Getting Around San Antonio
The majority of travelers and commuters in San Antonio own their own vehicles and use these to get around the city. Unlike many other major cities in the U.S. and around the world, San Antonio does not have a robust public transit system, however it is still possible to navigate the city using this option.
The most common mode of transportation in San Antonio is by personal vehicle. Remember, in the U.S., everyone drives on the right side of the road. Buying a personal vehicle can sometimes be a daunting experience, even for natives. However, there are many options available to you, with options from new and used vehicles. If you do purchase or lease a personal vehicle, you are required by law to carry car insurance. Similar to renter’s and medical insurance, car insurance is helpful if you were to be in an accident (or “wreck” in Texas), and your or someone else’s vehicle needs maintenance or repair. Also, every vehicle needs to be registered in you or a family member’s name in the state, with a yearly inspection sticker which is indicated by a sticker on your windshield. Expired registration can result in a ticket and fine, which goes on your driving record. Driving over the posted speed limit is grounds for a ticket, and speeding in a school zone (roads around schools which are usually marked by yellow flashing lights and signs) can increase a speeding fine significantly. IF YOU GET TOO MANY TICKETS, you can lose the privilege of a driver’s license.
If you hit another vehicle with your car, and the owner is not present, it is customary to leave a note on the windshield explaining what happened and leaving your contact information so you and the other person can speak about the possible damage. If you hit another vehicle and leave, it is called a “hit and run”, which is illegal, and could have legal consequences.
Also, it is illegal to park in fire lanes or zones (usually marked in red paint), in front of fire hydrants, on crosswalks, or other prohibited spaces. Be sure to check the street signs to see where it is permissible to park. It is also legally mandated that every car owner purchases car insurance for their vehicle. Like medical and renter’s insurance, there are many different options for car insurance that depend on personal preference.
If you are pulled over by the police while driving, DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE. Stay in your car with your license and registration in hand until the officer approaches your window. Stay calm and answer all the questions you are asked. If you do try to exit your vehicle, the officer(s) could misinterpret your intentions. This is a general rule of thumb, even for U.S. natives.
It is important to pay particular attention to School Zone signs while driving. Reduced speed limits in school zones are activated during the time frames posted in the mornings and afternoons, while children are arriving to and leaving school. When School Zone signs are present and/or flashing (depending on what type of sign), you MUST slow down to the posted speed limit. You are fined more heavily when you are given a speeding ticket in an active school zone.
Public Transportation – VIA
San Antonio’s major bus system is called VIA, which requires a bus ticket or pass to use. However, public transportation is often unreliable and doesn’t always run on schedule. If you choose this as your primary mode of transportation, you have to be patient. VIA offers student passes at a discounted rate with a student ID. On any public transportation, always be aware of your surroundings and personal items. Even if you’re listening to music, it is always best to be alert and attentive. The nearest stop to campus is located on Medical Drive.
VIA also has cultural routes called VIVA which stop at missions, various cultural sites (Botanical Gardens, museums, etc.), and downtown locations for those who want to do some sightseeing.
Cabs and taxis are also available in San Antonio, however they are becoming increasingly less common. Taxi and cab prices are usually higher than rideshares, but it depends on your preference. There are several cab services in San Antonio that you can use.
Bicycles and Scooters
While their are often bike lanes in residential areas, relying on a bicycle as your primary mode of transportation could be tricky, as the city does not have bike lanes everywhere. Scooters rentals are common in the downtown area for sightseeing.
If you are looking for an on-demand driver, rideshares are common in and around San Antonio. As in other parts of the country, app-based services like Uber and Lyft are available to provide transportation for corresponding fees and are usually available 24/7. Similar to taxis, it is customary to sit in the back seat of the vehicle, even if you are the only passenger.
The majority of San Antonio is not very walking-friendly, except for downtown. There are often sidewalks and opportunities to cross the road at stoplights, but walking space in San Antonio is limited.