How to Avoid Taxi Hell in the City of Angels – Getting Around in Los Angeles

I was very naive when I first arrived in Los Angeles. I was starry-eyed, green behind the ears, and totally clueless about how to get around Los Angeles. I guess I had never heard the famous song “Nobody Walks in LA” by the band The Missing Persons. You know how it goes, “Walking in L.A…nobody walks in L.A.” Admit it, you can hear it in your head right now.

I was lucky to land a great two-bedroom apartment with a roommate who was the same age as me and who was also an aspiring actress. However, I was not lucky enough to have a car of my own. The lack of a car meant having to rely solely on taxis to make it to auditions on time. Since my apartment was all the way in Highland Park, which is not exactly the neighborhood where Steven Spielberg hangs out, this meant I’ve spent a lot of time in the backseat of taxis on the way to Hollywood.

Along the way, in my taxi follies, I’ve become something of an expert when it comes to navigating the wild world of Los Angeles taxi culture. Oh yes, there is a distinct culture when it comes to paying a dime to hitch a ride. If you plan on moving to Los Angeles, or if you’ve just arrived in Hollywood to chase your dreams, or if you’re just planning a visit, there are very important rules to follow.

Whoever first called L.A. by its nickname “City of Angels” obviously never tried flagging down a cab on Rodeo Drive. Here are three rules to follow for making the experience of grabbing a cab in the so-called “City of Angels” a little less hellish.

Rule #1: Know the Los Angeles Taxi Laws

Turns out, California has a very strict rule about both drivers and passengers wearing seat belts. That means that once you crawl into a cab, you need to buckle up. Aside from preventing the wrath of an angry taxi driver, knowing to buckle up also helps make you look like you belong in the city and reduces the likelihood of the driver trying to rip because you look like a “newbie” from out of town. To avoid being scammed, always remember that taxis start their meters at $2.65 plus $2.45 per mile. There is a city law in place which limits fares between LAX (our big airport) and downtown to a flat rate of $42.

Rule #2 Plan Ahead

I cannot stress this enough. If you have an audition at noon that is twenty minutes away from your apartment, you need to be in the cab at least an hour ahead of time. If you can avoid it, never book an audition during rush hour times (roughly 6 a.m. to 9 a.m and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). With all the delays and congestion, you simply might not make it on time no matter how early you plan.

Rule #3 Use Technology

Never climb into a cab and assume the driver will get you to the right place on time. Instead, map out your route on a smart phone (or paper map if you have to) so that you know alternate routes in case of traffic hitches (like a red carpet event happening). Having an alternate route at your disposal puts in you control. I can’t promise that any of your dreams will come true here in Hollywood, but I can promise that if you follow these taxi tips for how to get around in Los Angeles, you will be a savvy cab goer. Who knows, the next time you hop in a taxi, you might be sharing a backseat with Steven Spielberg.