Monday, November 23, 2009
Los Angeles Public Transportation
The Flyaway Bus
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 Train
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.
The above map depicts the service for the Metro Red Line trains. 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