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Public Transport in the USA

Information on bus, coach, train, taxi, air and sea services to, from and around the USA…

Numerous public agencies and private businesses provide a means of getting from A to B in the USA. Local public transit authorities administer urban and commuter transportation. Intercity bus travel is offered by many private companies. Numerous private companies also provide air services through an extensive network of airports. Amtrak, the nation’s rail service, is the only single provider system, offering coverage to the lower 48 states.

There is a wealth of information online and in print to learn about the travel resources available by geographic location and mode of transportation.

Urban and Commuter Transportation

The USA has more than 7,000 public transportation systems consisting of bus, light and commuter rail, subway, tram, streetcar, or some combination of these.

In major cities, transport systems run all night. Smaller to mid-sized cities, however, might not offer a 24-hour service. As a rule of thumb, the larger a city, the more extensive its public transportation system.

New York City has the largest public transit system in the country. Other cities with major systems include Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC.

Links to more information on the ten largest systems in the USA are listed below:

City Transit agency Link
1. New York City, NY MTA New York City Transit (NYCT)
New Jersey Transit Authority (NJ TRANSIT)
Website
Website
2. Chicago, IL Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Website
3. Washington, DC Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Website
4. Boston, MA Massachusetts Bay Transportation (MBTA) Website
5. Philadelphia, PA Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Website
6. San Francisco, CA CA San Francisco Municipal Railway (SFMTA)
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
Website
Website
7. Atlanta, GA Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit (MARTA) Website
8. Baltimore, MD Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Website
9. Seattle, WA King County DOT (King County Metro) Website
10. Portland, OR Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation, District of Oregon (TriMet) Website

The American Public Transportation Association provides links to transportation agencies within every state and Washington, DC.

For information on the types of local transportation services available in a given area, including details of transportation for disabled people, and shuttle services provided by universities: Click here

Fares vary greatly from city to city. Some cities offer free tickets to children and seniors. As well as single fares, many systems offer passes and multi-trip cards. Large systems, such as those in New York City and Washington, DC, have kiosks within stations where fare cards can be purchased by cash, credit or debit card.

Taxi Services

The Yellow Cab is the most visible taxi provider in most US cities. These are independently owned and operated companies from city to city. In New York City, Yellow Cabs is the only authorized taxi service. Many other cities, however, will have several private taxi companies.

In large cities, cabs can often be hailed on the street. In small and mid-sized cities, it may be advisable to call a taxi company in advance.

Telephone directory assistance, online directories such as Yellowbook.com and smart phone apps can provide access to taxi services when traveling.

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