Formal public transportation systems in Puerto Rico are currently limited to the San Juan area, but the island had a variety of rail systems in the past. In the first half of the 20th century, San Juan had a tramway network with over 20 miles of track. The tram system closed in 1946, and a variety of proposals were made to bring rail transit back to the city afterwards. In 1971, the “TUSCA Study” recommended an island-wide rail network. However, it was not until 1989 that the San Juan area’s rail system finally entered the planning process, construction contracts were awarded in 1996 and 1997, and the Tren Urbano opened in 2004. Further extensions have been proposed to bring the Tren Urbano to Old San Juan and the airport, but construction has not started on these yet. As it currently exists, the system only serves residential areas and San Juan’s business district but no major tourist destinations.
San Juan is also where the island’s only bus system operates. The Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA) operates about 30 bus routes in and around San Juan using a fleet of over 200 buses. A handful of routes are contracted out to First Transit, while the rest are operated directly by AMA. Unlike Tren Urbano, the AMA bus network serves destinations such as Old San Juan and the airport. However, the system’s utility is limited by the fact that there is only Sunday service on two routes, and most routes cease operation by 9 PM on the other nights of the week.
Outside of San Juan, most public transit is provided by an unorganized system of jitneys called “publicos.” In the past, Puerto Rico had several privately owned railroads that transported sugar cane across the island, the last of which ceased operation in 1957. The city of Mayagüez had a small passenger railway as early as the 1870s, and a small passenger network crisscrossed the island allowing people to travel across the island in less than one day. However, following the construction of highways across the island using money from the Interstate Highway Program, the passenger railroad services were discontinued in 1953.
The Tren Urbano is a single, 10.7-mile (17.2 km) with 16 stations. Four stations are at grade or in an open cut, two are underground, and the rest are on elevated structures. Each station has unique artwork. The system is served by a fleet of 74 Siemens built vehicles that use automatic train operation. Approximately 43,000 people use the system daily. Unlike the accompanying AMA bus system, Tren Urbano operates seven days a week.