Reader Frank Scimia e-mailed recently after reading about one of my L.A. excursions via Metrolink:
“I enjoy reading your blog and have a question regarding your day in L.A. It sounds like fun and something that I would like to do with my family. The only problem is that I have never ridden the Metrolink…gasp! Can you give a first-timer some tips? I live in Rancho and don’t have a clue on what train to take and what station to get off at. Also, how far is the walk to Hollywood Blvd?”
I responded to his e-mail but figured I’d share my response here since others may have the same question. Taking the train isn’t difficult, but I can see how it might be intimidating for a first-timer, especially since you kinda have to know the schedule in advance (it’s not like trains are pulling in every 15 minutes) and there are no employees, just ticket machines.
Here’s what I told him:
“Always happy to encourage riders on Metrolink. You can find the schedule at www.metrolinktrains.com. You’ll want the schedule for the San Bernardino Line. You buy tickets at the station. The machines can be confusing at first but other riders can help.
“From Union Station, which is the end of the line, you would take the Red Line subway to either Hollywood and Vine or to Hollywood and Highland. No big walk — you’re right there!
“Transferring from Metrolink to the Red Line is free with your ticket (for now — Metrolink officials are rethinking the free transfer policy).”
From Union Station, one can also take the Gold Line to Chinatown, Highland Park and Pasadena, or walk across the street to Olvera Street or walk about four blocks to Philippe’s, not to mention walking or taking the Red Line to other downtown sites, etc.
I find a lot of people confuse Metrolink and the subway. It all makes sense (I think) if you actually go there, and then look at the maps at Union Station. After a trip or two, you start feeling like an urban expert, and for me it beats driving, paying for parking, etc. Just be cognizant of the times the trains depart for home and factor in the time you need to get back to Union Station.
Here’s a link to Metrolink’s official “How to Ride Guide.”
Any other questions or comments?