The San Diego transit authority works with Google maps so the information on google maps is up to date and will give you the correct pick up times, distance to, and costs. I have found the walking and bike times to be good.
Some things to know about getting around the city.
+ In the downtown area (Downtown, East Village, Little Italy, Hillcrest, Bankers Hill) it often takes the same amount of time to walk as it does to take public transportation.
+ It is normally cheaper to take public transportation than it is to drive, especially when you factor in parking.
+ If you are taking public transportation their are signs next to the bus stop and you can text a number to get the next bus arrival times
+ You can take your bike (or wheel chair) on many buses.
+ I walk around the downtown area by myself all the time and feel save. I don't normally do this at night but I hear this is OK too.
+ Parking is expensive and hard to find downtown so it is often easier to walk or take public transportation.
+ Our public transportation includes buses, trolleys, trains, and trams.
+ you will need exact change to ride so bring quarters and one dollar bills.
+ there are day, week, and month passes
No doubt you can get directions from your hotel for bus to the most close San Diego transit station for bus and trolley, likely in Old Town. The system is very easy to use. You will get to most of the places you want to go. Very inexpensive for a family of four.
Depending on your plans you might spend almost as much in parking charges daily as you would for a rental car. Public or car both have pros and cons.
San Diego is a great place to relax and have fun. This is why I would suggest taking a ride wherever you go. This way you wouldn't have to worry and the zig zag streets, and you could just relax and enjoy yourself. For example, when you go party at the gaslamp district take Prime Time Shuttle, they'll pick you up and all of your friends for am affortable price. Or, if you and all your family go to Sea World, use Prime Time Shuttle so you can be worry free about the transportation. Here's my transportation tip, try and you shall see.
San Diego has a public transportation system but it is not really the best way to get around like it might be in a more compact urban center like New York or San Francisco - San Diego is just more spread out than these other cities. I would still recommend driving if you can.
However, if public transporation is your only option, within San Diego proper, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is the agency that runs the buses and the trolley system. The buses follow major thoroughfares throughout the city and into other areas in the county, but you have to ensure that your destination is within walking distance to/from a bus stop. The trolley mostly runs through more urban areas like Downtown but extends out, making it to the Mexican border in San Ysidro with the southbound lines, and out to the East County after passing through Mission Valley. For more information about public transportation in San Diego County, I would suggest visiting the website for MTS, which is http://www.sdcommute.com.
For those staying in Northern San Diego County (Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Oceanside, etc.), the public transportation system is run by the North County Transit District. The website for the NCTD is http://www.gonctd.com. They are on the verge of opening a light rail project that extends from east to west from Escondido to Oceanside called the Sprinter (scheduled to start running in December 2007).
There is also the Coaster, a public transportation train service that has one terminus in Downtown San Diego at the southern end, and Oceanside at the northern end. The Coaster travels down the coastline and is popular with commuters, but I would also recommend a round trip to tourists from Downtown San Diego to Downtown Oceanside. The ride is a relaxing way to get up to Oceanside, and when you get there, you're close to the Oceanside Pier and lots of charming little restaurants around there. Both the MTS and NCTD website have information on the Coaster.
I found that anyone can get around San Diego. Although, taking the bus or trolley is more time consuming, it will get you to all the main attractions. Now mastering the system is the tricky part. I recommend renting a car if going to the outskirts of San Diego. I found a website that pretty much explains it in a nutshell. I don't mind riding the trolley, it can be interesting sometimes. haha.
if you can rent a car then do so! san diegos' transportation system is not too great. it's not cheap, and it takes foreverrrrrrrrrrr to get around on the bus. if you can't rent a car. then stay in the downtown area and use the trolley (although one would still have to use the bus for connections to the beach areas and various theme parks). i sure wish we had a system like the metro in rome!!
http://www.511sd.com/ - the public transportation site for San Diego
There is semi-decent public transportation in the downtown area serviced by the trolley and a fairly good commuter train service in the Coaster, but other than that there are only buses that run about every half hour. If you are serious about planning some trips using public transportation you can find information on the trolley and bus system at http://www.511sd.com/. There you can enter your start and destination along with the time you are able to leave and it will let you know how much the trip will cost as well as your arrival time. Just be careful, it might be a better deal to buy a day pass than buy the fair each way, especially if you need to get on multiple buses or trolleys because they have stopped issuing transfers to passengers. A typical day pass will run you $5 US.
We used the train to travel in and out of San Diego from our base in Carlsbad. It was an interesting, comfortable and inexpensive ride. In San Diego the Tram system is an excellent way of getting from one part of town to another, and local buses from stops near our host's home took us to most local places we wanted to go.
However the sight of us walking to stations and bus stops almost caused the traffic to stop - outside commuting times public transport runs almost empty as people travel everywhere and even the shortest distance in private vehicles. We got to talk with othere passengers and sometimes with the drivers who were a mine of local information and political insights.
Santa Fe Depot is a stop of Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains, Coaster trains, and Blue Line trolleys.
Like most train stations, it is strategically located in the downtown area. Across the street is the America Plaza Transfer Station where you can take the Orange Line trolley to Seaport Village or the Gaslamp Quarter.
Within walking distance is the Broadway pier where the ferry to Coronado loads and unloads passengers. The bus stop on Broadway and Harbor Brive is where you board the #901 bus to Coronado (and Hotel del Coronado) via the awesome Coronado Bridge.
By Air : San Diego International Airport is at Lindbergh Field and just minutes from downtown. A shuttle service is available on the Transportation Plazas across from Terminals 1 and 2.
Old Town Trolley : conducts tours around the city centre, harbour and historic attractions. The San Diego Trolley is the public transportation system.
Do you need a car in San Diego?
NO, you don't!
What a nice surprise - the public transportation is effective and comfortable. You can even easily get to Mexican border and walk to Mexican border city - Tijuana.
What are public means of transportation in San Diego?
- FREE Balboa Park Tram (inside Balboa park)
- in the ZOO (additional fare) Express Buses, Guided Bus Tours, Skyfari
- horse cabs (in a downtown),
- your car,
- your feet :-)).
For disabled persons:
Strollers, wheelchairs and motorized wheelchairs are available at the ZOO and in some bigger supermarkets (like Wall-Mart).
DETAILS: in my next tips, first on DRIVING. Many of them apply to other American states as well. I am going to transfer them to my USA and/or US states pages, but not yet :-)).
San Diego has lots of options in regards to transportation from bicycle to bus. But, most of the public transit in this area has some serious gaps. This is especially true in regards to getting from south of I-8 to north of I-8 (which divides the city).
Getting from west to east is a bit easier with the trolley. Also, getting to the border is farily easy using the same method.
The trolley is your best bets for getting around the south and east or west end of the county. The coaster is a good bet for traveling to the northern end of the county, but schedules are skimpy.
Call MTS for more details.