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If you look at Public Transit in general in California, you will find the majority of well done systems are where the people are located and can use them, thus you will find them in and around the Metro areas that have large populations. While the State of California, through Caltrans, spends a lot of money to help the Amtrak system, with both trains and "thruway" buses to get to smaller cities, many parts of the state have only limited public transit.
So there are trains, buses and airlines to get between cities; here are the top 4 Metro areas that have good local transit to get you around the local area.
Here, you'll find the best public transit systems in the state, starting with the MUNI system, which includes the famous Cable Cars, buses and the muni subway and light rail systems throughout the city. The BART Commuter Rail system is a long distance commuter system that services San Francisco International (SFO) and Oakland (OAK) Airports. Plus there are many more rail systems in the Bay Area, including Cal-Train, ACE, Santa Clara Valley, and more. Plus there are Ferries that get around the Bay area, plus Private companies that offer mainly bus tours of the area.
Check the Top Questions on the San Francisco forum for full descriptions of the Muni system, its fare system, visitor passes and directions to popular visitor sights from the city center.
The two best neighborhoods for public transit are: Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES has 2 public transit hubs:
a. UNION STATION -- an historic, architecturally-signifcant building adjacent to Olvera Street and Chinatown (both, popular tourist destinations) in the northeast corner of downtown L.A. The station is a transfer point for:Above-ground trains (Metrolinktrains.com and Amtrak.com) to:
Metro rail trains to:
b. 7TH STREET / METRO CENTER STATION -- Transfer point between the red, purple and blue line metro rail trains. The station is in the center of downtown.
Metro rail trains are as follows:
Buses to many points in the L.A. metro area and beyond. Some of the more popular routes accessible from bus stops that are a short walk from 7th St/Metro Center include:
HOLLYWOOD has one major transit hub at the corner of Hollywood Bl & Highland Av. There's you'll find the following conveyances:
Red line trains to downtown (south) as well as Universal City and North Hollywood (north).
Buses to all points in the metro area. Popular routes include:
NOTE: CENTRAL L.A. and the WESTSIDE are served by Metro buses. Metro rail and above-ground service do not serve these areas.
Detailed info about using the public transit system in L.A. including routes, costs and schedules: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g32...
L.A. County Public Transit website (see the previous link for tips on using this site): www.metro.net
Metrolink (above ground trains to outlying areas) website: www.metrolinktrains.com
Amtrak (above ground trains to outlying areas) website: www.Amtrak.com
Starline Coach Tours website: www.starlinetours.com
The area where Disneyland is located has a lot of public/mass transit. Due to the fact it is by far the number one visited location in California, based on number of visitors, there are many options available, some public, but also many private systems that offer shuttles and tours. The main public bus system is the OCTA Bus system, which offers frequent and many routes in the area, you also have a Shuttle system run by the city of Anaheim, the Anaheim Resort Transit (ART), which mainly focuses on servicing the nearby Hotels and attractions. Three Train stations in the area services the area, with both Amtrak and Metrolink Train access, Fullerton is the most popular due to the best access to the OCTA Bus service, and Anaheim and Santa Ana are the other options. The largest Tour Company in the area is Gray Line Anaheim, which offers tours throughout Southern California to popular Tourist Attractions. Then many companies, especially shopping venues like South Coast Plaza and the Citadel Outlets offer private shuttles from the Disneyland area to their popular malls.
Here are two top Questions from the Anaheim Forum that discusses Public/Mass transit in the area.
The San Diego Metro area is the last large area that has good Public Transit service. The San Diego Trolley is a large Light Rail system that covers much of the main part of the County. The main hubs are the Santa Fe Station Downtown and the Old Town Transit Center, both of which have Amtrak, Coaster and Trolley service. The COASTER is a commuter train that runs up the San Diego County coastline. Bus service is also good, especially to popular places like Pacific Beach, which runs every 15 minutes or less.
While all 4 areas have very good coverage, there are always some issues, such as in the LA area, the Griffith Observatory is hard to get to and only accessible on weekends with public transit. The Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego is not the easiest, and only available on weekdays. So while there is great public transit in the areas, they are not perfect.
Also note, due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, almost all vehicles are Wheelchair Friendly, and also have other features for easier boarding, such as kneeling buses. If dealing with private companies/shuttles, contact them in advance to assure your vehicle will be able to accommodate whatever accommodation you need beyond the regular access.
Other Areas of California --
Public transportation is available in a surprising number of lightly populated rural areas. For example, the Redwood National Park area has two good local bus systems, the Humboldt Transit Authority / Redwood Transit System and the Redwood Coast Transit. In the Gold Country, Calaveras County and Amador County provide bus services. For more information about public transportation in rural areas, look up the county or largest town in the area.