Getting Around the Green & Easy Way
San Francisco has a reputation as being one of the country’s greenest cities, where many locals take advantage of The City’s vast public transportation network. Known as “the Muni,” the system serves more than 200 million riders per year. The Muni’s streetcars, cable cars, buses and subways can help visitors avoid traffic and parking hassles and are an easy-to-use way to get to San Francisco’s attractions. In fact, many museums offer discounted tickets when you show them your Muni pass.
With a few tips, you can be on your way to virtually every corner of The City. Start by purchasing a system map at the San Francisco Visitor Information Center at 900 Market St. Decide where you’re going and choose the ride that’s right for you. (See page 126 of this guide for fare information.) If you’d rather plan your trip ahead of time, visit www.sfmta.com. Plug in your starting point and destination, and the site will tell you exactly how to get there and what the fare will be. If you’re in The City, you can also dial 311 for transit help 24/7.
San Francisco also has excellent rapid transit service from the airports to downtown San Francisco and beyond. BART train service whisks riders from San Francisco International and Oakland International airports directly to San Francisco in less than thirty minutes. The SFO BART service is renowned as one of the best train to downtown services in the world. BART also travels to other cities throughout the region. An extensive ferry system can also get you to Oakland, Sausalito and other cities located on the San Francisco Bay.
Passes are available for use on all Muni transportation, with an added charge for cable car rides. They can be purchased at the Visitor Information Center, at cable car turnarounds and at many businesses. One-, three- and seven-day passports are available, allowing unlimited rides during the designated dates. Keep in mind that if you’re not using one of these passes, exact change is required for your fare.
These trademark San Francisco vehicles are a must-ride for visitors. You can board them at the turnarounds or anywhere along their route where there’s a brown-and-white cable car stop sign. If you are boarding from one of these stops, wait on the sidewalk and wave to alert the driver (known as the gripman) to stop. Board on either side of the car. Once on, show your pass or pay your fare to one of the attendants. To get off, just yell “Next stop, please!” a block before you want to get off.
Historic Streetcars The vintage electric streetcars, which run on street-level tracks, are a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Streetcar stops can be found every few blocks along Market Street and The Embarcadero between Castro and Fisherman’s Wharf, often near glass bus-stop shelters. Board at the front and show the driver your pass or pay your fare. To exit, pull the cord just above the windows a block before your stop.
Buses are a great way to get to any part of The City. Stops are typically located every other block. Each bus route is numbered. Route maps are posted in bus shelters, and the route is posted on the front, side and back of each bus. Enter at the front door and show the driver your pass or pay your fare. To exit, pull the cord just above the windows a block before your stop.
Muni Metro streetcars operate underground downtown and at street level in outer areas. Each Muni Metro rail line is lettered (T-Third, N-Judah, etc.). They travel from downtown San Francisco to many outlying neighborhoods. At the station, show your pass to the attendant next to the turnstiles and they’ll buzz you through. Electronic displays indicate which train is arriving so you can be sure you’re getting on the right one.
Although it’s not part of the Muni system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is used by millions to get around town and by commuters traveling to and from San Francisco and to areas outside The City. BART service at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located in the International Terminal and takes passengers to/from four downtown stations for only $8.10 each way. The BART service at Oakland International Airport (OAK) connects to a shuttle that is a ten minute ride to and from the airport terminals. The fare from OAK is $6.80 including $3.00 for the AirBART shuttle. BART fares are based on the distance traveled and the amount of the fare is calculated when you exit through the fare gate. If you plan to take BART to and from the airport it’s best to purchase a round trip ticket for $16.20 (SFO) or $7.60 (OAK) at the airport station. The ticket will be returned when you exit in San Francisco. Use the same ticket to return to the airport. If you plan to visit other areas served by BART you can purchase a higher value ticket at the station. BART SFO transfer vouchers can also be purchased in advance on numerous online travel sites including; Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity. For more information on BART visit www.bart.gov.
Ride to San Francisco the easier, greener way – on Amtrak®! Data from the US Department of Energy shows that Amtrak is 18% more energy efficient than commercial airlines or cars, plus there are no airport hassles or freeway congestion to worry about. Four Amtrak routes connect San Francisco and the Bay Area to Central and Southern California, Portland, Seattle or even Chicago. From the train station in Emeryville, a quick ride on an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach connects you to San Francisco, with stops at the Financial District, Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco Convention Center and more. Amtrak lets you sit back, relax and enjoy the greener way to the City by the Bay. www.amtrak.com.