Buses, trains, and water taxis in Los Angeles 3

Public transportation in Los AngelesVisitors to Los Angeles often ask about how to get around without a car so this page is my collection of LA Public Transportation info. (Including bikes now.)

(Services may change but this is hopefully a good start for you.) I don’t have Valley, Inland, South Bay, Long Beach, or Orange County info here at this time, except for the Metro system.

If you find info has changed, I hope you’ll share that info with us via Comments. Or, please send me a note.

Before I begin with the transit lines info, here’s a tip: Google Maps does a great job of providing mass transit (aka public transit) info. When you tell it where you want to travel from and to, it’ll offer suggestions for car, transit, and walking. I have found its transit info to be excellent in Los Angeles (and Israel). The MTA has a trip planner as do other companies but using Google Maps, I have not needed them. I can’t tell you about Apple Maps because Google Maps have proven better for me during my world travels so I stopped using Apple’s.

All over LA

To start with there is the very large LA Metro system…

LA Metro

Metro.net is the LA Metro System website. They keep redoing it, trying to make it easy to use. I don’t know if they ever succeeded as there is so much info there, but have a look. I’d explain but I do and then it changes. These links change frequently too, so you may be on your own to figure it out.

  • Maps & Timetables is where you find the maps and learn each line.
  • The Going Metro menu on the left side is most relevant.
  • Fares (includes How to Ride and what a TAP card is.
Here’s another reference for you:
It’s a blog called The MetroDuo Blog – Adventures on Metro Rail: See Los Angeles by Metro Rail! and it’s full of stories about seeing Los Angeles by Metro.  Perhaps helpful for all are Metro Maps & Getting Around and How to TAP: Using TAP Cards 101 (although if this doesn’t say transfers are now free). It’s not often updated but it may give you some good ideas.

Metro (Downtown) Bike Share

Metro has a bike share program for $20 per month, which includes “free” meaning no extra fee rides up to 30 minutes each with a fee for each 30 minutes after that. They recommend this plan if you use the bike for over 5 trips each month. There’s also a $40 per year plan where no rides are “free.” Or you can just pay per ride with no plan. Bikes are available 24/7/365. There are many bike stations! You can read about it and sign up at bikeshare.metro.net. or jump to the FAQ, which are highly educational.

DASH buses

DASH is part of LA Department of Transit. The website explains, “DASH provides frequent, inexpensive and convenient bus service in downtown Los Angeles and in 27 neighborhoods all across the City of Los Angeles.” It’s 50 cents a ride or just  35 cents if you have money stored on your TAP card. The routes and route maps are at this site.

Personally, I love the idea of the DASH but have never succeeded in finding one when I needed it. It seems they’ve always just stopped for the evening, or a stop has been moved. They’re a great idea, though, so I hope you have better luck with them!

DASH Observatory bus!

With this DASH Observatory bus which just added weekdays to its schedule,  you can now get to the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theatre (fab concert venue) or to a place to see the Hollywood Sign from the Metro Red Line’s Vermont / Sunset Station.

Getting to and around the LA area beaches

Beach Shuttles


This VisitMarinaDelRey.com page provides names of and links to several beach area buses including:

  • The Free Ride — for locals and visitors.  Five-passenger electric shuttles provide free, on-demand transportation daily from noon to 9 p.m. for just the price of a gratuity to the driver. (Please tip the driver.) The route is literally around the marina. Just text to 323-435-5000 and allow 10–15 minutes for pick-up.
  • The Playa Vista Beach Shuttle — free and year-round as an experiment for the first time in 2017.
  • WaterBus (see below too)
  • Santa Monica Blue Bus
  • Culver City Green Bus Line
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA, or Metro)

Free Beach Shuttle

Free Beach Shuttle covering Playa Vista, Marina del Rey and Venice Beach Pier. This is a 2016 PDF so hopefully, they’ll post a 2017 flier here soon.

Marina del Rey WaterBus

Marina del Rey has a WaterBus! It runs between these eight stops in the Marina for $1 per ride. Dock attendants at each WaterBus stop sell the tickets and help with questions about the service and activities in Marina del Rey. (Accurate March 2017)

The stops are: Fisherman’s Village, Burton Chace Park, Waterfront Walk / Fire Station #110, Marina Beach, Dolphin Marina, Esprit 1, Harbor at Marina Bay, and Del Rey Landing

Beach Cities Transit

[The Redondo.org page I link to says] Beach Cities Transit (BCT) serves the South Bay Region. BCT’s service area includes Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and LAX.

These busses connect to the LA Metro’s Green Line.

BCT is part of the LA Metro TAP card system, making it easier for you to take these buses.

Big Blue Bus — Santa Monica

The Big Blue Bus provides transit within Santa Monica, but also out of the area to other key areas such as downtown LA, UCLA, Brentwood, Century City. These buses accept TAP cards. I hope someday they’ll add a route map to their home page so you have a clue where these buses go. Instead, you have to System Map from under the Routes and Schedules area.

Santa Monica Bike Share

$7 per hour prorated by the minute as I write this May 6, 2017. For info visit SantaMonicaBikeShare.com.

Venice Bike Share

LA Metro plans to expand its bike share to Venice, but that’s not in service as I write this May 5, 2017. You can learn about it at bikeshare.metro.net/venice when it’s in service.

Culver City Green Bus Line

The Culver City Green Bus Line has a Washington Blvd bus route (#1) to Santa Monica and a Culver Blvd route (#7) to Marina del Rey. Here’s the overview map. Rides are $1 (as I write this) and they accept the TAP card.

LAX Airport

In some cases, it’s easy to get to your destination from LAX. In others, not. City buses are not permitted to enter the airport space, so you need to find your way out to the bus or train.

Interestingly, the pages I find discuss leaving the airport but not how to arrive at LAX by public transport. You can, of course, but doing this in reverse.

Please read the LAX Ground Transportation page (at http://www.lawa.org) which discusses all options for getting to or from LAX. You’ll need to check that page and follow its links. It’s better to go to that page than to hope my info is up to date, but I put it here as a fast overview aid for you.

The “Lot C” Shuttle to the Metro Bus Center

This takes you to the Metro Bus Center. There, you can find city buses for the Los Angeles area including   Culver City Bus Lines,  Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Torrance Transit. (When I tried this years ago, there was no official providing help. I had to approach each bus driver until one had an idea for me. Hopefully, this has improved now.

The page linked above says wait for this “on the Upper/Departures Level at the sign Private Parking Lots Shuttle Zone.”

Free LAX Shuttle to Metro Green Line’s Aviation Station

If you can get to your destination on or via the Green Line, you’re in luck. You can switch between Metro train lines or buses for free as well. This is the “G” Shuttle. The website says, “wait under the LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections sign on the Lower/Arrivals Level islands in front of each terminal, and board the “G” Shuttle.”

The LAX FlyAway®

The LAX FlyAway bus (also on the lawa.org site mentioned above) can be a terrific and inexpensive option if there’s one heading to or from your destination. They depart from right within the airport! As this site says: ”
Passengers leaving LAX may board buses on the Lower/Arrivals Level in front of each terminal under the green FlyAway® Buses and Long Distance Vans sign. Each bus is marked with its service location.”

Routes and schedules change with demand and ridership so check this site to see if you can use this service. Click each route’s menu to learn details.  You’ll need a credit card though as cash is not accepted (except at Metrolink ticket vending machines at Union Station).

As of March 2017, there are two busses to the Valley, one to UCLA/Westwood, one to Union Station (Downtown Los Angeles), one to Hollywood, and one to Long Beach.

Other LAX options

The private shuttle companies also service other Los Angeles airports.

More Bike Shares

Beverly Hills Bike Share

See Beverly Hills by bike. I was surprised to see bike rentals there but I think it’s a great idea — if you stay off Santa Monica Blvd, maybe Wilshire Blvd, and Olympic Blvd, the northern and southern bordering streets as they are huge and busy. Just enjoy a leisurely scenic ride past all the shops.

$7 per hour prorated by the minute as I write this May 6, 2017. For info visit BeverlyHillsBikeShare.com.

West Hollywood Bike Share

$7 per hour prorated by the minute as I write this May 6, 2017. For info visit wehopedals.com.

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3 thoughts on “Buses, trains, and water taxis in Los Angeles

  • Metro Duo

    Thanks for your comments about our LA by Metro blog !

    Yes, transfers on the LA Metro system (both rail and bus) are free for two hours for travel in the same general direction with no stopovers. However, we’ve used the bathrooms while transiting Union Station and haven’t been charged for another fare.

    We also have a Facebook page that is updated more frequently than our blog. We invite readers to follow that page and subscribe to our blog so they’ll have the latest information on activities and events accessible by Metro Rail.