Has Chicago subways

Local public transportation in the United States

In the big cities, you should prefer the bike to the bus

The simplest solution for any route is of course the car. With the German driver's license you can rent a car anywhere during your trip through the USA, but the high density of cars can quickly become unbearable, especially in the big cities. In some cities, for example in Phoenix, Los Angeles or Detroit, public transport is so poorly developed that a car is practically indispensable. Far away from the large metropolitan areas, it is also almost impossible without a car, unless you hardly have to move around. I recommend that you always carry a taxi company number with you in case you are stuck somewhere. If you register on the Uber or Lift sites, which work very well in the US and have a large number of members, you will save money and also get in touch with the local population.

The bike is a good solution and some cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York offer a bike rental system similar to that already in place in some major German cities. Cycle lanes are nonetheless still a rarity and you have to be very careful to avoid accidents, especially in the city centers, where the heavy traffic makes drivers nervous and impatient. Bicycle taxis are a nice way to visit the tourist areas without getting too tired. Your driver will pedal for you while offering you a tour guide and a nice chat.

In the big cities, the subway, tram and bus networks are relatively well developed. But don't be too close to the great New York subway system to that of the other cities. What is called the subway in the cities of Chicago and San Francisco, for example, is more like a better rail network: sometimes slow, but still efficient. The S-Bahn "BART" in the greater San Francisco area is one of the most powerful systems in the country. This allows you to reach the other side of the bay via a tunnel under the sea and travel at full speed to Berkley and the other major cities in the area. In Chicago and New York, the suburbs are accessible by train. The bus is only recommended for the adventurous. The stops are very poorly marked, the times are quite arbitrary and there is almost no timetable, and you will certainly have to ask the driver to advise you of the correct stop. If you have not bought the rechargeable ticket, you should have the ticket price with you in cash.

Travel from one city to the next and over great distances

If you don't have a car, you can choose to travel by plane, train or bus between the cities. Long-haul flight ticket prices rarely exceed $ 300, and traveling by air is a great way to see the country if you're only interested in the big cities. Otherwise, train and bus are roughly comparable in price. The Amtrak railroad network stretches across the country, but you shouldn't be in a rush. The prices correspond to those of a plane ticket. The advantage is that you can enjoy the landscape and look forward to a very luxurious journey: the trains are very comfortable and the staff can read your every wish. It's a little different with the bus. The prices are lower, but so is the quality of the trip. Greyhound is rightly known as the worst transport company - but sometimes there is no alternative. In such a case, expect delays, unfriendly employees and sometimes strange fellow travelers. Enter at your own risk. Other companies, Megabus or Bolt Bus, for example, which are a bit more reliable, also run between the big cities.

If you have planned to visit natural landscapes or national parks on your trip through the USA, there are alternatives to a rental car here too. Some parks, such as Yosemite, have a shuttle service, in partnership with Amtrak and Greyhound, inside the park and to and from major cities. A Chinese bus company even offers round-trip transportation from the Chinatown neighborhood of San Francisco. In every situation you should always find out about the various transport options.

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Updated January 11, 2016