San Francisco Transport


Travelling around San Francisco is a fun and fairly straightforward experience. By using a combination of buses, trams and cable cars you can get to just about attraction in the city. The main roads and public transport routes lead off Market Street, which runs the length of the city from Pier 1 to Castro; and Stockton and Powell Streets, which intersect with Market and link the Union Square area with Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf.

An essential purchase when getting around the city is the San Francisco CityPass. From date of validation it is good for 9 days on unlimited passage on all trams, trains and cable cars. (The CityPass also provides free entrance to six key attractions.) Another vital accessory is the free and ubiquitous printed San Francisco City Map branded by Baycityguide.com It shows all the major transport routes with relevant numbers.

The public transport system in San Francisco is known as MUNI and operates buses, electric trolley buses and the famous cable cars as well as metro streetcars (underground trains that become street cars when they emerge above ground). MUNI is sometimes late and crowded, but San Francisco is one of the few cities in America in which residents make good use of public transport. Driving is extremely difficult, due to traffic, an unconventional street layout, impossible parking and, of course, very steep streets - though a rental car may be necessary for trips farther afield. MUNI offers access to all parts of the city; exact change is required, and the same fare applies to all services except the cable cars, which are more expensive (but well worth at least one ride - the Powell-Hyde route is the most scenic). Note that the cable cars are a moving National Monument and hence are very popular and crowded. They can be tough to get onto, and slow in getting to your destination. If you want less scenery and more efficiency the buses and trams are the way to go. Passengers can ask for a free transfer with each ticket bought, which allows another two rides on a bus or train and gives a 50 percent discount on cable cars within 90 minutes.

MUNI trains and buses run 24 hours a day, with a more limited service after midnight; buses late at night are not always safe to use. MUNI Passports are available for one, three and seven days, allowing unlimited use of public transport within the city limits. The other transport system, known as BART, is a fast and economical subway/rail network that connects the city to the East Bay as well as the airport. Taxis are also available in the city but can be hard to find, especially during peak hours. During the day, perhaps the best option is to walk; lots of locals do. However, be prepared to climb a few hills.

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