Getting Around Lexington, Kentucky: Guide to Public Transportation

A passenger boarding a Lextran bus in Lexington, Kentucky

Lextran

You’ll want a car for getting around Lexington, Kentucky—and trips across the city should be timed well to avoid heavy traffic. Although utilization is growing, public transportation isn’t very popular in Lexington. Iconic streetcars once ran the streets of the city until they were replaced by buses in 1938. Lextran buses run seven days a week; however, most Lexington residents typically rely on their own transportation. Taxis are an option, but you’ll need to call them. If flying into Lexington, plan to rent a car or make use of ride-hailing services.

How to Ride the Lextran Buses

Lextran was incorporated under the local government in 1972 and provides public transportation with its mixed fleet of buses, vans, and trolleys. The Downtown Transit Center located partially underground at 220 East Vine Street serves as hub. Lextran buses are especially useful for getting around the University of Kentucky’s busy campus or when going from downtown directly to popular places such as Keeneland.

  • Hours of Operation: Lextran buses run seven days a week, but frequency depends on the route, demand, and time of day. Many buses run every 30 minutes or so and begin their routes from the Downtown Transit Center between 6—6:30 a.m. Service on many routes begins to slow around 9 p.m.; although, a few buses continue to run until a little after midnight. Route 14 (UK Blue and White) buses circulate campus every 7—10 minutes.
  • Routes: Lextran services 25 routes (the number fluctuates) that extend outward from downtown into the suburbs. Routes are numbered and color coded. 
  • Bus Fares: Fares are always paid in cash (no bills over $5 accepted) when boarding buses. Single rides are $1 for passengers age 18 and over; transfers are free for 90 minutes.
  • Discounted Fares: Veterans, Medicare cardholders, people over the age of 62, and people with disabilities ride for 50 cents. To receive discounted fares, passengers have to present a Lextran-issued ID card to the driver. These special ID cards are available at the Downtown Transit Center or by filling out an online application.
  • Bus Passes: Passes can be purchased online, at the Downtown Transit Center, and the Loudon Administrative Office (200 W. Loudon Ave). Adult 30-day passes are available at Kroger grocery stores. Day passes are $3; the 20-ride passes are $15; and the 30-day passes are $30. Youth passes (30 days) are $20.
  • Student Passes: Proof of enrollment must be shown at the Downtown Transit Center to receive a Lextran student ID card. A semester pass costs $50; a pass covering the entire school year costs $75.
  • Accessibility: Lextran partnered with the American Red Cross to operate Wheels, a shared, door-to-door, public transportation service for people with disabilities. Passengers have to meet ADA eligibility requirements beforehand by applying at www.adaride.com or calling (877) 232-7433.
  • Service Alerts: Routes sometimes have to be modified due to construction, unpredictable weather, holidays, and events such as Keeneland racing meets or UK basketball games. Keep an eye on Lextran’s Twitter account for real-time service alerts. You can use a trip planner and see all arrival/departure information for routes on the Lextran website.
A blue Lextran bus in Lexington

Lextran

Airport Transportation

Taxis from several companies linger outside LEX Blue Grass Airport (look left when exiting the baggage claim area). You can also use Uber and Lyft. Many hotels provide shuttle service; direct-line courtesy phones are available inside the airport. If heading to a downtown hotel, Lextran bus #8 (green route) runs between the airport and the Downtown Transit Center on Vine Street; travel time is around 30 minutes.

Renting a Car

Renting a car is easy and affordable in Lexington. Many of the city’s top restaurants and the best places to shop are spread throughout the suburban areas. You’ll want your own transportation to explore the many options and keep ride-hailing costs down. Plus, having your own vehicle means you’ll be able to visit nearby distilleries or explore some of the many interesting things to do just outside of town.

Ride-Hailing Apps

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are the default way to get around Lexington without a rental car. Unless you’re requesting a ride during big events such as New Year’s Eve or Saint Patrick’s Day, wait times are fairly reasonable for both services.

Taxis in Lexington

Although you won’t see many taxis circling around anymore, Lexington is serviced by a long list of independent cab companies. The quickest way to arrange a taxi is to call (859)231-TAXI.

Electric Scooter Rentals

Lexington’s bikeshare program is terminated for now, but electric scooters scattered throughout the city can be a fun way to cover short distances downtown and around UK’s campus. Two companies provide the rentals: Spin (orange) and Bird (white/metallic); both require a smartphone app. Scooters are prohibited on sidewalks—use the bike lanes!

Tips for Getting Around Lexington, Kentucky

  • Time Your Transits. Lexington’s wagon-wheel layout causes major roads (the spokes) and the ring road (New Circle Road) to become congested in mornings and afternoons. The city has experienced a surge in development and population, causing some growing pains as roads and public transportation are upgraded to keep pace. For the most part, assume that all major arteries such as Nicholasville Road will be jammed with outbound traffic by 4 p.m. as people who work in the city head home to surrounding counties.
  • Walking downtown is easy. The downtown area in Lexington is safe, compact, and mostly pedestrian friendly. Assuming weather is favorable, you can easily walk from end to end in 20 – 30 minutes and pass some historic places along the way.
  • Keeneland Creates Some Traffic. Special Lextran routes are usually set up to accommodate the surge of people heading out to Keeneland for thoroughbred racing in April and October. Look for trolleys marked with “Keeneland” on the signboard. If you’ve got a flight to catch, be aware that traffic can be heavier than usual on Man-o-War Boulevard and Versailles Road when the races at Keeneland are finishing up around 4 p.m.
  • Rent a car. With the city fairly spread out and public transportation limited to buses, getting around in Lexington is best done with your own car. Parking is easy and inexpensive compared to larger cities; although, garages in the downtown area can be pricey during concerts and sporting events at Rupp Arena.
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