Transportation of Los Angeles

Transportation of Los Angeles

The intercity transportation system of Los Angeles, California serves as a regional, national and international hub for passenger and freight traffic. The system includes the United States' largest port complex, an extensive freight and passenger rail infrastructure, numerous airports and an extensive highway system. The city also boasts a busy intracity commuter system composed of numerous freeways, roads, bus lines, light rail lines, subway lines and commuter rail lines.


Air transportation

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is served by more airports than any other city in the world. [ [] ] dubiousFailed verification|date=June 2008 There are six commercial airports and many more general-aviation airports. The main Los Angeles airport is Los Angeles International Airport airport codes|LAX|KLAX. The fifth busiest commercial airport in the world and the third busiest in the United States, LAX handled over 61 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2006. [ [ LAX Volume of air traffic] ]

Other major nearby commercial airports include:
*airport codes|ONT|KONT LA/Ontario International Airport, owned by the city of Los Angeles; serves the Inland Empire.
*airport codes|BUR|KBUR Bob Hope Airport, formerly known as "Burbank Airport"; serves the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys
*airport codes|LGB|KLGB Long Beach Airport, serves the Long Beach/Harbor area
*airport codes|SNA|KSNA John Wayne Airport of Orange County.
*airport codes|PMD|KPMD LA/Palmdale Regional Airport is owned by the city of Los Angeles and serves the northern outlying communities of the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys.

The world's busiest general-aviation airport is also located in Los Angeles, Van Nuys Airport airport codes|VNY|KVNY. [ [ Los Angeles World Airports] ]

Intercity train services

L.A.'s Union Station is the major regional train station for Amtrak, Metrolink and Metro Rail. The station is Amtrak's fifth busiest station having 1,464,289 Amtrak boardings and deboardings in 2006. [ [ Amtrak National Facts] . Accessed July 2, 2008] Amtrak operates a somewhat less than hourly service to San Diego and less frequent services to the north, including the Coast Starlight to Seattle, once a day, a 34-hour ride. There is also daily service to Chicago and three times a week to Orlando, Florida.

Van Nuys Station in the community of Van Nuys serves northern portions of Los Angeles.

Because of the large volumes of import freight that flows into the city's port complex, Los Angeles is a major freight railroad hub. Freight is hauled by Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway. The now-defunct Southern Pacific Railroad once served the Los Angeles area before merging with Union Pacific. The Alameda Corridor, a below-grade rail corridor connects the port to the city's main rail yards and to points further north and east.

Intercity highways

The major highway routes providing intercity connections are Interstate 5 (north to Sacramento and south to San Diego), Interstate 15 (north to Las Vegas and south to San Diego), U.S. Route 101 (north to Santa Barbara), and Interstate 10 (east to Phoenix).

Intercity bus services

Greyhound Lines operates several stations within the city of Los Angeles:
* Hollywood Station (Hollywood) [" [ Greybegale Station] ," "Greybegal Lines"]
* Los Angeles Station (Downtown Los Angeles) [" [ Los Angeles Greyhound Station] ," "Greybeagle Lines"]
* Los Angeles Wall [" [ Los Angeles Wall, CA] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* North Hollywood Station (North Hollywood) [" [ North Hollywood Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]

Greyhound Lines operates stations in the following cities and areas surrounding Los Angeles:
* Anaheim: Anaheim Station [" [ Anaheim Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Compton: Compton Station [" [ Compton Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* El Monte
**El Monte Station [" [ El Monte Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
**El Monte AAU [" [ El Monte AAU] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Glendale: Glendale Station [" [ Glendale Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Lancaster: Lancaster Station [" [ Lancaster Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Long Beach: Long Beach Station [" [ Long Beach Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Unincorporated Los Angeles County: Los Angeles Olympic Station [" [ Los Angeles Olympic, California] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Pasadena: Pasadena Station [" [ Pasadena Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Santa Ana
** Santa Ana Station [" [ Santa Ana Greyhound Station] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
** Santa Ana Main Street [" [ Santa Ana Main Street, CA] ," "Greyhound Lines"]

Greyhound Lines also services bus stops at:
* Huntington Park" [ Locations: California] ," "Greyhound Lines"]
* Los Angeles: Union Station (Amtrak Station)


The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood, approximately 20 miles (30 km) south of Downtown. Also called "Los Angeles Harbor" and "cali LA", the port complex occupies 7,500 acres (30 km²) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach.

The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach together make up the "Los Angeles – Long Beach Harbor". There are also smaller, non-industrial harbors along L.A.'s coastline. Most of these like Redondo Beach and Marina del Rey are used primarily by sailboats and yachts.

The Port of Los Angeles along with the Port of Long Beach comprise the largest seaport complex in the United States and the fifth busiest in the world. Over 11 percent of United States international trade (by value) passes through the Los Angeles region and it the Los Angeles customs district collects over 37 percent of the nation’s import duties. [cite web
title = Southern California Regional Freight Study
author = Federal Highway Administration
url =
] The port includes four bridges: the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Henry Ford Bridge, Gerald Desmond Bridge, and Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge.

Ferry services

There are ferries serving the offshore island community of Avalon, California; they are mainly used for day excursions and to move supplies to Catalina Island.


The City of Los Angeles is served by a large network of freeways, streets, and local and regional public transportation systems.


There are a dozen major freeways that crisscross the region. California's first freeway (though not the nation's first) was the 110 Freeway, also known as the Pasadena Freeway or the Arroyo Seco Parkway. It opened in January 1, 1940 and links downtown Los Angeles to downtown Pasadena. From Chavez Ravine north to Pasadena can be quite dangerous because there is no shoulder, the lanes are narrow, the turns are sharp (and not always properly banked), and the ramps are quite short and offer little room for acceleration to freeway speed; all of this is because the freeway was designed for much slower cars of a different era and much less traffic volume than exists today.Or|date=November 2007 Commercial vehicles over 6,000 pounds are prohibited from using this freeway. More recent freeways are straighter, wider, and allow for higher speeds.

Major freeways of Los Angeles include:


Major highways of Los Angeles include:


Angelenos are noted for referring to freeways with the definite article ("The 101"), in contrast to most other areas of the United States, who omit the article. Referring to freeways by name, for example "The San Diego Freeway", is essentially a holdover from the time when the freeways were built, and is diminishing. Nevertheless, freeways continue to be officially named, and the 118 was recently christened The Ronald Reagan Freeway.

Rush hour

Rush hour occurs on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., and in the evening between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.. Traffic can occur at almost anytime, particularly before major holidays (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and three-day weekends) and even on regular weekends when one otherwise would not expect it. Experienced Angelenos know that they need to factor traffic into their commute. A major selling point for the two news radio stations in Los Angeles is their frequent traffic reports.

The Texas Transportation Institute which publishes an annual Urban Mobility Report ranked Los Angeles road traffic as the most congested in the United States in 2005 as measured by annual delay per traveler. The average traveler in Los Angeles experienced 72 hours of traffic delay per year according to the study. Los Angeles was followed by San Francisco/Oakland, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, (each with 60 hours of delay). [ [ Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility Report 2007, Table 1] ]

Another study by the same organization in 1999 ranks the Los Angeles metropolitan area 31st among the 39 largest American metropolitan areas in freeway lane-miles per capita at .419 lane-miles per 1,000 people, 66% fewer than the U.S. metropolitan area most well endowed with freeway lane-miles per capita (Kansas City) and even fewer than many East Coast metropolitan areas with a reputation for traffic congestion such as Boston, Washington and Baltimore. []

Despite the congestion in the city, the mean travel time for commuters in Los Angeles is shorter than other major cities, including New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Los Angeles' mean travel time for work commutes in 2006 was 29.2 minutes, similar to those of San Francisco and Washington, DC.cite web
title=American Community Survey 2006, Table S0802
publisher=U.S. Census Bureau

treets, street layout, the boulevards, and street problems

The city has an extensive street grid. Arterial streets (referred to as "surface streets" by locals) connect freeways with smaller neighborhood streets, and are often used to bypass gridlocked freeway routes.

The block designations are divided by Main Street (east and west) south of Downtown Los Angeles and 1st Street. North of downtown, east and west street designations vary from street to street due to its mountain terrain.

From downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, in a straight-down vertical pattern, east-west streets are numbered (starting with 1st Street in downtown, to 266th Street in Harbor City), and north-south streets are named. (1st St. is one block south of Temple.) There are many exceptions to the numbered streets, but the above pattern is generally used. This same numbered patten is not mirrored north of Temple. Addresses are then numbered East or West stemming from Main St (a major north south artery). So the address of 1765 E. 107th St. is approximately 107 streets south of first street, and on the 17th street east of Main St. (This happens to be the address of the Watts Towers). Although the numbered streets are sequential, they do not necessarily equal the number of blocks south of first street, as there are streets such as 118th St. and then 118th Place.

Many of the numbered streets also continue into neighboring cities; but some cities, such as Manhattan Beach, have made their own numbered street grid. Also, some districts of Los Angeles, such as Wilmington, San Pedro, and Venice, have their own numbered street grids.

Many arterials have been labeled as boulevards, and many of those mentioned below have been immortalized in movies, music, and literature.

Major east-west routes include: Victory, Ventura, Hollywood, Sunset, Santa Monica, Beverly, Wilshire, Olympic, Pico, Venice, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Exposition and Martin Luther King. The major north-south routes include: Topanga Canyon, Reseda, Lincoln, Hawthorne, Sepulveda, Van Nuys, Westwood, Beverly Glen, San Vicente, Robertson, La Cienega, Laurel Canyon, Crenshaw, and Glendale.

There are many other famous L.A. streets which carry significant traffic but are not labeled as boulevards. Examples include: Bundy Drive, Barrington Avenue, Centinela Avenue, Mulholland Drive, Pacific Coast Highway, Slauson Avenue, Century Park East, Avenue of the Stars, Highland Avenue, Melrose Avenue, Florence Avenue, Normandie Avenue, Vermont Avenue, La Brea Avenue, Fairfax Avenue, Western Avenue, Figueroa Street, Grand Avenue, Huntington Drive, Central Avenue, and Alameda Street. West Los Angeles has many streets named after states that run east and west. Somewhat confusingly, adjacent Santa Monica uses a few of the same state names for different streets of its own.

One street in Los Angeles, Broadway, has no street suffix.

Los Angeles is notorious for chronic underfunding of street maintenance (which is difficult due to the city's enormous size), resulting in an unusually large number of potholes and high vehicle maintenance costs for city residents. Potholes were a major cause of the secession attempt of the San Fernando Valley in 2002.Fact|date=May 2008 In December 2005, the mayor personally filled a pothole in the San Fernando Valley at the conclusion of his "Operation Pothole" program.

Certain parts of the city's street grid are completely gridlocked at rush hour in that arterials, collector streets and local alleys are all equally clogged and there are no possible detours.Fact|date=May 2008

Speeding and red light running are rampant (relative to most California cities) since the chance that any given violation will lead to a ticket is low. To counter this, red light cameras have been installed at many problem intersections. These cameras activate when a vehicle runs a red light and automatically send a ticket to the offender. The fine for running a red light is $349 and a point on one's driving record. There was something of a scandal in 2003 when it was discovered that certain intersections were selected to be fitted with the cameras because the statistics showed they would generate more revenue in fines rather than decrease the risk to public safety. In other words, they had the most red light violations, although not the most red light violations resulting in accidents. Fact|date=February 2007

An advanced convergence indexing road traffic monitoring system has been installed in Los Angeles for testing purposes in June 2008. Fact|date=July 2008

On foot

Despite the assertion of the popular song that "nobody walks in L.A.", ["You won't see a cop walkin' on the beat / You only see 'em drivin' cars out on the street / You won't see a kid walkin' home from school / Their mothers pick 'em up in a car pool / Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin—nobody walks in LA"Missing Persons, "Walking in LA"] 3.4% of Los Angeles residents commute to work by walking and Los Angeles residents walk for exercise at rates similar to those of other major U.S. cities. [ [ CDC Walking for Exercise Prevalence Statistics 2000] ]

There are a number of commercial areas that have been redeveloped in the past two decades specifically to accommodate pedestrian traffic. Old Town Pasadena was redeveloped in the late 1980s by moving parking off Colorado Boulevard so as to make the street pedestrian-focused. Likewise, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica was closed off to vehicular traffic altogether in 1965 and revitalized with improved pedestrian amenities in 1988. [ [ History of Third Street Promenade] ] Downtown Los Angeles has numerous public escalators and skyways, such as the Bunker Hill steps [ [ Maguire Properties description of U.S. Bank Tower] ] to facilitate pedestrian traffic in the traffic-laden and hilly terrain.

Nevertheless, much of Los Angeles remains pedestrian unfriendly. A large percentage of sidewalks in the City of Los Angeles (43% or 4,600 miles of the 10,600 total miles) are in ill repair stemming from the City Council passing an ordinance in 1973 that relieved property owners of responsibility for repair of sidewalks damaged by roots while failing to concurrently allocate funds for city repairs of such sidewalks. The city began dedicating funds for sidewalk repairs in 2000, but the backlog created by the twenty-six year repair hiatus is severe. [Zahniser, David, "City to pass the bucks on sidewalks?", Los Angeles Times, Feb. 21,2008]

Mass transit

The primary regional public transportation agency is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), commonly referred to as Metro or MTA. The agency, which operates bus, light rail and subway services, averages 1.6 million transit trips per weekday,cite web
title=Facts at a Glance
] making it the third largest transit agency in the United States. Other municipal transportation agencies in Los Angeles County (Long Beach Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus, Santa Clarita Transit, Torrance Transit and Foothill Transit) have an additional 405,000 average weekday boardings.cite web
title = Transit Ridership Report
author = American Public Transportation Assosiciation
url =
date = 1Q2008
accessdate 2008-07-23

In February 2008, LACMTA introduced a new universal fare system called 'TAP' which stands for Transit Access Pass. The TAP smart card allows bus and rail passengers to tap their cards on the farebox for faster boarding. TAP readers have already been installed on buses and rail stations next to ticket vending machines. Because Metro Rail is a barrier free system, fare inspectors will be checking to make sure TAP users have validated their card use a wireless handheld unit. This automated fare system will eventually be implemented on eleven other Los Angeles County transit operators and intends to replace the EZ Pass which allows travel between these transit agencies for one monthly price. Commuters from surrounding cities and communities will be able to travel across the county switching from one transit operator's system to another using one smart card to pay for fares.


The extensive bus system operated by LACMTA includes the Metro Local, Metro Rapid, and Metro Express services. The buses have an estimated 1.3 million boardings on the weekdays. Including other municipal bus operators, Los Angeles County averages 1.7 million bus boardings per weekday, accounting for approximately 5.9% of the 29 million daily trips originating in Los Angeles County.cite web
title=2008 Long Range Transportation Plan Technical Document

LACMTA has bus rapid transit system called the Orange Line, that runs from Warner Center/Woodland Hills to the North Hollywood Red Line station, began operations on October 29, 2005. For 13 of its 14 mile stretch (21 km of its 22.5 km stretch), the 60-foot articulated buses, built by North American Bus Industries and dubbed "Metro Liners", operate on bus-only lanes that follow an old railroad right-of-way. Portions of the route parallel Chandler and Victory Boulevards, and Oxnard Street.

Foothill Transit also operates a bus rapid transit system called the Silver Streak, which runs from Montclair to Downtown Los Angeles along the El Monte Busway on Interstate 10.

Metro Rail

Between its light rail and heavy rail systems, Los Angeles Metro Rail has convert|73|mi|km miles of rail, averaging 308,653 trips per weekday, and accounting for approximately 1.1% of the 29 million daily trips originating in Los Angeles County. The network includes three above-ground light rail lines (Gold Line, Blue Line, and Green Line) and one underground subway with two branches (Red Line and Purple Line). Ranked by daily ridership, the Los Angeles subway ranked as the ninth-busiest rapid transit system in the United States. Ranked by passengers per route mile, however, the system ranks sixth, transporting 8,846 passengers per route mile, more than San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit or the Chicago 'L'.

The Los Angeles Metro Rail system connects disperse areas of the county including Long Beach, Pasadena, Norwalk, El Segundo, North Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. As of June 2008, two additional light rail lines were under construction: the Expo Line's first phase from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and an extension of the Gold Line from Union Station to East Los Angeles. There are additional rail expansion projects currently under study. The timing of their construction will depend on the availability of funding. These projects include:
* New light rail line through the Crenshaw Corridor
* Further extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa
* Second phase of the Expo line to Santa Monica
* Westward extension of the Purple Line subway

Commuter Rail

Also serving Los Angeles and several surrounding counties is Metrolink, a regional commuter rail service. Metrolink averages 42,600 trips per weekday.

Bicycle travel

Because of the mild climate, there is little need to carry the variety of clothing that cyclists require in other less temperate climates.

Bicycling accounts for less than one percent (0.6%) of all work commutes There are extended stretches of "bicycle paths" such as the Los Angeles River bicycle path, which runs from Burbank to Long Beach, with only a brief hiatus through downtown.

Legal requirements and advisable practices

Cyclists may travel either in the street with vehicles or on the sidewalk, but on the sidewalk they must behave so as not to cause danger to pedestrians (which is an arbitrary judgment that seems to translate into traveling at walking pace). Moreover, in some of the cities within the greater Los Angeles region, it is illegal to cycle on the sidewalk. Cyclists in general should follow the same traffic rules and behavior as motorized vehicles. It is legal for a cyclist to "take a lane" within the State of California, and in the case of narrow-width lanes it is advisable to do so.

It is not required to wear a helmet unless the rider is under the age of 18 years. A driver's license is also not required for a cyclist. The bicycle relevant sections of the California Vehicle Code indicate that a cyclist may ride out from the right-hand curb in order to avoid obstacles. This explicit provision, combined with the California Driver's Handbook (which indicates that passing vehicles must ensure 3 feet minimum safe passing distance), means that certain lanes which are not wide enough for a bicycle and a passing automobile should be occupied by the bicycle until it is safe for the cyclist to pull in to the right and signal the automobile to overtake if there is no other safe-passing lane available for the automobile.

Bicycles and rail travel

Both the Metro Bus and Metro Rail services are bicycle accessible. Virtually all Metro buses have bicycle racks at the front of the bus for the attachment of two bicycles. There is no guarantee, however, that any particular bus will have a bicycle rack.

The Metro Rail allows bicycles on trains except during rush hour in the direction of peak traffic. Rush hour is between 6:30-8:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.. This exclusion does not appear to be enforced rigorously, but it is generally considered to be discourteous to other Metro users to take up space with a bicycle.

Bicycles are allowed on the Metrolink commuter rail system, which connects the core of the city to the suburbs. There is storage for two bicycles at the rear of each carriage. The mechanism consists of two pairs of velcro straps per bicycle, which fasten the front and rear wheels to supports. A Metrolink ticket is also valid for any Metro bus, subway, or light rail train in Los Angeles County, and most of the buses in the surrounding communities.


In 2006, of the 4,423,725 workers aged 16 or older in Los Angeles County, 72.0% commuted to work driving alone, 11.9% commuted by driving in a carpool and 7.0% commuted on public transportation. 64.9% of public transportation commuters were non-white, 70.2% were Hispanic and 67.6% were foreign born. 75.5% of public transportation commuters earned less than $25,000. However, only 32.7% of public transportation commuters had no vehicle available to them for their commute.

In the same year, for the City of Los Angeles, of the 1,721,778 workers aged 16 or older, 63.3% commuted to work driving alone, 11.5% commuted by driving in a carpool and 11.0% commuted by public transportation. The percentage of population using public transport in Los Angeles is lower than other large U.S. cities such as Chicago and New York, but similar to or higher than other western U.S. cities such as Portland and Houston. 63.8% of public transportation commuters in the City of Los Angeles in 2006 were non-white, 75.1% were Hispanic and 73.9% were foreign born. 79.4% of public transportation commuters earned less than $25,000 and 37.6% had no vehicle available to them for their commute.

ee also

*Freeway system of Los Angeles
*Great American Streetcar Scandal


External links

Bicycling groups

The [ Los Angeles Wheelmen] (open to men and women) have been riding together since 1945.
* [ BikeBoom] presents a public calendar of bicycle events in Los Angeles. Add your own events and check out what's happening.
* [ Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange] (CICLE) s a non-profit organization, based in Los Angeles that actively seeks to promote the bicycle as a viable, healthy, and sustainable transportation choice. Its site features bicycle related news and events. It also presents bicycle related propaganda.
*The [ Concerned Off Road Bikers Association] (CORBA) lobbies for access to single-track in the Greater Los Angeles area, provides education to mountain-bikers and constructs trails.
*The [ Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition] (LACBC) is a non-profit "501(c)3 volunteer organization" which advocates for infrastructure and regulatory improvements in the county on behalf of its members. Among recent success have been the gaining of access to MTA subway/light-rail during off-peak hours for bicycles and the partial construction of the "L.A. River Bikepath".
*The [ Bicycle Kitchen] is a grassroots volunteer organization which provides access to equipment and expertise in bicycle repair and maintenance.

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