Toll Roads – Driving In Puerto Rico:
You may not be aware that Puerto Rico has several toll roads (autopistas). They are all expressways and make it much easier to drive around the island, both quickly and efficiently. In general, these toll expressways are much less congested and better maintained than the regular road network here on the island and thus allow for faster and less stressful travel.
Although it is possible to get around with out using the tolls, it takes longer and the local roads can be in pretty bad shape.
Beginning in 2011, Puerto Rico implemented electronic toll collection (AutoExpreso) and removed cash toll booths from many toll plazas. So, you will find only some plazas that still have a human-staffed booth. This means that if you are traveling around Puerto Rico, you will need an AutoExpreso toll pass – trust me, it will make your life easier, especially if you are only visiting.
Should you get AutoExpreso with your rental car?
Car rental agencies give you an option to “rent” an AutoExpreso tag along with your rental car – this is a good idea if you plan on exploring the island (oh, did I mention that already?). Usually, you will pay a daily use fee for the tag, plus the actual cost of the tolls that you incur during your stay.
If you plan on moving here, it is also a good idea to purchase an AutoExpreso tag for your car. You can purchase them at any of the AutoExpreso centers (usually along some of the major toll plazas) and even in some Total gas stations near entrances of the toll expressways.
The AutoExpreso pass will come with a card (almost like a credit card), which you will need to register and set up your payment online. You need the number from that card, as well as the number from your tag, to register your car online, see autoexpreso.com for details.
Once you’ve completed the registration, you can configure your account to either manually or automatically add funds when your balance hits a threshold. Just be sure that you do not neglect this and don’t allow your money to run out because the fines are hefty – $100 per violation. If you’re interested, here is a listing of all AutoExpreso collection points: www.platepass.com
Below is a map of toll roads:
Here is a list of toll roads in Puerto Rico:
- PR-5 – Connects PR-22 to Baymón (one toll collection).
- PR-17 – Connects PR-26 to PR-20 in San Juan (one toll collection).
- PR-20 – Short freeway located Guynabo that connects PR-1 to PR-2 going north (one toll collection).
- PR-22 – Connects San Juan to Hatillo in the north coast of the island (six toll collections).
- PR-52 – Connects Río Piedras (at PR-1) and Ponce and is longest and most traveled toll highway (seven toll collections).
- PR-53 – Connects Fajardo to Salinas but only parts of it are toll. It is still under development and eventually it will connect all of the eastern side of Puerto Rico (five toll collections).
- PR-66 – Connects Carolina and Río Grande along the northeast of the island (three toll collections).
The fees for the tolls vary in price from $.35 to $4.00 for two-axle cars. The most expensive one I’ve seen was at Teodoro Moscoso Bridge on PR-17 ($4.00 one way).
Be careful when exiting the airport with a rental car, if you don’t take the first or second exit onto PR-26 (either east or west), you will end up on PR-17 and the only way to turn around is to go through that expensive toll booth – this mistake cost me $8.00 once (there and back). Here is a cost listing of some of the major highway tolls.
And a last word of caution, when navigating around the island, do not trust Google Maps around Puerto Rico, they have many street names and even highway names wrong.