Guide to Transportation in the U.S.

Kristen Kaweck
Guide to Transportation in the U.S.

Transportation is different all over the world. From streets filled with cars to streets filled with bicycles, every city has its own way to travel. In the U.S. the main forms of transportation change depending where you are in the country. Some of the more major cities are known for their subway and train systems, while others are known for being bicycle friendly.

Before you leave home, it is helpful to know about the transportation habits and practices of the places you will be going. Take a look at this Guide to Transportation in the U.S. and the different forms of transportation that you may encounter while in the U.S.


While some may feel that bicycle transportation is outdated and not an efficient way to travel, many Americans are reconnecting to this form of transportation. In fact, cities have taken up the cause for bicycling by creating bike paths on streets and through parks. If you are inclined to view a city the way locals do or if you just love pedaling to your destination, then you might want to travel to a city that is bike friendly.

Bike Shares

If you are interested in seeing a city while on a bicycle, but don't know how to get your bike there, then you do not have to worry. Bike shares are popping up all over the U.S., and they allow you to rent a bicycle for an hour or an afternoon or for the whole day.

Simply rent a bike from a kiosk and return it to another kiosk in the city. Bike shares free you from traveling with your own bicycle and grant you the ability to customize your travel.

Bike Lanes and Trails

In recent years, many cities have begun putting bike lanes on major streets. These bike lanes allow you to travel safely through the city without having to take up sidewalk space.

Cities have also been putting bike paths through parks and to connect different sections of the city. These paths are great for exercise and for getting from place to place. Just be mindful of anyone using the path for jogging or walking.

Best Cities

If you are interested in bike shares, seeing a city from bike, or just traveling with a bike, here are the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • San Francisco, California

Cars and Taxis

Every major city in the U.S. is full of people driving cars and using taxi services. It is almost impossible to avoid cars when traveling in the U.S. However, there are certain things you need to know before hopping in a car or the backseat of a taxi:

Car Rental

Documentation for car rental varies. If you are at least 25 and have a valid driver's license written in English, you should not encounter many problems. However, if you do not have a license in English, then you may want to purchase an international license before traveling abroad.

Using a Taxi

In some places you may hear the term cab used instead of taxi, but the terms mean the same thing: a car service that you pay to be taken to a specific place. When you use a cab, sit in the backseat only unless the number of passengers makes the front seat necessary.

Tell the driver where you would like to go, and, once you reach your destination, tip the driver a couple of dollars. If you use the cab for a longer trip, then you should tip about 10-15%.


In the U.S., buses are used for two purposes: to travel within a city and to travel to cities. In most cities, there is some form of mass transit that involves a bus system. There are also a few bus companies, like Greyhound, that provide a bus service to travel from city to city.

If you are on a budget but would still like to visit several cities or regions in the U.S., consider using a bus to take you from place to place.

City Transportation

If you are going to be staying in a city for an extended period of time, then you might want to purchase a bus pass. Using a bus pass can save you money, and it saves you the trouble of looking for exact fare. However, if you do not plan on staying in the city for an extended period or do not plan on using the bus system much, then you can pay each time you need a ride.

City-to-City Transportation

Almost every city in the U.S. has a bus station. You can purchase tickets at these stations if you need to travel to a new destination.

There are also cheaper bus services that simply run from one specific city to another specific city. These types of bus services are generally cheaper, so if you are traveling on a budget, this might be the way to go.


Trains are one of the oldest forms of mass transit in the world. While many countries rely on elaborate rail systems, the U.S. uses trains less frequently. Some cities have trains and subway systems, but those are mostly reserved for the more populated ones.

There are a few services that run throughout the country that allow passengers to travel from city to city, but not every city in the country has a station or even rail access.

Cities with Train or Subway Services

If you want to visit a city with a train or subway mass transit service, then you should consider traveling to these cities:

  • New York City, New York
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • San Francisco, California

City-to-City Train Services

If you wish to see the U.S. through the window of a train, here are some cities that are connected by train services:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Los Angeles, California
  • New York City, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Denver, Colorado

You can reach almost every major city in the U.S. when traveling by train. So if you are looking to see a lot of the country on the fewest dollars, then the train may just be the best way to travel. Transportation happens all over the world, but it varies depending on where you are from and where you going.

In some places, people rely on buses every day. In other places, people take trains to work. And in other places, people use bicycles to get anywhere they want. The U.S. is a collective transportation hub that allows you to see cities and the country in almost any and every from of transportation you prefer (walking is also an option). Just get out and explore!

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