Although LA is known as an American city where you drive a lot, the public transportation system is surprisingly good.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA; Tel: (800) 266 68 83 for route information or (213) 922 27 00 for customer service. Internet: www.mta.net) has 1500 buses (Metro Bus) – one of the largest fleets in the Land – and a subway network (Metro Rail).
Because of the size of the city, bus trips can take a long time, and you may have to change trains several times.
The subway does not have stops everywhere, but is otherwise a very good means of transport. For example, a trip from downtown to Hollywood takes only 12 minutes. The MTA website offers a very practical, interactive trip planner.
The metro system currently includes 62 stations and subway and light rail lines of almost 96 km in length. The blue line of the metro ( Blue Line) connects downtown Los Angeles with Long Beach, the green line ( Green Line), which runs across the median strip of the Century Freeway, connects Norwalk with El Segundo. Union Station, Downtown LA, Hollywood, Universal City and North Hollywood are served by the red line of the Metro ( Red Line) connected. There is also a new route from Union Station to Pasadena.
There are single tickets or ten tickets for buses and trains. The Metro Pass, which you can buy in many hotels and supermarkets, entitles you to unlimited use of buses and trains.
Downtown Los Angeles also has the DASH bus network (operated by LADOT; Tel: (808) 22 73. Internet: www.ladottransit.com). Route maps and timetables are available on the buses or at hotel reception. There are stops all over downtown.
There are enough taxis available in LA, but since the city is so extensive, they’re expensive and impractical for trips across town, and are more convenient for shorter distances at night.
There are nine franchise taxi companies in LA (Internet www.taxicabsla.org). Visitors should always look for the official Los Angeles Taxicab seal before boarding, as vehicles without this symbol are not licensed.
Taxis may not be waved in on the street, but are available at the taxi stands of the hotels or can be ordered by phone:
Bell Cab (Tel: (888) 235 52 22. Internet: www.bellcab.com),
LA Yellow Cab (Tel: (877) 733 33 05. Internet: www.layellowcab.com) and
Checker Cab (Tel: (310) 201 03 07 or (800) 300 50 07).
The licensed taxis charge uniform fees. At the base price comes a price per mile.
If you want to drive from Beverly Hills to Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Cab Company (Tel: 1 800 273 66 11. Internet: www.beverlyhillscabco.com) and the Independent Taxi Company (Tel: 1 800 521 82 94. Internet: www.taxi4u.com) the only authorized taxi companies.
Driving in the city
The distances between the individual sights of the city can be a little intimidating at first glance, but getting around in LA by car is pretty quick. It is a little difficult to find your way around Los Angeles as a driver with no local knowledge, so you should plan the route beforehand if possible and get a map of the major highways.
There are representatives of the leading rental car companies at the airport and in downtown. The freeways in the east-west direction have even numbers, those in the north-south direction have odd numbers. Most of the time they also have a name and you should ask for both if you are asking for directions.
Travel information is available from the Downtown Visitor Information Center (tel: (213) 689 88 22).
Motorways are well signposted, but often clogged during peak hours (between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.). The local radio stations regularly bring traffic reports between 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
In California , many highways have so-called “HOV’s” ( High Occupancy Vehicles only), lanes that can normally only be used by cars with at least two occupants. Visitors should therefore only use these lanes if their car really has the specified minimum number of occupants, otherwise penalties may apply.
There are toll free telephones on the highways every half mile for emergencies.
There are numerous parking lots and car parks all over the city. Fees vary a lot, they can be cheaper before 9 a.m. If you park on the side of the road, you should carefully check all the signs, because the no parking system can be complicated. For unauthorized parking, you can quickly get a parking ticket or even be towed away.
A red curb marking means no parking, a green restricted parking, a white one that can only be stopped briefly to get in or out. There are parking meters in some streets.
You can park for free after 6 p.m. and all day on Sundays, but you should still make sure of this on the parking signs.
Many restaurants offer valet parking for a small fee ; you should tip.
In the greater LA area, all major rental car companies have offices free of charge , including
Alamo (tel: (800) 462 52 66, in the USA and Canada . Internet: www.alamo.com),
Avis (tel: (800) 331 12 12 or (310) 646 56 00. Internet: www.avis.com),
Budget (Tel: (800) 527 07 00. Internet: https://rent.drivebudget.com),
Dollar (Tel: (800) 800 36 65. Internet : www.dollar.com),
Hertz (Tel: (800) 654 31 31. Internet: www.hertz.com),
National (Tel: (888) 501 90 10. Internet: www.nationalcar.com) and
Thrifty ( Tel: (877) 880 26 77. Internet:www.thrifty.com).
Most of these companies require a minimum age of 25, but Los Angeles Rent-A-Car (Tel: (310) 670 99 46. Internet: www.la-rentacar.com) also rents cars to people aged 21 to 25.
Vintage cars and other unusual vehicles are particularly popular in LA and can be rented from Beverly Hills Rent A Car (tel: (310) 337 14 00. Internet: www.bhrentacar.com).
Away from the city freeways, Los Angeles is quite bike-friendly. Bike paths run through the entire city area and along the beach promenades.
Topanga Creek Bicycles (Tel: (310) 455 21 11. Internet: www.topangacreekbicycles.com) is one of the few bike shops where you can rent road bikes as well as mountain bikes.
Perry’s Beach Cafe, 2400 and 2600 Oceanfront Walk in Santa Monica (Tel: (310) 939 00 00. Internet: www.perryscafe.com) is in close proximity to the bike paths that run along the Santa Monica Pier and rents bicycles , Tricycles and inline skates.
The bike station, 105 The Promenade North, Long Beach (Tel: (562) 733 01 06. Internet: www.bikestation.org) rents good bicycles, offers direct access to scenic cycle paths with a total length of 53 km and is easy to reach by public transport.
motorcycles, including Harley Davidsons, you can at EagleRider Motorcycle Rental near the airport, 11860 South La Cienega Boulevard (tel: (310) 536 67 77 or 800 501 86 87. Internet 1 www.eaglerider.com) borrow. The company also offers guided motorcycle tours.