The San Diego Trolley - downtown near the convention center

Everything You Need to Know About The San Diego Trolley

The San Diego Trolley - downtown near the convention center

The San Diego Trolley – downtown near the convention center

Whether your heading to a Chargers or Padres game or just need to get to work without driving all over the place, the San Diego Trolley is a great time saver.

And yes, contrary to what my dumb-ass friends think, a trolley is a train. It runs on a train track. It has cars. And it runs on a regular schedule. All attributes of a train.

Since I love trains and trolleys just about as much as I love my company, Goozleology, I thought I tell you about what makes the San Diego MTS trolley system so great.

First of all, you’ll find more maps and real-time schedules here.

Second, I put together this list of fun facts about the San Diego Trolley:

  • The first trolley line opened in 1981 linking downtown to the border in San Ysidro. You can easily walk across the border into Tijuana from the end of the line.
  • It’s the most successful trolley system in California.
  • SDSU students love to take it to the Aztec football games at Qualcomm Stadium (aka “The Q” by San Diegans or “The Murph” by old San Diegans like me.)
  • According to Farebox, San Diego’s trolley system has the best recovery ratio in the nation.
  • For 18 years, The San Diego Dance Theater has been producing dances by acclaimed choreographers like Ira Glass as various trolley stops. It’s pretty cool when you get of your train to stumble upon a performance.
  • The Trolley drops off right near the Amtrak Station where you can take a train up the coast to Santa Barbara.
  • The next $2 billion trolley extension was recently approved and will extend from Old Town to UTC/La Jolla making it even easier for UCSD students to travel downtown.

Frequently Asked Questions About The San Diego Trolley

  1. How late do the trolleys run?
    It’s hard to give a definitive answer because it mainly depends on where you’re at and where you’re heading but the last trains stop at between 11:15pm and 12:30am. And they usually run a little later on New Year’s and July 4th.
  2. How often do the trains arrive?
    About every 15 minutes.
  3. How late do trolleys run after games at Qualcomm or Petco?
    They run for at least one hour after the end of each game except games that run long and end after 11pm. In that case, trains will leave Qualcomm or Petco by 12:30am at the latest.
  4. Does the Trolley go to the San Diego Zoo?
    No, it doesn’t. And while you can take the bus to the Zoo, I don’t recommend it. Because it can take 30 minutes from downtown and an hour and 30 minutes from La Jolla. Really, the bus system in San Diego sucks. Better to take a taxi or Uber.
  5. Where do they service and store all of the trolley cars?
    Out near El Cajon Blvd and College Ave in El Cerritos. Not too far away from San Diego State University.
  6. How much does a year pass cost?
    Unfortunately, they don’t have year passes. The longest you can buy is 30 days and it costs $72 for adults, $18 for seniors/disabled/medicare and $36 for youth under 18. However, they are good for both trolleys and buses.
  7. Do they have any specials?
    Absolutely! On the weekends, up to two children can ride for free with a fare-paying adult. Also, on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, a friend of yours can ride with you for free.
    And on New Year’s Eve from 11:30pm to 2:30am, Coca-Cola will pick up your tab so that you can ride for free and get home safe. In fact, a couple of years ago, one bus driver literally went the extra mile and made sure that we got home by dropping us a block away.
  8. Does the trolley have Wifi?
    Shockingly, it does! And I use it all of the time to get business done for my business, And it even has free video-on-demand so that you can watch some of your favorite shows as you travel. You can’t do that when you’re stuck in traffic on the 5 in your car.
  9. Are the trains wheelchair accessible?
    The have seating on all of the cars for wheelchairs. It’s best to ask one of the attendants or officers nearby for help because they can force people out of the handicap seating if there’s a problem.
  10. I’m going to be in town for a week. Do they have a 7-day pass?
    But they do offer 1-, 2-, 3-, -4, or 14-day passes at $5, $9, $12, $15 and $43 respectively.
  11. I heard that there are “water trolleys”. That sounds nutty. Is that true?
    Kind of. “Water Trolley” is kind of misnomer. There are a few tour companies that have water taxis and seal tours which are kind of like the duck tours in Boston and other east coast cities. But no, you can’t just hail a water taxi to Coronado or Point Loma.
  12. Is there a trolley that goes to Viejas Arena or The Open Air Theater at SDSU?
    Yeah, just hop on the Green Line and it stops by SDSU. Then it’s just a short walk to both.
  13. What do the old trolley cars look like?
    They’re beautiful. Here are just a few:

    Vintage San Diego Trolleys

    Vintage San Diego Trolleys

  14. Are the trolleys safe?
    I’ve heard some stories of violence but I believe that they’re safer than driving yourself. You don’t have to worry about falling asleep. And it does depend on which line you are on since the Blue Line goes through some shady areas. But, the Trolley in San Diego is no worse than in any other city. I take it all the time to get downtown from my business, Goozleology Digital Marketing.
  15. Does the Trolley go to Seaport Village?
    It drops off right across the street from Seaport Village and the Santa Fe / Amtrak Depot. You’ll also find the USS Midway, the Cruise terminal and Little Italy nearby.

And what I think is the most important question: Can I take the trolley to any bars?

Trolley bar-hopping map

Thrillist created this awesome Trolley bar-hopping map

Nobody wants to get busted for a DUI but taking an Uber or taxi can be expensive. Well, with the Trolley and this list from Thrillist, you can do a little bar hopping on the Trolley. I don’t know if it’s possible to make it to the end of the line but it sure would be fun to try.

Well, if I haven’t convinced you that the San Diego Trolley is a pretty great way to get around town then I’ll probably never talk you into trying it.