So You're Taking LA Public Transit To The Super Bowl. Here’s What To Expect
If you’re going to the Super Bowl, congratulations!
... though you may want to start figuring out now how you’re going to get to SoFi Stadium. If you’re planning on driving from afar and parking, that could become a major, costly headache.
Of course, that's not your only option. There’s park and ride, shuttles, and — my favorite — public transportation.
Seriously, I mean it. Public transit is my favorite.
So when LAist editors asked me to visit Inglewood last weekend on the day of the NFC Championship, to find out how residents feel about living so near the stadium (that's my next story), I decided to take a bus, to the light rail, to a shuttle.
Here’s how it went:
I chose to start my morning in Exposition Park, as it seemed pretty central. Out of curiosity, I open up a rideshare app to see how much it’d cost and how long it’d take if I just hopped in a car to SoFi. ($37 and 30 minutes, in case you’re wondering).
I cross Figueroa and make my way to the 37th St/USC Metro station, climbing up the stairs to get to the platform for southbound buses.
It’s probably smart to make sure you have a TAP card before this point, as there’s nowhere to buy one on the platform.
Metro senior director Joe Forgiarini actually recommends filling your TAP card for the roundtrip before you depart, so you don’t have to be worried about this (or stuck in long lines at the machines) after the game.
I realize I haven’t refilled mine in a while, so I actually go back downstairs, add $3.50 to cover the roundtrip and head back upstairs, hoping I didn’t miss the bus since the next one doesn’t come for another 30 minutes. Don’t be like me! Fill your card before climbing all the stairs!
Right on time, the Silver Line 910 bus pulls up to the platform. With my TAP card in one hand and my microphone in the other, I board the bus in front. When I try to TAP my card, the driver waves me off, just tells me to sit. No one else seems to tap their card, either. I wonder to myself if that’s a COVID thing…
The bus is pretty packed. The ride is quick, just three stops until we get to the Harbor Freeway Station.
I hop into an elevator and head up to the third floor, which is where the Green Line platform is. (Yes, I know, technically it’s called the C Line.)
I tap my card and go wait on the westbound platform.
At this point, if I had just hopped in a car at Expo Park, I would’ve already been at the stadium. But I really don’t mind. This way, I don’t have to worry about parking. I can get some work done while on the bus and train. And the view of downtown L.A. from the platform (off in the distance, beyond the freeways) is kinda nice.
The westbound Green Line (C Line) light rail towards Redondo Beach pulls onto the platform. There are way more football fans on this train. I board a car that has mostly 49er fans.
An announcement comes on the intercom: “Per federal law, all passengers must wear a face mask to ride Metro. Please keep a physical distance from others when possible, and do not travel if you are sick.”
I look around. There isn’t enough room for all of us to be six feet apart, but it doesn’t feel cramped. Most people are wearing masks — but not all.
When we get to the Crenshaw station, everyone’s looking out the window and pointing. I go over to see what’s the big deal. Turns out, off in the distance, there's a view of SoFi. This is actually my first time seeing the stadium since it’s been completed.
Soon we’re approaching the Hawthorne/Lennox station. This will be my last stop on light rail, even though we’re two miles away from the stadium. A free game day Metro shuttle bus will take us from here to SoFi.
As I leave the light rail, I notice a long line of people. Uh oh. I figure they’re all waiting for that shuttle bus. It’s only supposed to take 10-15 minutes, but looks like the wait will probably be longer.
I go to the front of the line to ask people how long they’ve been waiting.
That’s where I meet Bella Dory from San Diego. For the record, she’s a Rams fan.
Dory tells me she took the Green line (sorry, I mean C line!) here from Norwalk. She didn’t want to have to worry about parking or traffic so close to the stadium. She also wanted to get there early so she could watch the AFC Championship on the video screens.
Who does she want to win that game?
“I want the Bengals. I want to see the Bengals and the Rams,” she says.
She tells me she’s been waiting in this line for the shuttle for about an hour.
Turns out, she got here a little too early. Someone tells us the shuttles don’t start running until 12:20 p.m.
“So you’re going to be on the first shuttle,” I ask.
“We will be on the first shuttle,” Dory tells me, laughing.
But she’s at the front of the line, and there’s a very long line behind her. I saw it while I was still on the light rail — it crosses the bridge and keeps going. And hearing about her long wait made me nervous. Maybe a bunch of shuttles would come soon. But what if they don’t? (There are also other shuttles, like the City of Gardena GTrans 7X — but I’m less familiar with its price and schedule, since I came in on L.A. Metro).
I check Google Maps. It says if I walk the two miles to the stadium, up Hawthorne Boulevard, it would take me 42 minutes.
I decide to take my chances. I start walking.
I pass a bunch of taco trucks setting up. I’m tempted to stop, but I keep walking as this whole shuttle thing has put me behind schedule. (This, by the way, is a decision I’d later regret, as I don’t get a chance to eat again until 7 pm. Don’t be like me. There’s always time for tacos.)
The shuttles start passing me, one after the other. Metro buses and the bright green GTrans ones, too. I wave, hoping Bella Dory was able to catch that first one.
I should note here that I called Metro about this whole shuttle bus wait thing a few days later, to ask if these lines would be an issue on Super Bowl Sunday.
The senior director of Metro’s service planning team, Joe Forgiarini, assured me that Sunday morning’s lines were “unusual.”
“Normally, we run three hours in advance of the game, but a lot of people turned up even four to five hours ahead [on Sunday], so we scrambled to try to get resources out there more quickly,” Forgiarini told me. “But I apologize. It did catch us off guard.”
Forgiarini says things will be different come Feb. 13. The shuttles will start at 10:45 a.m., well before the big game's 3:30 p.m. start time, and there will be 18 of them running continuously. He says 2,000-to-3,000 fans will likely take the shuttle that day.
If I’d just kept following the Google Maps instructions, I would’ve made it to SoFi by about now. So the entire journey — without the help of a shuttle bus — would’ve taken a little less than two hours and cost me less than $2. I didn’t mind the time, and saving the money was nice too. (We are a non-profit newsroom supported by readers like you, after all.) Plus, I like buses. And light rail. And walking. It was a nice way to spend a few hours.
But as I mentioned earlier, while I was headed to SoFi because I wanted to see the stadium, I wasn’t actually there for the game itself. Imagine my editor’s face if I tried to expense a ticket.)
Instead, I was there to see what game day is like … for SoFi’s neighbors. I’d heard that game day traffic and parking have become hot button topics at Inglewood town halls, public meetings, and in Facebook groups, and I was actually there to witness these things myself. I wanted to hear from residents what it’s like living here.
So when the whole shuttle thing happened, I had to ditch my plan to check out the stadium and instead made my way through the residential streets to meet a source.
And that’s my story … for next week.