Los Angeles Transportation Tips by Dabs Top 5 Page for this destination
Los Angeles Transportation: 285 reviews and 246 photos
North Hollywood metro station
I finally had the opportunity to use the metro on this trip and while I still think having a car gives you a lot more freedom and that the metro doesn't get you everywhere you'd want to go as a tourist, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could see without driving and parking. The 1st day I used it I bought a tap card, the card cost $1 when I bought it and then I loaded a $5 all day pass. I think the tap card is relatively new, at most stations there were no barriers which seems a little odd but maybe the barriers will come down the road.
The 1st day I visited Union Station and Olvera Street, walked to downtown LA and reboarded at 7th/Metro and then got off at Hollywood & Highland which is right near Grauman's. The 2nd day I took the metro to Pasadena which has a stop just a couple of blocks off the main road in old town. There's a very handy metro guide I picked up at the tourist desk at Union Station which listed the sights at each of the stops.
Individual rides are currently $1.50 and if you have to change lines, like I did to get to Pasadena you have to pay another $1.50 fare. On the 2nd day I had 5 separate fares so I did get my money's worth out of the $5 daily pass.
If you are traveling LA's freeways with more than one person in your car (artificial people don't count, they must be breathing), you can take advantage of the car pool lanes that show up on many of the freeways. Look to the very left lane, if it's a car pool lane it is very clearly marked with signs saying that it's a car pool lane, there are diamond markings on the pavement and yellow double parallel lines that mean that you should not cross in or out of them. You should enter and exit at the marked spots which means that you usually have to wait for a bit after you merge onto the highway. I did see people traveling over the double yellow lines, I believe that you could get a ticket for that. Watch the signs that say what exits are covered at the next exit spot to make sure you can get out legally.
Motorcycles can also use the carpool lanes unless otherwise marked
Type: Car/Motor Home
A lot of people say that driving in LA is a nightmare and I have spent a fair amount of time stuck on the 405 cursing at the traffic gods. Always give yourself a cushion if you have to be somewhere at a specific time, like any major urban area, traffic backups can occur at any time of the day, not just rush hour.
I didn't have a GPS on my most recent trip and I didn't even really have a map except for the tiny one that the car rental place gave me so I printed out directions from Bing every morning before I left my hotel. The routing was much different than what I would have picked from looking at a map, I imagine that it is adjusted for known traffic backups and the route was more interesting than sticking to the freeways.
Type: Car/Motor Home
The attractions in Los Angeles are very spread out, unlike New York, Chicago or Washington DC where most of the sights that visitors want to see are in the central area or easily reachable by public transportation. LA has a limited metro and buses but you will want to rent a car to get around LA.
My most recent rental in December, 2010 was $12 per day from Thrifty, booked via American Airlines after I booked my flight, for an intermediate size. We got a 4 door Ford Fusion, at Thrifty they let you pick your car from the remaining pool of cars in the class your reserved. I had to play a bit with the times on the rental, by returning it an hour earlier, the price dropped from $26 to $12 per day!
I have used both Priceline and Hotwire several times to get cars in LA, always check though to make sure it's enough of a savings as the rental is nonrefundable with both, you can check Bidding For Travel to see what the going rates are on Priceline and Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz to see what the prevailing rates are.
Most of the big car rental agencies have a location at LAX, other places to look include Expedia and Travelocity . Unless you are booking through Priceline or Hotwire, car rentals are usually cancellable.
I have used Dollar, Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Budget and Thrifty and all of them have been fine. All of the car rental locations are offsite at LAX requiring a short ride in a shuttle bus which you can pick up outside the baggage claim area.
A lot of the vehicles at LAX are larger vehicles such as vans and SUVs, a couple of times they've upgraded me, the first time it was a welcome upgrade to a van since we had 4-5 people traveling but the 2nd time I really wanted an intermediate car and they upgraded me first to a small SUV and then when I asked for something smaller I got a PT Cruiser which I did eventually get used to although it didn't get very good gas mileage.
Type: Car/Motor Home
I've used Hotwire and Priceline before when renting a car in LA, the obvious downside is that you can't cancel your reservation without losing your money. This time I encountered another downside, Budget had apparently rented out so many cars that they ran out of them, I had to wait in a 50 person line to get to the counter and then wait for another 1/2 hour to get a car. I had rented a full size car because I needed four doors and often with smaller cars they will not guarantee 4 doors. I ended up with a Ford Taurus, a bigger car than I am used to driving and I assume with not very good gas mileage.
I got a great rate, $11.95 per day, but I'm not sure that the savings was worth the hassle. I'm tempted to look into one of the major car companies programs where you get dropped off as a fast track booth and a car is sitting there waiting for you, then maybe I will end up with the exact car that I want!
But sometimes Hotwire works just fine, in October 2008 I got the exact car I would have asked for for $13.95 per day plus we got a GPS for no additional fee, it certainly came in handy!
Type: Car/Motor Home
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