Public Transportation in San Diego

Riding on a bus

Several public transportation options are available in San Diego and its surrounding areas. These make it easy for UCSD students and tourists to get around the city while exploring its offerings. Here are the top services to use:


Pronto is a free app for Apple and Android phones that lets customers purchase bus, trolley, or Coaster train tickets. This new cloud-based system, which supersedes the old Compass Card system, allows riders to top up their accounts instantaneously and purchase tickets at any time with a touch of their card or smartphone at any station kiosk.

Riders can still purchase a month's pass in advance for all buses and trolleys. The Coaster requires an upfront payment for a Day or Month Pass.


To fully explore the city of San Diego, take advantage of the distinctive radiant red trolley that runs through downtown. Hop on board and discover all that the town showcases! The SD Trolley connects downtown locations like the Santa Fe Depot and the convention center to Mission Valley, Old Town, Santee, and San Ysidro. The UC San Diego Blue Line trolley expansion extends service north to Clairemont, Westfield shopping center, the UCSD, and the La Jolla neighborhood. Riders can also take this enjoyable ride to nearby neighborhoods like Little Italy.


A bus is a cost-effective method of getting around San Diego. Several routes serve the county, allowing all to get to just about any part of town. The only bus option to and from the airport is Bus 992, which operates every 15 minutes and takes approximately 15 minutes to travel between the airport and downtown.


The North County Transit District's Coaster trains provide a reliable and convenient way to travel between downtown San Diego, Old Town, and the coastal areas around the county. With breathtaking coastal scenery, these trains offer travelers a unique and enjoyable experience. Whether heading to a picturesque beach town like Oceanside or Encinitas or traveling between Orange County and Los Angeles, the Coaster has got you covered.

The hassle-free Coaster operates on weekdays with approximately 20 trains in service and extra services available on weekends. The trip from Oceanside to the Santa Fe Depot downtown takes approximately one hour, making it the perfect way to explore the region confidently.


The Sprinter is an east-west light rail line that links Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, and Escondido. The 22-mile rail system serves 15 stops every 30 minutes and is reasonably priced for adult tickets. It operates along the Highway 78 corridor.


Pedicabs (bicycle rickshaws or bike taxis) are a popular mode of transportation around the downtown waterfront and in the Gaslamp Quarter. There are also excursions offered, which provide a unique perspective on San Diego's downtown areas. These vehicles are an exciting new way to move around San Diego in a fully green and eco-friendly fashion.

San Diego Flyer

Use the free San Diego Flyer to get to Terminals 1 and 2 in the San Diego Airport from Old Town. Buses run every 20-30 minutes, seven days a week, and travel roughly 20 minutes between places. Pick-up and drop-offs are scheduled to coincide with the earliest and final Trolley, Coaster, Amtrak trains, and MTS buses early in the morning and late at night.

Ride Sharing

Companies like Lyft and Uber have become popular modes of transportation globally, and San Diego is no exception. Instead of hunting for the next bus or trolley, use smartphone applications to arrange trips to your destination. Rideshare vehicles are a popular and effective mode of transportation, whether you're going to the airport or downtown.

With a bit of research, traveling around San Diego is simple. Even if you don't have a vehicle while studying there, you'll have many opportunities to visit the city and surrounding region.