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Within the greater Los Angeles Area, there are several transportation options:
The area's public transportation system is tourist-friendly in some areas and not in others. In general, if you are interested in exploring downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Beverly Grove (the area around the Beverly Center and the Farmer’s Market & The Grove) and Universal Studios (and you will be staying in one of those areas) then public transportation is the way to go.
If you're looking to pursue (or stay in) the beach areas (Santa Monica, Venice, Hermosa, Manhattan, Redondo, El Segundo, etc), or in Century City, Westwood or Brentwood, your rides will be longer, you may have to connect between 2 or more routes and there may be waiting time between connections.
THE PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM CONSISTS OF METRO BUSES, DASH BUSES AND METRO RAIL TRAINS. In addition, nearby municipalities, like Santa Monica, have their own buses. (Santa Monica's are called 'Big Blue Buses'. These subsystems will be explained in detail below after an overview of the entire system including instructions for finding public transit route to meet your needs.
You can locate the Metro rail, DASH bus and Metro bus route(s) that would work for your
particular transfer needs on the Metro website at metro.net by entering your
starting and ending points at the right side of the home page in the
TRIP PLANNER section.
These points may be entered as full street addresses (3345 WILSHIRE BLVD), as street intersections (WILSHIRE BLVD / WESTERN AVE) or as landmarks (DISNEYLAND, LAX, UNION STATION, KNOTTS, etc). Then, enter the day of the week and time of day of your trip, being careful to select either “leave at or after” or “arrive by or before” to indicate whether the time of day you’ve entered is the ‘departure time’ of your trip or the required ‘arrival time' at your destination.
The Metro.Net website will respond with a list of routes and their departure and arrival locations and times. Fare info will also be provided. (See below for info about DAY PASSES which can save you money).
You can click on any point in the transfer (starting point, intermediary stops. ending point) to see a local map of the location of that point or stop.
Metro Rail Trains...
For maps of the Metro Rail, Metro Liner & Metrolink systems, click here.
The Metro Rail system includes above-ground ‘light rail’ and underground ‘subway’ lines. These routes cover a portion of the city of L.A. and some neighboring communities.
The Metro Lines (on the map) consist of bus routes that are on private right-of-ways (separate from automobile traffic) and are within the city limits of Los Angeles, for the most part.
Metrolink, while not part of the CITY's public transit system, consists of above-ground commuter trains that connect L.A.’s downtown Union Station with adjacent cities and counties. Not shown on the map are Amtrak routes which are national rail routes connecting Los Angeles with all of the U.S. These trains also depart from Union Station.
Here are some notes about the metro rail system and this map:
1. Zoom in or out to see the map better.
2. The purple line, red line, Expo Line and blue line intersect at the 7TH STREET / METRO CENTER station at the very center of downtown (city center) Los Angeles.
2. Union (rail) station is at the eastern end of the red line and purple line metro rail routes (which follow an east/west path through downtown) where they intersect with the north/east gold line route. Union Station provides a transfer point from the purple and red line trains to the gold line metro rail trains to Pasadena and East L.A. as well as to Amtrak and Metrolink Trains to Orange County (where Disneyland and Knotts are). See the TOP QUESTIONS section on "Amusement & Theme Parks" for detailed instructions regarding transfers to the Disneyland area.
There are also Amtrak trains to San Diego (to the south, beyond Orange County) and to Santa Barbara (to the north of Los Angeles). Oakland (in the San Francisco area) and beyond. Intermediate stops on the trains to Oakland include Bob Hope Airport (in Burbank), San Luis Obispo, San Jose and many others.
3. The 7th Street/Metro Center Station allows transfer between the red line, the purple line, the Expo Line and the blue line metro rail trains. Blue line trains go south to Long Beach (a city with some tourist appeal) allowing transfers to the Carnival Cruise Ship Port there. All other cruise lines land in San Pedro which is a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the last stop of the blue line in Long Beach. Expo Line trains go south to the USC/Exposition Park area and onward to the city of Culver City and onward to the city of Santa Monica with a terminus near the Santa Monica Pier
4. You can use the metro rail system to transfer between LAX and all of the following popular areas: downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Universal City (for Universal Studios). This is an inexpensive means of transfer to/from LAX but it is, by no means, quick or convenient since it requires taking 2 or 3 trains (the green line, blue line and red line) and does not afford any place to stow your luggage or even a guaranteed seat! Note: the Green Line station that serves LAX is at the bend of the Green Line (see map) and is called “Aviation/LAX”). There is a free shuttle bus (Shuttle G) that connects this metro rail station with LAX, stopping at each of the airport’s 9 terminals.
See the TOP QUESTIONS section on "Transferring Between Plane, Train and Hotel" for info on all airport transfer options including those that are more direct and more comfortable.
5. You can locate the Metro rail route(s) that would work for your particular needs on the Metro website at metro.net by entering your starting and ending points at the right side of the home page in the TRIP PLANNER section.
These points may be entered as full street addresses (3345 WILSHIRE BLVD), as street intersections (WILSHIRE BLVD / WESTERN AVE) or as landmarks (DISNEYLAND, LAX, UNION STATION, KNOTTS, etc). Then, enter the day of the week and time of day of your trip, being careful to select either “leave at or after” or “arrive by or before” to indicate whether the time of day you’ve entered is the ‘departure time’ of your trip or the required ‘arrival time at your destination’.
In addition, each train's WEEKLY SCHEDULE and route map are available on the metro.net website by clicking ‘Maps & Timetables” under the “Bus and Rail Basics” heading on the Metro.Net home page.
The buses cover all areas.
The website for the bus system is also Metro.net (as it is for the metro rail system).
Metro bus routes that will meet your particular need can be found on the Metro website at metro.net by clicking on ‘Trip Planner’ on the home page under ‘Rider Tools’ or go there directly by clicking here.
Enter a starting point and an ending point for the trip you plan to make. These points may be entered as full street addresses (3345 WILSHIRE BLVD), as street intersections (WILSHIRE BLVD / WESTERN AVE) or as landmarks (DISNEYLAND, LAX, UNION STATION, KNOTTS, etc). Then, enter the day of the week and time of day of your trip, being careful to select either “leave at or after” or “arrive by or before” to indicate whether the time of day you’ve entered is the ‘departure time’ of your trip or the required ‘arrival time at your destination’.
In addition, each bus's WEEKLY SCHEDULE and route map are available on the metro.net website by clicking ‘Maps & Timetables” under the “Bus and Rail Basics” heading on the Metro.Net home page.
The website sometimes favors bus routes over rail routes. In other words, it may sometimes recommend a bus for a route when there is a faster metro rail train option available. So it's a good idea to print out the route map for the 'red line' trains and have it handy since rail travel is quicker and more punctual (no traffic!). The 'red line' metro rail route map can be found by clicking ‘Maps & Timetables’ under “Bus & Rail Basics” on the home page of Metro.net. After linking, scroll down to the ‘metro rail’ section and look for the red line.
Three notes on riding the buses:
1. Most buses will accommodate bicycles. There are racks on the front (outside) of most buses that you can use at no extra charge.
2. The bus routes are numbered in a way to indicate the speed of the buses. The buses that are numbered between 1 and 299 are LOCAL BUSES which stop very often and take the longest to reach a destination. Buses that are numbered between 300 and 799 are faster buses known as either ‘Limited Stop’, Express or ‘Metro Rapid’ These buses stop less frequently. For example, two of the bus routes on Santa Monica Bl are the #4 and the #704. Both follow the same route but the #704 (being a limited stop bus) is faster. If your bus trip is 20 minutes or less, taking an “express” bus won’t save you that much time -- maybe 4 or 5 minutes. So, in that instance, it’s foolish to ignore a local bus in order to wait for an express bus. But, if the ride is 30 minutes or longer, the time savings can add up. Of course, no matter how long your ride, if both a local bus and express bus pull up at the same time, take the express bus. Certain express buses run only during the daytime. In that case, switch to the local bus in the evenings.
3. Buses that are numbered 901.903 or 940 are 'transitway buses'.
The #901 bus line (which is also known as the 'Orange Line') is sometimes thought of as a metro RAIL line since it travels on a roadway that is separate from regular automobile traffic, but, in fact, it is a bus. The #901 travels east/west in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles (the northern suburbs).
The #903 bus line is not a simple bus line but is, rather, a corridor between downtown L.A. and the San Pedro Harbor (to the south of the city). Along this corridor are 6 different buses (#s 444,445,446,447,460 and 550). Only the #444, #446 and #447 make the complete trip; the others diverge to different destinations.
The #940 line connects downtown L.A. with Redondo Beach and Torrance via Inglewood and Lennox. These are communities in the southwest corner of the metro area.
Popular Bus Routes for Tourists:
In the San Fernando Valley (the northern suburbs)...
a. The #750 bus runs east/west along Ventura Bl -- the longest road in the valley.
b. The #761 bus runs north/south on Sepulveda Bl, connecting the Valley to the westside of Los Angeles (in Westwood). This bus also stops at the Getty Center Museum.
c. The #281 bus runs north/south on Laurel Canyon Bl connecting the east valley (Studio City) with West Hollywood and Hollywood.
In Central Los Angeles:
The #217 and #780 buses connect the center of Hollywood (Hollywood Bl & Highland Av) with the Sunset Strip, the Farmers Market, the Grove, and the corner of Wilshire Bl & Fairfax Av -- which is adjacent to the L.A. County Art Museum (LACMA), the La Brea Tar Pits and the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Routes connecting downtown L.A. with Santa Monica (and the westside):
a The #720 bus on Wilshire Bl passes through Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills and Westwood and lands in Santa Monica. It is a popular bus route for visitors since it spans the region from the western edge of downtown Los Angeles (remember ‘downtown Los Angeles’ is near the eastern end of the city) to the city of Santa Monica (on the ocean -- at the western end of the metro area).
This bus passes through and stops at such areas as: Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. If you're staying in downtown, you will have to take the 'red line' metro rail to the 'Wilshire / Vermont' stop or the 'Wilshire / Western' stop in order to connect with the #720 or you can pick it up along 5th Street in downtown although that might be slower due to downtown traffic. The bus goes all the way to Santa Monica (the beach).
b. The #704 bus on Santa Monica Bl passes through Silverlake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles and lands in Santa Monica
The DASH buses are a special class of buses with the following features:
1. The buses are smaller than Metro Buses
2. They usually travel in small, circular patterns within a neighborhood.
3. They run frequently (sometimes as often as every 10 minutes) but they usually don't run on Sundays or evenings (and sometimes not on Saturday either).
4. Fare is just 50-cents but the DASH buses do NOT accept the DAY PASSES -- or WEEKLY PASSES -- offered on the Metro Buses and trains. More about these PASSES can be found below.
Info about the DASH Buses can be found here: http://www.ladottransit.com/dash/
(Link to the above page and SCROLL DOWN for a list of DASH BUS routes. At the top of the list is a system-wide map. On that map, slide the blue bar downward to zoom in and click-hold-drag to move the map around. When zooming in, for better visibility, shrink the 'legend box' by clicking on the white square in the upper left corner of the legend box).
DASH buses are a handy way to get around a single neighborhood. Here are some popular DASH bus routes:
a. The DASH E in downtown L.A. takes riders from the center of downtown -- adjacent to the 7th Street Metro Center Station to the Fashion District/Santee Alley as well as other downtown locations.
Fairfax DASH route is especially useful for tourists as it connects the
intersection of La Cienega Bl & Beverly Blvd (the northeast corner
of the Beverly Center Mall) with the Grove and Farmer's Market (at the
corner of Fairfax Ave & 3rd Street) and the museums along Wilshire
Bl (near the corner of Wilshire Bl & Fairfax Av). From Wilshire Bl
& Fairfax Av, express buses go eastbound into downtown Los Angeles
and westbound into Beverly Hills and eventually, to Santa Monica
c. The DASH Beachwood Canyon connects a portion of Hollywood Bl with the Beachwood Canyon area for visitors looking to get a closeup view of the Hollywood sign. Step-by-step instructions for seeing the sign are in the TOP QUESTIONS BOX at the right side of the Los Angeles Forum home page and in the FAQs link at the top of the 'List of Topics' on the L.A. Forum.
d. The DASH HOLLYWOOD WILSHIRE (not to be mistaken with the DASH HOLLYWOOD) transfer passengers from the corner of Argyle St and Hollywood Bl -- adjacent to the "W" Hotel -- to the entrance gates of Paramount Studios (at the corner of Melrose Ave and Windsor Bl).
e. The WEEKEND OBSERVATORY SHUTTLE transfers passengers from the Sunset/Vermont red line station (and other nearby stops) to Griffith Park, making 2 stops: at the Greek Theater and at the Griffith Observatory. This shuttle runs ONLY on the weekends. The last departure from the Observatory is at 9:56 pm.
Metro System Fares...
All metro rail trains and metro buses have a single-ride fare of $1.75 or you can purchase a $7 DAY PASS good for unlimited metro bus AND metro rail travel for the day. Fares for Seniors (pensioners) aged 62+, disabled people and those on Medicare are as follows: 75 cents for travel during 'peak periods' and 35-cents for travel during 'non peak periods'. Peak periods are between 5:00 am. and 9:00 am. and between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm). There are also Senior Passes for, for example, a day of unlimited rides (a DAY PASS) for just $2.50. See the paragraph below titled "Senior and disabled fares" for more info about these discounted fares.
If you plan to ride a metro RAIL train, you must also buy a TAP CARD (even if you don't plan to buy a DAY PASS -- more on this, below). The TAP CARD is used to store your fare for the train (in multiples of $1.75 per ride or you can buy a $7 DAY PASS to 'load' onto your TAP CARD' that will allow unlimited rides for the day on the Metro Buses and Metro Rail Trains. You may purchase a TAP CARD at any metro rail station and load the appropriate fare on the card ($1.75 per ride or a $7 DAY PASS for unlimited rides).
Note: if you load a DAY PASS onto a TAP CARD and ALSO add cash fare onto the card, the Metro system will use the DAY PASS to pay your fare on the day that you start using the CARD. Any cash fare loaded onto the card will be ignored by Metro until the next day or unless you use the Card to ride on a conveyance that does not honor the DAY PASS.
Let's look at an example: You plan to take only ONE RIDE on the Metro system on a Monday but you plan to take 5 rides on the Metro system on a Tuesday. To prepare for these rides, you load onto the CARD $1.75 in fare as well as a DAY PASS thinking that you'll use the $1.75 on Monday and the DAY PASS on Tuesday. In reality, the Metro system will act as follows: On Monday, when you tap your card for the one and only ride that you plan to take on that day, the Metro system will take payment from you using the DAY PASS and will leave the $1.75 fare intact on the TAP CARD; on Tuesday, it will deduct that $1.75 cash balance for the first ride of the day; when you use the card for the next ride, you'll be informed that you have no fare 'loaded' onto the card (since the DAY PASS was used for the prior day).
So, keep in mind that Metro will always pay for trips when you present your TAP CARD by looking for DAY PASSES (and other PASSES) first. The lesson to be learned is: if you plan to maintain a cash balance for an upcoming trip(s), do not load a DAY PASS onto the TAP CARD until you have finished using Metro on your 'non-DAY PASS' day. The only exception is the following: if you plan to use the cash balance for rides on public transit that is NOT PART of the Metro system of buses and trains (like buses run by the city of Santa Monica or the city of Culver City), you can load the DAY PASS and the cash balance and then each public transit company will know whether to pull fare from the DAY PASS or the 'cash balance'. If you're still in doubt or confused, just load one DAY PASS onto your CARD and then pay cash as you need to out of your pocket. (The only time you may pay cash is on buses and you can always do so by using currency and coins. On Metro RAIL, all fares must be paid using the TAP CARD).
Senior and disabled fares...
(skip this section if it does not apply to you and continue reading, below, at the title "Buying and Using Day Passes")
Note: all of the info below concerning Senior Passes and Fares is also true for those with disabilities or those on MediCare.
In order to get a Senior DAY PASS, you need to have a Senior TAP CARD (which is orange in color). Once you do, you can purchase a senior DAY PASS at any metro rail station, from any metro bus driver or at any Metro retailer. These special Senior TAP CARDS are intended for people that live in L.A., not for visitors. As such, you cannot just buy one of these cards as you can with a regular TAP card. You have to apply for one -- either in person or on the Metro website. It takes 8 weeks to secure one but as illlustrated below, you probably won't need one.
You can ride Metro without a Senior Tap Card (using a regular TAP card) but when doing so, you can pay the senior rate for rides, specifically, you can ride the metro buses and metro rail trains for 75-cents during Peak hours and 35-cents during non-peak hours.
This is how you do this:
a. For the metro buses, you simply pay these lower fares without the need for a TAP Card. The drivermay ask for ID if he/she feels that you look too young to be a senior or to prove that you qualify under the other two programs. You don't use a TAP card in this case; you just pay the cash fare.
If you use a regular TAP Card on the bus, you'll end up paying the regular $1.75 fare since the system isn't smart enough to charge you only 35 or 75-cents unless you're using an orange (senior) TAP card. There is one way to make the regular card smart enough to know you're a senior: Take your regular TAP CARD to any metro rail station and load onto it a SENIOR 1-trip FARE -- either peak or off-peak, depending on the time you are traveling. (You may purchase multiple 1-trip fares at one time). Then, when you tap the card on the bus, you'll only be charged that rate. In addition, if you pay your fare via the TAP CARD, you can travel for free for up to 2 hours -- all you need do is tap the card, each time you board an onward bus or metro rail train and you won't be charged anything more than the initial fare since the SENIOR 1-trip FARE is good for 2 hours.
If, however, you don't have that Senior 1-day fare loaded onto your card, you'll have to pay cash (35-cents or 75-cents) when boarding buses and that will be due EACH TIME you board the bus whether it's within the 2 hour window or not.
b. For the Metro Rail, you simply purchase the senior rate from the vending machines and load it onto a regular TAP card (you must have a TAP card to ride the metro rail). From that point forward, for the next 2 hours, you can tap the card continually on metro buses or metro rail trains at no additional charge.
Bottom line: it doesn't usually save you any money to have a Senior TAP card loaded with a senior DAY Pass versus paying the senior 'individual ride' fare. Let's look at some examples...
i. If you rode on a bus during 'peak hours' to a location, you'd pay 75-cents. Then, if you took 2 more trips during the day during 'non-peak', you'd pay 35-cents for each of those. Finally, if you took a fourth trip during afternoon peak, you'd pay another 75-cents. So, the total cash outlay for the day would $2.20. Compare that to a Senior DAY PASS which costs $2.50. It's actually cheaper if you pay individual fares than if you purchase a Senior DAY PASS.
ii. If your transfers during morning and afternoon rush hours involve two conveyances,e.g. a bus and a train or two trains or two buses, the situation gets a little bit more complicated:
Situation #1: If you do NOT have the Senior 1-trip fare loaded onto the card, you'd have to pay 75-cents FOR EACH RIDE since the regular TAP card doesn't KNOW that you're a Senior so it can't remember to waive the cost of any onward conveyances (as long as it is within 2 hours of the first transfer). As such, if you had four 75-cent transfers in one day, you'd be paying $3. If you had two additional non-peak transfers in the middle of the day (as was illustrated in the above example), that would bring the total to $3.70. So, in that case, the Senior DAY PASS would be $1.20 less expensive than paying 'as you go' but the savings is pretty insignificant.
Situation #2: If you DID have the Senior 1-trip fares loaded onto the
card, your rush hour trips would each cost only 75-cents (not $1.50) and
your midday trips would each cost 35-cents for a total cash outlay of
$2.20 -- less than the cost of a Senior 1-day PASS.
Buying and Using Day Passes...
There are three ways to buy a DAY PASS:
a. From the vending machines at METRO RAIL stations. You must first buy a reusable TAP card (made of plastic and the size of a credit card) on which to 'load' your DAY PASS. The Tap Cards cost $1 if purchased from a vending machine such as those in metro rail stations or if purchased from the driver of a METRO bus. If the Card is purchased at a retail dealer, the cost is $2. Note: For those who might be familiar with them from previous visits, the paper passes have now been phased out. For your first day of travel, you'll spend $1 (or $2) + $7 for the DAY PASS for a total of $8 or $9, as applicable. On subsequent days, you'll only need to buy additional DAY PASSES for $7. You may buy a TAP PASS for today as well as for subsequent days at the same time. In other words, you don't need to buy a new DAY PASS every day. You can pre-buy them.
b. From any source that sells TAP cards. TAP cards can be purchased at hundreds of retailers (a list of those can be found below)
c. From the drivers of buses. The drivers can always sell you the Passes -- just pay the fare for the PASS, e.g. $7 for the DAY PASS and then 'tap' your TAP CARD on the fare box. If you don't have a TAP CARD yet, sometimes drivers carry them BUT NOT ALWAYS!
TAP cards are credit card sized plastic cards that are needed if you wish to utilize PASSES. After obtaining one of these TAP CARDS, you then add a DAY PASS or WEEKLY PASS to the card. Passes can be for the DAY or for a WEEK (or even a MONTH). The TAP card is reloadable, e.g. if you add a DAY PASS to your TAP card for today, you may add another DAY PASS (or WEEKLY PASS) to your TAP CARD tomorrow (or on some other day). One interesting fact: the PASS does not become activitated until you use it. For example, if you plan to use the DAY PASS on a Monday morning, you can purchase the DAY PASS on any earlier day -- say, the previous Saturday. and then once you 'tap' the card in a metro rail station or aboard a metro bus on that Monday, it will activate the DAY PASS for that day.
Note, on some longer bus routes, you might need to supplement the DAY PASS with additional fare. This is only when you are traveling long distances of an hour or more.
The TAP CARD is explained in detail here.
There are also weekly passes ($25) and Monthly Passes ($100)
The passes are valid ONLY on Metro Buses and Metro Rail Trains. They are not valid on municipal city buses like the Culver City Bus Lines or the Santa Monica Bus Lines (known as the “Big Blue Bus”) and they are not valid on the DASH buses which are 50-cents per ride. You can transfer from a Metro Bus or Metro Rail train to a municipal city bus by paying an additional 35 cents (10 cents, if you are a senior/pensioner, disabled or a Medicare subscriber). Pay for the transfer as follows: WHEN YOU GET ON THE METRO BUS, insert the fare in cash or by 'tapping' your TAP CARD (and include the extra amount for the transfer -- 35-cents or 10-cents) and ask for a ‘transfer’. The driver will give you a slip of paper which you can use as fare for the onward Municipal Bus. You may NOT request a transfer if you plan to transfer to ANOTHER METRO BUS or to a METRO RAIL TRAIN. (Instead, buy a DAY PASS if you plan to make 4 or more trips on Metro Bus and/or Metro Rail trains for the day). There is one exception to this last rule: if you pay your fare using a TAP CARD that has a balance of $1.75 or more, you'll be able to transfer to an onward METRO BUS OR TRAIN at no extra charge as long as it within a 2 hour period and you are not reversing direction.
Planning Trips Using Public Transit (How to Get There)...
Public transportation in the Los Angeles area is provided by a number of different public transportation agencies, the largest of these being the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (known as METRO). You’ll see the word METRO on buses and on METRO rail trains.
In addition, many local cities and government agencies also run transportation services:
* the "Big Blue Bus" system provided by the City of Santa Monica
* the "CityBus" system provided by the City of Culver City
* The Foothill Transit agency provided by several local cities in the San Gabriel and Pamona Valleys
* The Long Beach Transit authority provided by the City of Long Beach
* DASH and Commuter Express buses provided by The City of Los Angeles's Department of Transportation
Typically, the above transportation agencies provide better service within their own local areas than METRO provides and may also provide better service between their local areas and other parts of the LA metropolitan area.
METRO and these other agencies provide internet-based trip planning services. You can access these systems on most of the above-mentioned transportation agencies respective home pages, e.g. METRO's home page is www.metro.net. The METRO.NET website is the most inclusive as it contains information about the routes of all of these agencies whereas the local agencies’ websites contain info about their own routes only.
As explained above, you can use the METRO.NET’s trip planner on the site’s homepage to find a METRO bus route or a METRO rail route. Another option for planning trips using public transportation is provided by Google, using their "Google Maps" service. Go to maps.google.com, and click on the "Get Directions" link. Enter your starting and ending locations in the boxes provided. In addition, a drop-down menu will allow you to select your mode of transportation: by car, public transportation, or walking.
Google Maps can be better than the trip planning services provided by the local public transportation authorities as it utilizes graphical maps that are better than METRO.NET’s maps (which you must activate by clicking on a particular starting or ending point in the itiinerary).
On the downside, Google Maps does not always provide routes as direct or convenient as the public transportation agency's own trip planner, as not all of the local agencies have teamed up with Google. Further, updates to routes are not always communicated to Google maps in a timely manner so be sure to verify the route on the METRO.NET website.
5 Myths about L.A. Public transit, click the link below:
If you are faced with taking a trip that would overburden the public transportation system, consider renting (visitors from overseas say 'hiring') a car for just one day. If you plan to explore downtown or other central areas (Hollywood, Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills) AS WELL AS the west side of the metro area (including the beach areas of Santa Monica and Venice and/or a trip to the Getty Center in Brentwood or the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades), then a rental (hire) car may be advisable for your entire trip. Traveling with children makes it even more advisable to get a car but be advised that you must have 'car seats' installed in the rear seat of the car for your children if they are under the age of 8. If your children are under the age of age but are 4'9" or tall (144 cm or taller) they may be secured by a safety belt in the back seat only.
If your inbound flight to L.A. is 8 or more hours, you might consider taking a taxi (or other means of transfer) from the airport to your hotel and picking up the car on your second day of vacation/holiday. This way, you can adjust to the ‘time change’ (and catch up on your sleep) before getting behind the wheel. This is especially relevant for visitors from places where driving is done on the left side of the road.
How to Select a Car Rental Company...
Obviously, price is a factor. Shop around and see what's being offered. Many of the travel services (Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Priceline.com, etc) will provide you with a side-by-side comparison of a number of companies' offerings and their prices. Be sure to find out the TOTAL COST of a rental including all taxes and any insurance that the companies may require of you. If you hold a gold or platinum credit card, it is possible that you can waive the additional cost of the insurance. Check with your credit card company. You may also be covered through the insurance policy on your personal vehicle or through the homeowner’s policy on your home. If you are visiting from overseas, it is likely that you will need to purchase some optional insurance for your rental car. Many of the more popular rental car company websites (such as Hertz.com) include this additional coverage in their quotes once you identify your country of origin on their site (look for this option). You can also find bundled quotes (which included all the necessary insurance) from third-party companies like Rentalcars.com. Note: these third-party companies provide car rental services to those living outside of North America only.
There are often "drop charges" (an extra fee of $50 to $200) when you rent a car in one city (or state) and drop it off in another. Before you decide to drive throughout California or into adjacent states, keep these fees in mind. Sometimes, instead of a "drop charge", the regular daily rate is increased (when you are dropping the car at a location different than your pickup location). Also, be sure to check with your hotel regarding overnight parking rates. Some hotels charge as much as $30 or more. Often, it's significantly less expensive and no less convenient to drop off a one-day rental car at the rental agency in the early evening rather than dropping it off on the following morning (and having to pay overnight parking at your hotel).
Car rental/hire companies will often offer renters the possiblity of pre-paying for gas/petrol. This sounds like an attractive option since the pre-pay rate is often 10% less than the cost of fuel in the neighborhood around the car rental/hire lot. But, think about it. You take a car that is full of fuel and are asked to return it EMPTY! (This is the only way you can use all of the fuel that you've purchased). Here's why this isn't such a great idea:
a. What if you run out of fuel because you're trying to bring it back empty?
b. What if you only use part of the fuel and return it partially full (answer: too bad, you've paid for it -- no refunds).
c. Even if you use up the initial tank of fuel, when you go to fill up the car with more, how much do you put in so that you 'almost run out' when returning it to the car rentalhire lot? (answer: you can't really know how much so you'll end up putting too much in or having to stop frequently to put in a little bit more).
Bottom line: pre-paying for fuel is a silly idea. But, some of the third party car hire services, like CarHire3000.com give you no choice. In such a case, you're stuck with this silliness but, at the same time, you're getting a great price for the car rental/hire compared to U.S. citizens who are barred from using these services.
Map of Los Angeles Neighborhoods...
Here is a map of the many neighborhoods and adjoining cities and municipalities of the Los Angeles Metro Area:
You may ignore much of the map. Center the map, vertically, as follows:
Scroll down so that the blue Pacific Ocean is visible in the lower left corner. Keep moving down until the large "The first CITY OF LOS ANGELES" title appears in the lower left corner of the map, Keep scrolling down until this line of text is about 1/2 way up your screen. To the right of this title, towards the bottom of the window, is the community of Westchester -- home of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport).
North of LAX, in light grey with a number of blue parallel lines, is Marina del Rey (MDR) -- not labeled on the map. North of MDR is Venice and north of Venice (in the unlabeled gray area) is the city of Santa Monica, a popular beach community.
Going northeast from Santa Monica, you will see a large unlabeled white area (above the areas labeled 1,2,3). This is Beverly Hills (BH). The finger-like strip of land on the eastern edge of BH is the city of West Hollywood (home of the Sunset Strip).
Below, West Hollywood (to the east of the main part of Beverly Hills) is an area labeled “Fairfax Mid-City West”. Here, on Trip Advisor, this area is known as “Central Los Angeles” and the center of this area is referred to by some locals as “Beverly Grove”. Here, you will find major shopping of all kinds (from the three major malls in the area -- the Beverly Center (upscale/upmarket), the Grove (mid-range. 'younger' fashions and the Beverly Connection (mini-outlet mall) -- to the boutique shops that run along Melrose Av and Robertson Bl to the north of the three malls. Just south of the Beverly Center is Loehmann's -- another mini-outlet store.
Northeast of West Hollywood is Hollywood (home of the Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame). The tiny triangular-shaped, unlabeled gray area north of Hollywood is Universal Studios.
Turning in the southeast direction from Hollywood, following the red-colored line which is the "101 (Hollywood) Freeway" and crossing over the "110 freeway" (the red-colored, diagonal line) brings you into downtown (city centre). Moving the map to the right uncovers a red line that ends (near the bottom edge of the Boyle Heights community). This is the "5 Freeway" which, continues in a southeast direction, leading to Orange County (Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, etc) -- about 40 minutes later (by car, without traffic) -- and eventually to San Diego (about 2-1/2 hours from downtown L.A. by car, without traffic).
Below is an L.A. Times newpaper article which discusses many of these neighborhoods: http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-l..
Freeways (which are named/numbered):
San Diego Freeway/405 runs in a north/south direction, connecting the
northern suburbs of the San Fernando Valley with Santa Monica and the
"West side" of Los Angeles. Taking the 405 south from the West side"
will give you access to many communities (via adjacent freeways) such
as Long Beach, the Orange County Beaches (Newport, Laguna, etc) and the
city of San Diego. There are surface streets running parallel with the
405, such as Sepulveda Blvd, which are sometimes the faster
Santa Monica Freeway/Rosa Parks Expressway10 runs in an east/west direction connecting Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles. Very crowded during rush hour.
Hollywood Freeway/101 runs in a northwest/southeast direction between downtown L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. (Signs say: "North" and South")
Hollywood Freeway/170 runs north south through the San Fernando Valley. Note: This freeway changes its number when entering the San Fernando Valley)
Ventura Freeway (west of the Hollywood Freeway)/101 runs east/west through the San Fernando Valley (Signs say: "South" (for the easterly direction) and "North" (for the westerly direction). Note: this portion of the Ventura Freeway adopts the number of the southern portion of the Hollywood Freeway (101) at the point that the two freeways meet.
Ventura Freeway (east of the Hollywood Freeway)/134 runs east/west through the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley and into the communities of Burbank. Glendale and Pasadena.
Foothill Freeway/210 (largely east/west inside the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena and beyond.
Golden State Freeway/5 Crossing Los Angeles from northwest to southeast (from Glendale, through Echo Park, Downtown and into Orange County (Buena Park, Anaheim and beyond to San Diego).
And, perhaps, the most underappreciated freeway in the region: the Glendale Frewway/2 which connects with the Golden State/5 and travels around Glendale and north to La Canada/Flintridge. This is a handy free way to know if you want to transfer between Pasadena/Glendale and Hollywood/Los Feliz/downtown L.A.
From LAX, it takes about 20 minutes to drive to Santa Monica and 30 minutes to drive to downtown L.A. or Hollywood (without traffic!). During commuter "rush hours" (weekdays, 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning and 3:00 to 7:00 in the afternoon/evening) those times could double. Heavy traffic is also common on Sunday afternoons from 4 until 9, as local residents return from weekend vacations. By public transit, assume the ride will take about twice as long as “non rush hour” driving since you might be waiting for buses, experiencing frequent stops (on some routes) and possibly transferring to a second or third method of conveyance.
Many tour companies will take you around the city (and/or to many of its outlying attractions like Disneyland). There are tours that last an hour, 2 hours, 1/2 day an entire day or longer. By taking these tours, you get to see the neighborhoods of the city without having to navigate with an automobile or fuss with metro rail or bus maps. In addition, there is usually a live, in person commentary that is ongoing to tell you about the sights you're passing or about to stop at. The two most popular coach tour companies are
Grayline Tours and Starline Tours
Most will either pick you up at your hotel or at specific Los Angeles Landmarks, e.g. Starline Tours picks up in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd, just west of Highland Avenue. If a tour coach company doesn't pick up at your hotel, you can arrange to be picked up at a neighboring hotel that is served by that tour company, without having to be a guest at that hotel.
These same tour companies offer 1-, 2- and 3-day tours to outlying areas of California (like the City of San Diego) and to cities or attractions in neighboring states (like Las Vegas in Nevada or Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona).
There are also specialized tour companies that offer unique vehicles like smaller buses, private cars or helicopters and offer special themes (like haunted locations throughout the metro area).
In addition, there are walking tours of Hollywood. Info is at www.redlinetours.com
For the most part, taxis do not roam the streets of the city but this is changing in some neighborhoods. Mostly, you must call for taxi service (except at high-volume tourist or entertainment areas, e.g., at major hotels, at the 5 major airports, at train (not metro rail) stations or at the Sunset Strip and Hollywood nightclub areas on weekend evenings).
As of late, with the emergence of Peer to Peer ridesharing, most L.A. Taxis can now be ordered using an app on your smart phone known as GoCurb.com. This service is linked to 8 major taxi companies in the L.A. metro area and dozens of other cities throughout the U.S., allowing you to arrange for a taxi in a few seconds.
If you plan on using taxis but prefer to call for one, keep a list of taxi phone numbers with you. Your hotel's concierge can provide you with these phone numbers or you can go to www.taxicabsla.org for a list of licensed taxi companies. If you are looking for fare information you can go to taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=LA
Lyft is a national startup company that contracts with individuals who own a car to drive you. Your means of rating this service is by rating your driver; drivers who are consistently rated poorly by passengers will have their accounts closed and are no longer allowed to drive for the TNC's. The only on-going oversight is through customer ratings. Unlike taxis which are REGULARLY inspected and government regulated, TNC's rely upon the feedback of passengers to alert these companies of mechanical problems with their cars. They are usually less expensive than taxis (although, unlike taxis, TNC rates can vary without notice depending upon demand, weather, or other various reasons for surge pricing). Drivers are 'independent contractors', and, as such, they do not have a local employer that they report to. If there's a problem, there is no government agency (like there is with taxis) to which to turn. The TNC's state plainly on their websites that they have NO RESPONSIBILITY beyond putting the passengers and drivers together so your only means of recourse in the event of a grievance will be through small claims courts.
For visitors staying in the Disneyland area (Anaheim, Buena Park or Garden Grove) who wish to visit the city of Los Angeles and adjacent municipalities, you can either
1. Transfer into downtown L.A by rail/train. and connect with local public transit,
2. Rent/Hire a car or
In order to transfer by rail to Union Station from the Disneyland area, take either a taxi or a bus to the nearest rail station (either Fullerton or Anaheim -- your hotel's staff will tell you which is better for you). The taxi or bus ride should take 10-15 minutes. Take either a Metrolink (regional train -- metrolinktrains.com) or an Amtrak (national train -- Amtrak.com) to Union Station. NOTE: There is no "c" in Amtrak.
Note: Metrolink trains are less expensive than Amtrak trains but Amtrak trains run more frequently (and into the late evening) then Metrolink trains. Another nice feature of Metrrolink Trains is that your round-trip (return) Metrolink Ticket works as a DAY PASS for the Los Angeles public transit system, specifically, it will allow you to travel for free all day on all Metro Rail Lines and Metro Buses in Los Angeles as well as on the DASH buses. Note: the Metrolink ticket is not valid for travel on buses from local municipalities like the Santa Monica and Culver City bus systems.
Union Station affords public transit access to all of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, as follows:
A. The Station is in downtown L.A. which may be explored on foot or by metro bus or the red line metro rail, both of which are accessible at the station.
B. Several metro rail lines connect Union Station with areas outside of downtown:
1. The Gold Line to Pasadena (northeast of downtown)
2. The Purple Line to Koreatown (west of downtown) Note: The last stop on this line is at the corner of Western Av and Wilshire Bl where you may transfer to the #720 metro rapid bus westbound on Wilshire Bl for Beverly Hills (a 20-minute ride)
3. The Red Line to Hollywood, Universal Studios and North Hollywood (northwest of downtown). Use this line as one method of transferring to buses to Magic Mountain from the North Hollywood Station. Step-by-step transfer info is available in the “Theme and Amusements Parks” section of the TOP QUESTIONS box which can be found on the right side of most Fourm pages. (You can also transfer to Magic Mountain via ‘above-ground trains’ from Union Station. Instructions for this transfer are also in the above-mentioned section).
4. The Blue Line to Long Beach (south of downtown) which provides access to the two L.A. cruise ports (Long Beach and San Pedro). You may access the Blue Line from Union Station by taking either the Red Line or Purple Line to the 7TH ST / METRO CENTER station and transferring to the blue line on the level above.
C. There are a number of metro buses that pull up either in front of the Union Station, behind it in the bus depot, or on adjacent streets. These buses will take you to all L.A. destinations including the beach areas.
Metro rail routes can be found on the Metro website at metro.net by entering your starting and ending points at the right side of the home page.
These points may be entered as full street addresses (3345 WILSHIRE BLVD), as street intersections (WILSHIRE BLVD / WESTERN AVE) or as landmarks (DISNEYLAND, LAX, UNION STATION, KNOTTS, etc). Then, enter the day of the week and time of day of your trip, being careful to select either “leave at or after” or “arrive by or before” to indicate whether the time of day you’ve entered is the ‘departure time’ of your trip or the required ‘arrival time at your destination’.
Once you know the route you will be taking, you can look up Schedules and route info (maps) for those metro route(s) at METRO.NET by clicking on “Maps & Timetables” under “Bus & Rail Basics”.
There are 2 major methods of public transport in Los Angeles: the newer metro rail system and the older transit bus system. The transit buses, themselves, aren’t old -- just the routes are!
Los Angeles is not a "walk city" like San Francisco or Boston in most areas. The following neighborhoods are best for walking:
Santa Monica's Main St., Montana Ave., downtown between Ocean Ave. and 6th Streets and the Santa Monica Pier and beachfront.
Central Hollywood, near the intersection of Hollywood Blvd & Highland Avenue and along the Walk of Fame. Hollywood Bl between La Brea Av and Vine Street. The Sunset Strip (Sunset Bl between Crescent Heights Bl and Doheny Drive). Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (especially west of Crescent Heights Blvd).
Beverly Hills (the Rodeo Drive/Wilshire Bl area).
Old Pasadena (along Colorado Boulevard and Raymond Aves).
Culver City's downtown is walkable and compact, with a distinct movie studio feel, thanks to Sony Studios being there.
Silver Lake and Los Feliz have trendy, central shopping areas.
Venice Beach's Abbot Kinney Blvd. has upscale dining and shopping while the Venice Beach Boardwalk has long had a bohemian vibe all of its own. Venice Canals make for a nice stroll ( http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/...
Downtown Los Angeles has interesting architecture, murals and other art installations, museums, Chinatown and Olvera Street. A good way to explore downtown LA is to do a self-guided walking tour ( https://www.laconservancy.org/events-... ). While enjoying downtown, a short Metro ride away will get you to excellent museums: California Science Center (home of Endeavor Space Shuttle) and Natural History Museum (excellent, permanent Dino Hall), between them are the lovely Exposition Park rose gardens, nearby is the University of Southern California.