California Transit Adventures

Visiting the ARTIC and riding the Expo Line to the Sea on a quick trip to Dinseyland

About a month ago Louise – a Disneyland fanatic – and I went on a quick 48 hour trip by plane out to Los Angeles to use up two free Dinseyland tickets that we had. What also made the trip possible was an intro promo from Upside a new package deal website that made the hotel room for two nights in Anaheim basically free (with an Upgrade to a nicer hotel after we got a phone call that the first hotel we tried to book through them was full, they upheld our original package price).

On the way there we landed in Los Angeles at 10:30pm, so the only option was the ~$30 for two Prime Time Shuttle. The dispatcher was unfriendly, simply saying there were no shuttles available as we waited a good 45 minutes for our shuttle to show up but was otherwise an uneventful shared-ride trip to our hotel.

On the way home through, I managed to have a bit of a transit adventure back. The original plan was to take an earlier train and do a station-to-station on the Expo Line, unforchunately we were exhausted from 16 hours in Disneyland (gate open to close), and managed to get the hotel to give us slightly later check-out at Noon, so this meant sacrificing a station-to-station on the Expo Line.

The first hard adventure was getting to the station. ARTS, Anaheim Resort Area Transit runs a route that supposedly stopped right outside our hotel, but they seem to operate more as a shuttle system with posted frequencies than a regular fixed-route bus system with a posted timetable. As someone in the transit industry this is a bit infuriating. An hour earlier I was out taking a walk (and finding us some expresso) and found an ARTS driver (on a different Route) on a layover behind our hotel who looked at his tripsheet for us and said their would be a bus at 12:05 to the Artic. 12:05 came and went and at 12:15 I finally called an Uber, not to miss our train.

A $7.16 (using some credits), 12 minute Uber ride later we we’re dropped off at the new Anaheim Artic(21 Photos) Station. We arrived with train options of Metrolink at 12:41 or the Pacific Surfliner scheduled for 12:57, now running 30 minutes late (I purchased unreserved tickets earlier to get discounts, and for a free transfer on the ARTs bus had it come).  Unforchunately the modern LCD screens above the Ticket Windows hadn’t been reloaded with the new Metrolink schedule that had gone in effect a few days before and said the Metrolink Train was On Time at 12:33.

We headed up two flights of long escalators to the high bridge above the platforms.


There was a crowd waiting for Metrolink so we quickly bought one-way tickets (which would include a free transfer to the Metro out to Santa Monica) although the glare in the TVM touchscreens made it extremely hard to see. The fare to Los Angeles-Union Station is under $10 so no Weekend Day Passes purchased today.


The train came in on time.


It was then an uneventful trip, on seats definitely more comfortable than the South Shore Line, into Los Angeles Union Station(2 Photos). We got off and were confronted by the usual ticket divers trying to collect ‘unused’ tickets as we headed downstairs to the underpass. There I noticed new color LED signs have replaced the original Red LED signs for track destinations, as well has some signage updates in the more than 3 years since I’ve been through Los Angeles.

From there we headed to towards the Metro Center modern side of the concourse and to the Metro Red Line.  Then it was a quick ride to 7th/Metro Center(2 Photos) where we transferred to the Expo Line. There I noticed that the old P850 cars have been retrofitted with LED signs, as we waited for a Blue Line train to leave.

Taking the Expo Line on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, felt like taking the Subway to Coney Island on a Summer Sunday. The train had plenty of passenger turnover, but was crowded with nearly every seat taken for the entire ride with some passengers having the usual beach paraphernalia. The extension felt similar to the original Expo Line with stations having similar designs, a few on arial structures but for the most part at grade. I also noticed a bicycle path followed most of the route. Here’s passing the new maintenance facility.

We eventually arrived in Downtown Santa Monica where I noticed historical facts edged into the concrete since the Expo Line is really a reopening of the former Santa Monica Air Line, where Pacific Electric Red Cars ran until 1953.


We then followed the crowd off the platform (at the three track, two platform terminus) and through the turnstiles.

Then we crossed Colorado Avenue at a Barnes Dance with an extremely well painted crosswalk.

It was a two block walk to the sea and the Santa Monica Pier. The sidewalk crowds felt like being in a crowded place, like Times Square.

We didn’t ride any other transit on the trip. Not knowing the reliability of the parking lot shuttle that connects with Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Rapid Route 3 we decided to take an $18.00 Uber straight to the Airport for our 6:30 (to 12:30am CT) flight back to Chicago. To get home to South Bend we had a middle of the night drive home to South Bend in Louise’s car that we left at a $5 per day hotel parking lot.