Official tourism company-sponsored taxis on the Island are clean, clearly identifiable, and reliable. Look for the white taxis with the official logo and 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. Rates are as follows:
Additional metered rates are available which are not to/from the major tourist areas in San Juan:
|Types of Charges||Charges|
|Charge per 1/19 of mile||$0.10|
|Charge for waiting every 25 seconds||$0.10|
|Charge per piece of luggage up to 3||$0.50|
|Charge per piece of luggage 4 or more||$1|
|Charge per call||$1|
|Charge for rental per hour||$36|
|Night charge 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.||$1|
|Minimal charge per trip||$3|
|Charge for 5 passengers or more only in vans||$2|
Several taxi company numbers:
A público also known as colectivo and pisicorre 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, which run Monday-Friday, 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.
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 6–7 a.m. 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, usually around 4 p.m.
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. For 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.
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. 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 as well as the express routes.
There are two routes which are very reliable: M-I & M-II, commonly called Metrobus. 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. One good way to get from SJU, the San Juan Airport, is to take the B40 to Isla Verde, then transfer to the T5. Buses in San Juan do not have a system of using transfers the way they do in the US, so bring lots of quarters.
Tren Urbano "Urban Train" is a 17.2km 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.
A single trip costs $1.50 $0.75 if you transfer from an AMA bus, including a 2-hour 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 ages 60–74 pay 75¢ per trip. Senior citizens older than 75 and children under 6 ride for free. Several unlimited passes are also available. In 2010, all Tren Urbano fares were reduced by 50% in order to increase passenger numbers. Expect to pay $0.75 for a single trip.
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.
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. Rental cars can be had for as little as $28 a day. Note that SJU has no rental car agencies in the main terminal but Avis and Hertz are on the airport grounds close by, while everyone else is located much farther away outside the airport.
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 approximately from 10pm to 4am because of the island's extremely high car-jacking rate.
The roads can be quite bad, with potholes, missing manhole covers, giant speed bumps in the middle of major thoroughfares, and uneven pavement. Lane markings are often faint or non-existent since Puerto Rico can't afford to implement modern thermoplastic striping; regular paint fades fast under the harsh tropical sun and frequent rain. 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" which, on weekends, charges a fixed rate for the entire day, and it always has available parking spaces and 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, so you shouldn't have trouble figuring them out. 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 four major toll roads autopistas on Puerto Rico. They're much faster and less congested than the regular 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.
Since 2011, the PR government has been converting all toll roads to electronic toll collection AutoExpreso only and removing cash toll booths from toll plazas. Some but not all toll plazas still have a human-staffed "R" lane where drivers can purchase AutoExpreso tags or add more money to their accounts. Most rental car agencies now put AutoExpreso tags on all cars and automatically pass through all tolls incurred to the credit card presented at the time of rental, plus a per-day service fee for each day on which the tag was actually used.
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. At intersections, highway numbers are nearly always signposted but destinations are not, so a detailed highway map will come in handy.
Navigating a car can be very challenging because most locals give directions by landmark rather by address and using maps in PR can be very challenging for visitors. Google Maps in particular is fairly horrible in PR and the wary traveler does not trust it at all. Common problems include street names either missing or incorrect, and address lookups & business entries POI's either give no result or being completely wrong. Time estimates from Google Maps are often wildly off as they fail to account for unexpected traffic jams caused by PR's frequent car accidents, police actions, torrential rainstorms, power outages, and other bizarre contingencies.
If you are still a Google Maps fan and an Android user, note that Google Maps Navigation does not work in PR, although "Get Directions" does but again, you can't trust it. Other online maps suffer the same issues. Alternative apps like Waze and Mapquest do work well in Puerto Rico. 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 plus $5 for each mile above the speed limit.
As of 2013, there have been recent installments of traffic cameras throughout Puerto Rico and drivers can expect fines for traffic violations.