Getting Around Austin
The best way to get around Austin is by bus and light rail. Some travelers recommend a car; however, the expense and pains of one are enough to encourage many visitors to use Capital Metro – Austin's public transit system. The Route 20 Manor Road/Riverside line connects the downtown area with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), where you'll likely be greeted by music as soon as you exit the plane, to the heart of downtown about 10 miles northwest. The minimum taxi fare from the airport to downtown Austin costs $13.30. Amtrak provides train service to the city via the Texas Eagle line.
If you'll be centrally located downtown between the Convention Center and the University of Texas at Austin, you should be able to walk or bike.
Capital Metro Transit provides bus routes that cover the city, as well as a MetroRapid bus that serves the downtown area. Austin also has 32 miles of light rail that spans from downtown to the northwest suburb of Leander. All public transport runs more frequently during rush hour, with more limited service on the weekends. Also, the light rail does not operate on Sundays. The assortment of passes and their pricing can be complicated, so check its website or download the CapMetro smartphone app to help decide which pass is best for you. Fares start at $1.25 for a single ride; day passes cost $2.50.
Austin's notorious for some of the worst traffic in the country. Be aware that the city streets require as much vigilance as the highway. Many downtown streets are one-way and lack street signs. Parking in the downtown area is scarce, so prepare to pay a premium for parking. But if you're in the mood to rent a car and hit the open road to visit nearby cities like San Antonio, Highway 130 is known for having the highest speed limit in America: 85 mph.
Although cabs are the faster but pricier alternative to a rental car or a bus, splurging on them will save you many headaches. You shouldn't have trouble hailing a cab in the downtown area. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as Ride Austin – a local ride-hailing option – also operate in the Austin area.
Known as a pedestrian-friendly city, Austin's streets are accompanied by sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks. Plus, many of the top tours in the city are walking tours . Experienced travelers recommend biking as a means of transportation since there are several bike trails found throughout central Austin. You can rent bikes from the city's bike-share program, Austin B-Cycle. Most of the stations are concentrated in the downtown area. You can purchase a 24-hour access pass for $12; the first 30 minutes are free, with each additional half hour costing $4 (plus tax). Passes can be purchased at B-Cycle stations. Most downtown neighborhoods are also easy to traverse by foot (or via pedicab).
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