These days, there are few cities in the US where you can get around without the use of a car.
But with a complex network of trains, cable cars, buses, and two subway systems, San Francisco bucks the growing trend. Whether you’re looking to travel to or live in the Bay Area, it’s worth knowing that public transportation in San Francisco won’t let you down—especially if your aim is not to be stuck behind the wheel in heavy traffic.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to get around San Francisco.
The primary form of public transit in the city is Muni, which includes the streetcar, metro, and bus system in San Francisco. With a one-way ticket, you can change lines between any of these types of transit.
With a few dozen lines spread across the city, San Francisco buses are a safe bet to help you get where you need to go. Busier, high-trafficked routes also include limited buses (designated with a letter L behind the number). Be sure not to confuse these for their normal cousins, as they’ll make fewer stops on the line.
The historic streetcars have lines designated by letters, though they’re mostly scattered around more crowded areas of the city, like Market Street and the Embarcadero.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, or BART, has more limited stops within the city. However, for airplane travelers, it’s one of the fastest ways to get from the airport to the East Bay. With four color-coded lines in an X shape across the city, you’ll be able to get from one end to another with ease.
However, make sure to follow best practices for injury prevention, just as you would on any subway system: the BART train has caused its fair share of personal injuries in the past.
If you’re traveling to neighboring areas like Oakland or Sausalito, ferries are a great way to go. Don’t forget the beautiful views of the bay!
You can find the Ferry Building Terminal on the Embarcadero for most trips, although the ever-popular journey to Alcatraz Island happens near Fisherman’s Wharf on Pier 51.
Though San Francisco is famous for its hills, adventurous travelers may want to opt for bike travel for a slower and more thorough view of the city. There are many brick-and-mortar bike shops scattered throughout the city, whether you’re looking for a bike tour or a simple rental.
However, you can also opt for the popular Ford GoBikes, which includes a network of 7,000 bikes throughout the Bay Area. With this system, you’ll sign up online and pay a flat rate for your rental based on the amount of time you spend exploring.
Make the Most of Public Transportation in San Francisco
Because the city is relatively compact, visitors and locals alike will want to make the most of public transportation in San Francisco. After all, the transit options make it easy to see the curving boulevards in style and convenience—a perk that’s quickly disappearing in many other US cities. Enjoy it where you can!
Looking for more of the fun guides to help you get where you need to go? We’ve packed plenty of insights into our other posts, so check them out.