The City of Angels was once home to a complex transportation system known as the Red Cars. The Los Angeles mass transit system today no longer operates the Pacific Electric Cars but does have a network that incorporates light rail and bus lines. The bus lines, part of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, connect to the rail and city-operated bus systems in Santa Monica and Long Beach.

Determine your preferred method to pay for your Metro travel. Payment for bus travel in Los Angeles includes cash, prepaid passes called TAP cards, and tokens. Passes provide savings for travelers making numerous trips. TAP and tokens are convenient for people not wishing to carry exact change or cash.

If you decide you'd rather not carry cash, buy your TAP card, token or passes in advance. TAP cards include basic cash denominations and may be reloaded for travel at any time along the route. Prepaid passes cover daily, weekly or monthly travel. Use prepaid tokens the same as you would cash. All forms of bus payment may be purchased at the Metro Customer Centers or selected retail outlets throughout the community. The Metro website and vending machines at a group of Metro Rail stations also sell TAP cards and passes. The basic fares, paid when you board the bus, cover bus travel, Metro-to-Muni Transfers to municipal lines and Freeway Express Add-Ons for bus trips via the freeway. The additional required fees must be paid in cash or deducted from a TAP card when you tap it on the register as you enter the bus. Daily, weekly and monthly bus passes allow riders unlimited bus transportation. Day trips include travel until 3:00 a.m. the following day. Long trips may require payment credits for additional zone charges.

Determine your travel location, or if you'll be visiting a number of places in one trip, make a list of travel locations. Use the Metro bus route map, available online or at the Metro Customer Center, to plan your trip. Note the Metro station for boarding the bus and the station at your final destination. Transfers may require a detour to arrive at a station with transfer buses. For trips to a single location, use the "Metro Trip Planner" online for interactive directions and assistance. The service also allows planning for trip transfers to several locations using bus transfers.

Check operation times for buses using the "Timetable" feature on the Metro's website. Select routes operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while others service routes run only during morning and afternoon rush hours.

Confirm operation for routes for the day of the trip and head out. Bus lines close for street construction, bus repair, or filming of television shows or movies. The LA Metro website, on the main page, lists major "Planned Service Advisories." Check these before leaving to locate bus delays, route detours and changes to the regular services. Once you've arrived at your bus stop, tap your card on the reader or use exact cash as you enter the bus. If you require a bus transfer, request and pay for the transfer as you enter the bus.

Things You Will Need
  • Metro map

  • Bus pass or cash

  • Los Angeles map

  • Computer

  • Internet access


Students, physically challenged riders, seniors and Medicare recipients may qualify for reduced fares after purchase of a special TAP card. Reduced-rate cards require prior application by mail, in person or online, and require submission of specific paperwork at bus business offices to qualify. A nominal fee must also be submitted to pay for the TAP card.