Whenever you visit a big city, look into an all-day transit pass. Typically, they’re priced at around two to four times the cost of a single ride, so they can be a great bargain for on-and-off touring.

With an all-day pass, you don’t feel extravagant riding a subway for only one or two stops or hopping a bus for just a few blocks. In most cases, you buy passes from transit offices, station attendants, occasionally vending machines, or retail outlets. Bus drivers and rail operators generally do not sell them.

Here’s a current list of available all-day transit passes in major U.S. cities:

Boston (www.mbta.com)
Includes subway, city bus and some harbor boats. “Visitor Passports” cost $7.50 for one day, $18 for three days, or $35 for seven days; regular fare is $1.25. Transit coverage is good for most important close-in visitor sites.

Chicago (yourcta.com)
Subway, elevated and bus. Visitor passes cost $5 for one day, $9 for two days, $12 for three days or $18 for five days; regular fare is $1.75. Transit coverage is good for close-in visitor sites, with good rail connection to both airports. Suburban rail: An unlimited weekend travel pass costs $5, good on all lines except South Shore.

Cleveland (www.gcrta.org)
Rail, light rail and bus. Visitor pass costs $3 per day ($1 for seniors); regular fare is $1.25. Transit coverage is good for most important close-in visitor sites, with good airport rail connection.

Dallas-Fort Worth (www.dart.org)
Light rail and bus. Visitor pass costs $4.50 ($1 for seniors); regular fare is $1.25. Transit coverage is good for close-in visitor sites.

Las Vegas (www.rtcsouthernnevada.com)
Bus. Visitor pass costs $5 for one day; regular fare is $1.25. Bus coverage is reasonably good for close-in visitor centers. Expanded monorail in the Strip area is due to open this spring; no fare info yet.

Los Angeles (www.mta.net)
Subway, light rail and bus. Visitor pass costs $3 for one day; regular fare is $1.25. Transit coverage is fair for local visitor centers, with cumbersome airport connection.

New York City (www.mta.nyc.ny.us)
Subway and local bus. Passes cost $7 for one day, $21 for a week; regular fare is $2. Transit coverage is good for most important close-in visitor sites, with good rail connection to JFK airport, cumbersome connection to LaGuardia.

Philadelphia (www.septa.com)
Subway and city bus. Visitor pass costs $5.50 for one day, including a one-way trip on suburban heavy rail; regular fare is $2 cash or $1.20 token.

Portland (trimet.org)
Light rail and bus: Visitor passes cost $4 for one day, $10 for three days; regular fare is $1.30 to $1.60. Transit rides are free within central business district zone. Transit coverage is good for close-in visitor sites, with good airport connection.

Salt Lake City (www.utabus.com)
Light rail and bus. Visitor pass costs $2.70 for one day; regular fare is $1.35. Transit rides are free within central business district zone. Transit coverage is good for close-in visitor sites; buses also operate to/from ski areas.

San Diego (www.sdcommute.com)
Light rail and bus. Visitor passes cost $5 for one day, $9 for two days, $12 for three days, or $15 for four days; regular fare is $1.25 to $3. Transit coverage of major visitor areas is good.

Seattle (transit.metrokc.gov)
Waterfront streetcar and bus. Regular visitor pass at $5 for one day is good for close-in sites and covers popular neighborhoods like Lake Union and the University District as well as some outlying areas. Six routes serve Sea-Tac Airport.

St. Louis (www.metrostlouis.org)
Light rail and bus. Visitor pass costs $4 for one day. Transit coverage is good for close-in visitor sites, with good airport connection.

You find similar deals in other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and overseas. Always check. I know that my first purchase in London is often a one-day “Travelcard” or a multi-day bus/train pass: Like locals with weekly or monthly tickets, I feel free to hop on and off buses and trains many times a day as I go about my sightseeing.

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