Metro Doing a Good Job on Los Angeles Transit

There’s a million reasons why I’ll likely never live in Los Angeles, but I do indeed like to visit. Whenever I visit I don’t stay in some hotel and do the tourist thing. I usually get an airbnb (even though I’ve heard that’s illegal in a number of cities like Los Angeles) or stay with friends in the area of my travels. It’s better, in my opinion, to stay where the heart, passion, art, music and life of a city are versus in some stoic and staid hotel that is disconnected and segmented from the people and life of a city. While amidst the heart of Los Angeles here’s a few observations, thoughts and general adventures from the last few days.

Where Did The Sleuthing Occur?

Some basic geographic context here…

  1.  – Los Angeles Union Station, more below the map.
  2.  – Where I resided in an artist’s loft for the weekend.
  3.  – The Spring Street & Main Street Bike Lanes. The location of the recent battle with the movie industry scouts (yes, they’re idiots and that out of touch with American cities these days) over the green in the green bike lane in the street ruining their shots! Here’s a few choice write ups and videos of the film industry whining away. Contrary to their nonsense, I guess they’ve missed the fact that green bike lanes exist in almost EVERY MAJOR CITY IN THE UNITED STATES NOW! I always knew hollywood was out of touch with the country, little things like this just further prove it.
Los Angeles, Click for actual Google Map.

Los Angeles, Click for actual Google Map.

Riding the Coast Starlight one arrives at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. This is a beautiful station located just across the street from the original old city of Los Angeles. This old city happens to be a public space and tourist attraction of sorts these days. Union Station is an amazing place, with a large waiting room, an underground tunnel that connects all of the track platforms and over 60,000 passengers a day through the station. It serves several Amtrak, Amtrak California and Metrolink trains along with light rail Gold Line Service with a subway connection to the Red and Purple Lines. The connections in Union Station are great. Being able to get almost anywhere in the Los Angeles area from the station with maybe one transfer.

Light Rail

The light rail of the Metro System is nice, the light rail vehicles (LRVs) are smooth riding, fast accelerating and decelerating, and have good visible for the ride. Beyond that they run most of the light rail lines at bout 10 minute headways, making it very easy to use to go back and forth for errands. Another thing I took note of, at least on the Gold line, is that the cars are well maintained and generally kept clean.


The metro buses are an extremely wide range of vehicles. From buses that look like they’re dated from the 60s or 70s to extremely modern buses, Metro has them all. Most are kept clean, and the modern sleek BRT style buses operate quickly and frequently. Overall, they’re pretty nice, the frequency is pretty solid and the BRT routes of the Orange and Silver line are exception. I will make the standard complaint about buses that, the ride quality even on these BRT lines isn’t very good compared to the light rail ride quality. I’d still be hard pressed to do anything on the bus besides listen to headphones. Contrary to the light rail, which I routinely read, work on a laptop, listen to headphones or even carry on with fellow passengers. All easier or possible on light rail while much more difficult to impossible while riding the bus.

That’s it for now. In just a few hours I’ll have episode 3 of Transit Sleuth TV up and live, so keep reading and watching. More to come!



  1. Kind of. I have to say they seem to turn a blind eye to connections from Metrolink. Planning our last trip down there, there were a lot of Metrolink arrivals that just missed Metro buses leaving from the station (and in one or two cases vice versa), sometimes as little as 5m too, and with 35, 40, 45 and 50m headways, they could at least try.


    1. Valid complaint. I mostly rode the light rail and a few bus lines. I didn’t check transfers to and from the trains. That would be an interesting analysis for sure. Overall, impressive among the west coast transit systems. I’d say the “America’s #1 Transit System” award from a few years ago is fairly well deserved. 🙂


  2. The best thing I liked, was buying a one-day or round-trip Metrolink ticket (from anywhere) gave you unlimited transfer privileges to any agency accepting the EZ Pass (Except Santa Monica BBB). So while Metrolink tickets are somewhat high, example being Sounder is $4.25 for the same trip on Metrolink for $9 (our trip was ANA-LAX), but you get a day pass out of it. (Monthly passes offer you the same privileges for the month). The Subways and trains were fairly clean, we rode all the lines except the blue in our travels. The Expo line is being extended to Santa Monica as we speak, which is fantastic. Look at a BBB R10 schedule, it takes an hour, except during rush hour, where its scheduled almost to 2 hours…..Light rail will be 40-45m…..always. This is what I call a smart light rail install. The Gold Line was interesting. In Pasadena 2 stations have apartments RIGHT there, one has the station slicing the complex in two, no joke. A shining example of TOD. Near the end its out in the middle of the freeway, and the Sierra Madre Station is poorly designed. Finally, theres a part of town it goes thru that looks not so nice, but theres no stations near it. I get maybe cause its not so nice, but low incomes probably live here?

    The Rapid services they have there are referred to as BRT. It offers the same, if not less amenities and services as our RapidRide up here every bitches about “This is not real BRT”. BRT can go many ways, like far fetched stops, frequent service, I really dont think it needs to mirror a light rail (Orange line excluded from this comment) to serve some benefits of BRT. Theres nothing wrong with calling it BRT if it skips stops, runs often and faster than a local counterpart.

    Improvements? Sure! I have a TAP card, why am I paying for EVERY boarding in a, lets go with 90m window?? I guess day passes are only available on the card, so thats why you have to have one in many cases. The Silver Line (bus) passes thru downtown, and that needs help, either with bus only lanes or TSP. It took more time to get thru DT from Union Station then it did once we finally got on the freeway to the Green Line Station. And the Expo line (Rail to Culver City) hasnt quite got the lights figured out yet, it spends lots of time waiting for lights in its favor. Finally, as mentioned above, the bus headways are odd sometimes, hard to remember times. The Subways have no cell signal. But, once nice thing, Metro DOES have an app, which worked great in tracking buses and helped get us on our way in a few cases.

    Overall, we got around fine on transit for a week there, everything is so sprawled out, it takes forever to get anywhere, but for the most part, it was easy.


  3. Ah, the Gold Line in Pasadena was frikin’ great. I stopped by there last time I was in town before this last trip. The Gold Line extension is making solid progress and looks good.

    Everything else ya said. Yup +1.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s