San Juan Metro Area Bus Routes and Map
Public transportation on the island is always a hot topic among travelers. Puerto Rico’s transportation system within the San Juan metro area is pretty good. But, unlike many other Caribbean islands, our public transportation system does not encompass the entire island.
Information on the public bus system is hard to find. To counter that, we’ve put together this brief guide, and we’ve drawn our own version of the AMA bus route map, in the hopes of making travel on the island a little easier for at least a few visitors.
Let’s get this out of the way Right up Front
I will start by saying I am not an island public transportation expert by any stretch of the imagination. Since I live outside of the San Juan metro area, public transportation is almost non-existent for me. So my experience taking public transportation here is zilch. The information in this article is based on data from DTOP, AMA, ATI, and my own observations.
We hear that the bus routes will be changing in late 2012, so we’ll do our best to keep this information up to date.
Transportation options for Tourists
The easiest way to travel around the island is to rent a car. Driving here is easy enough, and having a rental gives you the flexibility of going where you want, when you want.
If you don’t want to rent a car, the next best option is taking taxis around the metro area. They are faster and easier, but also more expensive in the long run.
Public transportation (bus, train, and publico) is the final, and least expensive, option. From what I have seen and heard, the public transportation system here has lots of inconveniences … so I can’t really recommend it for tourists.
We realize that not everyone has the option of renting a car or taking taxis. So it’s for those people that we’ve put together this brief guide.
Public Transportation System in San Juan
The Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas (DTOP) runs the public transportation system. The whole system, including the buses, trains and publicos (public vans) is called Alternativa de Transporte Integrado (ATI). The bus system is called the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA). The light-rail train system is called the Tren Urbano. The whole public transportation system is most prominent in the San Juan metro area.
Public transportation outside of the San Juan metro area is very limited. Our advice is not to depend on public transportation out on the island.
There is a DTOP-AMA web site with an "interactive trip-planning" route map — but it doesn’t work, so we’re not going to say more about it until it does. That’s why we put together our own bus route map, which you can find toward the bottom of this article.
The bus system is a series of different routes that go around the major areas of San Juan. The bus stops are called paradas. On each parada, they have posted signs that indicate which buses stop there, and the supposed time schedule.
Do not expect that information to be accurate. Buses do not run on time. The buses are not immune to the traffic jams, so they arrive when they arrive.
When the bus is coming, flag the driver down, so he knows to stop for you. Before getting in any bus, double-check (by asking the driver) that you’re getting onto the right bus for where you want to go. The drivers should be able to help you with connecting routes, too.
There are pros and cons to taking the bus. On the positive side, they are cheap and air-conditioned. On the negative side, they can be crowded, they don’t adhere to any real time schedule, you cannot take luggage onto the bus, and they only operate from about 5am or 6am until 9pm or 10pm (depending on the route).
The bus fare is 75¢ for all routes, which includes a transfer to the Tren Urbano within a 2-hour window.
Some of the Bus Routes in the Metro Area
Our bus route map only includes some of the bus routes offered by the AMA. We’ve selected those that we think tourists staying in the Isla Verde, Condado and Old San Juan areas will find most useful.
Note that the actual route numbers that will be displayed at the paradas may differ from the route numbers displayed on the buses. Sometimes the route is prefixed with A, B, C or T, and sometimes it’s just a number with no letter. All that really matters is the route number. For example, A21, T21 and just plain 21 are all the same route. On our map, we’ve listed them prefixed with A, B, and C.
Metrobus 1 (M1) starts in Old San Juan and passes through Santurce and Hato Rey en route to the Sagrado Corazón stop in Río Piedras, and then returns. It may be labeled as M3 for the OSJ-Santurce loop until Sagrado Corazon Station where it is M1, but I can’t say for sure.
Metrobus 2 (M2) starts at the Parada 18 stop, heads to Sagrado Corazón to Hato Rey to Roosevelt Avenue (by Plaza Las Americas Mall) to San Patricio via Route 2 to Bayamón and returns.
Metrobus Expreso (ME) starts in Old San Juan, heads to the PR Convention Center, goes through Hato Rey to Río Piedras Sagrado Corzaon station, then returns.
T5 starts in Old San Juan, follows Ponce de Leon Avenue through Miramar, turns left on Jose de Diego Avenue, continues along Calle Loiza and Isla Verde Aveue, ends at Iturregui station, then returns. Note that the maps on the wall in the AMA terminal in Old San Juan, as well as the signs on the bus stops (paradas), say A5 for this route (even though A5 no longer exists).
21 starts in Old San Juan, follows Ashford Avenue through Condado, continues south to Hato Rey, goes past the PR Convention Center, ends at Sagrado Corazon Station, and then returns. Note that the maps on the wall in the AMA terminal in Old San Juan, as well as the signs on the bus stops (paradas), say B21 for this route (even though B21 no longer exists).
B40 or T40 starts at Piñero Station in Rio Piedras, goes across the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge to the Luis Muñoz Marín (SJU) Airport, touches Isla Verde, then returns.
C45 or T45 runs from Iturregui stop along Los Angeles Avenue to Isla Verde through Piñones to Loíza.It no longer goes to the airport.
C53 or T53 starts at Old San Juan, goes to the PR Convention Center, heads to Condado and Ocean Park Calle Loíza, then onto to Isla Verde via Isla Verde Avenue, and then returns.
Our take on the AMA Bus Route Map
You would expect that the DTOP could provide bus route maps and schedules. We’ve asked them; they don’t produce any. They have a trip-planning tool on their web site; it doesn’t work.
So we’ve developed our own partial AMA bus route map, based on the routes that we think will be most useful to visitors.
So how did we come up with this map? There is a big route map on the wall in the bus terminal in Old San Juan. We took photos of it and got what we could from it, though we found inconsistencies in that map. We also took a look at some older bus route maps that we’ve collected over the years.
Is our map 100% accurate? Probably not. Does it contain all of the bus routes? No. Is it better than anything else you’ll find? We think so.
The map we’ve created is big. It measures over 37"x24". We needed to make it that big in order to be legible. Because of that, the downloads that we’re providing are big and may take some extra time to download.
We’re providing the map in two formats
- a map image file for viewing on-line; it is a 4.5MB download
- a 9-page PDF file for printing; it is a 3MB download
Some Suggested Routes
We’ve taken a look at the bus routes, and have some suggested routes from the Isla Verde and Condado areas to some plces in the metro area frequented by tourists.
To Old San Juan
- from Isla Verde — take T5 (will take about 30 minutes), or take C53 (will take about 50 minutes)
- from Condado — take 21 (along Ashford Avenue) or C23 (along Calle Loiza)
- from Isla Verde — take T5 to Avenue De Diego, then switch to 21
To University of Puerto Rico Botanical Garden
- from Old San Juan — take M1 to the Rio Piedras University station, then transfer to C31. Alternatively, take M3 or ME to Sagrado Corazon, and then the Tren Urbano to the Cupey station, and then walk north along Route 3 to the garden
- from Isla Verde — take B40 eastbound, then transfer to C45
- from Condado — take C53, then transfer to C45
- from Old San Juan — take C53 then transfer to C45
To the Tren Urbano — Any bus marked ATI hooks up with the Tren Urbano at the Sagrado Corazón Station. That means A9, B15, B16, 21, B22, C10, C11, M1, M2, M3, and ME.
To the Rio Piedras Market and UPR
- from Old San Juan — take any of A9, M3, ME, M1, or 21, to the Sagrado Corazon station, and then take the Tren Urbano to the Rio Piedras station
To Plaza Las Americas Mall
- from Condado — take 21 to Sagrado Corazon, then transfer to B22. Alternately, transfer to M2 and take to the Roosevelt Avenue stop
- from Isla Verde — take T5 to Sagrado Corazon, then transfer to B22. Alternately, transfer to M2 and take to the Roosevelt Avenue stop
- from Old San Juan — take 21, ME or M3 to Sagrado Corazon, then transfer to B22. Alternately, transfer to M2 and take to the Roosevelt Avenue stop
To Puerto Rico Museum of Art or La Placita on Avenue De Diego
- from Old San Juan — take M3, 21 or T5
- from Isla Verde — take T5
- from Condado — take 21
To the PR Convention Center
- from Old San Juan — take C53, 21 or ME
- from Isla Verde — take C53
- from Condado — take 21
Luiz Muñoz Marín (SJU) Airport — There is one bus route that goes to the SJU airport, but it has to be noted that luggage is not allowed on the any of the AMA buses. Only small, carry-on items are allowed on the buses. There are 3 stops on the airport 2nd level (Departure level) at terminals A,D,and E.
- from SJU to Isla Verde — take B40, then transfer to T5 or C53
- from SJU to Condado (Asford Avenue area) — take B40, then transfer to C53
- from SJU to Old San Juan — take B40, then transfer to T5 or C53
- from Isla Verde to SJU — take T5 or C53 eastbound, then transfer to B40
- from Condado to SJU — take C53 eastbound, then transfer to B40
- from Old San Juan to SJU — take T5 or C53, then transfer to B40
To Isla Verde Beach area
- from Old San Juan — take T5 or C53
To Condado Beach area
- from Old San Juan — take 21 to C53
Additional DTOP information
For more information, you can visit the DTOP web site, or call 1-800-981-0097, 787-250-6064, or 787-294-0500.
Copyright / License info for our Bus route map
Our bus route map is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (CC BY-SA). You are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this map, as long as you credit PuertoRicoDayTrips.com, OpenStreetMap.org and its contributors, and provide a link to the original map at http://www.PuertoRicoDayTrips.com/san-juan-bus-routes/. If you alter or build upon this map or data, you may distribute the result only under the same CC BY-SA license.
Route map is © PuertoRicoDayTrips.com CC BY-SA, June 2012.
Route data is from Puerto Rico Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas (DTOP).
Background map is © OpenStreetMap contributors, used under CC BY-SA.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.