Public Transportation

Urban public transportation is probably not as good as in Europe, but at the same time it's probably better in California than in the rest of the US.

Taxi and Cabs

Cabs are easily available in all the cities, and can be a solution, even if not the cheapest one, for those period of the day when buses stop going (mainly at night).

It is also a good idea to split the price of a taxi between some friends if you are going out and you are going to drink. Remember that alcohol policies are strictly enforced in California. UCSD offers a service of Safe Ride, a free taxi ride for undergraduate students during the nights in the weekend.


Los Angeles

San Diego

UCSD has an agreement with San Diego public transportation service, so you can take for free all the routes that get to the campus. You can see a comprehensive list on San Diego Commute website. To ride for free, you need a sticker on your campus ID. This sticker can be found in the parking services office at Gilman parking structure.

If you have to take some of the bus routes not included in the agreement, you have to pay the ticket on the bus. It costs usually from 2 to 2.5 USD. The ticket machine on board doesn't give change back, you need the exact amount or you'll pay more. Tickets allow you to travel for a certain time, not only for one ride. When you enter the bus, if you think your ticket is still valid, just put it in the ticket machine and it will tell you if you have to buy a new one.

You can check all the routes, the timetables and download some maps on San Diego Commute website.

Santa Barbara

The primary form of public transportation is the Santa Barbara MTD (Metropolitan Transit District) bus system. You can go almost everywhere in town by bus. The fare is $1.00 but if you have a student I.D., you can take the bus for free. If you need to transfer the bus, you can get a transfer pass without charge. There are two kinds of buses that are Express bus and local bus. Express bus doesn’t stop a lot and go directly to the transit center. Meanwhile local bus stops a lot.

There are 27 numbers of buses that go to Goleta and Santa Barbara., you can get a route & schedule guide in Transit center in downtown. If you have a bicycle, you can also load your bike.
Or If you go to the MTD website, you can check any information about route and time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Buses in Santa Barbara stop operating at 6pm
This means that if you live far from school or live far from downtown, you will need to find alternate forms of transportation at night. Taxis can be expensive. Keep this in mind when you are choosing where to live.

In downtown Santa Barbara, there are shuttle buses. You can go to beach or harbor by shuttle. It stops at every block. The shuttle buses run everyday from 10:00am to 6:p.m. You can see detailed schedule and routes in MTD website.

Loading your bike

In almost all the cities (San Diego and Santa Barbara for sure) you can load your bike when taking the bus. Here are some tips:
Loading Your Bike:

  • Have your bike ready to load as the bus approaches, remove water bottles and any other loose items. The driver may request that you remove any extra items that may impair the drivers view.
  • Notify the driver that you will be loading your bike, proceed to the front of the bus. There are posted instructions located directly on the rack.
  • Always load and unload your bicycle from the curb side.
  • Pull down to release the folded bike rack.
  • Lift the bike onto the rack. Secure the bike into the appropriate labeled spot.
  • Raise the release and support arm over the front tire.
  • Board the bus.

Unloading Your Bike:

  • As the bus approaches your stop simply tell the driver that you will be unloading your bicycle.
  • Raise the support arm off of the tire.
  • Lift your bike out of the rack.
  • Step away from the bus with your bike.

Campus shuttles



UCSD campus can be crossed on foot in less than 30 minutes. If your destination is further than a quarter of hour from where you are, you can take the Campus Loop Shuttle to reach it. This bus makes a complete circular route around the campus, so it probably won't make you save time if you have to cross the campus. Moreover, as they pass every 15 minutes (more or less, depending on the time of the day), it's not the best choice if you are in a hurry.

Moreover, there are some campus shuttle routes to go in the closest neighborhoods of UCSD. You can see all the routes and live tracking of shuttles position here.

More info about shuttle routes and public transportation services for UCSD students can be found on this page, where you can also find some more information about on campus parking, rules, biking and so on.

Part of this material comes from The International Student Guide to Santa Barbara, developed by Jihyun Lee, from Seoul, Korea while attending the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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