Los Angeles is well-known for its sunny weather, amazing beaches, and car culture. Cars are practically a requirement to live or visit the LA area, but many other transportation options are available. In fact, Los Angeles public transportation was ranked number six for the best public transportation in the U.S. Read on to learn about how to get around Los Angeles and all of your options.
The Metro bus
Metro is the transportation agency in Los Angeles, and according to their site, “We serve as transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder, and operator for the country’s largest, most populous county.”
As part of their service, you can take one of the many bus lines in and around Los Angeles. There are over 165 bus routes within the city with several different types of bus lines including:
- The Metro Local (orange buses), which make regular stops throughout the city
- The Metro Rapid (red buses), which has rapid service in busy areas, making fewer stops along the way
- The Metro Express (blue buses) which is used by commuters and goes along city freeways
- The Metro Silver Line, which serves downtown LA and the South Bay as well as the San Gabriel Valley
- The Metro Orange Line, which connects to the Valley and serves North Hollywood to Woodland Hills
You can access the bus with a TAP card or using cash, with one-way fares costing $1.75. The fare is good for transfers for up to 2 hours.
The Metro Rail
The closest thing to a subway system LA has is The Metro Rail. The Metro Rail options used to be categorized by color but recently have shifted to letters. They include:
- Metro A Line (Blue)
- Metro B Line (Red)
- Metro C Line (Green)
- Metro D Line (Purple)
- Metro E Line (Expo)
- Metro L Line (Gold)
You can take the B line, formerly the Red line, to downtown’s Union Station, which is an architectural beauty. Then, go across the street to Olvera Street, LA’s first historic pueblo. Other lines take you to Pasadena, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and more.
Ticket fares are the same as the bus and cost $1.75 with transfers for up to 2 hours.
DASH buses in LA connect local neighborhoods to bigger transit hubs and serve over 30 million passengers a year. The DASH buses are affordable and cost only 50 cents or 25 cents if you’re a senior and are available in 27 different neighborhoods within the city. You can use their Trip Planner to see which route is available in your area.
To make boarding easier, you can use your stored value on your TAP card or buy a 31-day DASH pass for $18.
When it comes to getting around Los Angeles, going by car is the most popular option. LA is a car city through and through, especially as it’s so spread out and vast. Going anywhere, even if it’s “close”, can take at least half an hour.
Traffic can be rough at practically all hours, but especially so at peak rush hours. It’s no surprise that LA was ranked number four when it comes to the top cities with the worst traffic. If driving, put on some good tunes (suggestion: “I Love LA” by Randy Newman, full blast) and bring some water and your sunglasses to make the most of it.
When figuring out how to get around Los Angeles, you may wonder if it’s bike-friendly. A car-centric culture like LA isn’t as compatible with biking. LA was named the worst city for bicycling in 2018. Though biking isn’t an ideal option, it’s possible in certain areas. You can check out LA Bike Paths and Bike Routes and Maps.
There’s a famous Missing Persons song with the refrain “nobody walks in LA!”. Walking isn’t as convenient in LA with the sprawling nature of the city, but there are certain neighborhoods where walking is possible.
For example, Hollywood, Koreatown, Downtown, and Santa Monica are very walkable. If you live in these areas, you can walk to the gym, to get coffee, or run your errands. Other neighborhoods may be more suburban and require a car and a freeway trip.
Emerging mobility transportation options
Aside from the more traditional transportation options listed above, getting around Los Angeles now includes emerging mobility transportation options as alternatives.
As noted above, if you want to figure out how to get around Los Angeles, a car is your best bet. But if you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive, you can still get a ride using the power of ride-share apps. Uber and Lyft are popular in the city and you can get a ride wherever you need to, using your mobile phone.
Metro Bike Share
Though LA isn’t very bike-friendly, the city is working toward making it more accessible for bicyclists in certain neighborhoods that are already walkable and bikeable.
For example, there is the Metro Bike Share program, which just expanded to Hollywood and added 11 new stations. You can book a bike, unlock it, ride, and return and lock it at a designated station. It costs $1.75 for 30 minutes of riding. You can download the app to see where bike shares are accessible.
E-scooters are also available in certain parts of the city and are ideal for short trips. You can use Bird or Lime, two popular e-scooter choices, to get where you need to go within the city. Though e-scooter ridership has dropped during COVID, it’s gaining momentum again. You can download the apps for these e-scooters and see what’s in your area.
The bottom line
Whether you live in Los Angeles or want to visit, there are numerous Los Angeles public transportation options to choose from aside from using a car. Getting around Los Angeles may be time-consuming, but you have choices. If you live in a neighborhood that is more walkable and public transportation friendly, you might be a low-mileage driver and benefit from pay-per-mile insurance. If you’re paying for miles you aren’t driving, it’s time to re-think your auto insurance coverage. Get a free quote with Metromile to see how much you could save.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.