With the May 1st signing deadline drawing closer and closer, I’ve gotten the chance to hang out with a ton of you guys– prospective students!! It’s been awesome getting to know all of you, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredibly talented and diverse people, and USC is truly lucky to have applicants/prospectives like you all. That being said, one of the most common questions I’ve been getting has been transportation– in a big city like LA, how do students get around? Do most people have cars? How does Uber work? Hopefully with this blog, I can answer all those questions and more. Sit back, buckle in, let’s get right into it!!
Do most people have a car? How does parking work?
Los Angeles is a massive city, and is not nearly as interconnected as other big cities, like New York, San Francisco or Boston. LA was built much more organically, with suburbs and industrial areas and beaches all slowly incorporated into this giant mass of an “urban jungle.” Naturally, given USC’s location, you’re much closer to certain areas of LA (DTLA, Arts District, Financial District, Koreatown), and far from others, like Beverly Hills, Griffith Park, Silver Lake and WeHo. Beach areas like Venice and Malibu are relatively far as well. As a result, it rocks to have a car– you get to explore more and learn more about the geography of LA. HOWEVER, most people DON’T have a car!!! Parking around LA is expensive, and it costs money to park your car on campus/wherever you’re staying. Depending on how much you actually go off campus, it may be more cost efficient to just take public transportation or rely on uber/lyft. Alternatively, make friends with someone with a car 🙂 .
What’s the public transportation like in LA?
I’ll be honest- it’s not stellar, but it works. The metro is great for getting to parts of downtown, and they just expanded the Expo line to go all the way to downtown Santa Monica, which is SUPER convenient. There’s also several bus systems, but I’ve only used them a couple times for group outings. There’s a metro stop on either side of campus, so the metro is your best bet in terms of public transportation. It’s $2 to get pretty much anywhere, so if you’re not in a rush and don’t mind a ton of connections, the metro is definitely a cheaper alternative to uber. I’ve even used it to come back from the airport!
How often do people use Uber/Lyft?
A TON. Since parking in LA is so expensive, and the majority of people don’t have cars, rideshare apps are super popular at SC. With uber pool (you pay for a single seat and may carpool with others) and the right timing, rides downtown are pretty cheap (usually less than $10 to get downtown, I’ve gone for $3 before). While it seems like using uber would add up pretty fast, for me, it honestly still comes to less than insurance/gas/parking would be with a car. I go off campus at least once a week and always use uber, so trust me, it is absolutely cost effective. Additionally, USC pays for uber within a 2 miles radius of campus from 7pm to 2am, so when restaurants and cafes are within that radius, calling an uber is definitely the best option.
How do people get around on campus?
USC is a very self-contained campus, and is completely flat, so people use a ton of different methods to get to classes. A lot of people longboard or skateboard, bikes are super popular, I’ve even seen scooters and unicycles. I’m not the most coordinated person, so I stick to walking, but from one end of campus to the other is at most a 15 minute walk, so it works for me!
What’s HSC and how do you get there?
HSC is the health science campus, which is where the Keck school of medicine and school of physical therapy are based. Through my minor (read about it here), I take a few classes at Keck, which is about 15-20 minutes away from the University Park Campus. Thankfully, USC has an inter-campus shuttle that goes between UPC, Union Station and HSC every half hour during the weekdays, making a trip to Keck super easy to manage.
Have you ever used the trains from Union Station?
Yes I have! One of my best friends from high school goes to Harvey Mudd over in Claremont, so I’ve taken the train from Union Station to Claremont before. Super easy, $14 round trip and extremely safe and convenient. Friends of mine have also taken the Amtrak to places as far as San Diego or San Luis Obispo, so for further destinations, it’s doable.
I think that covers most of the questions I’ve been getting about transportation! If there are any more, please leave them in the comments below and I can answer them in a later post. I know it seems intimidating to move to a big city like LA, and you’ll want to explore as much as you can, but there genuinely are a ton of methods to get around.
Peace out, fight on guys!!