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

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

Old Dec 11, 2005, 11:58 am
  #46  
 
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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, 2005, 6:20 pm
  #47  
 
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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, 2005, 6:22 pm
  #48  
 
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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, 2005, 6:33 pm
  #49  
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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, 2005, 11:50 pm
  #50  
 
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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, 2005, 12:17 am
  #51  
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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, 2005, 1:23 pm
  #52  
 
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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, 2005, 3:17 pm
  #53  
 
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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, 2005, 10:19 am
  #54  
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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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Old Dec 14, 2005, 1:27 pm
  #55  
 
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Originally Posted by SkiAdcock
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, ...
Make that STATES... LA & Orange County alone are 6084 square miles of territory. Connecticut & Rhode Island together are 5888. The city of Los Angeles alone is 470 sq. miles. Contrast that to NYC at 321, San Francisco at 47, and Washington DC at 61 square miles, and yes all of them have "greater metropolitan areas," but consider how spotty the public transit is "out of town." All of urbanized London is 1600, Paris a puny 1051; only the greater Tokyo-Yokahama area is close at 5230 square miles... But it's population is nearly twice that of Los Angeles (30 vs. 17 million).

Traditional urban public transit relies upon high population densities to be frequent and cost effective, yet the historic spread of the communities and lack of real hub for circulation in the greater L.A. area doomed most urban transit plans.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 11:00 am
  #56  
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What I thought interesting was that there were hopes the earthquakes a fews ago would get more people on public transportation, but no such luck. However, higher gas prices earlier this year saw a spike in folk taking public transport. I do know the Red Line gets a lot of usage.

And aren't they extending or creating a line to go through the westside - thought I read about that in the LA Times a month ago.

Not to sidetrack this, but where does one pick up the bus (Big Blue - $1.75 or something) that goes to Santa Monica?

PS - I invariably find those out-of-towners that are condescending about LA's public transport options are usually from those puny places like DC, SF, etc, who truly don't understand the 'size' of LA. Or it's like people call & say I'm coming to "LA" & then you have to gently tell them that yes they're going to be in the Greater Los Angles Area, but they're 65 miles away from where you live...and their hometowns are nowhere near 65miles large...

Cheers.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 11:13 am
  #57  
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Originally Posted by SkiAdcock
What I thought interesting was that there were hopes the earthquakes a fews ago would get more people on public transportation, but no such luck. However, higher gas prices earlier this year saw a spike in folk taking public transport. I do know the Red Line gets a lot of usage.

And aren't they extending or creating a line to go through the westside - thought I read about that in the LA Times a month ago.

Not to sidetrack this, but where does one pick up the bus (Big Blue - $1.75 or something) that goes to Santa Monica?
I *think* you can pick up the Big Blue in the Transportation Center... Lot C?

There have always been talks about the Red Line... I'm sure it'll happen as soon as they put in that Light Rail line going down Exposition

But now there's an Orange Line, which is more of an dedicated express bus route that stops at "stations". It runs into the Valley from the Red Line, so still no Westside connection.

And I agree with your comment about the size of LA and outsiders... they just don't understand The opposite sort of happens to me. I presume any other city is the size of LA, so when I actually get there, I'm like, "that's it?" Imagine my surprise when I actually (and accidentally) walked from one side of Manhattan to the other
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Old Dec 17, 2005, 7:08 am
  #58  
 
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I'd like to interject a few thoughts on LA and mass transit. I agree that the area is very vast and you'd have to know the lay of the land to really utilize the transit system for everything. For instance, I can't imagine how to get to a TV show taping in the valley by bus.

That being said, there are some very feasible options for mass transit. The subways have already been covered here, and they are good for downtown shopping, Hollywood, and Universal. Some things you guys haven't touched on, though:

1. The Big Blue Bus which services West LA is not dirty like the MTA buses are. It is a great way to cover the area around Santa Monica, Venice, UCLA, and the like. Plus, it's really cheap. The last time I was on one, it was 50 cents. That's a bargain.

2. The red express MTA buses are great. You can get on one of those in Beverly Hills and get to Santa Monica Pier in half the time because they make limited stops. They're also very clean, especially in comparison to regular MTA buses.

3. Amtrak operates a shuttle between the Anaheim station and Disneyland. I've never used it, but I was on a train to San Diego with someone who had, and they said it was very efficient.

4. The Amtrak lines up and down the Pacific Coast are awesome. You get amazing views and a far less aggrivating trip than if you took the freeway. It is my favorite way to get between San Diego and Santa Barbara other than flying. And with the fares within So Cal, that is one expensive plane trip. In contrast, Amtrak is something like $20 from SAN to LAX. You just can't beat it.

5. If you REALLY want to get adventurous on trains, try going from SAN to SNA via public transit! You go from a trolley in SAN to a bus to the Oceanliner regional train to another train in Orange County to a bus. I've never done it, but a friend of mine did when we were in college. I was flying as a nonrev (friends with the airline employee), and she'd pricelined a ticket. We stayed in SAN, and she had to fly out of SNA. She wanted to go cheap and wasn't old enough to rent a car. So she set out on that trek. Personally, I'd have taken Amtrak to Irvine or Santa Ana and taken a taxi to the airport. But youth is not always so practical.......

Anyway, just my 2 cents on the whole Southern California tranist situation.

P.S. San Diego has a much better transit system. You can definitely do San Diego without a car. The trolley is just awesome.
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Old Feb 28, 2006, 9:05 pm
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Why not take the Hilton Garden Inn shuttle to the metro station right next door? Is that better/quicker than Aviation station?
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Old Mar 1, 2006, 8:40 pm
  #60  
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