San Francisco: Transportation
San Francisco is an easily accessible city without the need of a personal automobile. From direct transit connections at San Francisco International Airport to multiple transportation options throughout the city, getting around is easier than you think.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is an extensive international and domestic airport with 29 international carriers and 15 domestic carriers serving over 100 nonstop destinations. Both United Airlines and Virgin America call San Francisco home and each have unique features in each of their terminals. For more information, visit www.flysfo.com
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is an easy, low-cost to get around the Bay Area. Similar to a subway, BART provides convenient, daily service to many destinations and neighborhoods throughout San Francisco and the East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, etc.). BART serves both San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport across the bay. Travel times from SFO to downtown San Francisco (Embarcadero Station) is approximately 30 minutes and just under $9.00 one-way for an adult.
BART trains are announced by the last destination of the specific train’s route. For example, departing SFO for points in San Francisco and the East Bay would be on a Pittsburg/Bay Point train as that’s the last stop of the route. While the route map shows each route in a different color, the trains use their destinations as designators.
BART generally operates from early morning hours (slightly later on weekends) to just shy of midnight for many stations. For more information, visit www.bart.gov.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) or commonly known as Muni, is San Francisco’s main operator of bus and light rail routes throughout the city. Muni touches all parts and neighborhoods of San Francisco. Bus routes move about the entire city from early in the morning to late at night. The busier routes also offer overnight Night Owl service. Light rail streetcar service offers convenient service from downtown on Market Street to various neighborhoods in San Francisco including the Sunset District, San Francisco Zoo and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Historic streetcars are used on the F Line which travels from Fisherman’s Wharf along the Embarcadero, past the Ferry Building and down Market Street to the Castro District.
San Francisco Cable Cars are one of San Francisco’s most iconic forms of transportation. There are three cable car lines: the Powell-Hyde Line, the Powell-Mason Line and the California Line. The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines both begin at Market Street and stop at Union Square. The Powell-Hyde Line ends near Ghiradelli Square, and the Powell-Mason Line ends at Bay Street in Fisherman’s Wharf. The California Street Line runs east-west from Van Ness Avenue to the Financial District. It crosses the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines at California Street/Powell Street in Nob Hill.
For more information on Muni including the famous Cable Cars, visit www.sfmta.com
Caltrain provides daily and convenient commuter train service from San Francisco down the San Francisco Peninsula to San Jose in the South Bay. Selected weekday trains continue south to Gilroy. Caltrain offers local, limited-stop and Baby Bullet train options. Baby Bullet trains generally travel between downtown San Francisco and San Jose in around an hour making only 4 to 6 stops along the way. For more information, visit www.caltrain.org.
Amtrak serves the Bay Area with four different routes. While Amtrak trains don’t serve downtown San Francisco directly, numerous connecting Thruway Buses connect with Amtrak trains in Emeryville, just across the bay. The Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins offer multiple daily departures to Sacramento, the Central Valley and Bakersfield. The California Zephyr provides daily service to Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha and Chicago. The Coast Starlight travels between Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.amtrak.com.
OTHER TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
Many other transportation options are available in San Francisco, from shared ride services to bike share stations. Taxis, Uber and Lyft are also available throughout the city.