Getting to Santa Monica from LAX
January 18, 2018 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Arriving early afternoon Wednesday, should I get a cab or just take the bus?

My first inclination is to get a cab or Uber because LAX makes me uneasy and I just want to get out of there as fast as I can. But then I noticed that there's a Big Blue Bus that will take me right by my hotel, for only $1.25! From what I can tell, there's a shuttle that goes from the terminal to the transit center by parking lot C. So, sounds easy enough, right? Anyone who has used public transit to/from LAX, do you have any tips? Arriving on Delta (terminal 2 or 3 I think), taking just an overnight bag, I will have a traveling companion. Thanks!
posted by plasticpalacealice to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I personally did this some years ago and had no problems. You have to take a shuttle bus from the terminals out to the bus waiting area (I think you can walk, but it's an unpleasant 20 or so minutes). The attendant issues regarding lots of baggage on public transit exist - the bus didn't have luggage racks or anything, but with just a small overnight bag that shouldn't be an issue. You may have to sit near poor people on the bus; this was fine to me, but obviously not to many LA residents. It's not super fast, but neither is the freeway in the middle of the afternoon. (It seems like there's now a "rapid" version that's a little faster because it stops less often and runs every 15 minutes in the afternoon.) I would have gladly taken the bus back to the airport, but I needed to be there before the bus was running.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:52 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Uber queue for LAX is such a pain in the ass that the shuttle is a solid option. Signage is lousy, so make sure you’re in the right place (a median area designated by overhead signs).
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I routinely travel through LAX for work. To me, speed and convenience are more important than cost (it's being expensed anyway), so I just use Lyft most of the time. Pickups are at a limited number of spots on the upper/departures ring road, rather than downstairs with the taxis, and roger ackroyd is right about the queue, but otherwise it's pretty alright.

On the other hand, if you don't have to be anywhere in a hurry and saving twenty five bucks or so is worth it to you, I don't imagine there's any reason not to try the bus!
posted by Alterscape at 9:00 AM on January 18, 2018

Take the BBB. I lived in Santa Monica at Pico and Euclid for about a decade and took the BBB down Lincoln Blvd. to and from LAX all the time. Easy peasy.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:16 AM on January 18, 2018

The BBB works great as a bus company. LAX uber/Lyft pickups are a hot mess. I’ve never done this route personally (I fly BUR when possible as I live closer to it now) but as an LA local, I’d probably choose the BBB.
posted by samthemander at 10:28 AM on January 18, 2018

If nothing else, once you get to the BBB bus stop, you may have an easier time calling for a Lyft/Uber than you would from the LAX nightmare. So if the bus doesn’t show, you can still do plan B and it likely won’t even add much extra time.
posted by samthemander at 10:30 AM on January 18, 2018

I can add to the chorus that has done this, and can second that it's easy enough. Just wait for the shuttle on the traffic median, and make sure you're under the right sign (a bunch of different buses and shuttles pick up from the median). Once you get off the shuttle, you wait for your bus in the bus lot, which has benches and, if I remember correctly, shade. Make sure you bring exact change for the bus; I don't think you can buy a TAP card at the bus lot (but someone please correct me if I'm wrong!).

I can also confirm that it's walkable to get to the bus lot—it was the only way to get home from the airport protests last year—but it's not a pleasant walk (near a ton of traffic, sunny, not super well-marked) and you probably wouldn't save much time.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 3:46 PM on January 18, 2018

Thanks everyone! I've found my old TAP card, loaded it up and I'm going to give the BBB a go. Also going to try out the Expo line into downtown (I love the idea of getting around LA via transit, I've done the car thing but it just stresses me out too much).
posted by plasticpalacealice at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, one more plug: download the app Transit. I still think Google Maps is your best bet for trip planning, but once you know what train or bus you're taking Transit has the best interface for maps, wait times, etc. Especially for bus travel, Transit is a huge help.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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