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Los Angeles Transportation

Getting There

Airport
Los Angeles has two main airports, LAX (Los Angeles International  Airport) and Burbank (Bob Hope Airport). Other options include Long Beach Airport and Ontario (LA/Ontario International Airport) but they are inconveniently distant and not recommended unless you are planning to stay near them. LAX (www.lawa.org) is the world’s seventh largest airport, and 80 carriers connect with 81 U.S. destinations—565 flights daily—and 65 international destinations. Burbank has far fewer flights which connect mainly to Western cities (via Southwest and United). Because it’s laid-back and less crowded, savvy locals will pay extra (because there are fewer flights, they tend to be slightly more expensive than LAX flights) to avoid the headache of LAX (www.burbankairport.com).

 

Both airports are served by shuttles, including SuperShuttle, (www.shuttlefinder.net). On arrival, you can find a shuttle stand at each terminal, and there are flat fees to different areas. A shared shuttle from LAX to Hollywood is $26 per person. Taxis are expensive. They start at $2.85, charge $2.70 per mile, and 30 cents for each 37 seconds of traffic stops—plus they add a $2.50 airport fee. Taxi stands dispense cabs in order, so you have no choice as to which taxi company you will use. Another option is a town car service, like All Airport Sedan Service (877-609-0609; www.allairportsedan.com). The convenient LAX FlyAway buses cost $7 to or from downtown Union Station and Van Nuys, $5 from Westwood (www.lawa.org/flyaway). All the major car rental companies have centers near LAX and provide free pickup from all the terminals.

Train
Trains to Los Angeles arrive downtown at Union Station (800 Alameda St), one of the last of the great train stations, part Deco and part Spanish Moorish design. It’s served by AmTrak (800-872-7245, http://www.amtrak.com). Union Station also connects with the light rail lines and subway (see Getting Around). There are five main routes in and out of Los Angeles including: Southwest Chief (between L.A. and Chicago with stops in Albuquerque and Kansas City); Texas Eagle (between L.A. and Chicago with stops in Texas and Arkansas); Pacific Surfliner (between L.A. and San Luis Obispo); Coast Starlight (between L.A. and Seattle); and Sunset Limited (between L.A. and New Orleans).
Bus

Los Angeles is served by Greyhound, and the main terminal is downtown at 1716 E. 7th St. There are suburban terminals as well, in Glendale, for instance. (800-229-9424, http://www.greyhound.com.) Buses travel between Los Angeles and just about anywhere in the country, albeit with long rides and lots of connections.

Getting Around

Public Transit

Los Angeles transportation is improving, but it’s still a city of automobiles. It’s sad to say that a rental car is still the best option for getting around LA, but there is a bus system, a light rail system and a limited subway system. The Metropolitan Transit Authority runs all three systems, and you can plan your route by going on http://www.metro.net, or hang on a long time for an operator at 800-266-6883. As of July 1, 2010, basic bus fare is $1.50 and an all-day pass is $5.00. A transfer to one of the separate Municipal lines is 30 cents (they include Santa Monica and the Big Blue Bus that goes to the beach). DASH shuttle buses running through downtown, Hollywood and other areas cost only 25 cents one-way. The Red Line and Purple Line are subways running from Union Station to Western and Wilshire or to North Hollywood. Light rail lines run from Union Station to Long Beach (Blue Line) and Pasadena (Gold Line). All three systems are clean and very safe, and run from 5AM to midnight seven days a week, but the daily schedules change on weekends.

Taxis

Until recently the only way to get a taxi in Los Angeles was to call one, but a “Hail a Taxi” experiment in downtown has been so successful that it may soon be possible to hail taxis all over town. Cabs are expensive; fares start at $2.85 and add $2.70 per mile, plus 30 cents each 37 seconds of traffic stops. But if you’re spending a night at the clubs, that’s still less than being arrested for drinking and driving. There are many taxi companies, including Yellow Cab, Beverly Hills Cab and Independent Taxi.

Driving
Los Angeles is huge, and the only really efficient way to see the sights is to rent a car. Angelenos are generally an extremely friendly lot, but many L.A. drivers have an unfortunate sense of entitlement, so they’re prone to cutting in front, passing on the right and honking irately less than a second after the light goes green. The best advice is to know exactly where you’re going before you start out, take nothing personally, and drive defensively. Don’t drink and drive. This is a serious offence. And don’t run red lights; many intersections have cameras, and the tickets are $450. On a positive note, you can turn right on red lights unless it’s posted otherwise.
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