Rider's Guide for the MTS Bus and Trolley

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Download the Rider's Guide PDF

Welcome to MTS

Thanks for riding! Using public transportation, even just one day a week, is one of the best ways you can Go Green. Riding public transit reduces your carbon footprint and helps keep our air clean. There are more than 90 bus and trolley routes operating in the region serving most neighborhoods, employment centers, schools, shopping centers and visitor attractions.

The Trolley and most Bus routes operate seven days a week, but some bus routes operate only on weekdays or during rush hour.

Plan Your Trip: Online or By Phone

It’s easy to plan your trip. Either use our online trip planner or call a Transit Information Specialist.

• At www.sdmts.com, click on Trip Planner and enter the addresses where your trip begins and ends and the date and times you wish to travel. In just seconds the Trip Planner will provide several travel options. Once you know the route, you can also download all maps and timetables right from the Web!

• Transit Information Specialists are available daily at (619) 233-3004 (TTY/TDD 619-234-5005) or 511 from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm on weekdays and from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekends and most holidays. (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

Reading MTS Timetables

Each bus route has its own timetable. The San Diego Trolley Blue Line, Green Line and Orange Line are combined on one timetable. The front of each bus timetable shows the route number and the major destinations it serves.

Inside, there is fare information, a route map, and charts that show the times the Bus Route or Trolley Line begins and ends service and departs from key “time points” along the way. Separate charts show the weekday, Saturday, Sunday, and holiday schedules. For the location of a bus stop between time points, call Transit Information at (619) 233-3004. When waiting at a stop a stop between two time points, using the time from the previous time point ensures you are there before the bus or trolley arrives at your stop.

Your Ticket to Ride!
MTS offers a wide range of ticket options. Whether you ride every day or just occasionally, we have one-way fares, day passes, multiple day passes, and monthly passes that will work for you. Check them out!

Monthly Passes - Adult, Youth, Senior, Disabled and Medicare
Monthly Passes are the best option for frequent riders. The $72 Pass is good for unlimited rides on all Trolley Lines and most Bus Routes. The $100 Rapid Express Pass adds Rapid Express Bus Routes. Youth (to age 18) get a 50% discount; Senior (60+), Disabled, and Medicare riders receive a 75% discount. Riders using a discount pass must carry proper identification.

Day Passes
This is the best option if you plan to transfer or make several trips during the day. The $5 Day Pass provides unlimited travel on all trolley and most bus routes; the $12 Premium Day Pass adds Rapid Express Bus Routes and the COASTER. Both Day Passes are valid on NCTD SPRINTER and BREEZE.

One-Way Fares
The one-way fare for most bus routes is $2.25, $2.50 for an Express Route and $5 for a Rapid Express Route. A one-way bus fare can‘t be used to transfer to another bus or trolley route. A one-way trolley ticket is $2.50, is good for two hours and allows you to transfer between Trolley Lines (round trips are not permitted) but not to a bus route.

Discount Cash Fares
Senior, Disabled, and Medicare riders with proper ID can ride for reduced fare on buses and purchase a discounted one-way ticket at trolley ticket machines.

Just for Kids
Up to two children five and under may ride free with a paid adult (18+) every day. Up to two children 12 and under may ride free with a paid adult every Saturday and Sunday.

Compass Card “Tap and Ride”
Riders can purchase and reload Adult, S/D/M, and Youth Compass Cards with Monthly, 30-Day, and 14-Day Passes at all 42 Albertsons stores in San Diego County.

Visit www.511.sd.com/compass or call 511 and say “Compass” at the prompt to learn more or to get your Compass Card.


There are many convenient locations to buy your MTS ticket or monthly pass.

On the Bus
Day Passes can be purchased onboard the bus (buses do not issue tickets or transfers with a one-way fare). The farebox accepts paper bills, coins, and dollar coins (except silver dollars). Fareboxes and drivers cannot give change. Dollar bills that are slightly “cupped” are easier for the fare boxes to read.

At Trolley Stations
Trolley ticket vending machines are located at all trolley stations and dispense one-way tickets and Day Passes. Purchase your ticket or pass before boarding. Ticket machines accept bills and coins and provide a small amount of change.

The Transit Store
Day Passes, tokens, and Regional Monthly Passes can be purchased at the MTS Transit Store. You can also talk to a transit information specialist, pick up timetables and maps, and buy a transit ID card. The Transit Store is located at 102 Broadway in downtown (open Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm).

Online or by Mail
Go to the eStore and we will mail your pass right to your home or business, or call (619) 233-3004 and ask that a Pass-by-Mail envelope be sent to you.

Third-Party Outlets
Compass Cards are sold at Albertsons supermarkets and select check cashing outlets. Find the location nearest you.

Getting Onboard
Getting the hang of boarding buses and trolleys is easy. The keys are to: have your ticket, pass or exact fare ready before you board; arrive early; and board the right bus or trolley. Check the signs at the Bus Stops and Trolley Stations to make sure you are standing at the right location for your route. Signs on the front of the bus or trolley also display the vehicle’s route number or line color and final destination.

Riding the Bus
As your bus approaches, signal to let the driver know you wish to board. Onboard, the bus operator will call out major stops. You can ask the operator to call out your stop. When you are one stop away from your destination, pull the cord above the window to let the driver know you want the next stop.

Riding the Trolley
While waiting on the platform or during your trip, be ready to show proof of fare payment to Trolley Fare Inspectors and Security Officers if requested. Wait behind the yellow line until your trolley comes to a complete stop, then push the button (near the doors) to open the door. Once onboard, the operator will announce upcoming stations, and the trolley will stop at all stations. To exit, push the button (by the doors), and watch your step. For most stations, only the doors on the operator’s right side will open.

All buses and trolleys are equipped with either a wheelchair lift or ramp. Buses can “kneel” to make it easier for people to board. On buses and most trolleys, the lift is located at the door nearest the driver. A trolley rider in a wheelchair or who has mobility impairments can wait on the International Wheelchair Symbol displayed on the platform to let the trolley operator know that the lift is needed. On the Green Line, the new low-floor trolleys offer ramps at the middle doors. On these trolleys, push the button next to the wheelchair symbol on the side of the trolley to deploy the ramp (the door must be closed first). At your stop, push the button to deploy the ramp to exit. Tactile mats on platforms help riders with vision impairments locate the correct spot to wait for a trolley. Priority Seating Areas inside buses and trolleys are designated for Senior and Disabled riders. Please make those seats available as needed.

Service Animals
Animals trained to assist persons with disabilities are allowed onboard. Passengers can transport other animals only if the animal is in an enclosed carrier that can be carried on the passenger’s lap or stowed under the seat without assistance from the operator.

Once onboard, seat the child next to you or on your lap and collapse the stroller.

Bikes are allowed free of charge, but space is limited. MTS is not responsible for loss or damage to bicycles.
On the bus, the rack on the front of the bus holds up to two bikes. Let the operator know before you load or unload your bike. To load, stand the bike in the rack and secure it with the retaining bar. You can load or unload your bike at any stop where it is feasible and safe.

On the trolley, one bike is allowed on during rush hours and two at other times. Board the bike through the last door of the car. If the maximum number of bikes is already onboard, go to another car or wait for the next trolley. Stand with your bike during the entire trip.

Enjoy the Ride!
Help the Bus Get a Jump on Traffic
• Let everyone off before you board.
• Have your fare ready when you board.
• Move to the back to let others on.
• Exit from the rear door.

Be Courteous
• MTS prohibits smoking within 25 feet of all Trolley Stations or Bus Stops or while onboard.
• Keep feet on floor, not on seats.
• Use headsets when listening to music.
• Drinking beverages in cups with lids is permitted; eating is not.
• Use trash cans at bus stops and trolley stations.

Stay on Top of It
Visit us at www.sdmts.com to find out the latest promotions, fun places to go, information on special events or updates about the system.
When riding, look for Take Ones that provide important rider alerts and the MTS Moves (our quarterly newsletter).

For More Information and Customer Service
Trip Plans and Route or Schedule Information. . . (619) 233-3004
TTY/TDD. . . (619) 234-5005
Toll free. . .  511 “say public transportation”
Online. . .  www.sdmts.com or www.511sd.com
SafeWatch. . .  (619) 595-4960 (Call to report anything suspicious onboard, at a bus stop, or at a trolley station)
Lost and Found. . . Check Route Timetable for phone number

Schedules, fares and other information in timetables are subject to change. MTS does not assume responsibility for errors in timetables or for any inconvenience caused by delayed buses.

For Questions or Concerns
Customer Service Representative
(619) 238-0100
Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm


Riders Guides are also available at the MTS Transit Store on First and Broadway in Downtown San Diego

Note: Documents that are PDF format, requiring Adobe Acrobat reader plugin for viewing. The files are large in size and may take a several minutes to download.


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