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Unlike other American cities, taxis are usually not flagged down at the curb. You can secure a taxi in one of two ways:
1. From in front of the airport terminals, popular restaurants, bars and clubs (like those on the Sunset Strip) or in front of the bigger hotels. If a line of taxis isn't present, there will be someone near the entrance to the establishment who can call one for you, e.g, the concierge at a hotel or the host at a restaurant.
2. Take a list of taxi companues with you and make the call yourself. Lists are available at your hotel or from this website: http://www.taxicabsla.org/ (click on 'Phone Numbers" at the top of the home page).
A typical taxi ride from LAX to Downtown Los Angeles is price-fixed at $46.50 (excluding the customary 15% tip). Ordinarily, the fares are calculated on the basis of both the distance to your destination as well as the time it takes to get there. (If the taxi is stuck in traffic, the fare will continue to grow!). An explanation of the fares is at the above-mentioned website (click on "Fares" at the top of the home page). To estimate your fare, use this handy website:
Another option are Transportation Network Companies or TNC's. A few larger companies in Los Angeles include Lyft, Uber and Sidecar. These companies coordinate rides with local drivers across the L. A. area using GPS technology and smartphones. Drivers from these companies have passed a background check and their cars have passed a 19 point inspection. The rides are usually cheaper than taxi's and usually have a quicker response time than taxi's. Smartphone applications for using these services can be downloaded by visiting the company websites.
Renting a car is a viable alternative to taking taxis or using the Metro Bus and Metro Rail lines if any of the following is true:
1. You will be venturing to "out of the way places" like Malibu, for example.
2. You will be spending some time exploring the westside of Los Angeles (where there is no Metro Rail) and buses are impacted by "rush hour" traffic in the mornings (between 6 and 9) and in the afternoon (between 3 and 7).
Be aware that driving can be expensive since parking is not free some of the tourist attractions and also (perhaps) at your hotel. Parking charges at hotels can be as high as $40 per day. Attractions charge between $5 and $20. Parking in Downtown is nearly impossible on weekdays; garages and parking lots are often full and the prices are very high. If you are planning on exploring downtown Los Angeles, consider using the RED LINE metro rail system as it covers most of the downtown area. DAY PASSES cost $7 and provide unlimited rides on METRO RAIL and METRO BUS for the day. Public transit info is available at www.metro.net.
Competitive rental car offers can be found on any of the online travel services, e.g. Travelocity,com, Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, RentMe247.com, Priceline.com, etc. (Click on "Cars" for side-by-side comparisons of the car rental companies). Be aware that supplemental insurance is required of most drivers (unkess you're covered by your personal car insurance or your credit card) The cost of the insurance could double the cost of your car rental. For visitors coming from somewhere other than North America, car hire reservations can be made which will include this insurance as well as providing a discounted rate compared to the cost paid by residents of North America.
There are two ways to secure this type of reservation: Use a major car rental company's website like Hertz, Avis, etc and identify your country of residence where indicated on the home page of the site (usually in the upper right corner). Or, use a third-party booking service designed for visitors from non-North American locations. There are several. like usacarsrental.com
"Shared Van" services (sometimes referred to as "shuttle services") are a typical choice for airport transfers. Prime Time Shuttle and Super Shuttle are the local choices around Los Angeles. In addition, there are many companies that provide PRIVATE VAN transfers (no sharing). They include: 24-7 Ride, Zippy Shuttle, Carey and many others. These same companies also offer private limousine services and 'town car' services. And some companies offer only limo services (and sometimes, 'town car' services) -- no van services. Examples of these include:LA City Limo and Green Path Transfers.
Be sure to shop around as competition is fierce, which means good deals are often available. Be wary of additional fees that are added to the cost of the service, e.g. 'meet and greet' fee, mandatory tip/gratuity (15 to 20% added to the cost of the transfer), etc. Be sure to find out about all the fees before booking. Airport Transfers can range in cost from $60 to $120 depending on your destination and the type of vehicle.