LA Metro: A First Timer's Guide

Most natives haven't tried it. Most transplants don't know about it. It is one of the east side's best kept secrets and now it is moving out west. It's true: Los Angeles does have a subway and light rail system. In 2015, the Expo Line, which already goes from Downtown to Culver City, will make it all the way to Santa Monica Beach. That means you no longer have to dread traffic to get to the opposite side of the LA.

While our hard laboring construction workers are busy building, the current Metro system is still an amusing way to travel around. Nothing feels as cosmopolitan as taking the subway!

To get ready for your first metro ride, here is a first timer's guide to the LA Metro.

Useful Apps

Google Maps:  You may already be fairly familiar with Google Maps and it is very user-friendly. After picking your starting and destination points, just push the button that looks like a bus, and your route will be mapped out, including which Metro lines to take.

HopStop: Comparable to Google Maps, but includes schedules for subways, buses and more. There is more information so it can seem more confusing for a first time user, but definitely handy. The name says it all -- a website to find out when to catch your next ride.

The Lines

When it comes to LA Metro, there are the infamous (and dreaded) bus line but there is also the subway and the light rail. The subway is underground, while the light rail is on a track above ground (and sometimes above traffic).

Red Line (Subway) - Between North Hollywood and Union Station Goes through: North Hollywood Hollywood Thai Town Chinatown Downtown L.A.

Purple Line (Subway) - Between Union Station and Wilshire/Western Goes through: Downtown Koreatown

Gold Line (Light Rail) - Between Sierra Madre Villa and Atlantic Goes through: Pasadena Little Tokyo Chinatown East Los Angeles

Green Line (Light Rail) - Between Norwalk and Redondo Goes through: LAX South Bay Norwalk Redondo

Blue Line (Light Rail) - Between 7th Street Metro Center (Downtown) and Long Beach Transit Mall (Long Beach) Goes through: Downtown Watts Long Beach

Expo Line* (Light Rail) - Between 7th Street Metro Center (Downtown) and Culver City Goes through: Downtown Exposition Park USC Culver City Santa Monica (2015) *The Expo Line is indicated in light blue on maps, not to be confused with the dark blue color for the Blue Line.


You must have a TAP card to use the subway and light rail. Tap cards can be purchased at the station and are only $1.00. From there, you can add the fare that most suits your needs at the TAP machine and tap on through the entry way.

One way: $1.50 Day pass: $5.00 Week: $20.00 Month: $75.00


Schedules vary from line to line, so you have to check the timetables to be sure but trains come every 10, 15 and 20 minutes. Opening: 4:00AM/5:00AM Closing Sunday-Thursday: Midnight/1:00AM Closing Friday and Saturday: All lines until 2:00AM