If your spring and summer travel plans include a big city, presumably you don't need or even want a rented car, and you probably don't want to pay for taxis everywhere you go. So check the transit options. Fortunately, transit systems in many big cities offer a variety of all-day and multi-day transit passes that allow you to use buses, light rail, subway and even suburban railroads without having to pony up a separate fare every time you want a ride. Many cities offer senior deals, although you may have to obtain special senior ID. Here's a rundown of the options available in 10 of the top domestic destination cities. In most cases, the qualifying age for seniors is 65; a Medicare card is accepted as senior ID for fare payment or senior ID card.
Chicago (transitchicago.com; metrarail.com)
Subway base fare is $2.25 per ride; $5 from O'Hare; bus $2 per ride. Unlimited subway and bus pass: $10 for one day, $20 for three days, $28 for seven days. The one-day pass pays off only after five rides; the three-day pass is a better bet. Senior fares approximately half off; register for RTA reduced fare permit at around 200 centers in the area. Subway serves O'Hare and Midway.
Metra suburban rail fares based on distance; unlimited weekend pass, $7, no weekend service on some routes. Senior fares about half off; RTA permit required.
Las Vegas (rtcsnv.com/transit; lvmonorail.com)
Bus on "residential routes" base fare $2, $5 for 24-hour pass; half price for seniors, requires special ID card, apply at transit office. Bus along "Strip" $6 for two hours, $8 for 24 hours, $20 for three days, no discounts.
Monorail: Base fare $5. Unlimited passes: 24 hours $12; two-day $22, three-day $28, four-day, number 36, $5-day $43, seven-day $56; no discounts. Monorail is more fun but less convenient than Strip bus.
Los Angeles (metro.net)
Subway, light rail and bus: Base fare $1.50. Unlimited day pass $5. Senior day pass for travelers 62 or over $1.80, single ride 25 cents off-peak, requires Senior TAP card available in advance by mail (forms online).
New Orleans (norta.com)
Streetcar and bus: Base fare $1.25, senior $0.40. Unlimited passes one-day $3, three-day $9.
New York City (mta.info)
Subway and bus: Base fare $2.50; senior fare $1.25. Unlimited passes seven-day $30.
Long Island and Metro North Regional rail: Base fares based on distance; seniors pay 50 percent of peak fares (about 33 percent of off-peak fares).
People-mover plus Long Island or subway serves JFK, people-mover plus heavy rail serves Newark.
Light rail and bus: Base fare $2.50, $1 senior. Unlimited passes one-day $5, $2 for seniors; seven-day, $26 regular, $7 senior. Light rail serves airport.
San Diego (sdcommute.com)
Light rail, bus. Base fare: $2.50 for rail, $2.25 for bus; senior 60 or over half price. Unlimited passes one-day $5, two-day $9, three-day $12, four-day $15, one-day including heavy rail, $12.
San Francisco (sfmta.com, bart.gov, caltrain.com)
Light rail, bus: Base fare $2, $0.75 senior. Cable car $6. Unlimited passes, including cable car, one-day $15, three-day $2, seven-day $29.
Regional rail: Fares Bart fares based on distance, seniors 62.5 percent off. CalTrain fares based on distance, day passes double one-way fares, seniors pay half price. BART serves airport.
Light rail, bus: Base fare $2 to $2.80, depending on distance; $0.75 for seniors requires ID issued in advance or online. Day passes cost twice one-way fares. Light rail serves airport.
Subway: Regular fares $1.70 to $5.75 per ride, based on distance and peak/off-peak times, pay $1 per ride extra without pre-issued SmarTrip card. Bus base fare $1.60 with SmarTrip $1.80 without. Senior discounts roughly 50 percent off require Senior SmarTrip card issued on arrival at Metro Center station. Subway serves Reagan/National airport.
In Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, seniors travel free on subway, light rail, and bus and for $1 per ride on regional rail within Pennsylvania.
Other cities: Google "city public transit" for details.
(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins(at)mind.net. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through http://www.mybusinesstravel.com or http://www.amazon.com)
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