If your spring and summer travel plans include visiting a popular city, take a close look at your local transit options. Presumably, inside a big city, you don't need or even want a rented car, and you probably don't want to pay for taxis everywhere you go. Fortunately, transit systems in many big cities offer a variety of all-day and multi-day transit passes that allow you to use buses, light rail, subway, and even suburban railroads without having to pony up a separate fare every time you want a ride. More cities, however, are limiting senior deals to residents. Here's a rundown of the options available in the top 12 domestic destination cities, according to TripAdvisor. In most cases, the qualifying age for seniors is 65; unless noted, a Medicare card is accepted as senior ID.
Chicago (transitchicago.com; metrarail.com)
Metra suburban rail fares based on distance; unlimited weekend pass, $7, is a good deal, if you want to get to some of the suburbs.
Bus: Base fare $2.50 per ride; $1 for seniors. Unlimited four-day pass, $25 is maybe a good deal for travelers under 65 but not attractive for seniors.
Las Vegas (rtcsnv.com/transit; lvmonorail.com)
Bus: Base fare $2 for "residential routes," or $6 for a two-hour ticket on buses along the Strip. Unlimited passes, $8 for 24 hours, $20 for three-day pass. These passes are good deals if you want to "Strip-hop" the hotels, casinos, and restaurants. Senior discounts are limited to residents.
Monorail: Base fare $5. Unlimited passes one-day $12, two-day $22, three-day $36, $5-day $43, seven-day $56. Monorail is more fun but less convenient than Strip bus.
Los Angeles (metro.net)
Subway, light rail and bus: Base fare $1.50. Unlimited pass $5, a good deal for frequent hops. Senior discounts limited to residents.
New Orleans (norta.com)
Streetcar and bus: Base fare $1.25, senior $0.40. Unlimited passes one-day $3, three-day $9, good deal for moving around downtown.
New York City (mta.info)
Subway and bus: Base fare $2.50; senior fare $1.25. Unlimited passes seven-day $30, a good deal for hopping around town; senior seven-day pass, $15, requires pre-issued senior ID available at one office or online in advance.
Long Island and Metro North Regional rail: Base fares based on distance; seniors pay 50 percent (Medicare card ID)
Bus: Base fare $2. Unlimited pass seven-day for a fixed route, senior requires ID issued in advance and available online.
Light rail and bus: Base fare $2.50, $1 senior. Unlimited passes one-day $5, $2 for seniors; seven-day, $26 regular, $7 senior. Both are good deals.
San Diego (transit.511sd.com)
Light rail, bus. Base fare: $2.50 for rail, $2.25 for bus; senior half price. Unlimited passes one-day $5, two-day $9, three-day $12, four-day $15, one-day, including heavy rail, $13. Mostly good deals.
San Francisco (sfmta.com, bart.gov, caltrain.com)
Light rail, bus: Base fare $2, $0.75 senior. Cable car $6. Unlimited passes, including cable car, one-day $14, three-day $22, seven-day $28; good deals if you want to ride cable cars.
Regional rail: Fares based on distance. Bart, seniors 62.5 percent off, CalTrain, seniors pay half price, day pass double one-way fare.
Light rail, bus: Base fare $2 to $2.80, depending on distance; $0.75 for seniors requires ID issued in advance or online. Day passes cost twice one-way fares good for moving around town.
Subway: Regular fares based on distance and peak/off-peak times, pay $1 per ride extra without pre-issued SmarTrip card. Bus base fare $1.60 with SmarTrip $1.80 without. Senior discounts roughly 50 percent off require Senior SmarTrip card issued in advance at a few stations or online.
Also worth noting: Although not on the TripAdvisor list, in Philadelphia, seniors travel free on subway, light rail, and bus and for $1 per ride on regional rail within Pennsylvania. For other cities, Google "city public transit" for details.
(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins(at)mind.net. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through http://www.mybusinesstravel.com or http://www.amazon.com)