Nobody Drives in LA – A Guide to Los Angeles Public Transit Agencies

INTRODUCTION TO LOS ANGELES COUNTY TRANSIT

Nobody Drives in LA

When it comes to getting around, the 21st-century city dweller has options. Walking and cycling are my most common methods of getting anywhere but for longer journeys, I like public transport which in Los Angeles includes buses, ferries, light rail, subways, and water taxis. Los Angeles has one of the most extensive transit systems in the US, although sadly it doesn’t stack up particularly well against the transit of more functional international cities like Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Paris, London, Berlin, and Hong Kong. I’m not sure why, but Metro stations never have shops or retail stalls inside of them. Union Station has a few. I appreciate Traxx — but the fact that its competition includes Starbucks, Subway, and Wetzel’s Pretzels does not speak well for the station. Nor, for that matter, do Union Station’s public restrooms, which are for some reason invariably in the worst state of any public restrooms I regularly visit… but at least they exist, which is more than I can say for the rest of Los Angles’s train stations.

Most bus journeys involve an overlong wait and too many transfers (i.e. any) — but the patient rider can get within walking distance of just about any corner of Los Angeles County via public transit — unless you’re trying to get to the top of a mountain. That fact is fairly impressive, as Los Angeles County is a vast county which includes not just the cityscape but mountain ranges, deserts, and islands. It is, in fact, larger in size than about 100 of the planet’s countries and dependencies, including the entire nations of Jamaica, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, and Singapore. It’s also populous — the most populous in the country, in fact, and the nation’s most densely-populated metropolitan area.

Los_Angeles_transport_map
Metro Bus & Metro Rail System Map (2017)

Within that county are 88 municipalities and about the same number of unincorporated communities. Although most of Los Angeles is fairly well served by Metro and Metrolink, there are about 60 other transit agencies operating within the county too. Sometimes the hardest part of navigating Los Angeles can be juggling its many transit agencies although since 2015, nearly all have gotten on board with TAP cards, making it much easier.

When I was writing my KCET column about exploring without a car, Block By Block, I had the idea of riding and writing about every local transit agency. I didn’t end up writing for them long and only got as far as covering some Metro and Foothill Transit lines, and the WeHo PickUp. I still love the idea of riding them all but, before I (or you) do, I realized that it might be a good idea to first compile a guide to them… after a brief history of Los Angeles transit.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF LOST LOS ANGELES TRANSIT

El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula may’ve been founded in 1781, but it grew very slowly, only surpassing a population of 10,000 in the 1870s, and the Los Angeles that we know owes its existence to trains. Nearly a century passed before the population even exceeded 10,000 and the first railroad, the Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad, was inaugurated in October 1869. It was only once trains began arriving from San Francisco and the East, however, that the city experienced its first population boom.

Relief_map_Pacific_Electric_Railway
Relief Map of Territory Served by lines of Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California (1920)

From the start, a huge number of transit agencies arose (and fell) to serve the Los Angele’s exploding population. Most famous of all was the Pacific Electric Railway (PE), which with over 1,600 kilometers of track, was the largest electric inter-urban railway the world has still known. It connected Los Angeles with far-flung streetcar suburbs nicknamed “toonervilles,” after the comic strip Toonerville Folkswhich was also known as The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains).

Los Angeles Railway map (1938)
Route Map Los Angeles Railway Electric Car and Bus Routes (1938)

In terms of ridership, however, the Los Angeles Railway‘s (LARy) network of streetcars was even more popular — in part because it was actually designed for public transit instead of primarily as an enticement for suburban homebuyers. Both railways met their end in the mid-20th century when voters rejected the notion of raising their taxes to maintain them. Service was reduced and buses took over their routes. The Los Angeles Railway became Los Angeles Transit Lines. Pacific Electric was replaced with Metropolitan Coach Lines. Tracks were ripped out of the ground and old trains were sent abroad, to scrap yards, and even used to create artificial reefs offshore. The keen-eyed explorer of Los Angeles will observe their remnants everywhere, in strangely curved streets, overgrown rights-of-way, orphaned bridge pylons, tagged up trestle footings, and most obviously, abandoned train tracks. They might too notice signs of public transit projects never completed, such as the network of elevated roads built in Bunker Hill and the Financial District for a never-finished people mover and now known as the Calvin S. Hamilton Pedway.

Los Angeles’s first true public transit agency, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA), only began operation in 1951. It was succeeded by the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD), which operated from 1964 until 1993, and like PE before it, acquired many smaller agencies including Pasadena City Lines, Inglewood City Lines, the Blue & White Bus Company, Eastern City Transit, San Pedro Motor Bus Association, Highland Transit, San Pedro Transit Lines, Western Greyhound Lines, Ontario-Upland Bus Lines, and the Pomona Valley Municipal Transit System. In 1990, SCRTD launched its first modern rail line, the Metro Blue Line. In a sort of poetic symmetry, Los Angeles’s it ran along the same route as PE’s last, the old Long Beach Line, which had made its final journey in 1961.

In 1993, SCRTD merged with the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission to create Metro, the primary transit agency charged with serving the nation’s most populous county. In 2015, Metro averaged 1.3 million daily boardings. The primary regional network is Metrolink, which serves Los Angeles and five other counties in Southern California with seven lines which utilize a combined 859 kilometers of rail. According to the latest estimates, it averages 39,838 weekday boardings.

Los Angeles’s transit network continues to grow and improve. The Purple Line subway is moving, slowly, toward the sea — or at least the Westside — as it tunnels under Midtown. The Downtown Regional Connector, when complete, will add a few stations and make several rides more seamless. The LAX/Crenshaw Corridor will restore rail to most of South Los Angeles’s Westside. The LAX People Mover will mean that the largest airport in the US without direct rail will finally have it. The Gold Line Extension will mean air travelers might instead take a train to Ontario International Airport. California High-Speed Rail will make traveling from Union Station to San Francisco a pleasure. The Los Angeles Streetcar will slowly creep around Downtown — an already completely walkable and bikeable area and one extremely well-served by transit — but it’ll be cute, anyway.

 


ALHAMBRA COMMUNITY TRANSIT

Alhambra Community Transit (ACT) serves the San Gabriel Valley suburb of Alhambra with two fixed routes: the Green Line and the Blue Line. It was established in 1995. The Green Line operates six days per week, arriving every 20 minutes. Monday through Friday it operates from 7am-6pm. Saturday it operates from 10am-4pm. The Blue Line operates Monday through Friday, 6:30am-8:30am and again from 2:30pm-7pm.


ANGELS FLIGHT

Angels Flight is a short, funicular railway serving the Bunker Hill and Historic Core neighborhoods of Downtown Los Angeles. It includes two cars, named Sinai and Olivet, which operate along a 91-meter long inclined railway.

Angels Flight opened in 1901 as the Los Angeles Incline Railway and originally connected Hill and Olive streets above the 2nd Street TunnelIts construction was financed by Colonel J.W. Eddy. In 1912, after its purchase by the Funding Company of Los Angeles, it was renamed “Angels Flight.” In 1914 it was sold to Continental Securities Company. It was the subject of a 1931 Millard Sheets painting, Angel’s Flight. By then Bunker Hill had gone from being a posh Victorian neighborhood to an increasingly crowded working-class district and it made frequent appearances in works of hardboiled fiction and films noirIn 1943, a sailor was killed by one of the cars when he foolishly attempted to walk up the track. Angels Flight was again purchased, this time by Robert W. Moore, in 1946. In 1952, it was sold to Lester B. Moreland and Byron Linville. In 1962, Moreland was forced by the city to sell during the redevelopment of Bunker Hill, after which it was run by Oliver & Williams Elevator Company until it ceased operation on 18 May 1969.

Angels Flight was relocated to its current location, half a block south, in 1996, when it once again began ferrying riders up and down Bunker Hill. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Following a fatal accident, it once again ceased operation in 2001. In 2010, it was relaunched, only to be shut down over safety concerns in 2013. Most recently, the iconic railway resumed operation on 31 August 2017.


ANTELOPE VALLEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) was created in on 1 July 1992 to serve the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale and several unincorporated communities of the Antelope Valley. In 2004, AVTA moved its headquarters to a new facility and the Palmdale Transportation Center opened in 2005.

  • Hours of operation: Local lines operate Monday through Friday from 5:00am-12:45am, Saturday from 6:00am to 11:45pm, and Sunday from 6:30am-8:45pm. Commuter services operate on weekdays only.
  • Fare: $1.50 (general), 75 cents (reduced)
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp, Facebook

ARCADIA TRANSIT

The City of Arcadia‘s Arcadia Transit operates three fixed-routes: the Red Line, the Green Line, and the Blue Line.

  • Fare: 50 cents (general), free (persons with disabilities, 62 or over, 5 or under the age five and accompanied by an adult).
  • Online: Official, Yelp

BALDWIN PARK TRANSIT

The City of Baldwin Park‘s Baldwin Park Transit buses operate along two lines, the Pumpkin Line and the Teal Line, which travel the same loop in opposite directions and connect with Metrolink at Baldwin Park Station.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-7pm; Saturday 8am-5pm; and Sunday 9am-4pm.
  • Fare: $1 (general), 50 cents (Seniors and persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

BEACH CITIES TRANSIT

Beach Cities Transit (BCT) serves the South Bay cities of El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach. It operates two lines, Line 102, which operates from 6am-8pm, and connects to the Metro Green Line’s Redondo Beach Station; and Line 109, which operates from 6am-10pm, and connects with Los Angeles International Airport’s LAX City Bus Center.

  • Fare: $1 (general), 50 cents (62 and over, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

BELL GARDENS TOWN TROLLEY

The Bell Gardens Town Trolley is the local service for the Southeast Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday, 6:30am-5:30pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents (general), 25 cents (55 and over, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

BELLFLOWER BUS

Bellflower Bus operates two routes, North Route and South Route. Buses depart every half hour from the Bellflower Transit Center. It connects with Los Angeles Metro, Norwalk Transit, and Long Beach Transit.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents (general), 25 cents (55 and over, persons with disabilities), free (5 and under). 
  • Online: Official, Yelp

BURBANKBUS

BurbankBus (sometimes written Burbank Bus) operates four routes which connect to various local amenities in the San Fernando Valley city of Burbank as well as Metro’s Red and Orange lines, and the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station. The routes, though assigned colors, are known as NoHo-Airport Route (orange), NoHo-Media District (green), Metrolink-Media District (pink), and Empire-Downtown (blue). It operates during weekday peak hours.


CALABASAS TROLLEY &  CALABASAS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SHUTTLE SERVICE

The Calabasas Trolley operates a trolley bus which embarks on a single loop through the suburb of Calabasas, in the Santa Monica Mountains region. The Calabasas Public Transportation Shuttle Service operates a single shuttle line, Line 1, which also travels a loop through Calabasas, albeit on weekdays.

  • Hours of operation: Calabasas Trolley: Saturday, 10am-10pm (with no service between 3pm and 4pm); Sunday 12pm-4pm. Calabasas Public Transportation Shuttle Service: Monday through Friday, 6:30am-6:pm. 
  • Fare: free
  • Online: Calabasas Trolley: Official, YelpCalabasas Public Transportation Shuttle Service: Official, Yelp

CARSON CIRCUIT

The Harbor community of Carson’s bus system, Carson Circuit, operates eight routes, lettered A-H, which run every 40 minutes. It provides connections to Metro’s Blue Line, Torrance Transit, Long Beach Transit, and Gardena Municipal Bus.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday 5:20am-6:40pm.
  • Fare: $1 (general), free (elderly and persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp, and Facebook

CATALINA EXPRESS

Catalina Express was launched in 1981 by Doug Bombard, his son Greg, and Tom Rutter. It provides service between two communities on the Channel Island of Santa Catalina, Avalon and Two Harbors, and three mainland communities, Dana Point, Long Beach, and San Pedro. Catalina Express also operates the Aquabus and Aqualink, in partnership with Long Beach Transit.

  • Fare: $36.75 (regular, one way) and $73.50 (regular, round trip),  $33.25 (passengers over 55, one way) and $66.50 (passengers over 55, round trip), $29 (children 2-11, one way) and $58 (children 2-11, round trip), and $2.50 (children under 2, one way) and $5 (children under 2, round trip).
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Facebook

CATALINA FLYER

The Catalina Flyer offers service between the town of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island with the South Orange County suburb of Newport Beach. It departs twice a day from the latter, at 9am and 4:30 pm.

  • Fare: $35 (general, one way), $70 (general, round trip), $32.50 (over 60, one-way) and $65 (over 60, round trip), $26.50 (children 3-12, one way) and $53 (children 3-12, round trip),$3 (children under 3, one way) and $6 (children under 3, round trip).
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Facebook

CERRITOS ON WHEELS

The City of Cerritos‘s system, Cerritos on Wheels (COW) was launched in 1993 and operates two routes, Route 1 and Route 2. COW buses arrive at each bus stop once an hour.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-8pm, and Saturday, 9am-5pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents.
  • Online: Official, Yelp

CITY OF BELL LA CAMPANA

The Southeast Los Angeles city of Bell operates a transit service known as the City of Bell La Campana.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm, and Saturday, 11am-5pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents
  • Online: Official, Yelp

CITY OF COMMERCE MUNICIPAL BUS LINES

The City of Commerce launched its transit system in 1969. Today it consists of local routes, the Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red routes; as well as the Citadel Outlets Express (which connects to Downtown Los Angeles) and the 26th Street Shuttle. Hours of operation vary by route.


CITY OF SANTA CLARITA TRANSIT

The City of Santa Clarita came into existence in 1987, when the previously unincorporated communities of Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia merged to form what’s now the fourth largest city in the county. In 1991, Santa Clarita Transit was launched. In 2007, it was rebranded the City of Santa Clarita Transit and the livery (formerly gray, plum, and red) was replaced with a new blue and green color scheme. Santa Clarita Transit offers connections to two Metrolink stations, via two routes of its Station Link Service.

There are nine fixed routes and a Commuter Express ServiceIn addition to serving the city of Santa Clarita, the bus connects to Downtown Los Angeles, Canoga Park, Castaic, Century City, Chatsworth, North Hollywood, Stevenson Ranch, Sunset Pointe, Val Verde, Warner Center, Westwood, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills

  • Fare: $1 (regular), free (over 60, persons with disabilities).
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp

COMPTON RENAISSANCE

The City of Compton operates five local bus lines, as part of it’s Compton Renaissance system, numbered 1-5. Service is provided Monday through Saturday with schedules varying by route.


CUDAHY AREA RAPID TRANSIT

Cuday Area Rapid Transit (CART) is the City of Cudahy’s local transit network. Buses arrive at stops once an hour. It has operated as CART since at least 1987 but its roots stretch back to 1918, when the local Holbrook family launched a jitney service for the small suburb in Southeast Los Angeles County.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7:00am-5:45pm
  • Fare: free
  • Online: Yelp

CULVER CITYBUS

Launched on 3 March 1928, Culver CityBus, is the second oldest municipal bus line in California. It was created following a dispute between the Pacific Electric Railway and then-mayor, Reve Houck, who was granted permission to provide transit between Culver City and Venice. Culver CityBus operates three daily routes, three weekday-only routes, and two Monday-Saturday routes. One of the weekday-only routes is a rapid bus (Rapid 6). 

  • Fare: $1 (general), 75 cents (students K-12), 35 cents (62 and over, persons with disabilities), and free (the blind).
  • Online: Official, Yelp

DOWNEYLINK

DowneyLINK operates four bus lines, all of which begin and end at the Downey Depot Transportation Center. They are known as the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest routes.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6:30am-6:30pm
  • Fare: 50 cents (general), free (persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

DUARTE TRANSIT

Duarte Transit was launched in 1984 and currently operates two lines, the Green Route and the Blue Route. The Blue Route operates Monday through Friday, from 7am-7pm. The Green Route operates from 5:44am-9pm Monday through Friday, and 7:44am-6:15pm Saturday.


EAST VALINDA SHUTTLE

The East Valinda Shuttle is a service which serves the unincorporated San Gabriel Valley community of Valinda. It operates along a single route, albeit in opposite directions known as the Eastbound Route and the Westbound Route.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday, 5:45am-6:45pm
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and over, 5 and under, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

EL MONTE TRANSIT

The city of El Monte operates El Monte Transit, previously known as the El Monte Trolley Company. It operates five routes: the Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue routes. Buses depart from the El Monte Trolley Station every 40 minutes. The city also operates the El Monte Commuter Shuttle, Monday through Friday during peak morning commute periods and at mid-day.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-7:15pm, Saturday through Sunday, 9:20am-6:35 pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents.
  • Online: Official, Yelp

EL SOL SHUTTLE

From 1949-1971, the unincorporated communities of East Los Angeles were served by Eastern City Transit. Today they’re served by El Sol Shuttle, which was launched on 5 June 2000 and currently operates three routes: City Terrace / ELAC, Whittier Boulevard / Saybrook Park, and Union Pacific / Salazar Park.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday, 6am-9pm, Friday, 9am-11pm, Saturday, 9am-11pm, and Sunday, 9am-5pm
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and over, 5 and under, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

FOOTHILL TRANSIT

Foothill Transit was launched in 1988, following cutbacks in service by the SCRTD. Todays it’s the workhorse of the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys, serving 22 cities. As of 2013, Foothill Transit’s entire fleet ran on compressed natural gas. The agency’s goal is to convert to an entirely electric fleet by 2030. Its Commuter Express service operates only on weekdays during peak hours and in the peak direction. The Silver Streak is a rapid bus that travels from the Montclair Transcenter to Union Station, where riders can transfer to Metro’s Silver Line BRT as part of the “Silver 2 Silver” program.

  • Fare: $1.50 (general), $1.25 (TAP card), 75 cents (62 and over, persons with disabilities), free (under 5). Commuter Express lines are $5. The Silver Streak is $2.75 (general), $2.50 (TAP card), $1.25 (62 and over, persons with disabilities), and $1.15 (62 and over and persons with disabilities using TAP cards)
  • Online: Officialdamientalks (podcast), TwitterYelp, InstagramFacebook

GATEWAY COACH 

The Gateway Coach serves the San Gabriel Valley city of Sierra Madre. There are currently two routes, the East Bound Route and the West Bound Route.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 11am-1:30pm
  • Fare: free
  • Online: Official, Yelp

GLENDALE BEELINE

The Glendale Beeline was launched in 1984. It currently operates nine fixed routes which serve the cities of Glendale, Burbank, and La Cañada Flintridge, as well as the unincorporated community of La Crescenta-Montrose. Fares vary by line, between $1 and $2 for general fare.


GLENDORA MINI BUS

The City of Glendora’s shuttle network, Glendora Mini Bus, includes a network of three routes: the Glendora Mini-Bus Metrolink Shuttle, the Midday Teen Center Shuttle, and the Gold Line Shuttle.

  • Fare: $1 (general), 75 cents (students), 50 cents (seniors and persons with disabilities).
  • Online: Official, Yelp

GO WEST

The Go West Shuttle was launched by the San Gabriel Valley city of West Covina in 2014 and currently operates along three routes, the Red, Blue, and Green.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6:30am-7pm
  • Fare:  $1
  • Online: Official, Yelp

GTRANS

The City of Gardena launched Gardena Municipal Bus Lines (GMBL) in January 1940. In 2015, GMBL was rebranded GTrans, and buses were painted a new green and silver livery. GTrans operates three daily routes and two weekday routes, numbered 1-5. GTrans connects with various municipal bus services as well as Metro’s Blue and Green lines. 

  • Fare: $1 (general), 75 cents (students K-12), and 35 cents (seniors and persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

HP EXPRESS

HP Express is the local service of the Southeast Los Angeles suburb of Huntington Park. It was formerly known as the Huntington Park COMBI. There are two routes, both of which follow a loop, traveling in opposite directions.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6:30am-6:30pm, Saturday 8am-5pm
  • Fare: 75 cents (general), free (62 and older, persons with disabilities, children 4 and under accompanied by an adult)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

LA PUENTE LINK

The La Puente LINK was launched by the San Gabriel Valley’s City of La Puente in 2001. It currently operates two routes, the Green Route (which travels clockwise) and the Yellow Route (which travels counter-clockwise).

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-6pm, Saturday, 9am-5pm
  • Fare: 50 cents (general), 25 cents (seniors and persons with disabilities)
  • Online: OfficialYelp

LADOT Transit

LADOT Transit operates the second largest transit fleet in Los Angeles, after Metro. It oversees the operation of With 30 DASH (Downtown Area Short Hop) lines, 13 Commuter Express lines, and the Union Station/Bunker Hill Shuttle. LADOT Transit is a division of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), the municipal agency responsible for transportation planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations within the City of Los Angeles.

  • Fare: 50 cents (general), 25 cents (seniors, students, and persons with disabilities). Commuter Express fare varies from between 75 cents and $4.25.
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp, InstagramFacebook

LAWNDALE BEAT

The City of Lawndale operates a municipal service called Lawndale Beat. Lawndale Beat operates two routes, the Express Route and the Residential Route. Both, in addition to serving the 5 square kilometer suburb, Lawndale Beat also connect to the Marine/Redondo Beach Station on the border of Hawthorne and Redondo Beach.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-6:35pm, Saturday, 8:40am-5:55pm, Sunda, 9:20am-5:45pm.
  • Fare: 75 cents (general), free (62 and over, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

LCF SHUTTLE

The City of La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale Beeline jointly operate the free LCF Shuttle, a service which operates along Foothill Boulevard, with service every 15 minutes. There are two lines, 33 and 34.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-6:30pm. 
  • Online: Official, Yelp

THE LINK – ATHENS

The Link – Athens, despite its name, doesn’t serve the Willowbrook adjacent community of Athens or Athens-on-the-Hill but rather, nearby West Athens (as well as the communities of Inglewood and Westmont), in South Los Angeles’s Westside. It also connects with Torrance Transit, DASH, and GTrans lines.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm, and Saturday, 9am-5pm
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and older, 5 and younger, persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

THE LINK – LENNOX

The Link – Lennox serves the community of Lennox. It operates a single route, which travels in a counterclockwise loop.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm.
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and older, 5 or younger, and disabled).
  • Official, Yelp

THE LINK – WILLOWBROOK

The Link – Willowbrook operates two shuttle routes, A and B, which serve the community of Willowbrook and (unlike The Link – Athens), neighboring Athens, both in South Los Angeles’s Eastside. Buses depart every half hour and connect to Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station (fka Imperial/Wilmington Ave Station), where there are connections with GTrans, Lynwood Trolley, and Metro.  Elsewhere there are connections with Compton Renaissance and DASH.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-6pm, Saturday, 9am-6pm
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and over, 5 and under, persons with disabilities).
  • Online: OfficialYelp 

LONG BEACH TRANSIT

Los Angeles County’s second largest city, Long Beach, got its local network, Long Beach Transit (LBT), in 1963. Despite its name, Long Beach Transit isn’t a municipal agency. It was first operated by National City Lines and is currently operated by the corporation, Long Beach Public Transportation Company. There are 33 routes operated by the company including water taxis known as the AquaBus and AquaLink, added to the fleet in 2001. In addition to serving Long Beach, LBT serves Artesia, Bellflower, Carson, Cerritos, Compton, El Segundo, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Norwalk, Paramount, Seal Beach, and Signal Hill

  • Fare: $1.25 (general), 60 cents (62 and over, persons with disabilities), free (blind, 4 and under). Fare for the AquaBus is $1, fare for AquaLink is $5.
  • Official, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, Facebook

LOS NIETOS SHUTTLE

Los Nietos Shuttle is a service which serves the unincorporated Southeast Los Angeles community of Los Nietos. A single shuttle travels in a continuous loop, arriving at each stop every half hour. Los Nietos Shuttle connects with Metro, Montebello Transit, Norwalk Transit, and Sunshine Shuttle.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 2:35pm-6pm. Summer hours (17 June – 9 August) Monday through Friday, 1:05pm-5pm
  • Fare: free
  • Online: Official, Yelp

LYNWOOD BREEZE

The Lynwood Breeze operates four routes: A, B, C, and D, which serve the city of Lynwood. Although not trolley buses, the buses are nevertheless often referred to as the “Lywood Trolley “after the colloquial name for its predecessor, Cross Town Bus Lines of Lynwood. Cross Town Bus Lines of Lynwood was created in 1943, by Dean Carson, who was then granted a 25-year franchise to operate a bus in Lynwood. At first, Carson, his wife Nadeane, and their sons David and James all drove for the company. Carson eventually expanded his operations by creating separate bus companies in Downey, Fullerton, Huntington Park, and Norwalk. Most, though, proved short-lived, and the Lynwood Trolley was absorbed by the SCRTD in 1961.


METRO

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), more commonly referred to simply as Metro, began operation on 1 April 1993, when the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District merged. Currently, it operates 170 bus lines, four light rail lines, two subway lines, and two bus rapid transit lines (BRTs) known as “Metro Liners.” Metro’s total system length is 2,475 kilometers. The Purple Line Extension, Regional Connector, and Crenshaw/Lax Line — all currently under construction — will add an additional 30 kilometers to a rail system which is currently 169.8 kilometers long.


METROLINK

Metrolink is a commuter rail system serving six counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura. I was launched on 26 October 1992. It’s seven lines currently cover 859 kilometers of right-of-way, largely purchased from Southern Pacific Railroad. It has expanded throughout its 25-year existence. Early on, service was expanded to Orange and Riverside counties. The Inland Empire-Orange County Line, which opened in 1995, is the nation’s first suburb-to-suburb commuter rail line. An extension to Perris opened in 2016. An extension to Placentia is scheduled to begin operation in 2019.

It connects with many bus lines as well as rail lines operated by Amtrak, Metro, San Diego Coaster, and Sprinter.  Metrolink fares vary based on length of journey although in 2011, the agency introduced the Weekend Pass, which allowed unlimited weekend travel for $10. In 2013 it was renamed the Weekend Day Pass and validity was reduced to a single weekend day rather than the entire weekend.


MONTEBELLO BUS LINES 

Montebello launched its first municipal bus line in 1922, two years after it incorporated as a city. However, Motor Transport Company bought the system in 1928. Montebello then repurchased the system and launched Montebello Bus Lines (MBL) on 28 July 1931. The agency currently operates seven local routes (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70) and the Montebello LINKIt also operates three express routes connecting the cities of Montebello and Whittier with downtown Los Angeles. It additionally serves Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Boyle Heights, Commerce, East Los Angeles, La Mirada, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Rosemead, San Marino, South Gate, and South San Gabriel and is currently the third largest municipal transit agency. 

  • Fare: $1.10 (general), 75 cents (youth, 62 and over) and 50 cents (persons with disabilities). 
  • Online: Official, Yelp

NORWALK TRANSIT SYSTEM

Norwalk Transit System (NTS) was launched in 1974, by then-mayor John Zimmerman Jr. In addition to serving the city of Norwalk, it also serves Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, La Habra, La Mirada, and Whittier. It provides connections to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 4:10am-11:45pm, Saturday through Sunday, 6:45am-6:59pm.
  • Fare: $1.25 (general), $1 (student), 60 cents (seniors, people with disabilities), free (under 5).
  • Online: Official, Yelp

PALOS VERDES PENINSULA TRANSIT AUTHORITY

Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority operates eight routes assigned either a color (Blue, Gold, Green, Orange, Silver, or White) or number (Route 225 and Route 226). The colored lines serve the communities of Palos Verdes Peninsula: Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates. The numbered routes offer service outside Palos Verdes, to Torrance and San Pedro. 

  • Fare: $2.50 (general), $1 (seniors and persons with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp, Facebook

PARAMOUNT EASY RIDER

The Paramount Easy Rider shuttle is the City of Paramount’s local transit system. There are two shuttles, which follow the same path; Route 1 runs counterclockwise and Route 2 runs clockwise. At Rosecrans and Garfield, the system connects with several lines of Long Beach Transit and Metro.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm, Saturday, 10:15am-3:30pm. 
  • Fare: $1 (general), free (under 6)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

PASADENA TRANSIT

Beginning in 1940, the San Gabriel Valley city of Pasadena‘s local transit provider was Pasadena City Lines. That agency was absorbed into SCRTD in 1967, which was succeeded by Metro in 1993. A year later, Pasadena Area Rapid Transit System was launched in part to coincide with the 1994 World Cup final, played at the Rose Bowl between Brazil and Italy (Brazil won in penalties).

The system’s buses were never really “rapid” but in name, but Pasadena ARTS had a nice ring to it. Nonetheless, Director of Transportation Fred Dock that ridership was suffering to confusion wrought by the acronym and in 2015 the system was rebranded Pasadena Transit and a new logo was designed by ArtCenter graduate Julie Yeow.

Today Pasadena Transit operates six lines which, in addition to serving Pasadena, also reach the borders of Altadena, Arcadia, East Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena.

  • Fare: 75 cents (general), 50 cents (students K-12), 35 cents (60 and over, passengers with disabilities). 
  • Online: Official, Yelp

PORT OF LA WATERFRONT RAIL CAR/SAN PEDRO WATERFRONT TROLLEY

The Port of LA Waterfront Rail Car was launched on 19 July 2003, utilizing restored and replica Pacific Electric “Big Red Cars.” The railway is just 2.5 kilometers long and runs parallel to the San Pedro waterfront, connecting the World Cruise Center with attractions along the waterfront.

The San Pedro Waterfront Trolley, operated by the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District, is a trolley bus which connects the rail to Downtown San PedroOperations of the rail car were suspended on 27 September 2015 in preparation for the Sampson Way Realignment Project. Construction resulted in the destruction of part of the railway, and the train remains on hiatus. 

  • Hours of operation (trolley bus only), Saturday through Sunday, 12pm-6pm, and the first Thursday of each month, 4pm-10pm.
  • Fare: free
  • Online: Official, Yelp

ROSEMEAD EXPLORER

Rosemead Explorer is the San Gabriel Valley city of Rosemead’s shuttle bus. Its system includes two routes, Route 1 and Route 2. In addition to serving Rosemead, the Explorer also connects to The Shops at Montebello (the inane new name for Montebello Town Center).

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 5am-8pm, Saturday through Sunday, 10am-5pm.
  • Fare: 50 cents (general), free (persons with disabilities, under 5, and passengers with Rosemead Transit IDs)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

SAN FERNANDO TROLLEY

The San Fernando Trolley is a bus that serves the San Fernando Valley city of San Fernando. Trolley buses drive in a single, clockwise route and arrive on average between 20 and 25 minutes.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 10am-4pm, Saturday through Sunday, 11am-4pm.
  • Fare: 25 cents 
  • Online: Official, Yelp

SANTA MONICA’S BIG BLUE BUS

Having launched in 1928, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is the state’s oldest bus agency currently in operation. Its roots stretch back even further, to 1921, when a group of jitney drivers in Santa Monica incorporated as Bay Cities Transit. Following a fare hike by Pacific Electric, the city launched Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. On account of its blue livery, the system quickly came to be referred to as Big Blue Bus. 

In the 1940 novel, Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe recounts “A big blue bus blared down the street to the little circle where the street car used to turn on a turntable.” The Blue Bus again appeared in the Doors‘ 1967 song, “The End.” The iconic vehicles again appeared in the film, Speed, in 1994.

There are currently twenty lines (including three rapid) which in addition to serving the city of Santa Monica, serve Century City, Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport, Pacific Palisades, Venice, and Westwood.

  • Fare: $1.25 (general), 50 cents (62 and over, 5 and under, persons with disabilities), free (students and staff of Santa Monica College).
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp, Facebook

SOUTH GATE GET AROUND TOWN EXPRESS

The Southeast Los Angeles County city of South Gate’s local service, South Gate Get Around Town Express (GATE) operates two routes, the Eastside Route and Westside Route, which run along a continuous loop with shuttles arriving roughly every twenty minutes.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6am-7pm, Saturday, 8am-5pm
  • Fare: 50 cents (general)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

SPIRIT BUS

The Spirit Bus is a service operated by the San Gabriel Valley city of Monterey Park. Four lines (1-4) travel in loops from a terminal at the Monterey Park City Hall. A fifth route, Route 5, connects with California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) Station (weekdays only). In addition to serving Monterey Park, it skirts the edges of East Los Angeles and Alhambra.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 6:30am-6:30pm, Saturday, 9:10am-5:45pm
  • Fare: 25 cents (Routes 1-4), 50 cents (route 5).
  • Online: Official, Yelp

SUNSHINE SHUTTLE

The Los Angeles County shuttle service was rebranded Sunshine Shuttle in 2006. Sunshine Shuttle operates two lines, Route A and Route B, which serve the communities of East La Mirada La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs, South Whittier, West Whittier, and Whittier. Routes also offer connections to lines operated by Metro, Montebello Transit, Norwalk Transit, Los Nietos Shuttle, and Foothill Transit.

  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 5:30am-8pm, Saturday 7:30am-6pm.
  • Fare: 25 cents (general), free (60 and over, 5 and under, people with disabilities)
  • Online: Official, Yelp

TORRANCE TRANSIT

After Pacific Electric cut back red car service to Torrance, City of Torrance contracted Asbury Rapid Transit System to ferry passengers between the South Bay suburb and Downtown Los Angeles. The Railroad Commission rejected Torrance’s plan and so the city formed its own system, Torrance Transit, in the summer of 1940. Torrance Transit currently operated eleven bus lines numbered 1 through 10 plus the Rapid 3 which not only serve Torrance but also Carson, Compton, Harbor City, Lomita, Redondo City, and West Carson.

  • Fare: $1.50 (general) 50 cents (students), 25 cents (seniors and persons with disabilities), free (the blind)
  • Online: Official, Twitter, Yelp

WEST HOLLYWOOD CITYLINE AND WEHO PICKUP

The City of West Hollywood offers two local services, CityLine and the WeHo Pickup.

CityLine buses operate during the day — Monday through Saturday, 9am – 6pm and arrive every half hour. There are two lines, Blue and Orange. The former heads west whilst the latter heads east. CityLineX, launched in 2016, is a free shuttle which connects the West Hollywood Library to the Hollywood/Highland Metro Red Line Station. It operates during peak hours on weekdays from 7am-9am and 5:30pm-7pm, at 15 to 20-minute intervals.

The WeHo PickUp Line, launched in 2013, operates at night — Fridays and Saturday from 8pm-3am and Sundays 2pm-10pm. Its trolley buses provide music (courtesy an onboard DJ) and perk cards, offering discounts at local clubs, bars, restaurants, and juiceries.


FURTHER READING


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in generating advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other varieties of spam. Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of Brightwell’s maps are available from 1650 GalleryHe is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiTwitter, and Weibo.
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