be reached by taxi, bus and metro. A taxi from LAX to downtown Los Angeles is $51 ($47 flat rate + $4 surcharge); LAX FlyAway buses charge $9.75 and serve Union Station (downtown). Subway travel involves first taking the free bus to the Aviation Station (Green Line) and then making the necessary connections on Metro Rail.
Los Angeles Airport Subway
The free LAX Shuttle Airline Connections bus service arrives at the Aviation Station (Green Line of the Metro Rail light rail system). From there you can make the other connections with Metro Rail to reach the specific destination in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles metro map 2020
Metro Los Angeles map:
Where to buy Los Angeles TAP Card
The TAP Los Angeles card is the most practical and economical way to get around the city. It is purchased at TAP vending machines. The physical card costs 1 USD and then you have to recharge the corresponding amount according to the user’s travel needs.
Public transport Los Angeles: use of bicycles
The public transportation system in California promotes the use of the bicycle as a means of mobilization.
Most Los Angeles buses have bike racks and bikes travel free of charge, asking only that they be loaded and unloaded safely.
The implements not firmly attached to the bicycle (helmet, lights, bags) must be carried by the user. When getting off, always do it at the front of the bus and notify the driver of the unloading of the bicycle.
Folding units with wheels no larger than 20 inches can be folded on board. Metro Rail trains also accept bicycles.
Los Angeles has a few bike share programs, with the following being the most popular:
It has more than 60 bike kiosks in the downtown area, including Chinatown, the Arts District and Little Tokyo.
The fee of 3.5 USD for 30 minutes can be paid by debit and credit card. Payment can also be made with the TAP card, registering in advance on the Metro Bike Share website.
This operator has a telephone application that informs in real time about the availability of bicycles and bicycle racks.
Breeze Bike Share
This service works in Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey. The bicycles are collected and delivered at any kiosk in the system and the rental per hour is 7 USD. Long-term memberships and students have preferential prices.
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