Transportation and Commuting Alternatives

This page gives you an overview of the many options to get to campus. You can review information about driving and about a lot of commuting alternatives that allow you to save money and help the environment.



If driving is the best option for you, here are some helpful tips and information to make your drive smooth and safe:


The State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not recognize international drivers’ licenses. The State of California, however, does recognize your national driver license as long as it is valid and translated to English. Although the law is ambiguous when dealing with international visitors, we recommend that you get a California driver’s license if you are in California over 2 months.

CA Driver's License







Car Insurance

Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States. Most insurance companies require a valid California driver’s license. For more details, read through California and San Diego Driving Facts (PDF).

Driving Schools

There are driving schools in San Diego. Check the Yellow Pages under “Driving Instruction” to locate driving schools or search the Internet with the search term “Driving Schools San Diego"

Application Process

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a written test and a road test. No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test. A U.S. Social Security card is not needed to apply for a driver license. The DMV is often crowded, so allow ample time to complete the process. Appointments are also available online through DMV’s online services.

Temporary permits can be renewed until the license is received.

Where to Apply

The closest DMV Office to UC San Diego is located at:

Department of Motor Vehicles
4375 Derrick Drive
San Diego, CA 92117
(800) 777-0133

For a complete list of DMV office locations, visit the DMV website.

State ID for Non-Drivers

The DMV can also issue a non-driver’s identification (ID) card. This is a very convenient form of identification, since a passport is not always recognized for local transactions, such as cashing checks or admission to an establishment where alcohol is served.

The same documents are needed as if applying for a driver’s license, and USCIS will have to confirm I-94 status in the United States. A temporary identification card will be issued but it will not have a photograph. For more information, visit the California ID DMV page.


Commuter Student Services

Commuter Student Services is a resource center that shares off-campus housing information and enriches the lives of commuter students.


A vanpool is a 14-passenger vehicle where people ride together and split the costs.

UC San Diego has 25 vanpools coming from various locations in the county. Most monthly fares range from $46 to $80 per month. Work hours are generally 8 a.m. to  4:30 p.m. for UC San Diego vans.

Visit for more information.


Carpooling is riding with one or more other commuters.

You can choose to be the driver, rider or share and split the costs.

For more information, call Ride Link at (619) 237-POOL, or visit .

UC San Diego Shuttles & MTS Buses

UC San Diego Shuttles

If you possess a UC San Diego ID, you can ride on all UC San Diego shuttle buses.

For route info, visit Transportation Services website.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Buses

Triton U-Pass is a universal transit pass program at UC San Diego that provides students unlimited ridership on all regional mass transit bus and trolley/light rail routes provided by MTS and NCTD (certain exclusions apply).

For more details, visit the Triton U-Pass page.

For more information on MTS routes serving UC San Diego campus, visit the Public Transit page.

If these alternatives do not accommodate you, you will have to purchase a transit pass online at or at the UC San Diego cashier, (858) 534-3725

MTS Trolley (Under Construction)

Read more about the trolley line expansion from Old Town to UC San Diego, which is currently under construction (to begin service in Fall 2021).


With an average temperature of 71 degrees, the San Diego region is one of the best places in the country for people to commute on two wheels. Biking can save you money and help the environment.

It is also easy to combine public transportation with riding your bike.  All busses now have bike racks, and Coaster rail cars and trolley cars also have space for bikes.  

Because so many students bike to campus, UCSD has great resources for bicyclists

Coast Express Rail

The "Coaster" rail line runs from Oceanside to San Diego, with stops in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sorrento Valley, and Old Town.

Sorrento Valley is the closest stop to the Salk Institute (close to UCSD), and a free shuttle bus is provided to get you to and from the Sorrento Station.

Schedules are available online at

Guaranteed Ride Home Service (GRH)

The regional GRH program provides an emergency ride home to commuters who carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, or use transit to get to work at least 3 times per week.

To be eligible, you must register with Ride Link by completing and signing an application form prior to needing the service. Don’t wait until you have an emergency to enroll!  Visit for more information.