Public Transportation Tips
Let’s face it, I travel way too much, but I enjoy it and its my happy place. It’s always a good thing to find your happy place.
As a result, I have a lot of experience with public transportation. There is a section about how to get from the Airport to the City Center, but I also wanted to add a piece on the different cards and tips that will make your experience better. I’ll keep updating this page, so you may want to bookmark it for future updates.
So, here are a few tips for taking public transit in different cities around the globe:
Download The Local App
Almost every transportation system has an App. If they don’t Google Maps has most of the transportation systems handled. If there is no App, there’s usually a web site with detailed information of the routes as well as a PDF file with the timetables. Use it.
I’ve included appropriate links below for you.
Atlanta, GA USA
Get your breeze card at the airport and reload it when you need to. The name of the system is MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). There are two lines which run to the airport, be sure to choose the one that passes your destination or will connect you to your destination.
Also, note the operation times.
There is the S Bahn and the U Bahn trains, your tickets will work on either or both systems. There are also trams, buses and the regional trains. Your tickets and work on all except the regional trains as you will need a different ticket depending on where you are going.
Like the rest of Germany, Berlin uses the honor system. So you can get on/off the transportation elements without showing a ticket sometimes. However, you must have a ticket in your possession to ride the system. They are monitored so if you are caught, you will be fined. When getting on the buses you will need to show the driver of the bus your ticket.
Typically, you have to stamp your ticket once you are on the platform before you board the train. You can use that ticket for two hours in one direction of travel.
You can buy 4 tickets at once for travel on the subway system for cheaper than the individual tickets combined. But if you’re going to take the trains more than four times in one day, it makes sense to buy a day pass as it cost less than 4 tickets.
Chicago, IL USA
The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) runs the system here.
You can buy your Venta card at the airport using the kiosk. You add value to it and its deducted as you use it. The current cost is $2.25 per ride.
The trains run from either Midway (MDW) or O’Hare (ORD) airport so its easy to get into the city.
Houston, TX USA
The system is run by the Houston METRO.
It is necessary to have cash in order to board the bus at the airport. The current fare is $1.25. Once in the city, you can purchase a Q card at the Metro Center; its the last stop on the 102 from the Bush Intercontinental Airport.
You can then top up this card on the buses; not the really big buses though as they do not have a machine onboard. Having a Q Card gives you free transfers and a one fare ride for up to 2 hours.
There is actually an App you can download and then buy tickets and store them on the App. This would be good for the airport if you do not have cash. You will need a credit card to buy the tickets.
London, England United Kingdom
You can find all the details of the system at Transport for London.
Get an Oyster card at the airport for 5 GBP. When you depart you can get a refund for this amount by stopping at a kiosk or a ticket counter.
Travel at non-peak times (9:30a to 4:30p) and the cost of your journey will be less than traveling in peak times. There is a maximum amount per day of you use an Oyster Card, but it varies by the zone in which you start. There’s a sign on the ticket machines with this information.
If you have a contactless credit card, you can use that to tap in and out on the buses and the trains.
New York, NY USA
The system is called MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). If you wish to go to Long Island, you can take the Long Island Railroad and if you wish to go upstate, you take Metro North. The tickets are not interchangeable, so a separate ticket must be purchased for each system.
The Metro Cards actually expires and will cost you an extra dollar when first purchased. If expired, they will issue a new one if there is still money on the old one. Not sure how long after expiration though.
If you wish to do the M numbered buses, called Select Bus Service, it is necessary to purchase a separate ticket using your Metro Card the bus stop, not from the driver. You can be fined, if you do not have that ticket and is onboard the bus.
From LaGuardia, you would take the M60 to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue or Lenox Avenue and connect with the Subway System.
You may also take the Q70 to Flushing and connect with the Subway System as well.
San Francisco, CA USA
San Francisco uses the system called BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) as well as MUNI. It gets a little confusing too. BART runs the train service from the airport into the city and MUNI runs the bus service, the KX (Express) and the 292 (Local).
You pay on the BART based on where you’re going. You can purchase a ticket and then the system deducts as you use it.
The two systems are not interchangeable so you need a separate ticket for each system.
The system is called SBS Transit. The buses and the trains are integrated into the same system.
You can purchase a ticket at the airport before you board the train. You can use a credit card, but only at the credit card line.
It’s called the Sydney Transit System.
You can take the train (Airport Link) from the airport into the city. It’s only a few stops and you can get off right at the Opera House.
Get an Opal Card and you can use that on all your journeys. Sydney is not cheap so be cognizant of that.
Get a Suica card as it’s much cheaper to travel in Tokyo using that card.
More to come…