Tell Me About Public Transportation in Los Angeles

The title pretty much says it all. I’ve always heard that L.A. had a horrible public transportation system for such a populous city, but I’ve been looking at the L.A. County Metro Web site and I’m getting a very different impression. The Metro Rail and Metro Liner (from what I can tell, that’s a bus that kind of operates like a light rail system by having its own dedicated freeway lane) seem to cover a great deal of the metropolitan area, and busses cover the rest.

So, can anyone here speak from personal experience about the quality and ease of use of L.A.'s public transit?

I lived on the west side, so rail did me no good at all. My experience with the buses between Culver City and Santa Monica is that I waited a long time for one to arrive and they were kind of grungy.

It depends on where you are and where you want to go and at what time of day. In some cases it is amazing and easy. In others there is very limited or no service. I’ve used public transportation here for 4 years and have mostly had a good experience with it.

The savings compared to driving are awesome, I pay $40 a month to get just about anywhere I want to go. My current commute to work is 21 miles each way. If you estimate 30 MPG in car then that is 1 1/3 gallons just to get to work. At current prices (average out here looks to be about 3.25) then that is over 4 dollars a day just in gas. Over a 20 day work month that alone is double what I’m paying. The drawback is time, driving would be around 40 minutes (or up to about an hour depending on traffic) where my bus ride takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

For me it has been a great alternative for most of my transportation needs.

I pretty much depend on public transportation, since I don’t drive. Metro Rail is OK most of the time, if you’re going downtown or to Pasadena. I mostly like it 'cause the Green Line begins/ends a couple of blocks from my house. The buses get you where you need to go, if you’re patient. I always bring my iPod and a magazine or book, 'cause I’m not really into striking up conversations with people on the bus.

That said, I would like to reserve some special hatred for the bus line I am forced to take on a daily basis, the 266 southbound on Rosemead Blvd. The northbound part seems to run OK, as I see the buses running northbound at regular 20-minute intervals when I am sitting at my stop. No, it’s the stupid &@#$!!1!!! southbound line that has all the problems. It’s rare to find it running on time more than 3 days in a row. Take yesterday evening (please). I waited for the 5:51 southbound bus, as usual. And waited. And waited some more. By the time it arrived, it was 6:55. I refused to pay the fare, on the grounds that I had waited long enough and failed to receive timely service. This is the first time in my life I have ever purposely not paid my bus fare as a protest. Surprisingly, the driver agreed with me, and said that this particular line has a lot of problems with scheduling and breakdowns.

I had the exact same issue with the number 36 (Broadway) bus when I was in Chicago. I lived at Montrose and Sheridan (and Broadway) in Uptown, and I had to take the 36 bus to go south to Lakeview. I would stand there for ever waiting for a southbound bus and watch two or three northbound busses pass me while I waited. Then two or three of them would come at once!

I’d like to catch a bus one day
Where I don’t lose my mind
To wait forever 'til it comes
With seven more behind

(To the tune of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, from a Mad parody.)

The trains are decent but limited in scope and hours of service. The Culver City and Santa Monica buses are okay but also geographically limited. The metro buses (my primary mode of transportation) have loud televisions blaring ads and assorted BS and suffer from obscene crowding at peak hours. On Line 2 (Sunset) and several others I frequently take, one in five smells like stale piss.

I lived in West Hollywood, so the basics were pretty accessible by walking. I used public transport here and there, but mostly during the day. I do remember there being a bit of a wait most times and the people on the bus were less than desirable.

I would say that if you plan on moving to L.A., you’re going to need a car. Everything is so spread out so, unless you live in an area where everything is central to you, you’re going to want to tear your hair out. Its just one of those cities.

That’s very informative. And no, I’m not planning to move to L.A., I have a friend who’s thinking of moving there, though, so I was just curious. He currently lives in Chicago without a car and we were talking on the phone the other day about whether or not he’d need one in L.A. or not. Or if I’d need to rent one if I visited him.