Getting around Austin
Austin features a vast bus system and a limited light rail system powered by Capital Metro. You can buy passes to use on all Capital Metro (tel: +1 512 474 1200; www.capmetro.org) transportation. The bus system offers dozens of routes that traverse throughout the city and go to far-reaching areas such as the airport and the Austin suburbs of Manor, Elgin, Leander, Round Rock and Pflugerville. The light rail offers nine stops starting in Downtown Austin and continues up to the suburb of Leander. You can buy single tickets or day passes onboard or you can buy seven- and 31-day passes online at www.capmetro.org/fares or at most local grocery stores. You can also use your smartphone as a ticket by downloading the CapMetro app and topping it up with single rides or passes.
Taxis are commonly available and tipping is expected. Recommended taxi firms include Yellow Cab Austin (tel: +1 512 452 9999), Austin Cab (tel: +1 512 478 2222) and Lone Star Cab (tel: +1 512 836 4900).
Austin is boxed in by four major highways: Mopac 1, I-35, I-183 and US 290. Within this box exists an inconsistent grid of streets. Many east-west streets are numbers but not always. Many streets in the downtown area are one-way. Construction is an ongoing challenge that causes traffic jams, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
Parking is typically free in most neighbourhoods outside of Downtown. In the downtown area, don’t be surprised to have to pay for street meters or for a parking garage. Both cash and credit cards are typically accepted.
The minimum age to rent a car in America is typically 25, thought you can often sign a waiver to avoid this regulation. Recommended car hire agencies include Enterprise (tel: +1 512 476 2300; www.enterprise.com), Hertz (tel: +1 512 530 3615; www.hertz.com), Avis (tel: +1 512 480 8333; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 512 322 9377; www.budget.com) and Alamo (tel: +1 888 826 6893; www.alamo.com).
Austin is a bike-friendly city, though it’s always important to cycle defensively. Not all streets have designated bike lanes. Austin's bike sharing scheme is called Austin B-Cycle (http://austin.bcycle.com); 24-hour and three-day access is available. You can also hire bikes at Barton Springs Bike Rental, 1707 Barton Springs Road (tel: +1 512 480 0200; www.bartonspringsbikerental.com), and Austin Bike Tours & Rentals, 102 1/2 West Third Street (tel: +1 512 277 0609; www.austinbiketoursandrentals.com).