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Getting Around in San Diego

By Public Transit

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates bus service to almost all parts of the county, although service in many areas is sparse and infrequent. The weakest points in the transit system are suburb-to-suburb travel and poor links between the individual coastal communities, both of which often require long trips to one of the transit hubs. If you'll mainly be in the areas around Downtown, the bus may be suitable, but as a rule San Diego has inadequate mass transport for tourists or residents. The fare is $2 for local/neighbourhood routes, $2.25 for urban routes, and $2.50 for express routes. Transfers are not available. Day passes, which also include rides on the San Diego Trolley, runs at $5, and there are 2-, 3- and 4-day passes available. All Downtown buses intersect with Broadway Street at some point. During the day all kinds of people will be taking the bus. At night some people might feel a little less comfortable, but generally not unsafe on the main parts of Downtown. The MTS has offices in Downtown, on Broadway Street.

The San Diego Trolley is a light rail system operated by the MTS which mainly serves tourists and people living in the southern and eastern parts of the city that need to get to downtown areas. There are three trolley lines: blue, green and orange. The Blue Line operates from the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro and runs to Old Town, via Chula Vista, National City and Downtown. The Green Line travels from Old Town east to Santee, via Mission Valley and SDSU. The Orange Line connects the eastern cities of El Cajon and La Mesa with Downtown (generally not as usable for tourists except for getting around parts of downtown). Trains run from at least 5 am to midnight every day. Frequency varies, but the trolley usually runs every 15 minutes, with service reduced to every 30 minutes for late-night, weekend, and holiday service.

Standard one-way fares run from $1.25 to $3 depending on how far you travel. Tickets have to be purchased from the vending machines at the station before you board the train. There's no formal system to check if you've purchased a ticket, but there are trolley guards that may come around and ask to see your ticket, and the fine is normally around $120 for not having a ticket.

By Taxi

Taxis not based at the airport can be hailed, but phoning for pick-up is best. Up to four passengers may ride for posted fares. Larger groups may arrange for station wagons. Taxi service is available 24-hours from Orange Cab, USA Cab or Yellow Cab.

By Car

San Diego's many canyons result in several unexpected dead ends, and the Downtown area's one-way streets can make navigating this city by car rather frustrating.

The freeway system is intricate, though not overpowering (other drivers may even be courteous), but rush-hour traffic can be a challenge, especially to and from the northern communities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, the north inland communities of Poway and Escondido and east on Interstate 8. Highway construction on Interstates 5 and 15 can cause greater delays.

Throughout the Downtown and beach communities on-street parking is metered. Parking meters typically have a two-hour time limit during the day and they accept coins, pre-paid Parking Meter Cards, and some newer meters accept credit cards. There is no charge for street parking after 6 pm, and on Sundays and most major holidays, except in the village of Del Mar.





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