I dream of a day where I can take a subway from Santa Monica to Downtown for some great Japanese fare in Little Tokyo without having to get in my car. It will be many, many (+ 3 more manys) years before we see this come to fruition. In the mean time, there is some progress on the new light rail system called the Expo Line. The first leg of the line is from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and only part of that line is currently open. The next leg will be from Culver City to the Santa Monica Pier. Don’t expect that until at least 2015. What do I have to do to get around this large city while leaving the car key at home?
The next best option to the limited subway/rail line in Los Angeles is the bus. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “take the bus, oh I don’t know, I have heard. . .” I am here to tell you the bus is an acceptable form of transportation and I recommend it. Like any other form of transportation, its not perfect. I will lay out some pros, cons and some bus taking tips and you can decide if it is right for you.
- No need to drive your car, especially in unrelenting and unnecessary traffic
- Saves you money, riding the bus costs less than operating a vehicle (maintenance, gas, wear and tear)
- Bus interiors are clean for the most part, there are exceptions
- Buses are flexible and accommodating to handi-cabable riders
- You can bring your bike on the bus, place on accessible bike rack on front of most buses
- Buses in LA run on a “clean fuel” called natural gas, it is the largest fleet of its kind in the country (see the last Con for the other side of the story)
- Because there are few dedicated bus lanes in the city, buses must wade through traffic
- Bus schedules are just a guide
- Certain bus lines may be crowded at specific times of the day
- Fracking is the process to extrude the natural gas from the Earth, I Googled it for you.
- Multi-task, take a book, use e-books on your smartphone or other device, send emails, play games, do whatever you want, this is your time.
- Bring hand sanitizer as you will need to grab the handles when moving about the bus as it moves about the city.
- Leave the front most seats for passengers in need, such as an elderly person. If you are sitting there, give up your seat to that passenger boards the bus.
- Metro’s trip planner will help you find the best bus routes, fares and times.
- Mapping software on your smartphone will also help you find out bus related information. My experience is that Google Maps it is not as accurate as the iPhone “Go Metro” app.
- If you ride enough it may be worth getting one of the many Metro passes and save even more money.
- Make friends on the bus, you will end up seeing the same people if you ride the same line and time.
What do you think about taking the bus, what has been your bussing experience? Please share in the comments section.
Happy bussing, GreenUp! Guy