Los Angeles transportation is one of the keys to life, or a vacation, in the city. More than anything else, the difficulties of getting from one place to another influence your trip and the fun you have.
The most convenient and common transportation option in the city is a car. Los Angeles was built on the back of the automobile and the city’s tendency to grow out instead of up further entrenched the car into every day life in the city. A massive streetcar system even existed, linking suburbs with the downtown area and then connecting to other suburbs. But the streetcars were dismantled and taken down in the 1940’s when the freeways began to dominate the landscape.
If you are going to be visiting Los Angeles and want to be able to move around the city, a rental car is recommended. Budget that into the cost of the vacation when deciding if you can go. If renting a car isn’t feasible, for age or financial reasons, take a look at these other options.
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Los Angeles devotes significant resources to developing their subway and light rail system, but the city is fighting an uphill battle. New housing developments and population growth have the city increasing in size faster than rail lines can be approved and built. Subways are a good way to get from one side of downtown Los Angeles to another, but for getting to the beach or to Disneyland, the system is sorely lacking.
The bus network throughout Los Angeles encompasses much of the city and buses on regular routes can be utilized for getting around. The biggest problem with buses, however, is the irregularity of the pick-ups. At night, buses run every 45 to 90 minutes and can leave you stranded on a dark street for hours.
The public transportation shortcomings of the city are not the result of poor planning, or any one city department’s errors. Los Angeles’ sheer size makes it expensive to take people around and ridership of buses and trains is not strong enough to pay for the extra buses, drivers and maintenance fees of supporting the bigger fleet.
There are more than 10 interstates criss-crossing through the Los Angeles area and many more highways that connect interstates and freeways. A good map of the city is necessary to navigate anywhere in LA without specific directions and even then it is easy to get lost. Getting lost or confused on the freeways can lead to even more frustration when the traffic is bad. Slow traffic on the freeways around Los Angeles makes for lost time and late arrivals. Rush hour lasts from about 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. with a bit of a break at 10 and 2. If driving during the day in Los Angeles, it’s best to double the amount of time you think you’ll need to get somewhere and then leave ten minutes early. For a twenty mile commute from Pasadena to Pomona for example, it’s best to allow at least 45 minutes.