Getting Around San Francisco
One of the most common questions I see about San Francisco is, “Do I need a car?”
The short answer is no. The longer answer is not really. If you are planning on mainly staying in the City proper, or perhaps doing a nearby stop to Sausalito/Tiberon or the East Bay (and even most of the South Bay), then there is no reason to get a car. (If you are here for a longer stay and want to go to one of the fabulous wine countries, then consider it) The following is a list of our main alternate transportation options:
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART): If arrived via SFO or OAK, there is a good chance you met our friend BART. BART serves several stops on the southeast side of SF and down to the airport, but is also the best way to get to various parts of the East Bay. If you want to day trip over to Berkeley, or want to catch an Oakland A’s game, BART is the best way to get there. It travels through the water, and there is an urban myth that part of the tube is made of glass and you can see the fishies in the Bay. I will neither confirm nor deny this rumor.
- Caltrain: If you happened to arrive into San Jose, or decided not to use BART from SFO, you may have used Caltrain. Caltrain has two or three stops in southeast San Francisco, this is your best transportation option for getting to the Peninsula and South Bay. Conversely, if you are staying in that direction and want to catch a Giant’s game, this is the way to get there. These trains boast comfortable seats, and will even serve you a beer while you are on your journey (if you’re of age, of course).
- Ferries: A very cool way to enter SF, you can take a ferry from parts of the North Bay and East Bay.
- Muni: Muni has both above and under-ground buses. The Cable Car is also part of the Muni system. Rides throughout the system (with the exception of Cable Cars) are currently $1.50 for 90 minutes. Buses run all over the city, and, while they may take a long time, it is a great way to experience life like the locals do: frustrated, smushed, and perpetually late. Tip: Want to know when the next bus is coming? Punch www.nextbus.com into your computer or phone’s browser and find out.
511.org offers a fantastic TripPlanner service that will help you map out public transportation routes, even going between various types.
There are also taxis available throughout the City, though some places see them more frequently than others. I don’t know if you’ve had a true SF experience until you’ve practically flown over the top of the hills in a taxi, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.
(above…one way to get around SF)