L.A. Metro Rail Isn’t Perfect, But It’s More Affordable Than Other Systems

For the moment

Metro has announced that the latest eastern extension of the Gold Line—pushing the light rail to the edge of L.A. County in Claremont, and possibly into Montclair in San Bernardino County—breaks ground in October. Meanwhile, the Regional Connector project wraps up in about three years, meaning the Gold Line will fuse with the Blue Line, allowing direct travel from Long Beach to the edge of San Bernardino County—equating to a light rail line over 60 miles long.

In coming years L.A. will have to reconsider its current fare system, which charges riders $1.75 to ride any bus or train as far as they choose. When the Claremont/Montclair extension opens in 2025 or 2026, it will be difficult for Metro to justify charging riders about $2 for such long journeys. The transit agency may float a zone-based system, something utilized more often on commuter rail lines like San Francisco’s BART and Chicago’s Metra.

L.A. is certainly a different beast than most urban centers—its 105-mile rail system is experiencing a well-documented growth spurt that rivals all other American cities. It also, amazingly, operates the cheapest big-city metro system and, with 105 miles of track it remains a relative steal. Here’s how other cities’ rail systems stack up in terms of price and approximate length (we’re looking at intra-urban systems, not commuter lines).

• Washington, D.C. Metrorail
Approximately 117 miles of track
Fare varies between $1.75 to $5.90

• New York City subway
Approximately 230 miles
Fare: $3

• Boston “T”
Approximately 64 miles
Fare varies between $2.25-$2.75

• San Francisco MUNI
Approximately 47 miles
Fare: $2.75

• Chicago “L”
Approximately 103 miles
Fare: $2.25

• Miami MetroRAIL
Approximately 25 miles
Fare: $2.25

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