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Consolidated "Getting to/from _____ in the Los Angeles area" thread

Consolidated "Getting to/from _____ in the Los Angeles area" thread

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Old Oct 29, 05, 5:32 pm
  #31  
 
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If you do a mapquest directions search from the address of BUR to the address of LAX and then choose "avoid highways," you will get excellent directions for how to get from BUR to LAX on surface streets. The route provided (Hollywood Way -- Barham -- Cahuenga -- Highland - [the transition from Highland to La Brea is the only part of the directions I can't verify: I would cut over on Franklin] - La Brea -- Stocker -- La Cienega -- La Tijera -- Airport) basically combines my route from BUR with my route to LAX!
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Old Oct 29, 05, 11:40 pm
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Yep, you're right!'

Here's specific directions on how to get from LAX to BUR in a more reliable way:

1) Century Blvd East

2) La Cienega North

3) Slauson East

4) La Brea North

5) Right on Edgewood Place, which turns into Highland North

6) Left on Cahuenga Blvd

7) Right on Barham Blvd.
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Old Oct 29, 05, 11:47 pm
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I guess Edgewood between Highland and La Brea is confirmed. Mapquest out!
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Old Dec 7, 05, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by cecelia
Jackal, We did a similar trip a few years ago but were able to drop the rental car at Union Station for no extra fees. This worked perfectly for us. Don't remember which rental company though.
I just rented a car for the entire time I was down there--a really nice Chrysler 300 from Dollar. Worked much better in terms of getting to the airport at the end of my stay.

Just for future reference for others, there are two rental agencies inside Union Station. Budget is one of them. I don't remember what the second one is, but my subconscious seems to remember it being Hertz.

My trip to SAN was awesome! Gorgeous train ride.
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Old Dec 11, 05, 3:10 am
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L.a. Mta

I once rode the trains all the way from Hollywood to Long Beach. Went to some used bookstores, then came back. It took an entire afternoon--several hours. But it was interesting.

Actually, the train lines are pretty good for tourists. You can stay downtown, take the train to the walk of stars, and to Universal Studios, and not have to screw with car rental and parking hassles. But it's definitely not for people in a hurry, simply because of the vast distances to be covered.
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Old Dec 11, 05, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by kef0913
Interesting to have an outsider's perpective on our much maligned transit system. To me it is completely inefficient and useless. The majority of Angelenos never ride the MTA because the Metro lines don't go where you need to go and the buses are disgusting and slow.
I'm kind of an insider/outsider. Being from CA but living out of town currently affords me both perspectives.

I love trains and often plan trips around them. (This last one was mainly designed for me to take the Surfliner from L.A. to SAN. My next one is to take the Acela from BOS to NYC. The one after that is to take the Acela from DC to NYC. On those two trips, I'm not even planning to rent a car, because I can get around DC, NYC and BOS all on foot and by subway, which completely thrills me.

But there are some places that just doesn't work--both for locals and for tourists. L.A. is one of those places.

Kef's right when he says the Metro trains don't go anywhere you need to go. L.A. covers a HUGE area--I can't give a size comparison off the top of my head, but it wouldn't surprise me if the L.A./Orange County megalopolis is the size of a small East Coast state.

OK, wow. I just did some research, courtesy of the Wikipedia. What is considered the "Greater Los Angeles Area" is 1,000 km2 larger than the state of Maine.

That's a heck of a lot of area to cover with only four Metro lines (the R/G/B lines and the new Gold line). And it's complicated by another problem: L.A.'s suburban spread is so vast that the traditional notion of "downtown"--the "CBD" ("central business district") where everyone goes to work--doesn't apply here. Yes, there is a "downtown" with some high-rises and business headquarters, but it's largely ignored: Most Angelenos could quite possibly spend their entire lives without setting foot in downtown L.A. Most of the city is made of a spread of single-family housing neighborhoods with commercial development spread along the main streets and centralized in numerous points throughout the cities. Combine that with the fact that most people can live and work on opposite sides of the city--you can live in Pasadena and work in Palos Verdes (between which there are no train connections)--and you have an area in which public transportation just will not work, at least not without a MAJOR, multi-trillion-dollar project of dozens of high-speed train lines, perhaps operating in a large ring-and-spoke system with feeder lines going everywhere.

So, in addition to the four Metro light-rail/subway lines, there are six Metrolink lines (full-sized "heavy" rail commuter trains). But even with these, most of the residents of the Los Angeles area are still anywhere from a 10 to 30 minute drive (much less walk)--if not more--from the nearest Metrolink station. The best the Metrolink can do is operate as a park-and-ride...and not a very efficient one at that.

And hotturnip's comment is somewhat on, but I digress on a few points. First, yes, it's possible to navigate to some of L.A.'s tourist sites by train, but it's inconvenient and slow. And many of the sites--from Griffith Observatory to Disneyland and thousands of others--are not immediately accessible by train (in the case of Disneyland, one might be able to find a hotel shuttle or bus that can pick you up from the Anaheim train station, but the station's not immediately next to the park). Entire areas of Los Angeles are missing from rail access (both Metro and Metrolink). And if the Metro lines are intended to be convenient for tourists to avoid renting cars, their first mistake is not hooking the Green Line directly to the airport terminals.

I'd love to see a functional public transit and train system in L.A. I just don't think it's feasible, due to the way L.A. is laid out. But if one ever appears and people use it, it'd be awesome for two reasons: a) it'd be fun to ride and b) the freeways would be clear so I could set my cruise control at 95 and not have to worry about traffic.

:-D

G'night,
Jackal
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Old Dec 11, 05, 11:58 am
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It's true that the rail system in L.A. covers only a small part of the city, but if it happens to go where YOU want to go, then it's great. I've ridden the Red Line quite a lot lately, and it's almost always full of people, even on the weekend. In rush hour, it's positively packed. So I would not call it "useless".

Ed
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Old Dec 11, 05, 6:20 pm
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Mantra for tourists (especially those of you who come from localities where there is good public transit): L.A. has a VERY rudimentary transit system that is not rapid, and does not serve most of the places you will want to go.

Your time is valuable.

Rental cars are cheap (can be obtained on Priceline.com at LAX for typically $16-20 per day).

Repeat after me: Dude, you need a car in L.A.
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Old Dec 11, 05, 6:22 pm
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Mantra for tourists (especially those of you who come from localities where there is good public transit): L.A. has a VERY rudimentary transit system that is not rapid, and does not serve most of the places you will want to go.

If you are visiting friends, family, or business associates in L.A. and you admit to them you are using public transit on your visit, they will (rightly) perceive you as crazy.

Your time is valuable.

Rental cars are cheap (can be obtained on Priceline.com at LAX for typically $16-20 per day).

Repeat after me: Dude, you need a car in L.A.
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Old Dec 11, 05, 6:33 pm
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Indeed. Let me use an example:

I want to fly into LAX and use public transportation to get to my grandfather's house in Simi Valley.

1. Wait for 15 minutes, then spend 15 minutes on the G shuttle from LAX to the Green Line Aviation Blvd. stop.

2. Take the Green Line to the Rosa Parks stop.

3. Switch to the Blue Line and take it to 7th St./Metro Center.

4.Switch to the Red Line. Take it to Union Station. Total time elapsed for steps 2-4: 90 minutes.

5. Wait for 30 minutes and then take a n often-less-than-once-hourly Metrolink from Union Station to Simi Valley (45 minutes).

6. Figure out how to get from Simi Valley's Metrolink station to my grandpa's house: perhaps there's bus service, which would add another 30 minutes (at least) to the trip. If not, take a cab.

So, using trains and maybe a bus or two, you'd have to figure on anywhere from 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours (and maybe more).

Guess how long this trip takes via car. Try 45 minutes. In rush hour traffic, maybe 1:30.

And if my grandpa lived in Thousand Oaks? There's no train service there, so I'd be out of luck.

Having said that, the above trip *does* sound rather fun to me...if I had no time commitments...

If you're trying to go downtown, it'd actually be faster to fly into Burbank and take the Metrolink from Burbank Airport Station to Union Station. But then again, where would you go once you hit there? Hollywood and Long Beach are about the only places reachable by the Metro (as people above have illustrated).

Dude, you need a car.
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Old Dec 11, 05, 11:50 pm
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Originally Posted by jackal
Indeed. Let me use an example:

I want to fly into LAX and use public transportation to get to my grandfather's house in Simi Valley.
[snip of directions]
Guess how long this trip takes via car. Try 45 minutes. In rush hour traffic, maybe 1:30.
As a born and raised native of L.A., let's start w/ a few observations:

1) Simi Valley is NOT part of greater L.A.... It's in Ventura County, with the dividing line being Santa Susana Pass.

2) The directions you offer are NOT the most direct via public transit, nor the fastest. If I were trying to get from LAX to Simi, I'd take the Van Nuys FlyAway Bus from my terminal to the VNY parking lot, catch MTA #169 Bus East to the Van Nuys Metrolink Station, and ride Metrolink out to Simi... Where three of the four local bus routes stop at the Metrolink station. Total time in transit might be as long as four hours...but could be as short as two depending upon how you hit the connections.

3) Your travel times by car are very optimistic. Figure at least half an our catching the shuttle to the car rental lot and at least an hour from there to the average residence in Simi, IF THERE IS NO TRAFFIC. Rush hour? Double that.

And if my grandpa lived in Thousand Oaks? There's no train service there, so I'd be out of luck.
...and if he lived in T.O. he'd STILL be in Ventura County.
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Old Dec 12, 05, 12:17 am
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Sheesh, all right. I didn't mean to fuel an argument.

1. Yes, Simi is not technically in "Greater Los Angeles." I was using it because it's a place I'm familiar with, it's in Southern California, and it's served Southern California's commuter rail system. So, fine, choose Chatsworth and Woodland Hills instead of Simi and T.O, respectively, and cut off 15 minutes of drive time.

2. I've taken the Flyaway a dozen times and find it very useful, and yes, it's probably much faster to do it your way, but I was attempting to keep the rail-centric focus of this thread intact. (Besides, trains are more fun than buses.)

3. I don't know how fast you drive, but when I drive and/or my grandpa drives, it's 45 minutes in light traffic. There's usually a little slowage before hitting the interchange between the 405 and the 10, but most of the time when I arrive midmorning, traffic over the Sepulveda Pass is light, and average freeway speeds are 75-80mph. I also was excluding the rental car process in my time estimate, as usually someone picks me up directly at the airport. I'll agree with you there: figure at least a half hour before driving your car out of the lot. In fact, I'd allow even more: a 10 minute wait for the bus, a 10 minute drive to the lot, a 5-10 minute wait in line, a 5 minute transaction, and 5-10 minutes to go find your car and load it up. call it 45 minutes to be on the safe side. Still, 45 minutes plus your two hour rush hour estimate to Simi is 1:15 short of the travel time by train.

No matter what the exact times are, the point of this thread is that public transportation in L.A. is of limited usefulness. It's great if you live in a suburb and commute to work in downtown (that is, if you don't need to stop off anywhere after work). You can't get away with not owning a car unless all of your travel is between Long Beach, Hollywood and downtown (and even then, you have to be within walking distance of a Metro stop, and how likely is that?

And for tourists, about the only sights that you can get to via Metro are some of the sights in Hollywood, the downtown attractions (Union Station, Pershing Square, Angels' Flight (currently out of service), the Disney Hall, the new Catholic cathedral, and the Queen Mary in Long Beach (which is still a ways from the Blue Line terminus). Oh, and you can now get to Pasadena via Gold Line. Everything else requires a car--even the sights that are "near" Metrolink stops, such as Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm (Anaheim), Magic Mountain (Santa Clarita), and whatever else there is to do in L.A., are too far to walk from their stations.

OK, enough arguing (and I'll stop, too). Let's all be friends again...
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Old Dec 12, 05, 1:23 pm
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It can work out as a tourist

Hi there,
Last year I passed through LA as a tourist with a mission...

After travelling there many times and always renting a car, I wanted to try something a bit different. Our plan was to fly into LA, do some stuff and then get the train up to San Jose. The plan was to see how much we could do without renting a car.

We picked our hotel carefully - I think it was the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport. This was important as we could get the shuttle bus from the airport (late pm arrival into LAX) and then in the morning walk to the Green Line station next door. This worked out fine and we got into LA OK and had a look around. It was then easy to get to Union Station and get the train northwards.

OK, we didn't exactly do a lot of stuff in LA but it was a nice change to not have a car. If you are a train/subway fan then try it, it is OK!

Jason
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Old Dec 12, 05, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by mbstone
If you are visiting friends, family, or business associates in L.A. and you admit to them you are using public transit on your visit, they will (rightly) perceive you as crazy.
It all depends. My parents live close to a Red Line station; they use it all the time themselves. When I go to visit them I sometimes use it too, if I happen to be going someplace else on the line.

Of course I wouldn't use it to get to/from the airport.

Ed
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Old Dec 13, 05, 10:19 am
  #45  
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Originally Posted by suranyi
It's true that the rail system in L.A. covers only a small part of the city, but if it happens to go where YOU want to go, then it's great.
Ed
Ditto what he said - I would add and have the time. While rudimentary and keeping in mind that the Greater Los Angeles Area is substantially larger than some of the cities w/ well-established metro systems, I certainly think it's an option for people.

I took the Green/Blue line to downtown LA from the beach earlier this year for a trade show at the convention center simply because I was sick & tired of rush hour traffic. It was easy, faster & less expensive (no parking fee or gas other than to get to El Segundo Station). If I had to be in LA I'd certainly do it again, although perhaps not late at night. I also know quite a few people who use the Red Line regularly.

I also know an FTer who had to go to San Diego area from Long Beach, so took the blue line to town I think (can't remember if he had any changing), then a train to San Diego & then some commuter thing. Now that one I thought was a bit nuts given he could have been in SD in an hour or so from SD vs the time his convaluted routing, but hey the guy likes trains, so to each their own.

Cheers.
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