Los Angeles Has Excellent Public Transportation

LA Metro
Retiring in LA

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There is a popular myth that Los Angeles has a poor public transportation system, and that “Nobody walks in L.A.,” as the 1982 Missing Persons song suggests. On the contrary, Los Angeles was originally designed to be a walkable city, and the L.A. Metro was recently named Outstanding Public Transportation System by the American Public Transportation Association.

Bruce and Barbara Ashton have lived in Los Angeles since 1970, and Barbara is excited about recent expansions to the L.A. Metro:

“We drive currently, but there are more and more light rails roundbarbaraA
being put up. Within weeks, you’ll be able to take a light rail from Santa Monica to Downtown. You can also pick it up in Culver City. We are going to take a taxi from our new apartment in Playa Vista to Culver to go Downtown. Even though we can drive, it will be so much more convenient to take the Metro Downtown!”

Those who love to walk should know that L.A. city planners installed staircases lacing the hillsides of many original L.A. neighborhoods. They were intended to be direct routes for pedestrians to get to supermarkets, schools, and trolley stops. While these stairs do not connect the whole city, plenty of sidewalks make it possible to live without a car, which is exactly what Angeleno Alissa Walker did. After six years of living in Los Angeles without a car, she says, “I can confidently say I’m healthier, happier, and wealthier.”

Walking is great, but not even Alissa Walker relies on her feet alone. She and many other Angelenos use Los Angeles’ award-winning public transportation system. Los Angeles is one of only twelve U.S. cities with a Metro rail system. Built in 1993 and expanded in 2000, it is the newest American Metro among all U.S. cities. The rail system is expansive, consisting of two rapid-transit subway lines and four light-rail lines serving 80 stations. The average weekday ridership was 333,287 as of February 2016.

It’s not just about trains, though. Los Angeles has the second-largest bus system in the country. The Metro bus system is composed of nearly 200 lines that connect people to all parts of the greater L.A. region. These buses travel to every major destination including state parks, tourist attractions, and shopping districts. Buses are marked so riders can identify whether each bus makes frequent stops, or fewer stops to expedite travel times. One of the special routes is called DASH Downtown and provides six quick bus routes through downtown that depart every 5–15 minutes. This allows quick access to the excellent dining, shopping, and entertainment that downtown Los Angeles offers.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation keeps seniors in mind by offering CityRide. CityRide is a transportation assistance program for people age 65 and over, or those with disabilities. It offers participants reduced costs for city-permitted taxis and CityRide’s Dial-A-Ride services. CityRide provides door-to-door transportation and accommodates wheelchairs.

The private ride-service company Uber offers a similar program. UberAssist, launched in Los Angeles in 2015, provides assistance to seniors and people with disabilities. Driver-partners are trained by the Open Doors Organization to assist riders into vehicles and can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters.

Retiree and recent L.A. transplant Barbara Sosnowitz avoids driving but still gets around easily:

“I don’t like driving, and I don’t do freeways. I have a free shuttle in my neighborhood paid for by the H.O.A., and in the summer my grandchildren can park their car at my apartment building and roundbarbaraSshuttle to beach. It goes all through Playa Vista, and we can order one in advance to go to the grocery store or anywhere else. And Uber helps, too! It’s very helpful for people like myself, because there is no way I’m driving the 405—I’m gonna Uber it! My neighbors use it, too.

I can Uber to my daughter’s house on a Friday and have her drive me home in the evening. I don’t have to drive or stay the night.”

The idea that the people of Los Angeles travel only by car simply is not true. With easy access to walking paths, public transport via bus or rail, and special transportation options for seniors, no one should feel tied to their vehicle.


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