Good news LA! The Expo extension line to Santa Monica opens today! In celebration of this opening I give you a list of tips & tricks. Over the course of 7 months and after many fails on my part, I have learned a number of ways to make my metro commute the best it can be. So whether you are are commuting to work  or just taking a day trip to the beach (because now you can) I hope these tips & tricks will be helpful to you.

Before Your Trip:

Download the NextBus App. This app is awesome! I went a few months not having it and I never knew whether or not my bus would be early, on time, or late. So I’d always have to ask myself, “Should I stay or should I go now (dun nana nana nana na), Should I stay I should I go now….” I can’t tell you how many times I’d start walking and minutes later my bus would pass me.  Well now I have an app to help me decide. NextBus tells you how many minutes until your next bus, train, or shuttle arrives.

Stock up on Podcasts. When you are under ground you will not have any cell service. So download your favorite podcasts and enjoy! A few favorites from us include: Radiolab, The Moth, Ted Radio Hour, 99% Invisible, This American Life, Serial, Note To Self, You Must Remember This.

“I suggest The Movie Crypt Podcast and KCRW’s The Business.” – Matt R.

Consider Spotify Premium. If you don’t have a lot of space to fit music on your phone, try Spotify Premium. You can pick any song you want to hear at anytime.  Also, when you don’t have cell service you can play songs that are available offline. You’ll never be without music!

Invest in a retractable ID holder.  Sometimes there is less than a minute to make it to your train. Fumbling to get your tap card will definitely make or break you. Not to mention you’ll never misplace your tap card full of fairs.

Sign up for Balance Protection. You can do this HERE. In the event that you loose your tap card you can report it and have your unused fairs transferred to a new card. I failed to do this and lost out on a months worth of fairs.

Go to the bathroom BEFORE your trip. There aren’t any restrooms in the stations or trains. However, if you’re like me and have a bladder the size of a pea you can always get off your train to find a restroom. Trains come every 10 minutes so you can catch the next one. If you happen to be transferring at 7th/Metro Center Station there is a Target above ground across the street. Target is my personal favorite place for a pit stop because the bathrooms are in front and I never feel obligated to buy anything.

What To Bring:

Headphones. Not only do you need these for entertainment purposes but these also work as your personal barrier from any unwanted attention. Pop these babies in and most people will know not to disturb you. 

Portable phone charger. One day my phone died and I was unable to call for my ride. I went into immediate panic mode; I was left to fend for myself! What did people do before cell phones?! Find a pay phone! Wait there aren’t any and if there was I wouldn’t have any change to use it. Ah yes find the nearest Starbucks! Luckily here I was able to find a friendly face with a charger. Unfortunately this added an extra 30 minutes to my journey.

A Kindle. They are light-weight and small, perfect for traveling and they help save trees! If you want to be extra green you can buy a used or refurbished one.

“You probably have the unbearable urge to stare at a screen while waiting for long periods of passive transit time, so make it worthwhile.” – Laura G.

A good pair of walking shoes. This is especially for those who have a long commute with many transfers. You never know when there might not be any seats left, if you’ll have to walk to your next destination, or if there is a delay of some sort and have to stand and wait for a long period. One night there were major delays on the blue line. Of course it was overcrowded and there weren’t any seats available so I had to stand in my heels the whole time. It was not fun! My ankles were killing me. No need to worry about sneakers cramping your style, metro commuters understand. Plus once you get to where you need to get you can swamp those sneakers out for your stylish shoes.

A sense of humor and a spirit of adventure! You never know what your journey will hold. So it’s best to be prepared for it all!

Metro Kit: Kindle, Headphones, Tap card in a retractable ID holder, Phone with useful apps, Portable charger.  Metro Kit: Kindle, Headphones, Tap card in a retractable ID holder, Phone with useful apps, Portable charger.

During Your Journey:

Have train etiquette. Before boarding the train step to the side and allow passengers to disembark.  Seats are limited so try not to use any seats as storage or as a footrest. Be polite and give up your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. If you need to make a phone call, keep the conversation down and to a minimum. If you want to play music or watch something be sure to wear headphones. Having train etiquette will keep you from gaining any enemies along the way.

Bring your bike. A bike is a great way to cut out walking time. If you are on the blue line with your bike, but don’t want to stand, find one of the single seats in the front or back located near the conductors booth.

“If I had my bike I could sit there and hold my bike simultaneously without blocking the door.” – Ryan F.

Know what car to ride in. If you know you’ll have to transfer quickly to the next train, the middle car is your best bet. This way when you disembark you can make a clean straight dash to the stairs and make that next train. Don’t forget to tap! Or if you aren’t in such a hurry and want to be sure to get a seat the end cars are usually less crowded.

That’s all folks! For now anyway. If you have any advice you’d like to share, please do! I’m sure there’s is plenty of tips & tricks I have yet to learn.

Check out this link to learn more about how and where to navigate to in Santa Monica: GoSaMo

Check out this link to learn more about how Metro plans to transform the city of LA: Bold Plan