Getting to know how local transport works in a place is essential. And transport systems in the U.S. are different from the ones you are used to. If you're wondering how to get from one place to another once you reach the U.S., we've got you covered.
You've seen it in movies and T.V. shows - the glorious yellow medallion cabs that dot the streets of New York City. Booking a taxi is also popular across Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Washington DC.
If you plan on flagging down a taxi, look at the lights on top of the car. If they are on, it means that the cab is available for hire. If not, then they are either off-duty or already occupied. Alternatively, you can even call in and book a taxi.
Typically, taxi rides are metered with the base fare starting at about $3. In addition to this, every mile is charged at about $2 to $3. Plus, it is a standard practice to tip your driver, even for a short trip.
Ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have become very popular for inter-city commute. All you need is a smartphone to book your ride. Enter your trip details, select your preferences, generate a request, and the aggregator will connect you with the nearest car available for hire.
Such ridesharing platforms occupy the lion's share of the market and are slowly ousting the monopoly enjoyed by taxis. The convenience of booking your ride and the ease of diverse payment options are key reasons for their popularity.
Renting a car allows you to get behind the wheel and enjoy driving. Self-drive car rentals are relatively standard around remote areas that are not very well-connected.
If you're above 25 and have a valid driver's license (written in English), you won't experience any issues while renting a car. Regardless, make it a point to read up the different driving laws of various states in the U.S. At the same time, review your car rental agreement assiduously before you take the rented car for a spin.
The bus transport system in the U.S. is categorized into two types: city buses and interstate buses. City buses are a part of the local public transport network, while private companies operate interstate buses to offer direct connectivity between major cities.
San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Seattle boast of some of the finest city bus systems that promise a mix of reliability and quality. The standard bus fare for one-way travel ranges from $1.25 to $2.75.
Greyhound, Trailways, Megabus, and Boltbus are well-known interstate bus operators that enjoy a robust network. And while the most significant trade-off is time, interstate buses deliver the cheapest and most convenient traveling experience. Typical fares are somewhere between $13 to $25 depending on the route.
As the name indicates, rapid transit constitutes high-speed public transport models present in most urban areas. You may also know them by their common names:
- New York City Subway
- Washington Metro
- Chicago “L”
- Metrorail (Miami)
- MBTS Subway (Boston)
- BART (San Francisco Bay Area)
- MARTA Rail (Atlanta)
- SEPTA (Philadelphia)
- RTA Rapid Transit (Cleveland)
As a mode of transport, rapid transit systems enjoy great popularity as they combine high capacity, high frequency, reliability, and affordability. The fare varies from $2 to $16, depending on the distance, time of the day, and destination.
Cities without rapid transit networks may offer similar transportation systems such as tramways, trolleys, monorails, and light rails.
While trains played a crucial role in driving the development of the country, their contribution to the transportation system of the U.S. is quite limited. The U.S. train network offers two main options - commuter trains and intercity trains.
Commuter trains often connect downtown regions with the suburbs and vice versa. Much like the rapid transit systems, they are quick and affordable. Some of the largest commuter rail networks include MTA Long Island Rail Road (New York Metropolitan Area), Metra Rail (Chicago), and NJ Transit Rail (New York ↔ New Jersey).
On the other hand, intercity trains are designed for long-distance traveling. Amtrak is the leading service provider with over 35 lines across the country. These rides are neither cheap nor fast but are valued for the experience that they deliver. The trains wind through scenic locations and offer a buffet of dining options onboard, making the journey unique, fun, and memorable.
Should You Buy a Car?
Purchasing a car is quite a commitment. After all, you will have to pay for gas, find space for parking, and maintain your vehicle - which can be quite a hassle. As such, check out the public transport system in your area before buying a car. Only when you are convinced that no other alternative is available, should you go ahead and buy a car.