San Francisco is a commercial and cultural center in the northern region of the state of California. The city has various public transportation available for you to get around and discover popular locations, enjoy local cuisine, and easily commute to work, school, or surrounding neighborhoods.
Whether you’re planning to move to San Francisco or want to buy a house in this lucrative market, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on the different options of San Francisco’s public transportation, ticket information, and routes so you can discover the maximum in minimum time and commute efficiently when you live in this beautiful city.
For those wondering, “Does San Francisco have good public transportation?” Here are some of the best ways to get around the city, its airport, and nearby areas!
Going Around San Francisco By Streetcars | California Cable Cars
If you are not going to a specific location, cable cars are a fun way to travel around the city.
One way to travel around San Francisco is by using cable cars. Although these cable cars are a fun way to travel around the city, they cost way higher than traditional transportation options.
Located in three locations — Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California street, these cars operate between Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square.
Routes & Ticket Information
- The California Car Cable first goes to the financial district, followed by the next stop at Nob Hill, and finally intersects with the other two lines.
- Pay through Clipper Card, MuniMobile, or cash
- Find pricing details here.
- California Cable Cars
- Website: https://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/muni/cable-cars
- Contact: Dial 311 (outside San Francisco, call (415) 701-2311)
Discovering San Francisco By Ferry | SF Bay Ferry
Ferries are an exciting way to get around a city and a must-try if you are here to explore the area.
Ferries, just like cable cars, are not a typical way to travel around San Francisco. However, they’re often the top-choice if you want to travel to Oakland, Sausalito, Berkeley, and other popular destinations.
San Francisco has two ferry networks, and their costs are high compared to other transit options. But these rides are definitely worth the cost!
Routes and Ticket Information
- Between Seaplane Lagoon in Alameda and Downtown San Francisco (weekday)
- Between Harbor Bay and Downtown San Francisco (weekday)
- Between Oakland, Main Street Alameda, and South San Francisco (weekday)
- Between Oakland, Main Street Alameda, and Downtown San Francisco (daily)
- Between Richmond and Downtown San Francisco (daily)
- Between Vallejo and Downtown San Francisco (daily)
- Can be paid through Clipper Card, credit card, cash, or mobile apps
- Learn more about ferry fares here.
- San Francisco Bay Ferry
- Website: https://sanfranciscobayferry.com/
- Contact: (877) 64-FERRY
Roam Around San Francisco’s Busy Streets Using Ride-sharing Apps & Taxi | Yellow Cab Service
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Taxis and ride-sharing apps are suitable for family and friends traveling shorter distances.
If you want public transport only for you and your friends or family for traveling within the city (preferably shorter distances) or from the airport to the town, we would recommend you to go with ride-sharing apps. The best options are Uber and Lyft due to their high availability.
Alternatively, taxi services are also widely available in the city. A famous and easy-to-use Cab Service is Yellow Cab, which you can easily book using its app at a comparatively lower rate than other cab services.
Routes & Fares
You decide the route yourself, and the fare is according to the distance you will travel.
- Can pay using cash
- Can pay using credit cards (not all taxi drivers have credit card readers, so ask your driver beforehand)
- Yellow Cab Service
- Website: https://yellowcabsf.com/
- Contact: (415) 282-3737
Explore Popular San Francisco Destinations By Buses | AC Transit
Getting around the city by bus is more convenient when looking for a widely and readily available public transit system in San Francisco, CA.
Despite various modes of transport, the residents often prefer public buses to get around San Francisco. Out of the diverse bus companies, you can use AC Transit to avail of maximum discounts through clipper cards.
- Pay using the clipper card
- Pay using cash
- The bus fares are lower for people below 17 or the disabled
- Website: https://www.actransit.org
- Contact: (510) 891-4777
Travel from San Francisco to Other Cities Using SF Subway | Routes & Ticket Information
Muni Light Rail — Routes & Ticket Information
Muni Trains and Buses are the best options for economical traveling from San Francisco to nearby areas.
It is a famous and one of the most used options to get around neighborhoods in San Francisco. Short for San Francisco Municipal Railway, this network consists of underground rails (named with letters) and buses (named with numbers).
- Pay with cash or card machine
- Pay to conductor directly — 2 hours cost $3
- Muni Mobile app to get a digital pass — 2 hours cost $2.5 & day-long pass for $5
- Pay through Clipper Card — 2-hour recharge costs $2.5
- Muni Metro
- Website: https://www.sfmta.com/muni-transit
- Contact: 311 within the city or (415) 701-2311 outside of San Francisco
BART Train — Routes & Ticket Information
BART is an ideal option for longer distances and to travel to the airport.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a network of major underground trains that connects San Francisco to East and South Bay. You can differentiate BART trains by colors for each city.
BART, however, has only a few stops in San Francisco. Suppose you want to travel from Oakland and SFO Airport to Embarcadero and Powell stations. In that case, it’s the most reliable, efficient, economical, and rapid transit option.
- Purchase tickets at Bart Stations
- Buy Clipper Card (costs $3)
- Website: https://www.bart.gov/
- Contact: (510) 464-6000
Caltrain — Routes & Ticket Information
Caltrain is the most efficient method if you want to travel to South Bay and Peninsula locations.
It is a train network (double-decker) that connects San Francisco to cities on the peninsula south of San Francisco. This comfortable commute allows one to travel to San Jose, Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Silicon Valley. However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t take you anywhere within San Francisco.
The rates are different depending on the zones you are traveling. If you visit all 6 zones, the cost is $15; but if you stay within one, the cost is $3.75 per person.
- Pay using Clipper Card (low-cost alternative)
- Use Caltrain mobile app
- Website: https://www.caltrain.com/
- Contact: (800) 660-4287
Tip: if you use a Clipper Card, remember to tag off. Otherwise, you will have to pay more.
Other Transit Options To Get Around San Francisco
Getting around San Francisco isn’t limited to public transportation. Check out other options you can use to travel around.
Walking is the most economical option and lets you discover the city better.
San Francisco is a walkable city except for the steep hills. If you are comfortable with walking, it’s a good idea to do so since you will be able to discover the city much more. You can use maps while walking around.
Bikes & e-Bikes | Lyft & Blazing Saddles
Bikes and e-bikes are a good option when looking to explore San Francisco on your own.
Electric bikes are often a go-to transport if you are looking for a low-cost way to travel through San Francisco. Electric bikes can take you on a memorable city adventure for as low as $3.5 (through the Lyft app). Other companies such as Blazing Saddles also give this eco-friendly mode of transport on a rental basis.
Besides, you can also rent bikes from bike rentals near Fisherman’s Wharf, Ferry Building, and Ghirardelli’s square all day long (starting prices $26).
- Can be paid through Clipper Card
- Website: https://www.lyft.com/rider/cities/san-francisco-ca
- Contact: (855) 865-9553
San Francisco Transportation Passes for Visitors & Residents
Below are some transit pass options for visitors and residents, depending on your budget and how frequently you move around.
The Clipper Card — A Savior!
Cost: $3 (+ recharge)
You might have noticed one standard ticket payment method among these transit systems. Yes, it is the clipper card — a life savior. Not only does the clipper card allow you to pay for various transit systems, but it also offers discounts. This way, you can get around the city while staying within your budget.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using the clipper card:
- Buy the Clipper Card from your hotel or clipper card customer service center
- Look for a Clipper Card reader on the terminals and stations
- Press card against the reader
- A beep and green light will show you have bought the ticket.
- Reload the Clipper Card.
SF Visitor Passport
- 1-day = $13
- 3-day = $31
- 7-day = $41
Another easy option to get around the city is SF Visitor Passport, which allows unlimited rides on streetcars, cable cars, and Muni. They cost the same for people of all ages and have a 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day deal to plan according to your trip. You can get these passports online or buy them from ticket kiosks anywhere in the city.
MuniMobile is an accessible option to pay for the fares.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using MuniMobile:
- Download the app on your smartphone (it is compatible with both ios and android)
- Set up account
- Attach your valid VISA or MasterCard to your account.
- Buy tickets through it.
Frequently Asked Questions — Public Transportation In San Francisco
Are you still confused about getting around the city like a pro? These FAQs will help fade all worries!
What is the best way to get around San Francisco?
Cable cars. Starting from three locations, they take you through the steep hills and busy streets, offering a unique travel experience.
What is the cheapest way to get around San Francisco?
BART. Although there are only a few stops throughout the city, you can still use it for longer distances.
What San Francisco transportation should I use from the airport?
BART and Caltrain are the ideal transit options to use from the airport since they are low-cost and fast.
Does San Francisco Have Good Public Transportation?
Yes, San Francisco has excellent public transportation. In fact, it is ranked as one of the cities with the best public transportation. The city has rapid and mass transit options for students, seniors, and the disabled.
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