Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting Around Without Wheels, Part I

L.A. has many things going for it, but public transportation isn't one of them. Unlike some of the great cities of the world, you really do need a car to navigate around the Southern California since the attractions are so spread out and our public transportation system is so rudimentary compared to cities like New York, San Francisco, London, etc.

However, lots of visitors do get around without a car and while it may not be the most convenient way to travel, it can be done. Here's the first in our series on tips for getting around L.A. without a car:

The MTA--The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in L.A. manages the bus and rail network in Los Angeles county. Much maligned, it does transport millions to jobs, schools and attractions, and during last summer's gasoline crunch it helped out many who sought a cheaper way to get somewhere.

The basic fare is $1.25, and a day pass will run you $5. A weekly pass $17. You can get just about anywhere on the MTA, it's just going to take you longer than if you're driving. For example, on their excellent trip planner, say you wanted to go from Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade to Universal Studios on a weekday, arriving at around 10:00 a.m. You'd take a 920 Red Line Bus at 8:46 (which has fewer stops) up to Wilshire and Vermont, transfer to the Red Line Subway and take that up to Universal, arriving at 10:00. The journey in a car at that time of day? Probably 45 minutes. So you can get where you want to, but you've got to add time to your itinerary.

One advantage you may have by going on the MTA is their Desination Discounts program. By showing your Day Pass or Metro Rail ticket, you can get several discounts in the area including:

* Free admission to the El Cid flamenco show on Sunset in Hollywood.

* $15 off general admission at Universal Studios.

* 50% off the ISU World Skating Championships at Staples Center.

Overall, if time is short you're better off with your own car. But if you have to bus it, it can be done.


  1. Actually,
    to be more objective - Subway travel is way faster than driving, especially in traffic!
    For instance, riding the Subway from Hollywood to Downtown LA takes anywhere from 16 to 22 minutes (depending on a specific downtown location). Period.
    But driving... oh, boy! - where should I start? - if you're lucky to drive on the 101 without traffic (yeah, right!) then you might probably make it in about 20 minutes, but then... be prepared to circle our "beautiful" (and gridlocked) Downtown for another 10-15 minutes in search for parking, and then pay a good price to park your auto. So, all in all, driving without the traffic is at least as long a riding the subway.
    But the reality is - the 101 Fwy is almost always jammed, so... driving from Hollywood to Downtown will most likely take you anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour. In the real world - subway is quite a bit faster, and more efficient, than driving in our gridlocks!
    (this is why MTA has recently made a decision to extend our subway system).

  2. Great observation,Alejandros. If you're staying in the Valley, certainly the Red Line subway is a quick and easy way to get to Hollywood or downtown. If you're on the Westside, however, it's a different story, at least until the MTA's Expo Line reaches Culver City next year...

  3. Nice guide thank you!/ I love it! very creative! That's actually really cool Thanks.

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