How to Get Around Los Angeles

One of the most prevalent myths about Los Angeles is that it doesn’t have any public transport and therefore you need a car. This is off-putting for tourists, as most cities in developed countries have a mass transit public transport system and that’s what the majority of visitors use while visiting. Even some cities in the U.S., such as New York, San Francisco and Boston have extensive networks including trams and/or trains. It’s expensive to hire a car simply to get from one part of the city to another and even in the age of smart phones with GPS, for tourists it can be quite stressful.

However, L.A. not having public transport is a myth. It has an underground metro system, light rail and buses and while it isn’t on a par with most European, and many Asian cities, it is high quality (in parts) and it’s rapidly being expanded. All of the tours offered by The Real Los Angeles Tours start near Metro stations.

So, how convenient and easy to use is the system? Very. The best option is to purchase a TAP card ($1 from a vending machine at a station, $2 on the bus) and either buy a pass (a one day or a seven day pass, depending on the length of your stay, is a good idea) or put an amount of money on the card ($10 or $20 is enough for a number of rides). A single fare on the Los Angeles Metro is $1.75 and when bought with the TAP card can be used for up to two hours of transfers (in other words if you need to take a combination buses and trains $1.75 covers the entire journey within two hours).

Bus: There are bus lines connecting all the major parts of the Los Angeles area. They are not necessarily frequent (often running only two-three times an hour), but if you have time they will get you from A to B. There are also express buses, some of which travel on the freeway, that are very fast.

Train: there are no less than six rail lines in the Metro system, there are two lines that operate buses on their own dedicated right of ways with turn up and go services and there’s Metrolink, a rail service that covers the Los Angeles and surrounding counties. As you can see from this map, the combined systems cover a wide area.

Travel examples:
Going from Hollywood to downtown? Take the Red Line.
Downtown to Pasadena? The Gold Line.
Hollywood Burbank Airport to Koreatown? Metrolink and the Purple Line.
There are also shuttle buses connecting LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to the Green Line and direct connections to several other parts of Los Angeles, including downtown, Hollywood, and Santa Monica.

Finally L.A. is by no means resting on its, admittedly modest, laurels. A whole new line, called the Crenshaw/LAX Line (which will finally, properly, connect LAX to the Metro system) is currently being built and is due to open in 2019 and several other public transport projects are being worked on, including extending the Purple Line to Beverly Hills via Miracle Mile. There’s even a plan to run streetcars through downtown L.A. again!