The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Register on September 20, 2014.
Look, no wheels: L.A. without a car – Los Angeles Register
By America Hernandez
September 20, 2014
As a 22-year-old lifelong native of downtown Los Angeles, I’ve never driven a car.
From dance classes in Koreatown to schools in Los Feliz, and the odd Hollywood rock gig or two in between, all I ever needed was the underground Metro Red Line.
But what if you live in Sunland and want to shop at the Americana in Glendale? The Metro 90 and 91 buses both will get you there in just over an hour, and a quick hop on the 780 Rapid connects you to Paseo Colorado in Old Town Pasadena.
How about getting from Compton to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for exhibits on ancient Korean vases and African paintings of the cosmos? Taking the Blue light rail line to Seventh and Metro, followed by 25 minutes on the westbound 20 bus leaves you five minutes away on foot.
Each day, I’m one of about 2 million people who rides the buses and rails in L.A., according to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. And it’s not just people who can’t afford cars.
“There’s a change underway, from the baby boomers to the millennials,” said Marc Littman, a spokesman for Metro. “People are fed up with traffic and want options.”
Even if you have a car but don’t want to deal with parking at the beach, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus will take you to the pier or Venice – whether you live in Culver City or Brentwood – at L.A. Live or near Los Angeles International Airport.
Most buses in Los Angeles today are clean and air-conditioned, but packing a pair of sunglasses is always helpful if you find yourself near the window at a red light.
And don’t let the transit time dissuade you: Take a book, or better yet, keep your eyes peeled. Walking and getting to look out the window while someone else steers are the best way to learn the city and immerse yourself in its diverse cultures.
Empty-nesters are relocating to cultural centers, and yuppies and hipsters embrace the stress-free walk to work in up-and-coming neighborhoods.
“If there’s anyone who doubts Los Angeles people ride mass transit, I tell them to go to Union Station at rush hour and see the 70,000 commuters streaming out of the tunnels to and from work,” Littman said.
Los Angeles Metro is the third-largest transportation agency in the country, after New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Chicago’s Transit Authority.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard and experienced is that buses in this town are famously unreliable.
This can be true, but technology is here to help: A few key phone numbers, websites and applications can make sure you always know where the bus you want is in real time.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
If you already know your route, Nextbus uses your location to show the nearest stops from all agencies in a scroll-down format, with two upcoming arrival times tracked live.
Moovit has both a trip-planning feature and fixed schedules updated using GPS.
For me, the simplest option is often best. Metro’s Trip Planner website lets me input starting and end points and shows me all the options, including how much walking I want to do.
Once I’m at the stop, I’ll call the number on the signpost to see whether the bus is a few minutes early or if I’ve just missed it.
Of course, for those times when I’m running late or want to head somewhere not easily accessible by bus or rail, application-based car services such as Uber let me enter my desired destination, then sit back and relax as my chauffeur does the heavy driving.
For all the talk of constraints that come along with public transit, I find knowing how to get around independently in Los Angeles truly liberating.
When The Missing Persons sang “Nobody walks in L.A.” in 1982, the group had a point. Back then, the California dream was cruising Pacific Coast Highway with the top down and the music up.
Forget that song. You don’t know this city until you’ve punched up your iPhone playlist and walked L.A.
• Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica Beach: Take the Purple Line to Wilshire/Western Station and board the Big Blue Bus R7. Get off on Ocean/ Colorado, then walk toward the sea. TIME: 1 hourCOST: $2.75
• Pasadena to Venice Beach: Take the Gold Line East to Union Station and board the Metro 733. Get off on Main/Grand and walk to the beach. TIME: 2 hours, 10 minutes COST:$3.50
• Culver City to the J. Paul Getty Museum:Take Bus 4 from Culver City Station to Farfax/Electric. Then board the Metro 534 bus and get off at Pacific Coast Highway/Coastline. TIME: 1 hour, 25 minutesCOST: $2.75
• Echo Park to the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd: Hop on the Metro 2 at Sunset/Park. Exit at Sunset/Crescent Heights. TIME: 1 hourCOST: $1.75
• Monrovia to Hollywood and Vine: Take the 187 Foothill Transit bus at Huntington Drive/ California Avenue. Get off at Colorado/Los Robles. Board the Metro 780 to Hollywood/Vine. TIME: 2 hours COST: $2.50
• Silverlake to The Troubadour in West Hollywood: Board the Metro 704 at Sunset/Silverlake and get off at Santa Monica/San Vicente. OR board the Metro 4 at Sunset/ Silverlake and get off at Santa Monica/Doheny. TIME: 1 hour COST: $1.75
• Glendora to the Rose Bowl Flea Market:Board the 187 Foothill Transit Bus on Grand/Route 66 and get off at Colorado/Los Robles. Take the Metro 267 and get off at Lincoln/Mountain. TIME: 2 hours Cost: $2.50
• Los Angeles to Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland: Grab the Metro 460 bus at Fifth/Flower or Figueroa/ Pico. Get off at your theme park of choice. TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes COST: $1.75
• Long Beach to L.A. Live: Catch the Metro Blue Line at Wardlow Station and get off on Pico. Walk heading north on Pico Blvd for 10 minutes until you see the lights. TIME: 50 minutes COST: $1.75
5 Important Transit Lines To Know
When planning trips, recognizing the main connector points between cities is crucial. Here are several heavy-duty routes.
• Metro Orange Line: This bus route connects the San Fernando Valley, going from Chatsworth in the northwest to Canoga Park, Reseda, Van Nuys and terminating at the North Hollywood subway station.
• Metro Red Line: This underground subway connects North Hollywood, Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Feliz via Vermont, Koreatown via Wilshire and downtown Los Angeles at Union Station.
• Metro Gold Line: This light rail links East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo and downtown Los Angeles to Highland Park, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre.
• Foothill Transit: The 187 Bus connects Pasadena’s Gold Line rail to Arcadia, Duarte, Azusa, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont and Montclair. The Silver Streak bus starts in Montclair and stops in Pomona, West Covina, Baldwin Park and El Monte and travels into downtown Los Angeles and the USC Medical Center.
• Big Blue Bus: The series of trains connects various parts of West Los Angeles, linking Westwood, Brentwood, Culver City and Century City to Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Venice, Playa Vista and Mar Vista.
C’mon, try it
In honor of World Car Free Day, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is inviting locals to participate in a series of car-free events Sunday, Sept. 21, and Monday, Sept. 22.
• Discover L.A. Sunday Bike Tour: In celebration of Latino Heritage Month, bike ride through a selected section of Los Angeles to discover some of the most beautiful and historic murals in the city up close, including “The Great Wall of Los Angeles.” The tour will begin at 10 a.m. at Tujunga Green Belt Park and guide participants along Coldwater Canyon Avenue (between Oxnard Street and Burbank Boulevard).
• Blacklist L.A. World Car Free Day Run: The group will meet Monday at 10 p.m. in front of the Urban Lights installation at LACMA (along Wilshire Boulevard). Participants are encouraged to arrive early, wear comfortable running shoes and bring their cameras or cell phones to take pictures along the way and join the conversation by using #blacklistla and #CarFreeLA.
• Self-guided Tours: L.A. Tourism has 15 car-free guides to discovering Los Angeles, from Museum Row and the beaches to the best street art and music venues in town. Visithttp://www.discoverlosangeles.com/carfreelafor the full list of options.