A Former New Yorker’s Guide to LA’s Public Transit

Subway  life.


After living in New York City for close to six years, I had no choice but to become a pro at the riding the subway and buses to get around. At a certain point, I took tremendous pride knowing the tricks of the subway cars, unspoken MTA etiquette, schedule timing and everything else all public transit folks basically understood as a fact of life.

When I first moved back to LA, I had high hopes that I would utilize the city’s Metro and establish a new relationship with the West Coast version of the public transit system. However, I found building a life with LA’s Metro slower than expected. Lately though, our relationship has begun to evolve and I think I can now offer some helpful advice to fellow former New Yorkers and Metro newbies:

Metro Bus

I once was told something along the lines of, ‘Those who ride the train are determined to get somewhere fast while those who ride the bus live for the journey.’ When I lived in NYC, I loved the bus because I lived for the journey. Any chance to avoid the underground life I took. Often I compare a city bus ride to a cheap tour of the city.

But let’s be clear, riding the bus in LA is not the same as riding the bus in NYC. I actually gross out riding the bus here. My advice: When you ride an LA bus, carefully choose where you decide to sit (or better yet, just stand). One ride to work, I watched a passenger place his trash bags (bags) filled with garbage and used, collected soda cans on a bus seat and subsequently get off the bus after a couple stops. A new bus passenger rushed to the same exact seat and sat right down where all the garbage/old cans were just located. How lucky. This next passenger complimented her morning office attire with a fresh garbage residue. Just the thought gets makes me feel gross and sticky. I usually wash my clothes an take a shower after I ride the bus.

Metro Subway Transfers and Metrolink

When you buy a Metrolink ticket, you get a free transfer to any of the LA Metro lines. But how do you go through the turnstiles without a TAP card? Well, took me a few tries but I finally figured out that you tap the bar on your Metrolink ticket at the Metro turnstile and boom, you are in! So skip the Metro ticket kiosk and go straight through to the subway platform.

Use the paper ticket to TAP through the turnstile.

Metrolink-Quiet Car

The second car from the locomotive is considered the quiet car. It is pretty great to ride a train car with little to no talking so you can sleep and rest comfortably during the commute. I love the Quiet Car.

Union Station-Food Options

Like any major transportation hub, Union Station has its share of challenging guests floating around the area. But recently, I noticed that Union Station stepped up their food game. Barista Society for expensive coffee and most recently, I discovered a Japanese food kiosk with crepes! What the??? Maybe once all the renovations are complete, the food options will further improve. It is pretty exciting though for the commuters on the run to get a spam musubi while transferring from the Metrolink to the Metro.

Los Angeles DASH

For 50cents you can ride throughout the Downtown LA area. Although not all DASH routes run on the weekend, this cheap, not usually crowded bus is a great way to get to different parts of the city and get a chance to enjoy the journey (see above). Personally, my DASH rides have taught me different routes throughout downtown area.

At every DASH stop you can send a text to request an update when the next DASH is scheduled to arrive. How I love modern technology!

Metro Subway Platforms

I remember days where I waited on the subway platform with nothing to do but read the transit map or hope I had a book/magazine to pass the time. Nowadays, Metro platforms have signal access. The down time before a subway arrives is a perfect chance to read, catch up with world events and Olympic updates.

Metrolink: A double decker ride.

I know in LA we all love our cars and possibly love sitting in ridiculous traffic, but LA Metro and Metrolink allows a person to rest, take in city views and still get to the required destination. With all the modern updates and expanding routes, it’s time to utilize this service.


LA Metro


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