San Diego Public Buses

Public buses are one of the most affordable ways to get around in San Diego - connecting you to the beautiful beaches, the airport, attractions and more!
San Diego Public Buses
Get Around San Diego
Where to Go
Learn & Save
What to Expect
Choose the Best Time
Public Bus Cost
Things to Know
Stay Nearby

Highlights

Where You Can Go
Best Time to Use
Cost
Tips
Where You Can Go
Best Time to Use
Cost
Tips

Get Around San Diego with Safe and Efficient Public Transit

Looking for an affordable way to get around San Diego without a car? The city offers a comprehensive network of 103 bus routes and growing within San Diego that can get you to almost any neighborhood or destination you might want to visit. San Diego’s bus system is clean and easy to use, so it can be a good alternative to using a car while you’re exploring the city.

In the city of San Diego, buses are run by the Metropolitan Transit System. MTS operates both rapid and regular service bus lines throughout the city. These bus lines also connect to the San Diego Trolley, a local light rail system, as well as the Coaster and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, two regional commuter trains.

In the North County area, buses are operated by the North County Transit District. This area consists of suburbs like Oceanside, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, and Vista. These are called Breeze buses, and they serve both residential and commercial areas. These buses also connect to the Coaster commuter train and the Sprinter light rail.

If you’re looking to travel outside of the city, operators like Greyhound and FlixBus run routes between San Diego and many other major metropolitan areas. Some popular nearby destinations include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, although there are many direct routes that run even further.

Popular Hotels
Popular Hotels
Price
Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
$199
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Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
$176
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Hampton Inn San Diego Downtown
$152
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Hilton San Diego Airport / Harbor Island
$143
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Where You Can Go on San Diego’s Public Buses

San Diego’s public buses can take you almost anywhere in the city. The MTS bus routes are designed to serve areas that the Trolley doesn’t currently reach. You can get to the beautiful beaches, the San Diego International Airport, Balboa Park, and more using the buses.

Almost every residential neighborhood has a bus service that either connects to a trolley station or runs directly to downtown. MTS also runs rapid and express buses to suburbs like La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, and Escondido.

Local Tips
The Best Discount
Monthly passes provide the best discount if you will be riding often during a calendar month or a 30-day period.

If you’re staying in the North County area, you can take one of the many Breeze buses operated by NCTD. The bulk of these routes are designed to connect beach cities like Oceanside, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Solana Beach with the inland city of Escondido. NCTD buses can take you to popular tourist areas like LEGOLAND California, the Del Mar Fairgrounds home of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The bus system in San Diego is so extensive that it can take you very close to most of the main attractions in San Diego such as the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. Consider buying a Go San Diego Pass in advance so you can skip the lines at arrival and get discounted admission for your entire family. Use our discount link to get an additional savings on top of the already discounted prices offered with the pass!

Greyhound and other intra-city buses can connect you to a wide range of cities in the United States. The bulk of these routes are run to other cities in the southwest, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. However, you can reach almost any city in California using these buses, and you can even go to Mexican cities like Tijuana and Mexicali.

Go Historic with Go Pass!
San Diego History Center
San Diego History Center
The San Diego History Center offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of the area prior to European settlement to today. Enjoy many interactive attractions and exhibitions. Get great discounts using your Go Pass when heading to the museum.
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Local Tips
What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

What to Expect on Public Buses in San Diego

Public buses in San Diego are generally clean, roomy, and easy to use. Stations are marked with street side signs stating the route number and destination. Before boarding a bus, you’ll need to make sure you’re on the correct side of the street, otherwise you could end up going in the wrong direction. Since bus schedules can fluctuate slightly, you should always plan to be at the bus stop a few minutes before it arrives.

There are two ways to pay your fare on MTS and NCTD buses. You can pay with cash using the fare box, but you’ll need to use exact change. You can also pay using a physical or digital Compass Card. Passes that you already have stored on your Compass Card will work on most buses in the San Diego area. Keep in mind that some bus routes require a premium or regional pass.

One of the easiest ways to purchase your fare is by using the Compass Cloud app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices. The Compass Cloud app allows you to purchase digital passes with your credit or debit card and use them to board the bus. You can also check the bus schedules using the app.

If you’re going to be taking the Greyhound bus, you’ll need to purchase your tickets in advance. You can do this using the Greyhound app or website. The San Diego Greyhound station also has a will call booth to pick up your tickets on-site. You’ll show the bus driver your ticket before boarding the bus. Greyhound buses are larger and roomier than city buses, and most have a luggage storage area under the bus.

The Greyhound bus station in San Diego is located at the southern end of the Gaslamp Quarter, near PETCO Park. When riding any Greyhound bus, you’ll want to make sure to get there in advance so you have enough time to board.

Best Time to Take Public Buses in San Diego

Public buses in San Diego run from approximately 5 AM until midnight, with some routes running earlier or later depending on demand. The frequency of the buses depends on the route - some of the MTS’s rapid routes come every 10 minutes during peak periods, while others only come every 30 or 45 minutes.

Buses are usually most crowded during morning and evening rush hour, when commuters are traveling to and from work. During this time period, there may not be seats available, but there is standing room. While buses are very reliable during the day, they don’t come as very often in the evening, so they may not be the best form of transportation if you’re going out at night.

Featured Hotel
Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
Rooftop pool, Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
Couples
Couples
Near Bay
Near Bay
Nightlife
Nightlife
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Stay in the heart of San Diego with all the amenities you could want at Andaz San Diego. Located near the historic Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is perfect for all.
Prices Starting at $199
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How Much Does It Cost to Ride the Public Bus in San Diego?

Bus fares in San Diego can vary depending on which route you’re taking. Most MTS buses cost $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for senior, disabled, and Medicare riders. Rapid Express buses cost $5 and $2.50, respectively. NCTD buses have the same pricing - Breeze buses charge standard fare and Flex buses charge premium fare.

Pricing for Greyhound buses varies depending on where you are going. Buses from San Diego to Los Angeles, which is the most popular route, start at $10. Other popular routes, like Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Phoenix, cost about $50, although they can be more expensive at peak times.

As always, check directly with the bus system for the latest prices to make sure you know how much your trip will cost before you arrive.

Popular Activities

The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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San Diego 4-Hour Talking GoCar Tour
San Diego 4-Hour Talking GoCar Tour
$110 per person
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Things to Know When Riding San Diego Public Buses

Disabled Accessibility
Disabled Accessibility
No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Smoking
No Smoking
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Stroller Accessible
Stroller Accessible
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available

Accessibility of San Diego Public Buses

All of San Diego’s public buses are accessible for those with disabilities and seniors. There is a designated seating area for those in wheelchairs as well as retractable ramps for safe boarding. Able-bodied riders must give up their seats for seniors or disabled riders.

Riding Your Bike to San Diego’s Public Buses

Riding a bike is a great way to get to the bus stop. You can take your bike on most San Diego buses by placing it on the bike rack on the front of the bus. Be sure to remember to take your bike off at the end of your trip!

Looking to Save on Tickets?
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Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
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Stay Nearby

Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
Near Petco Park
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Andaz San Diego, a Concept by Hyatt
from $199 / night
View Hotel
Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
from $176 / night
View Hotel
Hampton Inn San Diego Downtown
Bayfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Hampton Inn San Diego Downtown
from $152 / night
View Hotel
Hilton San Diego Airport / Harbor Island
Bayfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Hilton San Diego Airport / Harbor Island
from $143 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
Learn More
San Diego 4-Hour Talking GoCar Tour
San Diego 4-Hour Talking GoCar Tour
$110 per person
Buy Now
Looking for Something Different?
More Public Transportation in San Diego