New Map Shows Walk Time Between L.A. Metro Stations

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Walking times between stations map by Torti Gallas and Partners. For higher resolution see [PDF]
Here is a interesting way of looking at L.A. County’s rail and Bus Rapid Transit systems. Martin Leitner at Torti Gallas and Partners architecture firm did a “map hack” showing how long it takes to walk from each Metro station to the next. From Leitner:

We took a cue from Transit for London’s new tube map and hacked Metro L.A.’s rail map by adding walking time between stations.

We found that some stations are only a few minutes apart, 7-12 minutes in Koreatown and East LA, they are a stunning 104 minutes apart on the Green Line (Long Beach Blvd – Lakewood Blvd) and 79 minutes apart between on the Red Line (Hollywood/Highland – Studio City). Some long walk times also on the Gold Line.

The optimal distance between stations is not some engineering constant, but a reflection of the grain of a neighborhood coming up against all kinds of opportunities and constraints in real-world planning processes. Some of the longish distances seem to make sense. Nonetheless, some of these 7-minute gaps – including those at USC and East L.A.’s Civic Center – do seem a bit less than ideal. Stations further apart in those areas might have been more optimal in supporting more cost-effective and speedier transit systems.

What do you think readers? What insights do you glean from the Torti Gallas map? What map hacks would you like to see to shed light on L.A. transportation systems?




  • calwatch

    Why did Torti Gallas forget about the Silver Line? As usual, this line is just chopped liver, even though it gets almost 20,000 riders a day.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Probably because there was a surcharge to add those times to the map.

  • effron

    Definitely need to add at least 5-10 minutes to the walk time between Expo Sepulveda and Expo Bundy in order get around the massive homeless encampment on the Expo Bike Path beneath the 405. It’s been expanded to both sides of street now so if one wants to get between the two stations using a sidewalk it will require going up Sepulveda to Olympic before heading west. The waits for the crossing lights there can really set you back.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    Maybe researchers thought the presence of the freeway meant that walking between stations was a no-go.

  • M

    This brings to mind when Metro had some “express” Gold Line trains that would skip a bunch of the stops. For a little while I waited for the “correct” train that would drop me off at the non-express stop I needed. Then I realized I would get to my destination faster by just taking the express train and then walking to my destination since the stop I usually used was closer to the “express” stop than I had thought.

    I also remember some times when the Gold Line was blocked due to accidents on the tracks/equipment issues, etc. and I just decided to walk between stops vs. waiting for the shuttle bus.

    In that respect, this map is kinda interesting to me. It confirms to me that it is reasonable sometimes to do what I mentioned above.

  • EB

    Reinforces my (experiential but possibly misguided) perception that the Wilshire/Normandie purple line stop is pretty pointless.

  • Neal I.

    Well, what’s wrong with chopped liver? It’s one of my favorite foods.

    Seriously, we only did the lines with dedicated ROW’s. The Silver LIne at its best, shares its ROW with the HOV/toll lanes. We think of that more as commuter express bus service rather than BRT. I imagine some including you would disagree, which I understand, but this was the judgement call we made. We are planning to several more of these for other cities, and we will be using the same methodology.

  • Maybe, but it gets a pretty high level of ridership. Once the city starts to grow some more around there, it will be seen as a wise investment.

  • Because it is just a glorified bus silly. And it gets stuck in traffic ever since the El Monte Busway was open to any who would pay.

  • James Fujita

    I think the location makes a difference. It is easier to justify two stations close together in a dense neighborhood. It is not uncommon to have short walks between subway stations elsewhere in the world.

  • James Fujita

    But the Green Line is also a “freeway line” so it can’t be just that.

    There’s also the Blue Line in north Long Beach, which has the huge advantage of making a diagonal river crossing with virtually no walking alternatives.

  • davistrain

    Back when the Gold Line Foothill Extension project began, I did some comparisons between the Gold Line and the Pacific Electric Monrovia-Glendora line which served the same general area until 1951. PE had seven stops between Arcadia and Monrovia, while the Gold Line runs non-stop between their two stations, thus being more like an electric-suburban operation such as Metra Electric in the Chicago area. I realize that parking structures are anathema to many Streetsbloggers, but they are part of the real world in today’s Metro operations. Photo: PE stop at 5th Ave. in Monrovia. On the left is the waiting house that was added to the stop around 1947. Another upgrade that PE added in the last few years of the line was flashing-light grade crossing signals. I think this was after we almost had a 1930 Studebaker for breakfast one morning. (my mother took the photo from our driveway).

  • The gap between Indiana and Maravilla is unusually large, and the gap between East LA Civic Center and Atlantic is unusually short. The fact that USC has three stations is a little weird too. Expo Park to Vermont is a very short walk. On the other hand it’s nice when you’re going there.

    The general rule that distance between stops should go down as density goes up makes sense. If people are mainly driving to a station in a low-density area, the local station doesn’t have to be as close, and distant stops make the trains faster. In a place like DTLA or Ktown the frequent stops are a pedestrian amenity.

  • Expo resident

    I love of the expo line between Crashaw and Western… The stops are too far apart for this high density area. I would ride even more if the stops were close to my house. I love on expo and still need to walk a mile to get on the train that goes right by my home. I think we need to improve service.

  • Melanie Curry

    What’s fascinating about the London map is that adding walk times is part of a larger response (“Legible London”) to the realization that people’s mental maps of that city are based on the tube map–with all its inaccuracies–because that is how they move around. Not many people understood how to get where they were going by walking, let alone that it might be shorter to walk than to hop on the tube. No such dilemma in LA–people’s mental maps of LA are generally based on driving from place to place. Is it worth comparing transit times to driving times?

  • Matt

    The distance between the two stations is 1.5 miles so at most you could only be .75 miles from a station.


    Providing times between points on a map is great. People typically have less than accurate estimations regarding the amount of time taken to travel a given distance — which motivates the use of a car. With the map above, transit riders (pedestrians and cyclists) can estimate the amount of time to travel between points on a given line (i.e. Red, Expo, etc.) along with liberating the rider with the ability to estimate travel times between lines too. Providing walking times is a wonderful idea and might possibly motivate riding a bicycle too — since over larger distances riding a bicycle is faster. Great idea.

    The more transparent travel times can be will motivate others to engage in active modes of transportation. Education in “dimensional analysis” would be great at commuter workshops in the future.

  • Matt

    You can probably make the argument that the Normandie station should be in City West instead of at Normandie, but this station doesn’t do badly and will be more valuable once we have a real Purple Line instead of a 2 station stub.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Your assumption is that the average person will look at the walking distances and think to themselves, “It’s only a 20 minute walk.” and not think to themselves, “It’s a 20 minute walk!”

    The former, which includes me, will gladly walk. The latter, will take a car, since it will save them 15 minutes.

    Walk times may actually have the opposite effect, increase automobile use, since people will know how long it will take to walk.

  • Irwin Chen

    Some of the long walk time reflects a “missing” station that were value-engineered out during planning process. For example, there was supposed to be a station between Lakewood and Long Beach on the Green line (at Atlantic I think).

  • sigaba

    Now we need a heat map of walking times to a nearest station overlayed on a street map.


    Yes, within every group, there will be each category that you describe looking at the map and making a decision. Although, as I stated above, the educational value of times associated with distances will draw a certain crowd out that previously defaulted to just driving. As parking gets worse, the motivation to just walk or bicycle will get greater. Additionally, with a bicycle a person can arrive sometimes sooner than driving a car. This has been proven by us in the past. Check out the video below:

    Members of our organization believe that ‘education’ into relevant times over respective distances will result in a greater percentage of people engaging in active transportation.

  • EB

    Okay okay I take it back! I should have just looked at the DATA :)

  • Neal I.

    The conversation led off by your comment is great, and exactly what we hoped would happen by creating this map. Your point of the mental-map aspect is well, taken, however comparing driving times to transit is almost impossible, as driving times vary greatly by time of day, day of week, etc., Again, this is just another way to visualize LA, one that we felt was sorely lacking.

  • Melanie Curry

    The project is useful. Walk times are perceived very subjectively and is an interesting subject to think about (how long would you be willing to walk, say, along a pretty stream? A street full of interesting people and shops? a heavily trafficked road?). Also, maybe instead of drive time–which would more accurately include how long it takes to find a parking spot–a comparison with biking times would be useful, in a different way.

  • Neal I.

    I do agree that walk times are subjective, so we used Google Maps so that we are at least applying the same standard everywhere. I know that negates the kind of subtlety that you suggest, but we are following the methodology of the London map. Bike times would also be good. Maybe next month. In the meantime we did one for the San Diego trolley system as well.

  • jdslater

    We have this for London Underground for some time. It’s an odd thing to have as in London the actual route between 2 stations is not always a straight line. Sure it’s 5 minutes but if it’s a complicated 5 minutes it may do more harm then good.


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