Saturday, June 30, 2018

Getting to the San Diego Airport (Lindbergh Field) via Trolley, COASTER and Bus

updated June 30, 2018

Did you know that it's easy to get to/from San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field) via public transportation? MTS's Route 992 is the Airport Shuttle.  I know you want to take a train to the airport, but there is no such connection in San Diego.  Plus, the bus drops you off right at each terminal (Terminal 1 & Terminal 2), just steps away from check in counters.

To get to the San Diego Airport (Lindbergh Field), take:
  • the COASTER to Santa Fe Depot
  • the Trolley Blue Line to America Plaza or Green Line to Santa Fe Depot (via foot, cross Kettner Blvd to America Plaza Trolley Station where the bus departs from)
  • the bus to any stop on Broadway in Downtown San Diego
  • the Trolley Green Line to Middletown Station and transfer to the Trolley to Terminal shuttle (free!) run by the San Diego airport at the stop just west of Pacific Highway and Palm.
The stop for Route 992 at America Plaza is on Broadway at Kettner next to Starbucks (across Kettner Blvd. from Santa Fe Depot). There's a bus shelter there with an "Airport Flyer" sign on the side. Service is every 15 minutes almost all day, seven days per week. The bus will take about 10-15 minutes from there to reach any airport terminal (Terminal 1 or Terminal 2).

The fare on Route 992 is $2.25 ($1.10 for seniors or disabled with ID). If you are boarding a Trolley or another bus first, keep in mind that there aren't any free transfers. If you are riding three or more vehicles to get to the airport, buy a Regional Day Pass for $5.00* when you board the first vehicle (*-you need a Compass Card to pay $5 otherwise you must pay $7 for a paper pass).

No Compass Card or cash, no problem!  Use MTS's Compass Cloud app to buy your Day Pass on your phone before you go (for $5).  You can also purchase NCTD COASTER tickets in the app if you are coming in via the COASTER!

If you work at the airport, buy a Regional Day Pass so you can use it coming back home. The Regional Day Pass expires at 2:30 a.m. the following day, so if you work after midnight, you can still use it (even though the 992 service stops earlier than midnight). If you travel on weekends, two children under the age of 12 ride free with each paying person over age 18 on the bus and trolley!  See my fares page for more information.

If you are starting your trip at the airport, MTS now has Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) in each airport terminal (as of February 2016).  Simply go to the TVM and purchase a Day Pass on Compass Card.  It's $5 if you already have a Compass Card, or $7 if you need to purchase a new Compass Card.  This will let you get on Route 992 and the Trolley or other bus lines.  The TVMs accept cash and credit cards, so it's a great way to start your trip.  You can also buy multi-day passes from the TVM at the airport (3, 4, 5, 14, and 30 day passes).  Don't forget MTS's Compass Cloud app to purchase your pass on your phone and avoid getting a Compass Card altogether.

To get back to downtown from the airport, catch the 992 bus at one of the three stops at the airport and it will take you to Broadway & Kettner (Santa Fe Depot/America Plaza) where you can catch the Trolley or COASTER. You can transfer to other bus routes all along Broadway if your trip requires another bus.

San Diego Airport's Free Trolley to Terminal Shuttle

You can take the Green Line Trolley to the Middletown Station.  Walk west on Palm St. and cross Pacific Highway.  Keep walking west toward the runways and then turn to the north at the end of Palm St. onto Admiral Boland Way and you will see a bus stop shelter to catch the free Trolley to Terminal Shuttle.  Not all buses stop at this stop - the buses that go to the Car Rental Center don't stop.  The smaller buses that serve long term parking are the buses that will pick you up.  Service runs every 15 minutes or so.  Coming back, you can do the same thing!

Make a Trip Plan Before You Go!
As always, I suggest that you make a personal trip plan for your trip to the airport.
  • Use Google Maps.  Click on the link, type in your starting address, date, and time at Google Maps' website.
  • Go to the MTS website's trip planner and type in your starting address, select Airport from the landmark list, and type in your ARRIVAL time at the airport. I would suggest putting in 30 minutes before you need to be there to have a cushion of time because buses do break down and things do go awry sometimes. You can also call 511 and the operators there will be glad to help you.


Anonymous said...

Hey this helped me a lot. Thank you

Although I have a question, I just got a job at the airport do you recommend me taking this ever day, and how much time should I allow my self or should I just drive.

I'm also coming from south bay

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, but I cannot tell if Bus 992 stops at Sante Fe Depot or not. You clarify where the American Plaza bus stop is, but you leave the Sante Fe Depot bus stop vague. You have to imagine the reader not being in your head. It's sometimes challenging to anticipate what others see as given.

sandiegopublictransit said...

Yes, Route 992 has a stop at Broadway & Kettner. Both America Plaza and Santa Fe Depot are across the street from this stop. I actually think the text in the blog entry is pretty self-explanatory: "it will take you to Broadway & Kettner (Santa Fe Depot/America Plaza)" but if you have any other opinions as to make it clearer, please make another comment!

evana andrews said...

nice info thanks for the share

Anonymous said...

I'm flying into SAN for the long Thanksgiving ('14) weekend. I'll be meeting a friend who's arriving on a different flight. Then, we'll be staying in the Downtown/Gaslamp area. Having been a longtime Public Transit user both in SAN and elsewhere, I thought I'd try using SDMTS over the long weekend. So, first I looked up short term (1-4 day) passes and saw all the info on it now being integrated into COMPASS. OK. But are there TVMs at the Airport? Doesn't seem so. Then, looked at ordering TWO of the COMPASS cards through the mail. system not really set up for that (2 cards.) Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Good description of getting to the airport. Might want to add that if it is in the evening, the area where you change from trolley to the bus is a bit sketchy and you need to have your "big city awareness" thing going on around you for safety sake.