All About the San Diego Trolley

Learn about the cost, routes and more info for the San Diego Trolley

San Diego Trolley
••• San Diego Trolley. Eddie Brady/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

If you've visited San Diego or lived there long enough you've likely seen the red train cars zipping about downtown and surrounding areas of San Diego. Known as the San Diego Trolley, these trains are a form of public transportation that are convenient and fun to use for those in the know. With the information below, you can also now know how the San Diego Trolley operates and use it on your next vacation to sightsee or to simply use it to get around San Diego without having to battle the city's famous traffic.

 

What is the San Diego Trolley?

The San Diego Trolley is a light-rail public transportation system serving greater San Diego. It consists of three lines: Blue Line, Orange Line, and Green Line, and is distinguished by its bright red, electric powered trains.

The San Diego Trolley's History

The light rail system began operations with the first (Blue) line running from downtown south to the International Border. The east (Orange) line began in 1986, extending to El Cajon in 1989, the Bayside in 1990, and Santee in 1995. The Blue line extended to Mission Valley in 1997, and in 2005, the line extended all the way to Grossmont Center and renamed the Green line.

How Many San Diego Trolley Stations are There?

There are over 50 stations in the San Diego Trolley system. Major bus routes serve the major Trolley transit centers and the downtown station is also adjacent to a San Diego Coaster stop. 

Is There Parking at All Trolley Stations?

In the downtown core, there are paid parking lots near all stations.

In suburban areas, most (but not all) have free available parking. There are also 18,000 spaces at Qualcomm Stadium, available during non-event days (bonus tip: taking public transportation to Qualcomm Stadium on game days can also ease the headache of dealing with game-day traffic and parking). 

What Does the San Diego Trolley Cost to Ride?

Fares to ride the San Diego Trolley are self-serve, meaning you buy your tickets from kiosks.

One-way adult fare is $2.50, there is no round-trip fare. Instead, single day trip fares are $5 for unlimited rides. There are no gates or turnstiles to board the trolleys, but transit police do patrol for random fare inspection, so make sure you have valid tickets or you will be thrown off at the next stop.

Do People Really Use the Trolley?

They sure do, even in car-centric San Diego, and many people using it for their daily commute. On special event days, such as Chargers or Padres games, the number of people riding the trolley may even reach as high as 225,000 per day.

Is the San Diego Trolley Wheelchair Accessible?

Yes, it is wheelchair accessible. The older cars have wheelchair lifts. The newer cars, primarily on the Green Line, have ground level ramps.

How Often Do the San Diego Trolleys Run?

On all lines, the Trolleys run every 15 minutes, seven days a week. They run every 30 minutes late night and on weekend mornings and evenings. In addition, the Blue line runs every 7 minutes during weekday rush hours.