Puerto Rico has no island-wide bus service, but most of the island is accessible by public transportation. The Autoridad Metroplitana de Autobuses (AMA), or metropolitan bus authority, serves San Juan, Carolina, Cataño, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto and Bayamón. Outside of the San Juan metropolitan area, a combination of buses, vans, limos and cars provide transportation between cities. AMA provides dependable service that operates on schedule and supplies a reasonable alternative to navigating San Juan's streets by automobile. Travelers in more rural areas might find less reliable service.
Call the bus authority at 787-767-7979, visit the authority's San Juan offices (sashto.dtop.gov.pr) or stop by a terminal for schedules and routes. (note to CE- the contact information is in the fourth reference)
Select your bus route. The A5 line runs between the Covadonga station in Old San Juan and Iturregui, and the A6 operates between Rio Piedras and Carolina. "A" route buses run every 15 minutes. B 21 and B 29 buses operate between Old San Juan, Hato Rey and Rio Piedras and Guaynabo. B 40 and C 45 connect Isla Verde and the airport. "B" route buses run every 20 minutes and "C" route buses every half hour.
Check the bus map at Covadonga station in Old San Juan for the complete list of Metrobus routes. Metrobuses, such as the M 1 running between Old San Juan, Santurce, Hato Rey and Rio Piedras, operate every 10 minutes.
Look for magenta, orange and white signs reading Parada. These designate bus stops served by the AMA in San Juan and the neighboring cities. Have exact change ready to pay your fare.
Hop aboard the free trolley in Old San Juan. The trolley departs from the Covadonga bus terminal and passes all of Old San Juan's major tourist attractions, including the forts, museums an the Plaza de Armas. Wait at any of the bus stops marked with a picture of the trolley.
Plan a trip between two cities by contacting the intercity bus company that serves those cities or stopping at the terminal. Called "guaguas" or "carros publicos," the buses and vans typically stop in town plazas. Passengers wait on the bus until it is full before departing, so catching the bus requires a flexible schedule. Some publicos stop for passengers along the route, which extends the trip time.
Register for an identification card if you're 75 or older to ride AMA buses free of charge. Riders between 60 and 74 qualify for reduced fares. Apply for the Call and Travel Program if you have a disability. Download the application at the Department of Transportation and Public Works (dtop.gov.pr) website. Send the application, proof of age and two photos to the San Juan office, or call the office to have the application mailed to you. Public car service called carros publicos operates throughout most of Puerto Rico on established routes. Tipping drivers on routes outside of the San Juan area is customary. The U.S. dollar is Puerto Rico's currency, but bus signs are in Spanish and routes are measured in kilometers. Make sure the driver sees you waiting for the bus or he may not stop.
Bus service outside the major cities can be frustrating because of missed connections or schedule delays. Expect to spend some time waiting for buses, and be aware that once you arrive at your destination, you'll be sightseeing on foot. Most AMA buses stop running after 10:00 p.m. and buses run less frequently on Sundays.