Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable & passionate about giving us all the information in a clear & concise way. The tour was very well planned & organised & was not tiring.
We did The Real Hollywood tour & loved it! The tour was at a great pace & the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable & made the tour fun. Thank you!
Stuart was so knowledgeable & was worth the day with him. I had been to LA multiple times before but this is the first time I had taken a tour – so thrilled to have this experience with my mom & sister. I would recommend this tour again & again.
We had an amazing DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Damien & Dante… thank you very much from the Italian girls… very interesting & funny… absolutely recommended!
This tour was awesome! Stuart is very knowledgeable, likeable & fun. The stops on the tour were very interesting & I learned a lot. I’ve been on quite a few tours of this nature & this was one of my favorites – highly recommend!
Did a walking tour of LA (LA in a Day). Vicky started us off with the Hollywood tour & Damien (who is also the owner) was our guide for the rest of the day. The entire day was awesome, I suggest this tour. There isn’t that much walking, to be honest. It’s very fun!
My boyfriend & I took the DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Stuart as our guide & had the most amazing time! We had experiences we will never forget! We were able to see parts & people of Los Angeles that we never would have without Stuart. I give this 10/10. If we visit again, this will be at the top of our to do list!
Absolutely amazing! Highly recommend taking both The Real Hollywood Tour & the Central Downtown LA tour! Our time in LA wouldn’t have been the same. Great way to learn about the city, see it from a different angle, explore the local life & learn about its history & filming industry. Damien our guide was fantastic!
Sylvie was our host & was fantastic. She had a lot of local knowledge & gave her unique perspective as someone who had moved to the area many years ago, so she had an outsider’s as well as an insider’s perspective. The tour gave us a great overview of Santa Monica & Venice & set us up for a great rest of the day.
We took 2 tours, the Santa Monica & Venice Bike tour (with Sylvie) & the Real Hollywood tour (with Damien). Both were great & highly recommended. Sylvie & Damien were informative, knowledgeable & easy to talk to. They were like you were with friends. We were traveling as a family of 4 with 2 boys (15 & 12). We all enjoyed the tours.
How to Use Public Transport in LA
A key concern for a lot of visitors is how they are going to get around LA once they get here. Unfortunately one of the most prevalent myths about Los Angeles is that it doesn’t have any public transport and therefore everyone must use a car. This is inconvenient for tourists, as most cities in developed countries have some kind of mass transit system and that’s what most visitors use during their stay. It’s expensive to hire a car simply to get from one neighborhood to another and even in the age of smart phones with GPS, it can be very stressful driving around a city that you’ve never been to before. One of the cool things about Los Angeles is that it is in the process of reinventing itself from being a very heavily car dependent city and it’s opened several new metro train lines in recent years. Finally it is possible for tourists to get around LA without a car, so here’s our guide on how to use public transport in LA.
The first thing to understand is that there are three components to our pubic transport system; we have an underground metro system, light rail and buses and while it isn’t on a par with major European and Japanese cities, it is high quality and it's rapidly expanding. It’s also usually the fastest way to get around the city – for example there’s no faster way to get from Hollywood to downtown than the B-Line. All tours offered by The Real Los Angeles Tours start near a Metro station or bus stop.
The Los Angeles Metro has no less than six rail lines that span the city (for over 100 miles) and two services that operate buses on their own dedicated rights of way, with turn up and go services. There’s also Metrolink, a rail service that covers Los Angeles and surrounding counties. As you can see from this map, the combined systems cover most of the main tourist hot-spots, such as Hollywood, Universal Studios, Santa Monica and downtown.
There are bus lines connecting all the major parts of the Los Angeles area. They’re not always frequent (sometimes running three-four times an hour), but they have free, high-speed Wi-Fi. There are also express buses that are actually pretty fast and can cover quite large distances (such as Santa Monica to downtown).
As you can see from the photo of a bus stop on the Sunset Strip below, real money is being invested in the system. In addition to being possibly the most elegant bus stops ever these ones also have free Wi-Fi.
Both Google and Apple Maps provides real time info on bus departure points and times in LA and there are other apps that will do the same job. The LA Metro also has a trip planner here.
Hollywood to downtown? Take the B-Line. There’s no faster way to get to downtown, as traffic on the 101 Hollywood Freeway is always terrible. You can also easily take the Red Line to Universal Studios, one stop before North Hollywood (which is the last station).
Downtown to Pasadena? The L-Line goes from Union Station to Del Mar or Memorial Park if you’re visiting Old Town Pasadena. The train goes through some very picturesque neighborhoods, such as Highland Park, so it’s a great way to see LA.
Hollywood Burbank Airport to Koreatown? Easy! Metrolink and the D-Line.
Beach to downtown? Smugly observe LA’s famous traffic on the 10 Freeway as you pass by on the E-Line. This is one of the best public transport options (or any transport option) that's available here.
LAX to downtown/Hollywood/San Fernando Valley/Santa Monica? There is a shuttle bus service connecting LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to the Green Line and there are direct connections to several other Los Angeles neighborhoods, including downtown, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Burbank. You can take the shuttle to Union Station, or one of the other destinations (around $10pp) and ride-share from there.
BEST WAY TO USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN LA
Couldn’t be simpler! Purchase a TAP card ($2 from a station vending machine or online) 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).
As you would expect there is an app that you can get, which allows users to purchase and redeem tickets for LA Metro and twenty-five other regional transportation systems. You can get it here.
TAXIS AND RIDE-SHARING COMPANIES
Another option has appeared In the last few years, as several ride sharing companies (such as Lyft and Uber) have emerged, and this has made a huge difference. Finding a taxi previously was a nightmare, largely because, bizarrely, hailing a cab in Los Angeles was illegal and, if you did manage to get one, the cost was prohibitive. Nevertheless the cheapest and most convenient option is usually, believe it or not, the Metro.
RENTING A CAR
Of course many people do rent a car while here, but it’s definitely not something we’d recommend just for getting around the city. Especially because driving will often actually slow you down, once traffic and finding parking are factored into the equation. Nevertheless if you’re driving in Los Angeles just remember these three important facts:
- Angelenos are usually courteous drivers – until they get on the freeway, when all bets are off.
- If you're street parking be sure to check the parking signs VERY CAREFULLY (they’re often very confusing) – having your car towed will ruin your day.
- You can nearly always turn right on a red light (if not there’s a sign to let you know).
Finally, LA is by no means resting on its, admittedly modest, laurels. In fact Los Angeles has the most ambitious mass transit construction program of any city in the U.S. The all-new K-Line (which will finally give the Metro system a proper connection to LAX) opened in October 2022 and several other major public transport projects are also under construction, including extending the D-Line to Beverly Hills along Wilshire Boulevard and Miracle Mile and an extension of the L-Line to Montclair. There are even plans to run streetcars through downtown again and operate a gondola service to the Dodgers Stadium from Union Station.
With the Olympics coming to Los Angeles in 2028, there are ambitious plans to improve walking, biking and public transport infrastructure all across the city. Until the 1950's we had one of the most extensive electrified train networks in the world, perhaps in another seventy years Los Angeles will be back to that again!
We hope you found this guide to using public transport in LA helpful. Bear in mind that renting a car is expensive, taking into account the rental fee, fuel and parking. Traffic is usually bad and parking is hard to find too, so we recommend using a combination of ride-sharing and the LA Metro, if you're visiting Los Angeles.
We look forward to meeting you on a tour soon.