Back on Track: Commuting in Los Angeles

California, Complete Streets, Living Car-Free, Transit Access
Jesse Almeda

By Jesse Almeda, Marketing Coordinator, Alta Planning + Design

Continuing the transit-themed month at Alta, I want to share my experience about my recent transition back to using LA’s public transit system. Let me start off by saying that I’m relatively new to Alta; I’m coming up on my first full month at the end of this week. Prior to working for Alta, I worked for LA Metro for four years, where I helped develop marketing campaigns to encourage LA County residents to “Go Metro”. Ironically, I rarely went metro myself (talk about practicing what you preach). In the four years I worked at Metro I can probably count on my fingers the times I used the system other than getting to happy hour on a Friday evening.

I can’t recall exactly when I stopped using public transportation. I guess it was when I purchased my first car. As a teenager I dreamt about owning my first car and cruising down Pacific Coast Highway with a pretty girl by my side. Instead, what I got was traffic on the 405 and a little bit of my soul dying every time I filled up my gas tank. Prior to purchasing my first car, public transportation was my primary means of transportation. Every day for four years in high school, I would walk down the block from my house in northeast Los Angeles to catch the 78 bus heading towards downtown. After a 15 minute bus ride, I would get off at Union Station and transfer to the Metro Red/Purple Line, LA’s underground subway (yes, LA has a subway!), and exit at 7th St/Metro to get to school. Now, 10 years later, I find myself taking part in the same commute to get to work every morning. My old high school was located around the corner from our Alta office here in Los Angeles, so every day for the last month, I’ve been hopping on the Red/Purple Line and exiting at 7th/Metro.

7th St./Metro Center

I’d say I’ve changed a bit since my awkward teenage high school days. For one, and perhaps most importantly, I can grow a full beard now. I’ve also come to realize all the benefits public transit has to offer – something I definitely took for granted as a teenager.

Cost: $1.75, one-way (including transfers for 2-hours). Not bad. Not bad at all. Sure beats our always fluctuating (but consistently high) gas prices here in South California. And have you ever paid for parking in Downtown LA? “$12 Early Bird Special”, they advertise. I think I’ll pass and pay the $1.75 instead.

Stress-free commute: Los Angeles is synonymous with traffic, so it’s always nice when you’re able to skip the stress and the traffic entirely. Sneaking in an occasional power nap here and there is also a plus!

People Watching: The City of Los Angeles has its cast of characters, and its subway is no different. There’s never a dull moment heading to and from work.

Accessibility: The Metro Red/Purple Lines are easily accessible from LA Union Station and the wait time is minimal. In fact, since I’ve started working at Alta, I don’t think I’ve waited more than 2-3 minutes to catch a train during rush hour. Shout out to Metro for getting me to work on time every morning.

And a shout out to Alta for getting me back on track and allowing me to rediscover my love for public transit!

Here is a quick clip of me on my commute to work in the mornings:


Planner Daniella Alcedo writes on LA Metro’s SRTS program.

Jesse Almeda

About Jesse Almeda

Jesse has a passion for creating active and healthy communities. He holds a BA in History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has a background in marketing and communications in public transportation. Jesse is currently a Marketing Coordinator based in Los Angeles, CA.

One thought on “Back on Track: Commuting in Los Angeles

  1. My husband and I live in east Ventura County (last 30+ years) and we love the Los Angeles subway system. We use it when ever it makes sense, and have such great adventures on it. We also walk to the store when time permits. The expansion of the Goldline will expand my job options. We love to meet a mix of demographics and see things that we would normally miss due to the over taxed freeway system. Both our cars start with a “V”, and we leave them behind, meeting people without any “labels” of success. I would recommend the subway system to all opened minded adventurers. We are thrilled with the positive changes of DTLA. Thank you Tom Gilmore, originator of the Adaptive Use Ordinance in DTLA. If you want to visit a fantastic bookstore, “The Last Bookstore” in the Old Bank District of DTLA is amazing. 16,000 sq ft of delicious books and so forth. (a fav place of ours)

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