Official Tourism Company-sponsored taxis on the Island are clean, clearly identifiable and reliable. Look for the white taxis with the official logo and the “Taxi Turístico” on the front doors.
Under a recently instituted Tourism Taxi Program, set rates have been established for travel between San Juan’s major tourist zones. See San Juan#By taxi for details.
Official Puerto Rico Tourist Taxi
http://www.cabspr.com/ (787) 969-3260
Several other taxi company numbers:
Asociación Dueños de Taxi de Carolina (787) 762-6066
Asociación Dueños de Taxi de Cataño y Levittown (787) 795-5286
Cooperativa de Servicio Capetillo Taxi (787) 758-7000
Cooperativa de Taxis de Bayamón (787) 785-2998
Cooperativa Major Taxi Cabs (787) 723-2460 or 723-1300
Metro-Taxi Cab. Inc. (787) 725-2870
Ocean Crew Transport (787) 645-8294 or 724-4829
Rochdale Radio Taxi (787) 721-1900
Santana Taxi Service, Inc. (787) 562-9836
If you are planning to explore outside of San Juan, renting a car is by far the most convenient way to get around. Rentals are available from the airport as well as larger hotels. There are sometimes long waits of up to an hour when renting a car at that airport, especially with some companies. Rental cars can be had for as little as $28 a day.
Many U.S. mainland car insurance policies will cover insured drivers involved in rental car accidents that occur anywhere in the United States, including outlying territories like Puerto Rico, so check with your own insurer before you rent a car in Puerto Rico. If you have such coverage, you can probably decline collision insurance from the car rental company and request only the loss damage waiver.
Red lights and stop signs are treated like yield signs late at night (only from 12AM to 5AM) due to security measures.
The roads can be quite bad, with potholes and uneven pavement. Be cautious of other drivers, as turn signals are not commonly used or adhered to. Most natives do not drive like mainlanders are used to. Watch out for cars pulling out in front of you, or crossing an intersection, even if you have right of way. Also, there are many cars with non-functional head lights or tail lights, making driving in traffic even more dangerous. If you are not a very confident, even aggressive driver, you may not wish to drive in urban areas. Speed limits are considered suggestions for the locals (particularly taxi drivers), but high fines should make wise tourists cautious.
Parking in the Old Town of San Juan is virtually non-existent. There is a public parking lot called “La Puntilla”. On weekends you only pay a fixed rate for the whole day and on weekdays you will pay less than $5 for a full day. The lot usually has available parking spaces. Traffic in all major cities is bad during rush hour (8AM-10AM, 4PM-6PM), so give yourself plenty of time coming and going.
Road signs are Spanish language versions of their U.S. counterparts. However, note that distances are in kilometers, while speed limits are in miles. Gas is also sold by the liter, not by the gallon, and it’s a little bit cheaper than on the mainland.
In addition to the regular free highway (carretera) network, there are three toll roads (autopista) on Puerto Rico. They’re much faster and less congested than the highways, and it’s worth using them if in any kind of hurry. Tolls for a 2-axle car range from $0.50 and $1.50. The lanes on the left are reserved for people with RFID (Autoexpreso) toll passes (an electronic pass typically called a speed or E-Z pass in the states), which you probably won’t have on your rental car. Lanes marked with an “A” generally accept only coins. If you need change, head for the lanes marked with a “C”, usually the furthest to the right. Note that if you are heading to Ponce on PR-52, the autopista toll system has gone all RFID, so head to the first “C” booth you come to and buy a travel card if they will let you, or they might require you to buy the Autoexpreso RFID tag for $10. If you put $10 on the tag it will get you to Ponce and back once.
Off the main highways, roads in Puerto Rico quickly become narrow, twisty and turny, especially up in the mountains. Roads that are only one-and-a-half lanes wide are common, so do like the locals do and beep before driving into blind curves. Signage is often minimal, although intersections do almost always show the road numbers, so a detailed highway map will come in handy. Expect hairpin turns in the mountains – experience driving in West Virginia can help a good deal here. Don’t be surprised if you see chickens in the middle of the road – Puerto Rico is one place where the local fowl are still trying to figure out the old joke. They are harmless to vehicles – just drive around them or wait for them to move aside.
Navigating a car can be very challenging because most locals give directions by landmark rather by address and using maps in Puerto Rico can be very challenging for visitors. Google Maps has lately been improving and now most small roads and all major roads are covered. Google Navigation doesn’t work. Slight problems include street names either missing or incorrect, and address lookups & business entries (POI’s) either give no result or are wrong. Other online maps suffer the same issues. Note that the larger metro areas, especially San Juan, can have several streets with the same name, so it’s important to know the neighborhood (urbanization) name when communicating with taxi drivers, etc.
Police cars are easy to spot, as by local regulation, they must keep their blue light bar continuously illuminated any time they are in motion. Avoid getting a speeding ticket: fines start at $50 + $5 for each mile above the speed limit. It is also against the law to talk or text on a phone while driving, except when using BlueTooth or a speakerphone. The fine for talking or texting on the phone is $50.
A público is a shared taxi service and is much cheaper than taking a taxi around the island, and depending on your travel aspirations, might be cheaper than renting a car. Públicos can be identified by their yellow license plates with the word “PUBLICO” written on top of the license plate. The “main” público station is in Río Piedras, a suburb of San Juan. They’re also known as colectivos and pisicorres.
There are two ways of getting on a público. The easier way is to call the local público stand the day before and ask them to pick you up at an agreed time. (Your hotel or guesthouse can probably arrange this, and unlike you, they probably know which of the multitude of companies is going your way.) This is convenient, but it’ll cost a few bucks extra and you’ll be in for a wait as the car collects all the other departing passengers. The cheaper way is to just show up at the público terminal (or, in smaller towns, the town square) as early as you can (6-7AM is normal) and wait for others to show up; as soon as enough have collected, which may take minutes or hours, you’re off. Públicos taper off in the afternoon and stop running entirely before dark.
Públicos can make frequent stops to pick up or drop off passengers and may take a while to get to their destination terminal, but you can also request to be dropped off elsewhere if it’s along the way or you pay a little extra. Prices vary depending on the size of the público and the distance being traveled. As an example, a small público that can seat three or four passengers from Ponce to San Juan will cost roughly $15, while a 15 passenger público that is traveling between San Juan and Fajardo will cost about $5 each person.
Ferries depart from San Juan and Fajardo & the most popular arrivals are Cataño, Vieques Island & Culebra Island. Also the Mayaguez ferry travels between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
- Mayagüez, Puerto Rico 787-832-4800 787-832-4905
- San Juan, Puerto Rico 787-725-2643 787-725-2646
- Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 809-688-4400
- Santiago, Dominican Republic 809-724-8771
Tren Urbano — or Urban Train in English — is a 17.2 km (10.7 mile) fully automated rapid transit that serves the metropolitan area of San Juan, which includes the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamón, and Guaynabo. Tren Urbano consists of 16 stations on a single line.
The Tren Urbano complements other forms of public transportation on the island such as the public bus system, taxis, water ferries and shuttles. The entire mass transportation system has been dubbed the “Alternativa de Transporte Integrado” (Integrated Transportation Alternative) or “ATI”.
Its services are very reliable and are almost always on time.
Fares – A single trip costs $0.75 including a 2-hour public (AMA) bus transfer period. If you exit the station and wish to get back on the train the full fare must be re-paid; there is no train to train transfer period. Students and Seniors (60–74 years old) with ID pay 35 cents per trip. Senior citizens older than 75 and children under 6 ride for free. Several unlimited passes are also available.
A stored-value multi-use farecard may be used for travel on buses as well as on trains. The value on the card is automatically deducted each time it is used. It is a system similar to the Metrocard system used in New York City.
Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses, also known in English as Metropolitan Bus Authority or by its initials in Spanish, AMA, is a public bus transit system based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The AMA provides daily bus transportation to residents of San Juan, Guaynabo, Bayamón, Trujillo Alto, Cataño, and Carolina through a network of 30 bus routes, including 2 express routes and 3 “Metrobus” routes. Its fleet consists of 277 regular buses and 54 paratransit vans for handicapped persons. Its ridership is estimated at 112,000 on work days.
The daily, weekend and holiday bus service from 4:30AM to 10PM with the exception of a few routes that are limited to certain hours and the express routes.
There are two routes which are very reliable, M-I & M-II, commonly called Metrobus (metroboos). MetroBus M1 transit between Old San Juan to Santurce downtown, Hato Rey Golden Mile banking zone and Rio Piedras downtown where a nice open walking street mall and great bargains could be found, the Paseo De Diego. The Metrobus II transit from Santurce to Bayamon city, passing Hato Rey, including Plaza Las Americas Mall and to Guaynabo City. Many interesting places could be found on the routes, like the remains of the first European settlement on the island and the oldest under USA government, the Caparra Ruins (Ruinas de Caparra Museum).
As a tourist staying in the Isla Verde hotel district, be aware there is a bus line going to and from Old San Juan. It costs only 75 cents, but takes 45 minutes to an hour and the right bus comes by irregularly. The bus till only takes quarters and no bills, so plan ahead. So the trade-off is between low cost versus your time and convenience. In the rainy months, standing at the bus stop can be uncomfortable.
Cape Air flies between San Juan (both (SJU IATA) and Isla Grande (SIG IATA) airports) and Culebra (CPX IATA), Mayaguez and Vieques. Vieques Air Link flies between San Juan, Culebra and Vieques, with onward connections from it’s Vieques hub to other Caribbean islands. Vieques Air Link also flies from Culebra to Vieques and from Ceiba to Vieques. Air Culebra also flies from San Juan to Culebra and Vieques as does Air Flamenco. Air Culebra also flies from Ceiba to Culebra. MN Aviation provides charter flights between San Juan, Culebra and Vieques and from Ceiba to Culebra and Vieques. Tickets from San Juan-SJU to Vieques on Vieques Air Link cost around $250 return (2015), and the flight takes about 30 minutes.