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San Francisco Transportation

Getting There

Amtrak trains are available from New York and other destinations via Chicago, although the nearest station is in Emeryville, located north of Oakland. Travel into San Francisco by bus to the Ferry Building or South of Market Caltrain station. Caltrain operates between the city and towns of the Peninsula, including Palo Alto, Morgan Hill, Sunnyvale, San Jose and Burlingame, among others.
The San Francisco/Bay Area is home to two major airports. San Francisco International Airport is the most convenient, located just 14 miles from downtown, a 20-minute, $40-ish cab ride during off-peak hours. All major carriers serve it. It's convenient to take one of the many shuttle services to get to your destination, including SuperShuttle; $15 per person. Another option if you don't have a lot of luggage is BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which makes numerous stops downtown. It's approximately $6 for the 35-minute ride. Take the free shuttle to the International Terminal to access the airport BART station. Oakland International Airport, 25 miles from downtown San Francisco, is another viable travel option, although not served by as many carriers as San Francisco International. A cab to downtown San Francisco is approximately $50. SuperShuttle is available, but reservations are required from Oakland or you will wait forever. BART is very convenient, as well. Take the AirBART shuttle bus (pick up your $8.10 ticket in the BART vending machine in the airport terminal), to the Coliseum station, where you catch the train to downtown San Francisco. Cost is approximately $5 and travel time is about 15-20 minutes.

Getting Around

If you are staying in San Francisco proper, skip the car: Walking, public transportation and cabbing it will easily get you everywhere you need to go. Even if you're comfortable driving up and down the hills, betwixt and between cable cars and buses, and navigating one-way streets, parking is very expensive and not worth the hassle. However, if you intend to head outside the city for a day trip, renting a car makes sense.
Public Transit
Navigating around San Francisco via public transportation is easy, although, depending on the mode, vehicles may not run as frequently as riders would like. (Recently the city has experienced significant cuts in service.) San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency or Muni operates city buses, cable cars and streetcars. Together, they will get you to virtually all points throughout San Francisco's famed 49 square miles. Useful information about Muni: Bus and metro (streetcar) adult fares are $2 for a single ride; 75 cents for seniors, youths and disabled; children under 4 ride free. Note: these fares come with one transfer and last for 90 minutes, so hold onto your tickets. Buses and streetcars run from 6AM to midnight, although there are some late-night lines. (Check the Muni website for specific schedules.) For safety reasons, the "Owl" buses are not recommended. Cable-car fares are $5 each ride for adults and youths older than 5 (no transfers); seniors and disabled pay $5 except before 7AM and after 9PM when fares are $2. Cable cars operate from 6:30AM to 12:15AM.If you plan on taking public transit a lot, invest in a Muni Passport, good for unlimited rides on all Muni transportation, including cable cars. They come in one- , three- and seven-day (consecutive) passes and are $13, $20 and $26, respectively. They can be purchased at convenient locations in the city. (Check the website for specifics.)
While San Francisco is home to many cab companies, hailing a taxi off the street is not always easy. If you are at a hotel, downtown or in major commercial or tourist areas during prime hours, grabbing a cab should be relatively simple. But in off -peak hours and in more residential neighborhoods, you will need to call a cab before heading out. A few to try include Luxor Cabs (415-282-4141), De Soto Cab (415-970-1300), SF Green Cab (415-626-4733) Yellow Cab (415- 312-1612) and Veteran's Cab (415-552-1300). Standard fares start at $3.10 for the first 1/6 mile and 45 cents per additional 1/5 mile.