Metro to the End of the World
Taking the subway, light rail or bus to far off places is something a broad reaching system lets you do. Metro and it’s municipal transit partners makes it easy for you to get throughout Los Angeles county with relative ease. Certainly getting from Downtown LA to the farthest reaches of the west coast on a 2 seat ride is a pretty good deal. Of course some areas of Los Angeles may need 2 or 3 transfers and there are certainly undeserved areas of transit, but that is a post for another day, today we are going to have fun.
I like making challenges for myself by planning to use transit when I can easily drive. So when I looked at the Metro System map I was impressed they had a limited stop bus (344) to Palos Verdes. With the addition of the super fast Silver Line (910) service I would be able to get from Downtown LA to the cliffs at the edge of the world in a little longer than it would take to drive.
Getting to the end of the world is actually easier than planning an outing to the San Fernando Valley as the 344 has a decent frequency with buses running until about 8 pm. The silver line has frequent enough service to make this trip a walk in the park. So with my TAP card in hand with stored value cash purse I was ready for a day on the coast. Checking the Next Bus service or other transit apps is always useful for knowing when the bus will arrive.
With the Silver line bus pulling up to the stop at 3rd and Grand I was ready for adventure, but unfortunately the adventure didn’t start out as planned. I asked the driver for a day pass using my card, he acknowledged me with a nod and I TAPped my card on the reader. He looked at me with the that deer in the headlight stare as the TAP fare box beeped. “oh I thought you were going to pay with cash, the machine just took a regular Silver line fare and not a Daypass” said the driver. I said well I am riding all day so I still need a daypass. He mashed some buttons on the reader and said OK. But of course nothing happened. The card was read in the system already so he said come back in 7 min or so. Well I figured he may screw up again so I decided to just get a daypass on my transfer to the 344. Strike one for Metro, but I am heading to the coast so I guess it’s not that bad.
The Silver line is really a great service if you are heading to south LA or the south bay area. It whisks you passed all the traffic on the 110 with limited stops using the Harbor Freeway Express lanes. The bus was filled with people wearing their Sunday best including a gentleman with his bike. The bike rack was full, but the driver let him take his bike on in the back because he was going only one stop and the bus was not that full. Kudos to the driver for bending the rules in a common sense scenario that helped someone to get to church on time.
The quick ride to harbor gateway transit center was nice and efficient. The wait time for the 344 was about 10 min, not too bad. Boarding the bus I asked the driver for a daypass using the stored value on my card. She looked at me and said that is not possible. She said you can only use the card with stored value for a regular fair and not a day pass. I was confused because I know I have loaded a daypass on this card before using the automated ticket machine at the Redline subway stop. I asked again and she just told me to tap my card. Still confused I complied with her request and took my seat figuring she was mistaken but not worth the hassle to argue. Strike Two!
The 344 has a limited stop route which is nice because it does have to cover some distance from the Harbor Gateway transit center to Rancho Palos Verdes. The ride was quick as there were very few people getting on and off the bus. Winding our way through the hills we twist and turn offering peeks of beautiful views of the ocean. The stop at Hawthorn and Palos Verdes West Dr was my stop to get off with my final destination of Point Vicente Light house just a few hundred yards away. As I exited the bus I mentioned to the driver that I have had both a daypass and stored value on my TAP card before. She said well maybe it’s different at the subway, so I just shook it off and said “Have a nice day”. The intersection houses a shopping center with a Starbucks, restaurants and most importantly a Trader Joe’s. Having access to gather provisions for a picnic makes it nice not having to lug all that on the trip there. With the makings of a nice lunch I walked to the lighthouse park. When I got the the street I saw the bus driver waiting at the layover area and she waived my over. She asked if I was traveling more today and I said yes. She grabbed a paper transfer and marked it for daypass use. She said that I should show the paper with my TAP card and tell the driver there was a problem loading a daypass. I thought that was a nice gesture and thanked her but ultimately I found out later from Metro Customer Service that she can and should have loaded a daypass on my card with the stored value.
Point Vicente with the lighthouse, park and interpretive center is a great place to spend time exploring, hiking and relaxing. It was a great day hiking the trails with beautiful views in all directions. The lighthouse is closed to the public as it is a Coast Guard Facility but they do open it once a month for visitor to go to the top and view the inside. The interpretive center is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers about the history, flora and fauna of the area and often have programs and guided hikes. It is a really great place and I had a wonderful picnic.
I hit the 7-11 adjacent to the bus stop and then waited for my ride back to the transit center. The 344 ride back was uneventful and I was soon back at the Harbor Gateway transit center. About a 20 min wait for the Silver line and then off to Downtown. Again a nice quick ride and I was back in the city.
Overall the trip was fun and didn’t take too long. The silver line ride is about 25 – 30 min and the 344 is a little longer at about 45 min. Not bad to get to the end of the wold.