Transportation in San Diego County, California

An Unofficial Web Site
by Philip J. Erdelsky

Please e-mail comments, corrections and additions to the webmaster at pje@efgh.com.

Airplanes | Automobiles | Bicycles | Buses | Ferry | Taxis | Limousines | Rental Cars | Trains | Glossary of Names | Maps Links


Unlike most big-city airports, San Diego International Airport is conveniently located close to the downtown area and to most of the major tourist attractions.

The airport was formerly owned and operated by the San Diego Unified Port District, a special governmental agency that also operates the harbor facilities of San Diego. A few years ago, the airport was transferred to the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. See their website at www.san.org.

When you arrive at San Diego Airport, you may be greeted by volunteer Airport Ambassadors, who can answer your questions about the airport and other local travel facilities.

If your starting point or destination is in the northern part of San Diego County, you may find McClellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad more even more convenient than San Diego International Airport.

If your starting point or destination is in Mexico, you may want to fly into or out of the Tijuana Airport.

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The highways of San Diego County are quite good, and congestion has not yet reached the severity experienced in our neighbor to the north.

Freeway exits in California are named. Numbers are being added, but some exits remain unnumbered. This sometimes makes it rather hard to give clear directions, because exit names may be hard to remember precisely. Therefore, I have prepared a document called San Diego and Imperial County Freeway Exits. It is basically a list of freeway exits in San Diego and Imperial Counties, with distances and the text from exit signs. It also includes some nearby parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and Interstate 8 in Arizona.

I've also prepared a Highway map of San Diego and Imperial Counties, showing all state and interstate highways. It's not very detailed, but you can use it until you buy a better map at the nearest gas station.

Descriptions, distances, and a few pictures of some highways in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties that are not freeways:

Two pictures of the I-15 bridge over Lake Hodges, one taken when Lake Hodges was still a lake, and another taken five years later, after it had become a forest:

It has since become a lake again.

Here are a few other Web sites with information about the highways of San Diego County:

  1. Caltrans District 11 Home Page
  2. Casey's Roads and Highways Page
  3. California State Highway System Unofficial Website
  4. San Diego Highways by Andy Field

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I travel by bicycle locally as much as I can, and I've devoted a Web site to that subject: San Diego County, California: A Bicyclist's Paradise

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Local bus service in the City of San Diego is provided by the San Diego Transit Corporation. Maps and schedules can be accessed at

A few important facts about San Diego city buses:

  • Call 619-233-3004 for additional information.
  • Bus schedules, passes, and compass cards are available at
    The Transit Store
    102 Broadway
    Downtown San Diego
    Mon-Fri 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    NE corner of Broadway and First

    Local bus service is also available in other cities of San Diego County and in many of the unincorporated areas.

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    Coronado Ferry

    A passenger ferry runs regularly across San Diego Bay between Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego and the Coronado Ferry Landing in Coronado. A one-way trip takes about ten minutes.


    The ferry departs --

    1. from Broadway Pier every hour on the hour from 9AM to 9PM, and also at 10PM on Friday and Saturday only, and
    2. from the Coronado Ferry Landing every hour on the half hour from 9:30AM to 9:30PM, and also at 10:30PM on Friday and Saturday only.

    The one-way fare is $4.25 per person (as of Feb. 21, 2011).

    You may take a bicycle aboard the ferry at no additional fare.

    Commuters can ride the ferry free during certain hours. See the Web site for details.

    For additional information see www.flagshipsd.com/coronado-ferry.

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    It is usually not necessary to call for a taxi at the airport, bus station, train station or cruise ship terminal. Taxis are waiting when travelers arrive.

    If you need a taxi or limousine at other times and places, here are some companies to contact (listed in alphabetical order):

    Commercial shuttles also serve the airport, bus station, train station and cruise ship terminal. These provide shared rides to hotels, military bases and residences in the San Diego area. The largest such service in San Diego is Cloud 9 Super Shuttle. Shuttles are usually waiting at the airport. For pickup at other places, contact them at 1-800-974-8885 (1-800-9-SHUTTLE) or www.cloud9shuttle.com.

    A website for finding shuttle services at San Diego Airport is ShuttleWizard.com.

    The ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft serve the airport. There are separate pickup points for Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Follow the signs to "Ride Share Services" and use the Uber or Lyft app to summon a driver.

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    Special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, graduations, etc. are among the reasons to utilize a limo service. Another reason to order a limo might be the number in the party exceeding or pushing the limits of a personal car or taxi. Most importantly, ordering a limousine can be a sound option when the event might include alcohol, such as club hopping in the Gaslamp District or wine tasting in nearby Escondido or Temecula.

    Like any other service, the limousine services industry has good apples, not so good apples and bad apples. Be aware of limo brokers. The company you hire (and pay) might not be the company that shows up at your door. Limo Rental Tips

    The State of California licenses all livery services in the State. Limo companies must prove to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that they are fully bonded, and that drivers submit to random drug testing. Check a license status at the California PUC website.

    Some limo services in San Diego:

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    Rental Cars

    If you want to rent a car in San Diego, there's a new way to do it. Use your smart phone to summon one:

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    The San Diego Trolley is San Diego's contribution to the current craze for fixed-rail transit.

    The San Diego Coaster Commuter Train runs up and down the coast between Downtown San Diego and Oceanside every day of the week except Sunday and major holidays.

    Information about the Trolley and Coaster is available at

    Amtrak runs several trains per day up and down the coast between San Diego and Los Angeles. Some go as far north as San Luis Obispo. See www.amtrak.com for information.

    North of Oceanside there is an extensive commuter train network called Metrolink. Information about Metrolink has been posted on this Web site:

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    Glossary of Names

    Many names in San Diego County are of Spanish or Indian origin. I've prepared a brief glossary to help visitors with the spelling and pronunciation of unfamiliar names.

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    Scanned topographic maps for San Diego, Orange, Imperial and Riverside Counties are available on CD-ROM by request. These are public domain images in GIF format with no restrictions on use. E-mail the Webmaster for details.

    I've also prepared a Highway map of San Diego and Imperial Counties, showing all state and interstate highways. It's not very detailed, but you can use it until you buy a better map at the nearest gas station.

    The Rand McNally Thomas Guides are some of the most accurate, up-to-date and useful street maps of San Diego County and many other areas as well. However, like nearly all large compendiums of information, they contain errors. For example, they show some streets that do not exist or have disappeared.

    I have reported some corrections by E-mail in the past; and some have found their way into subsequent editions. However, more recent correction reports seem to have been lost or ignored. Therefore, I am posting them here in the hope that somebody at Rand McNally will see them and incorporate them into future editions.

    Here are some of the errors that I have found, and the suggested corrections.

    1. Polk Ave. at Park Blvd.
    2. Highway 125 at Troy St.(corrected in 2005 edition)
    3. Nutmeg St. and Maple St. near 30th St.
    4. Corner of Polk Ave. and 40th St.
    5. Robinson Ave. at Alabama St.
    6. Upas St. at India St. and Columbia St.
    7. Lila Dr. at 49th St.
    8. Adams Ave. at Ashby St.
    9. Quince St. between Boundary St. and Nile St.

    CAUTION: These corrections apply only to older editions. One of the most recent editions of the Thomas Guide is rife with mistakes.

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    Here are links to some other Web sites that may be helpful:

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    The Webmaster

    This Web site is brought to you by Philip J. Erdelsky, a resident of San Diego since 1969. Visit my home page at www.alumni.caltech.edu/~pje/.
    E-mail comments, corrections and additions to me at pje@efgh.com.

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