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Transit 101 Guide

Transit 101 Guide

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Published by David Murphy

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Published by: David Murphy on Dec 30, 2011
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This guide was produced independently of any transit agency, by Angelenos Against Gridlock,and is made possible by a grant from
the
David Bohnett Foundation
.
 
Get Around. Save Money. Save the Environment.
Think
ing of trying transit but don’t know
where to start?This guide will help you learn how to
 
master
 
Los Angeles’
subway, commuter rail, and bus systems.
The Big Picture
Despite our reputation as a car-centered region, Los Angeles County actually has a wide range of transitoptions. The fact is that on an average weekday there are around
two million
transit trips
on public transitsystems run by Metro and other local municipal transit operators in LA County. We encourage you to try
transit too! It’s good for the environment, good for your pocketbook, and good for your blood pressure
nomore driving in gridlock. The options can be broadly divided up as follows:
 
Subways, “light rail” trains and “transitways”.
Run by Metro.
 
Transit buses
. At the daily peak, Metro has around 2,000 buses on the road. More than sixty local citiesand regions also run their own bus systems, like the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.
 
Commuter Rail (Metrolink)
. Big, infrequent commuter trains that travel large distances (e.g. SanBernardino to Los Angeles). Run by Metrolink.
 
Commuter Buses and other options
. Specialized commuter buses connect far-flung bedroom communitieswith job centers. Other options include ridesharing & vanpools, Access Services (for the disabled)
andbiking and walking!
Subways, Light Rail & Transitways
Subway
: the
Metro Red Line
(running between Downtown LA Union Station and North Hollywood) and the
Metro Purple Line
(between Union Station and Wilshire/Western) share the same route for most of the way,but split off at Wilshire/Vermont.The
Light Rail
system consists of the following lines:
 
Metro Blue Line
(North-South route connecting Downtown L.A. and Long Beach, via South L.A.)
 
Metro Green Line
(mostly East-West route connecting Norwalk withRedondo Beach, via South Los Angeles.
 
Metro Gold Line
(connecting Pasadena, downtown Los Angeles, and East
Los Angeles in a “C” shaped line.
 
 About Angelenos Against Gridlock:
We believe the LA region deserves a fully built-out subway and light rail system, improvements in bike infrastructure and bike safety, fixes to gridlocked freeways and roads, highspeed-rail, and other short- and long-term solutions and alternatives to the gridlocked status quo. Visit our blog at  endinggridlock.org ,follow us on Twitter at @EndingGridlock, and look for us in media outlets such as:
 
Transit 101
:
 
The How-to-Ride Guide
Angelenos Against Gridlock
www.endinggridlock.org
 
 
Metro
Transitways
”: Metro
Orange & Silver Lines
Metro also includes bus “transitways” (also called “Metro Liners” on maps, and referred to as “Bus RapidTransit”) on its Metro Rail map
. These are actually buses, but they act a bit like rail routes
 –
they go on routeswith fewer stops, often on a dedicated roadway only used by this bus, and like rail, you buy your fare (at aticket machine at the station before boarding.
 
 
Metro Orange Line
: connecting the northern terminus of the Metro Red Line subway in North Hollywoodwith Warner Center in Woodland Hills, via an East-
West dedicated “transitway” roadway.
 
Metro Silver Line
: connecting El Monte, downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and the HarborGateway area.
How to Ride Metro Rail
Once you have checked the system map at on the Metro.net website tosee if a Metro rail line serves the route you want to take, verify thehours and frequency of the trains by viewing the timetables (online inPDF format), but generally, during operational hours, you can just headto the station without checking the timetables; a train should be alongsoon. (Keep an eye out to see if your station has TV monitors near thetrains that display the next scheduled arrival times.)Near the station entrance, look for a farecard machine (a big ATM typemachine) and buy a farecard (ticket) using cash or a credit card. As of August 2011, fares are $1.50 ($0.55 senior/disabled) for each train orbus boarding, generally regardless of the distance. (If you change trains
or buses you’ll need to buy another ticket.) Day passes
($5) are alsoavailable that allow an unlimited number of trips (and make financialsense if you have four or more boardings), but you need a
TAP card
, aprepaid card you can reload/reuse (details at metro.net/around/fares& taptogo.net).Currently, Metro is in the process of phasing in turnstile gates, and you currently if you have a paper farecardyou just walk through the turnstiles (
they’re unlocked)
, or if you have a TAP card you have to TAP it on theblue sensor on the turnstile. Metro sheriffs can demand to see your paper farecard or TAP card anytime (and
you can be fined if you don’t have a paper farecard or didn’t tap your TAP card).
As you head to the trainplatform,
keep to the right on escalators if you want to stand
(the left is for those in a hurry who want towalk and pass on the left). Then look for the signs listing the destination (last stop) of the train going in thedirection you want to go, and wait there for the next train.
Allow passengers on the train to exit first
, andthen walk on board, being sure not to get anything caught in the door as it closes.
It’s not like an elevator
door
it
will 
close on you.
Grab a seat or hold on to a handlebar, and don’t lean on the doors as the train
makes its way.
You’ll whisk
along many feet bel
ow the traffic gridlock above, and before you know it, you’ll be
at your destination. As you exit, keep an eye open for possible signs (usually on lighted boards in the center of the platform) listing different station exits and explaining where each exit goes. You made it!
Buses: An Overview of the System
At any time, there may be as many as 2,000 Metro buses on the road, divided up into different set routes.Metro divides its lines into
local buses
 
(usually painted orange), which stop frequently, and faster
MetroRapid
” (usually red colored)
express
buses. For instance, on Wilshire Blvd, Metro runs the “20” local bus line,
whic
h has stops every couple blocks, as well as the “720” “Rapid” bus, which is significantly faster when going
View full size maps and info at metro.net, or call 323.GO.METRO.
 
 
 
long distances because it only stops at certain major intersections. The system is good for serving transitdependent riders, and Metro has many innovations that make ridingthe bus more pleasant, faster, and better. But the bus is still slowerthan rail, as it gets stuck in traffic, and makes many stops. WhereMetro really shines, though, its participation in the
NexTrip
system(NextBus.com), which tracks buses using GPS and lets you know thereal time the next bus is coming (not just the scheduled time, whichfrankly can be meaningless, due to traffic and other factors).There are also scores of bus lines run by smaller cities or regions
(called “
municipal bus operators
”), which provide their own service.
Their fares, system maps, timetables, and rules are separate anddifferent. Examples range from the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus toLADOT (Los Angeles Dept. of Tra
nsportation)’s DASH bus system.
Some have tracking systems like NexTrip, too.
How to Find and Ride Buses
Figuring out what bus to take and when to take it can be mystifying. But don’t fear, with this guide, you can do
it!First, figure out what bus line(s) serve the route you need to take. The easiest and fastest way to do this is with
)or
just as you wouldwith driving directions (but on the directions page, click , the transit icon). This will present you with several
options and let you visualize the route’s path.
But while all Metro buses and a number of other bus lines areon Google Transit, many are not
. For example, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus is on Google Transit, butMontebello Bus Lines is not. A more comprehensive source (but less user-friendly) is the trip planner on the
Metro website, which has data from 69 transit operators. It’s found either at 
http://www.metro.net orhttp://socaltransport.org/.Both Google and the Metro trip planners not only provide route information, butalso pickup and arrival times.If you already know the route (e.g. Metro line 20), you can also manually view timetables & line route maps (in
PDFs) on the transit provider’s website (e.g. Metro.net.)
But keep in mind that the times in the timetables, TripPlanner, and on Google are all the
scheduled 
times. Just as cars get stuck in traffic, so do buses. And frankly,
waiting…and waiting for the bus has been an all too common
an experience for bus riders. Until now. Amarvelous new system called
NexTrip
monitors actual bus locations using GPS and lets you know the
actual 
 
bus arrival time. It’s extraordinary. It only works for certain bus systems (e.g. for Metro but not Big Blue Bus).
Go to their website on your desktop computer or smartphone at Next
,or call 511 and say “
Nex
Trip
”.
Additional instructions can be found at metro.net/service/nextrip/.  Back to how to use the bus: U
nlike with Metro rail, you don’t have to buy your fare before you board a bus –
 you pay (by cash, not credit card) as you board. There will be a fare box by the driver, and you can insert dollarbills and coins
 –
 
but if you overpay you won’t receive change
, so try to carry exact change with you. Fares varyby operator; as of August 2011, Metro buses are $1.50. (
You can also ask the driver or visit the transit agency’s
website for information on day passes, transfers, and the like. Metro and some other buses accept TAP cards.)
Once you’re onboard, there may or may not be audio or scrolling text announcements of upcoming bus stops.If there’s not, keep an eye out, or tell your bus driver in advance to let you know when you reach your stop. If 
you see your stop is the next one, signal to the bus driver to stop by pulling on the yellow pull cord hangingalong the windows & walls of the bus, or (on certain buses) by pressing one of the buttons mounted on the
 
View full size maps and info at metro.net, or call 323.GO.METRO.
 

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