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Visiting a U.S. City? Get a Transit Pass

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)

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Subway, elevated, and bus: Base fare $2.25 per ride. Unlimited pass: $10 for one day, $20 for three days, $28 for seven days. The one-day pass pays off only after five rides; the three-day pass is a better bet. Senior discounts are limited to residents.

Metra suburban rail fare: Based on distance. Unlimited weekend pass: $7. This is a good deal if you want to get to some of the suburbs.

Honolulu (TheBus.org)

Bus: Base fare $2.50 per ride; $1 for seniors. Unlimited four-day pass: $25. This might be a good deal for travelers under 65 but is not attractive for seniors.

Las Vegas (RTCSNV.com, LVMonorail.com)

Bus: Base fare $2 per ride for "residential routes," or $6 for a two-hour ticket on buses along the Strip. Unlimited pass: $8 for 24 hours, $20 for three days. 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 per ride. Unlimited pass: $12 for one day,$22 for two days, $36 for three days, $43 for five days,$56 for seven days. Monorail is more fun but less convenient than the Strip bus.

Los Angeles (Metro.net)

Subway, light rail, and bus: Base fare $1.50 per ride. Unlimited pass: $5. This is a good deal for frequent hops. Senior discounts are limited to residents.

New Orleans (NORTA.com)

Streetcar and bus: Base fare $1.25 per ride; $0.40 for seniors. Unlimited pass: $3 for one day,$9 for three days. This is a good deal for moving around downtown.

New York City (MTA.info)

Subway and bus: Base fare $2.50 per ride; $1.25 for seniors. Unlimited pass: $30 for seven days. This is a good deal for hopping around town. Seven-day passes for seniors are $15 and require a pre-issued senior ID, available online in advance.

Long Island and Metro North Regional rail: Based on distance. 50 percent off for seniors (with Medicare-card ID).

Orlando (GoLynx.com)

Bus: Base fare $2 per ride. Unlimited pass: Seven-day passes available for a fixed route. Senior rates require a pre-issued senior ID, available online in advance.

Portland (TriMet.org)

Light rail and bus: Base fare $2.50; $1 for seniors. Unlimited pass: $5 for one day ($2 for seniors); $26 for seven days ($7 for seniors). Both are good deals.

San Diego (Transit.511sd.com)

Light rail and bus: Base fare $2.50 for rail, $2.25 for bus; half price for seniors. Unlimited pass: $5 for one day, $9 for two days, $12 for three days, $15 for four days.

San Francisco (SFMTA.com, BART.gov, Caltrain.com)

Light rail, bus: Base fare $2 per ride; $0.75 for seniors. Cable car: Base fare $6 per ride. Unlimited pass, including cable car: $14 for one day, $22 for three days, $28 for seven days. This is a good deal if you want to ride cable cars.

Regional rail: Based on distance. BART: 62.5 percent off for seniors. CalTrain: seniors pay half price.

Seattle (SoundTransit.org)

Light rail, bus: Base fare $2 to $2.80, depending on distance; $0.75 for seniors (requires a pre-issued senior ID, available online in advance). Day passes cost twice one-way fares and are good for moving around town.

Washington (WMATA.com)

Subway: Base fare based on distance and timing (peak or off-peak); rides cost $1 more per ride without a pre-issued SmarTrip card. Bus: Base fare $1.60 per ride with SmarTrip cared; $1.80 without. Senior discounts are roughly 50 percent off and require a Senior SmarTrip card, issued in advance online.

Philadelphia

Although not on the TripAdvisor list, seniors travel free on subway, light rail, and bus and for only $1 per ride on regional rail within Pennsylvania.

Ed Perkins Seniors on the Go is copyright (c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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