Surprisingly, for a city this large (7th in the nation and 2nd in Texas), San Antonio only has one major airport—and a small one at that. Pros: the San Antonio Intl. Airport
is centrally located (accessible from Interstate 410 or US Highway 281), and, with only two terminals, it’s easy to get around. Between the two story parking garages and several parking lots, parking spaces are plentiful. The free cell phone waiting lot enables you to avoid circling the terminal while waiting for arriving passengers. You can bypass exit lines by using one of the automated payment kiosks in the airport terminals and near the entrances of the parking garages—you’ll still have to go through the toll plaza and insert your ticket, but you won’t need to waste time fumbling for cash to pay the attendant. Cons: the airport is seemingly always under construction and, with a $635 million expansion plan underway, which will provide two additional terminals, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Aside from a small food court and a few retail outlets, you’ll need to provide your own entertainment. The airport scores bonus points for free Wi-Fi. To its credit, it also employs an outside consulting firm to conduct semi-annual passenger satisfaction surveys.
The Amtrak station is located downtown in St. Paul’s Square and offers routes to and from San Antonio and all major Texas cities in times comparable to driving. The Texas Eagle
from San Antonio to Austin is two hours, 30 minutes; San Antonio to Houston is four hours, 45 minutes; San Antonio to Dallas is eight hours, 20 minutes.
A number of major bus lines run to and from San Antonio and all major Texas cities (as well as outside of the state), including Greyhound
and the Kerrville Bus Company
which offers service throughout Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and emphasizes its safety record. Most long distance bus routes pass through Houston, Austin or El Paso. There are also buses to and from the Mexican border with some routes going on to cities further in Mexico.
With over two dozen taxi companies operating in the city, it’s probably best to get a recommendation from the airport information desk or your hotel concierge. Prices are comparable with most meters starting at $2 for the first 1/6 of a mile and charging $2.25 (or so) for each additional mile. Most companies allow six people to ride for the price of one. There are minimum charges to major destinations, such as downtown ($5 minimum) and the airport ($10 - 12 minimum). Prices and policies vary, so it’s wise to call the taxi company or use an online fare calculator. A list of taxi companies can be found at www.visitsanantonio.com
under Getting Around (Taxi & Limo).
If you stay downtown you may very well be able to scrape by without a vehicle but if you want to explore the Hill Country or take a couple of day trips, it's worthwhile to rent one. There are many car rental companies at the airport. While Texas drivers are sometimes known to be a tad bit aggressive, driving in San Antonio isn't all that bad. Traffic can get quite bad during the rush hour and sometimes even worse in the suburbs. Parking can sometimes be tight downtown but there are a lot of pay lots available.
VIA Metropolitan Transit, known simply as VIA, co-ordinates bus service to nearly 7000 stops throughout the city. It offers Express Service to downtown commuters, “Bike and Ride
” for cyclists, eight Park & Ride locations, and late night lineup service from downtown. In an effort to upgrade its system, VIA is planning to introduce Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in specific corridors of the city in 2012, and replace designated bus stops with stations. VIA’s website offers a personal trip planner where you can download maps of the bus routes and calculate your fare.