A picture taken of a Gold Line train in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, California
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, commonly referred to as LACMTA, MTA, or Metro, is the agency charged to provide public transportation to the county of Los Angeles. It was established in February 1993 from the merger of the Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD) and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC).
In August 2004, in an effort to rebrand itself, the LACMTA board voted to use the friendlier sounding "Metro" to refer to itself in all advertising campaigns, literature, and where legally permisable in lieu of the harsher sounding acronym "MTA." The Official name of the Agency remains "The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority." The agency had been using the term "Metro" for several years to describe its many services.
Metro services include:
- Metro Bus - The bus system services 1433 miles of road (2306 km) with 18,500 stops on 183 bus lines. Daily weekday boardings total over 1 million. Metro has the largest compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet in the country, with nearly 2,000 buses – or 80 percent of its entire fleet – running on CNG. Metro’s alternative fuel buses, including its present-day CNG fleet, have logged more than 450 million operating miles since 1993, an industry record.
- Metro Rail - 73.1 miles (118 km) and 62 stations of light and heavy rail with total ridership of over 220,000 passengers per day.
- Metro Rapid - Distinguised by its red livery this bus service offers limited stops on many arterial streets. Metro Rapid reduce passenger commute times by up to 25 percent, as the result of several key system attributes including a transit signal priority system in the city of Los Angeles developed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), less frequent station stops (about every 0.8 miles at major intersections versus 0.2 miles for local service), and low floor buses which permit faster boarding and alighting.
- Metro Freeway Service Patrol - A joint effort between MTA, Caltrans, and CHP offering free quick-fix repairs and towing from freeways.
- HOV Lanes - 219 miles (352 km), 423 miles (681 km) both directions/each lane, of carpool, vanpool, and express bus lanes.
- Bike Paths - 475 miles (764 km) of bikeways for commuter and recreational purposes.
- Metrolink - Partially funded by the MTA, it is Southern California's regional commuter rail system servicing Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Orange County, and San Diego County
|Fare ||Regular ||Senior/Disabled/Medicare |
|Base Fare ||$1.25 ||$.45 |
|Tokens ||$1.10 ||-- |
|Metro Day Pass ||$3.00 ||$1.50 |
|Weekly Pass ||$14.00 ||-- |
|Semi-monthly Pass ||$27.00 ||-- |
|Monthly Pass ||$52.00 ||$12.00 |
|Metro-to-Muni Transfer ||$.25 ||$.10 |
|Metro Bus Night Service (9 pm - 5 am) ||$.75 ||$.35 |
There are no fare gates on the Metro Rail system. However, the system is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department and Metro Fare Inspectors who randomly check for tickets. If you are caught without a ticket you can be fined up to $250 and/or community service.
A fare is collected on each boarding of a Metro Bus and no transfers are issued within the system but "Metro-to-Muni" transfers, also called interagency transfers, can be used to transfer to other bus systems.
A $3 day pass may be used an unlimited amount of times within the same day for both bus and rail.
Los Angeles once had the world's largest rail transit system with 1100 miles (1770 km) of track and 2800 scheduled trains each day (see also: Pacific Electric Railway). Rail lines and cable cars ran up and down every major street in Los Angeles and its suburbs.
In the period after World War II automobile prices dropped, freeways were built, and General Motors et al. purchased urban rail lines across the United States. According to the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, General Motors was responsible for the closure of the rail lines. However, in Los Angeles, a public agency, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, a predecessor to the RTD, closed the rail lines. After almost 90 years of rail history in Los Angeles' the last remaining Red Car line went out of service in 1961 and the last street car line followed suit two years later (See also: National City Lines).
In 1990, rail transit returned to Los Angeles in the form of the Metro Blue Line Light Rail from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. Today, there are four rail lines that cover 73.1 miles (118 km) of track.
The city's subway, the Red Line, opened in segments: 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2000. It has two lines. The first line runs from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Wilshire/Western. Although an extension under Wilshire past Wilshire/Western station all the way to Santa Monica is still being considered, it cannot be built because of a 1998 referendum that prohibits subway extensions being built, though it exempts tunnels in the Gold Line. The second line runs from Union Station to North Hollywood.
There are three above ground light rail lines, the newest of which is the Gold Line, which opened in July 2003. It runs mostly north from Union Station (Los Angeles) to Pasadena, then east along the Foothill Freeway. Metro is currently working on a six mile extension from Union Station to East Los Angeles of which nearly two miles will be subway. The extension is scheduled to be completed in 2009.
The Blue Line is Metro's oldest rail line, and opened in 1990. It runs 22 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. Both the Blue and Gold Lines operate in corridors which were former Red Car Lines.
The Green Line (opened 1995) runs east-west from Norwalk to Redondo Beach and operated mostly in the median of the 105 freeway. There is a free shuttle to the Los Angeles International Airport at the Aviation Station, which in the future, may be replaced by a branch of the Green Line.
The system operates from appoximately 4 am to 1 am, 7 days a week. Trains generally arrive every 5-10 minutes during rush hour and 10-20 minutes during off-peak hours.
Though much of Los Angeles is not serviced by Metro Rail it does serve such areas as downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Koreatown, Chinatown, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Thai Town/Little Armenia, Los Feliz, Universal City/Studio City, North Hollywood, Watts, Compton, Inglewood, Long Beach, Norwalk, Lakewood, Artesia, El Segundo, and Redondo Beach.
Most stations feature some sort of public art in the form of murals, sculpture and architecturally interesting station designs.
Los Angeles' Metro Rail has been featured in many films, television shows, and commercials. Often it is disguised to look like the metro of other cities such as New York.
Metro broke ground in 2004 on a six mile (10 km) extension of the Gold Line from Union Station, through Little Tokyo to Pomona and Atlantic Boulevards in East L.A..
Currently, Metro is undergoing environmental review of designing the Exposition Light Rail from 7th/Metro Center in Downtown to Venice and Washington Boulevards in Culver City, and ultimately to the pier in Santa Monica. (http://www.mta.net/expo) Construction is scheduled to begin in 2007. Phase 1 to Culver City should be completed between 2010 and 2012.
Metro Orange Line is a 14 mile (23 km) dedicated busway traversing the southern San Fernando Valley from the Red Line's North Hollywood station to Warner Center in Canoga Park. It is scheduled for completion in August 2005.  (http://www.mta.net/projects_plans/orangeline/)
Metro is funded by a complex mix of Federal, State, County and local tax dollars as well as fare box revenue and bonds. One percent of county sales tax funds the agency.
State Senator Kevin Murray has advocated placing a 1/2 cent temporary sales tax on the county ballot to provide for public transportation and highway improvements.
The funds gathered from this would be spent on:
- Full funding for the Expo Line.
- Extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to San Bernardino County by 2012.
- Metro Center Regional Connector connecting the Blue and Expo Lines directly to the Gold Line.
- Full funding for the Red Line extension to Wilshire/Fairfax by 2012.
- Widening and interchange improvements to the Santa Ana Freeway, Golden State Freeway, and Antelope Valley Freeway.
- More clean fuel natural gas buses, increased Metrolink commuter train service, sound wall construction, and surface street maintenance.
The likelihood of this tax being voted on in the near future is uncertain due to the fact that Los Angeles County has the highest sales tax in the region and the recent failure of Measure A, a half-percent sales tax increase measure aimed at hiring around 2,000 extra officers.