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Los Angeles MTA Metro
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Los Angeles MTA Travel Guide


Metro Facts at a Glance

TAP Your Way to Paperless Passes

All Metro passes and stored value are now sold on TAP, a durable plastic card you can use again and again. It’s eco-friendly, because using TAP eliminates tons of disposable paper passes and stamps.  Before you can load a pass on TAP, you need to have the appropriate TAP card. A reusable TAP card for regular fare riders can be obtained several ways including online at taptogo.net..

When you purchase a new card or add a new pass to your card, be sure to TAP your card at each change of lines or transfer.  Otherwise you may be subject to a heavy fine of over $200!

Commuters, travelers and tourists, may need a little guidance in navigating through the public transportation systems of the Los Angeles area in sunny Southern California.  If you're new to public transportation in Los Angeles, several photos and videos on this page may give you a better feeling for what's it like to ride our trains and buses?.  More videos here.

In the 1960's, I can remember using tokens to ride the MTA buses and streetcars in Los Angeles.  You could buy a number of MTA tokens for less than the normal fare.  This was a good discount and my mother and many students like myself took advantage of the tokens to go downtown This was at a time when you could take the trolley or buy a cup of coffee for 10 cents.  More than 50 years hence, you may wonder: Do tokens for the MTA still exist? 

Today we have a rather complex array of public transportation services in Los Angeles through Metro and Metrolink that provide discounts to seniors, students and disabled persons.  To get these discounts you have to prove your eligibility and purchase a monthly pass.  There is also a general monthly pass, semi-monthly pass, weekly pass and tokens, (Yes, tokens still exist!) sold in bags of 10 for $12.50.  For more details, see  Metro.net  Prepaid Passes & Tokens.  Coming soon ... barrier gates and TAP!

But, I was disappointed recently when I found out that you couldn't transfer from one Metro Rail train to another without paying another fare of $1.50.  To get around this cost, you can buy the $6.00 day pass and transfer back and forth among any of the Metro Rail trains all day, and this includes free access to the entire fleet of Metro buses, as well.  Current rates and discount fares are explained on the Cash Fares page. 

On the buses, you cannot get change for large bills.  In West Hollywood one time I saw a tourist couple from Portugal trying to get change from the bus driver on the MTA Bus Route #2 for entering a $100 bill in the payment device.  They said that the bus driver told them to enter the large bill.  Maybe this was a problem of communication, however these folks seemed to speak English very well.  They were leaving Los Angeles to return to Portugal the next day.  They were told by the driver that the only way to get their change was by mail.  This couple was hoping to spend a nice day at the beach in Pacific Palisades, which (by the way) is comfortably accessible by the MTA Bus Route #2. This is also a great route to access UCLA and many other interesting locations on Sunset Boulevard.  But don't enter any more than $5 for a day pass, if that's what you want.  NO CHANGE!  NO CAMBIO!

If you get careless on your fares or violate other Metro rules, you are facing a fine of $250.  So, make sure you know the rules (no drinking, no eating, no smoking, etc.) and the fares and try to behave in a civil manner (not noisy or weird) to avoid the attention of the many security personnel on trains and stations.  Remember that they not only check for valid passes on the cars or trains on a random basis, but they also often check passengers for fares as soon as you exit the train.  I've seen many free-riders get caught as they try to exit the platform.  On the Red Line and Purple Line subways, and in some other Gold Line and other stations, you can be fined for being in the platform area without a pass, even if you haven't even stepped on the train.   If you're thinking you can be lucky and not get caught, it's not a good bet!  See the rider getting ticketed on the Gold Line to ELA video.

MTA Rail-Road-Rules (3Rs-9Ns):

  • No Entry Without Valid Fare

  • No Littering

  • No Eating or Drinking

  • No Smoking

  • No Spitting or Chewing Gum

  • No Gas-Powered Vehicles

  • No Loud or Rowdy Activity

  • No Rollerblading or Skateboarding

  • No Playing of Sound Equipment

The day pass allows you to travel from the west end of the San Fernando valley using the Orange Line all the way to Long Beach or Pasadena, for example, and return on the same day for only $5.00.  Not only is this a good deal compared to automobile economics, but it's also better on your nerves to let the conductor be your chauffeur.  The Metro train is also more reliable and timely than the overused freeway system.

I recently discovered that there's also a free shuttle at the Long Beach end of the Blue Line to visit the main peers and tourist stops on the shore.  This will also connect you with the boat to Catalina Island without paying a dime.  Of course, the Catalina boat will cost at least a couple of dimes.  Do tourists take the Metro Rail trains?  My observations are that many do and more should!

Prepaid passes and tokens can save you time and money. Accepted as base fare on bus and rail, they're sold at Metro Customer Centers and more than 850 other locations including Ralph's, Community Check Cashing, Cash It Here, Jon's Market, Pavilions, Nix Check Cashing and Popular Cash Express.  To find a location near you by city or zip code, use the Metro.net Pass and Token Directory

You can also purchase monthly passes online through the Metro Online Purchase page.  If you want to pay by check through the mail, you have to make sure you send in your check no later than the 15th of the month for the following month pass using this mail order form.  Be sure you follow the instructions on the second page of the form.

Bus Schedules

For specific bus routes, you can find the most current schedule on the Metro Trip Planning page.  Although most schedules have buses that run several times an hour, there are a few routes that only run once an hour.  If you miss this bus, forget it!  I made this painful discovery recently when waiting for the Metro Bus 183 in Glendale.  After waiting an hour, I started walking to my destination and was lucky to catch this bus at the next stop, about an hour and 15 minutes after I started waiting and walking.  I personally question whether any bus route with a schedule less than every 30 minutes is worth the effort for the Metro and for the riders?   What's your opinion?  Do you have an hour to kill waiting for a bus?  See all the bus and rail routes on a System Map in PDF format.

The Metro Trip Planner is a great resource to quickly find the best Metro routes from one place to another.  You may have to work a little bit on the spelling of street names, but once you get the streets properly spelled, the outcome is a list of one or more routes  including estimated times for each bus or train on the route.  Keep in mind, however, that the estimated times on this list does not include the possibility of buses with lengthy time-spans,  such as the 183 bus in Glendale.  Therefore, it's best to check the schedules of each bus after printing the route from the Trip Planning display.

Meet your pals, or your date, at a Shopping Center or Mall.  No car needed! 

MTA Rail-Road-Rules

Rules of the Rail Road - Click for larger image...

 

Recent Rail Expansion Projects

Several new rail lines, expansions and improvements of current lines are underway.  See the Metro Projects underway including the Expo Corridor, Crenshaw-LAX, Metro Orange Line Extension, Westside Subway Extension, Gold Line Foothill Extension, South Bay Green Line Extension, and more.  L A is on the move!

Metrolink Connection?

If you want to transfer to the Metrolink from the Metro Rail and Metro Bus system, however, your MTA passes, tickets and tokens won't get you in the door.  The Metrolink service is a different organization that does not integrate fares with local transit systems.  With a name like "MetroLINK", you would expect that the convenience of linking or transferring  between systems would be an essential part of their mission? 

On the other hand, there is a transfer agreement from Metrolink to MTA Metro Bus/Rail which applies only to those who already have purchased their fare or pass to the Metrolink system.  The agreement between Metro and Metrolink regarding fare media is as follows:

  • Valid Metrolink monthly passes and tickets are valid for the base fare on all Metro Bus/Rail service.
  • Metrolink one-way and round-trip tickets are only good for Metro services on the day printed on the ticket.  Metrolink 10-trip tickets must be date-stamped on the date of use prior to boarding Metro Bus/Rail.

The problem with the Metrolink one-way and round-trip tickets is that you can't buy these tickets at MTA Metro Rail stations or anywhere other than Metrolink stations.  Therefore, if your trip starts from Metro Rail or Bus, you have to pay your Metro fare in advance to get to the Union Depot or to other Metrolink train stations where you buy your Metrolink tickets.  After you buy your Metrolink ticket, you can use the ticket for Metro Rail fare at the other end of your train ride.  The same limitation occurs with the 10-trip tickets, since you can't get the date-stamp until you arrive at the Metrolink station.  This, in effect, makes it a half-way transfer arrangement unless you have a valid Metrolink monthly pass or you only need the Metro Bus/Rail after you ride the Metrolink.

Recently, I commuted to Chatsworth from Highland Park several times a week taking the Gold Line to Union Depot and the Metrolink to Chatsworth.  I bought a Monthly Pass on the Metrolink one month, but I lost money on the deal because I didn't travel enough days to realize a savings for the month.  I did better with the 10-Trip-Ticket, but the expiration date of 90 days also caused me to lose money when my job in Chatsworth ended.  With the Metrolink system, you have to buy tickets for a particular line, direction and distance (number of zones).  The One-Way tickets also expire after 3 hours from time of purchase.

Metrolink also has a number of discounts for youth, seniors, disabled persons, students and large groups.  The seniors discount for Metrolink is based on age 65, whereas the qualifying age for the MTA is 62.  Verification of age is required by both organizations to purchase these discount fares.

Metrolink Safety?

Recent accidents on the Metrolink with numerous fatalities have caused an uproar over safety issues.  From the L A Times: After last year's Chatsworth disaster in which 25 people died and 135 were hurt, The Times' Steve Hymon reported that "Metrolink has amassed the most fatalities among commuter railroads of similar size in the United States over the last decade." Over the last nine years, 74 people have been killed in incidents involving Metrolink. Positive train control systems are available that can directly prevent a similar accident from happening.  We expect that this type of positive train control system will be deployed on the Metrolink in the very near future and no train-to-train accident will ever occur again.

Cross-Town Token Concept?  TAP Pass for MTA and Metrolink?

Wouldn't it be nice if you could buy Cross-Town Tokens or a TAP pass that would be honored by both MTA Metro Rail-Bus and Metrolink?  These Cross-Town Tokens or TAP Passes could be purchased directly by commuters or by employers to award to ride-share drivers as an additional incentive for those who may be more successful in recruiting larger groups of passengers.  This could include some passengers that don't own a vehicle or can't drive. 

Cross-Town Tokens or TAP Passes would be used to buy special transfer tickets to go between MTA and Metrolink lines.  For example, for 3 tokens you could buy a ticket to go one way from any Metro Rail or Bus to any Metrolink line.  For each Metrolink zone, you would add an additional token to the price of the ticket.  Two Tokens would be sufficient to purchase an all-day pass on the MTA system.  To include the Metrolink trains for round trip passage, you would pay six tokens plus double the number of zones.

Purchasing Cross-Town Tokens or TAP Passes would be made more convenient by vending machines in many of the current retail outlets for MTA passes as well as United States Postal Service stores.  You would be able to purchase these tokens in several quantities, including 10, 20 or 50.  Prices would be discounted more for larger quantities: 10 for $11, 20 for $20, 50 for $45.  The vending machines would accept cash, credit cards or ATM cards.  The tokens would have no cash value.

If you think this is a good idea, please pass it on to local officials and your elected representatives.  We can bring down the price of gas by taking available mass transit alternatives.  More convenience will attract many frustrated commuters.  Instead of spending all our transportation money on infrastructure, we should invest a few dollars on making the entire system more accessible and convenient to users. 

You can present your comments directly to Metro MTA offices through the addresses, phones and e-mail links on this page.  Use these links to contact your local Los Angeles City or County representatives.  The MTA Metro Rail / Bus system is a go!  You can make it go better by letting your voice be heard!

Symbol of Gender Harmony - Through the Child the Parents Are Unified
Giving from the Heart

 

Find a convenient TAP card purchase location near you...

 

  Need a New SmartPhone? Prepaid?

MTA Metropolitan Transit Authority Token

Original MTA Token

Got the Gas Price Blues? 
   Stop Wailing
   
  Start Railing!

 

Translate this page to your language ---

El Pasajero es tu ventana a lo que está pasando en Metro. Vamos a compartir lo último en noticias y novedades de transporte y cómo sacarle el mayor provecho al transporte público en Los Ángeles.

L A Metro News Desk: Press Releases

Sports Venues by MTA Rail and Bus - Football, Futbol, Soccer, Baseball, Basketball ... Avoid the crowded parking lots and save time, too!

 

Can you help your homeless neighbors with a Help Sign?

 

Save gas and time... Plan your trip with Los Angeles Metro Rail and Bus...

 

Tourists, Art Lovers and Weekend Explorers: Cultural Venues, Museums, Theaters, Universities, Art Exhibits - Available by LA Metro Rail and Bus
Los Angeles Downtown Walking Tour Map

 

NO WEEDS: See a Big Collection of Unique Tools for Weeds by Ergonica!

Search Ergonica Catalog by Region for Weed Identification Free Downloads including USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, Central America, South America, Africa ...

 

 

Ride the Gold Line Today

New East Los Angeles Extension to the Gold Line - A few days after the inauguration on November 15, 2009.  Take a ride to the first two stops to explore ELA by light rail!

Take a trip with us from Heritage Square to Union Station downtown Los Angeles by watching this 5 - minute video clip!

 

 

By looking at these videos, it's obvious that the Los Angeles Metro Rail is much faster through town than your high performance rubber-wheeled car!

 

If you cannot operate the video player, you may need to download the latest Shockwave Flash Add-on for your browser from Adobe Systems inc.  Make sure this add-on is enabled in the tools options for your browser under managing add-ons.  More viewing options are also available from YouTube. See more train video clips by author.

Subway 1926

 

 

Red Car Used Till 1955

 

Blue Line 2003

Hurricane Katrina Disaster in Louisiana

Los Angeles Cityscape Scenes
Including Union Station & MTA Tower

 

Educational Resources


Union Station

Take a ride on the MTA Rapid Bus 704 to the Union Station and the Gold Line Metro Rail to China Town. Buses, trains, light rail and people from all parts of busy Southern California, all merge at the picturesque Union Station in the heart of the City of Los Angeles.


Olvera Street

If you have an hour to kill waiting for your next Metrolink train at Union Station, the smart thing to do is walk across the street and treat yourself to colorful scenes, tasty foods and ethnic sounds at Olvera Street.  The historic site of El Pueblo De Los Angeles is a very popular tourist attraction.

You can return to this website with this direct link: www.2givenow.org/Los_Angeles_MTA_Tokens.htm

Feel free to share this link with anyone who needs to travel around Los Angeles, California.

Thoughts About Giving: It is when you give of yourself that you truly give -- Thomas Fuller

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