Cheapskates use public transit when traveling to save money over a rental car or a cab. Savvy cheapskates know there are some routes you don’t even have to pay for. Below, a sample.
1. Boston: Train Station Connector
Two of Boston’s main train stations are connected by free train service: the Back Bay/South Station connector. Hop on any commuter train going from one station to the other, and hop off at the next stop. (Be sure not to ride the train more than one stop, or you’ll have to pay for your ride.)
Back Bay Station is in one of the busiest shopping and business districts in Boston, near the Prudential Center, Hancock Tower, and Copley Square. South Station is near the Financial District, Government Center, and Chinatown. While the two stations are only about a mile’s walk apart, you’ll be glad you took the train if you’re there during Boston’s frigid winter.
See the train station connector schedule.
2. Denver: MallRide
A free bus runs along the 1.25-mile length of Denver’s 16th Street Mall. One terminus is Denver’s nearly 130-year-old Union Station; the other end is the city’s Civic Center, near the Public Library, Art Museum, and State Capitol.
See the MallRide Schedule.
3. Seattle: Ride Free Area
From 6 AM to 7 PM every day, busses—but not trains—are free in much of downtown Seattle. The zone includes the architecturally famous Public Library and touristically famous Pike Place Market, and is just a few blocks from the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Just be sure not to stay on past the edge of the Ride Free Area, or you’ll have to pay a fare when you exit the bus.
See the bus routes in the Ride Free Area (the light orange section of the map).
4. Portland (Oregon): Free Rail Zone
In downtown Portland, trains are free but busses aren’t—the opposite of Seattle. The zone is free all day, from the first train in the morning to the last train at night.
The Free Rail Zone includes attractions like Pioneer Place, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and the unusual, multimodal Steel Bridge. Both MAX Light Rail Lines and the Portland Streetcar are free in the Free Rail Zone.
See the train routes in the Free Rail Zone (the light orange section of the map).
5. New York City: Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry has great views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty, and connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Manhattan. It runs 24 hours a day—and at least every half-hour for most of the day.
See the Staten Island Ferry schedule.