What is it about public transportation that curdles the blood of so many Angelenos? The Tangerine Dream-era seat fabric? The way a bus will often roar through a busy intersection like a rhinoceros? That creeping dread that maybe the last occupant of your seat was recently diagnosed with the Ebola virus?
The car culture of Los Angeles has reigned for decades, but as oil prices skyrocket and green energy laws are drafted, the winds of change are slowly moving toward our fair city.
For those wedded to their steel on wheels but desperate to have some extra cash in their wallets, there are two options: resist, or take a walk on the wild side and learn how to properly navigate and exploit Los Angeles’ vast bus and subway network.
For all you metropolitan greenhorns, here are six easy routes to begin with, spanning the Pacific Coast to the fertile hills of Pasadena, at only a few dollars per trip.
The 754 Bus
If you’re looking to grab a gourmet burger or a Colin Firth picture in Los Feliz or Silverlake districts, there’s no faster way to get there than on the Rapid 754 bus line.
Running every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, students can catch the bus at its two closest stops: Vermont Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard, and Vermont and Adams Boulevard.
The 754 shoots straight up Vermont like an arrow, finishing at Vermont and Hollywood Boulevard, a mere five minutes from Umami Burger, the Alcove Bakery and countless vintage clothing purveyors.
The Red Line
Whether you’re rushing to Arclight Hollywood for the premiere of The Tree of Life, returning an oversized shirt to H&M or catching a bus to Palm Springs, the Red Line subway is your ticket to easy travel.
Easily accessible by the DASH and running from Union Station to North Hollywood, the Red Line passes within walking distance of Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard and even Downtown’s growing art and beer districts.
It runs until 1 a.m. most nights, is always well-populated and generally attracts at least one Charlie Sheen hopeful per trip.
Bring a book or a magazine and you’ll have no problems.
The 20 Bus
A serious granddaddy of buses, the 20 treks has from Downtown Los Angeles to the salty ambiance of Santa Monica Pier, traveling solely on Wilshire Boulevard (a quick trip away via the 754.)
The commute to the coast can take up to an hour, depending on traffic, but the 20 remains a convenient means of getting your barnacle fix each weekend.
In addition, it runs 24 hours a day, which means you can top off an afternoon on 3rd Street Promenade with a show at The El Rey or The Wiltern on your way back. Expensive margaritas and Explosions in the Sky in one day? Sold!
The Gold Line
Departing from Union Station, the Gold Line operates during the same hours as the Red Line, but attracts a notably more handsome crowd.
This is probably because the Gold Line burrows deep into the Northern knolls of Pasadena, with stations near the ritziest of neighborhoods.
If it’s the sprawl of Colorado Boulevard you seek, hop off at the Lake station and walk five minutes south on North Lake Avenue.
Before you know it, you’ll have a Target, a Laemmle movie theater and countless Italian restaurants at your disposal. The beautiful Huntington gallery is also just a 15-minute walk away.
The 33 Bus
It’s 2 a.m., you’re stumbling from a night of Pabst Blue Ribbon at The Standard and the only thing you want is the comfort of your own bed and the zing of a Tacos Perez burrito. No problem. Just hop on the hourly 33 bus from 7th and Spring Streets, and you’ll be back at Ellendale and Adams in 20 minutes. Running 24 hours a day, the 33 seems designed for late night extractions from Downtown.