Everything you need when planing a vacation trip to San Francisco
A vintage street car rolls throught San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf


On the bus


San Francisco's public transportation system (Muni) covers the city so well that 90% of the city is no more than two blocks away from a bus or trolley stop. The locals who must ride it every day may grumble about different aspects of it, but for tourist it's great. There is really no need to have a car to get around the city.


For traveling throughout the Bay area there is the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system that runs through a tunnel from downtown San Francisco, under the bay and pops up in the East Bay, and Caltrain, which takes commuters from the South of Market district to the cities down the peninsula, such as San Jose.



Here comes the bus


The Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway) system is the name of the city’s transit system. It is hard to imagine any city’s system using a wider array of vehicles, since it has everything from the historic cable cars and vintage streetcars to normal buses, electric buses, trolleys and a subway called Muni Metro.


This is what a bus stop in San Francisco looks likeMany of the Muni stops have a glass walled shelters. They have large maps of the Metro system and many have electronic boards that display how long it will be until the next bus stops for each line the shelter services.


There is a link to the official Muni map below. There is no need to print it out. When in the city, pop into just about any hotel or motel lobby in the city and there will be a rack holding free city maps showing the routes. These maps are supported by the advertising on them, so you are encouraged to take them.


Muni System Maps


Fares & Transfers

We are on the bus


The basic fare price is $2 for getting on any bus or trolley, including the vintage streetcars. The one exception to the $2 fare price is the cable cars, which cost $5 for a ride. The proper amount must be used to pay the fare because the drivers don’t make change.


Upon paying the fare the driver will give you a slip of paper with the time and date on it that will act as proof of payment and a transfer. This can be used as a transfer pass for 90 minutes after the time that is stamped on it. This means you can get on another bus or trolley to complete your trip.


There are monthly Muni passes available for $70. Some discounts are available to those who fit several criteria such as being destitute, aged or a local student.


Monthly Muni pass discount details


Of more use to visitors than the monthly passes are their 1, 3 and 7 day Muni Passports. Their prices are as follows:


1 day pass - $14
3 day pass - $22
7 day pass - $28


The Muni Passports allow card holders unlimited use of the Muni system, including the cable cars, during consecutive days.


Muni Passports can not be bought online. Instead, one must go to one of the following locations:


  • SFMTA Customer Service Center, 11 South Van Ness Avenue at Market


  • Muni Ticket Sales Location at Market and Powell Streets near the cable car turnaround.


  • Muni Ticket Sales Location at Hyde and Beach Streets (In the Fisherman’s Wharf district near Ghirardelli Square)


  • At the information booths in the baggage claim areas at the San Francisco International Airport.


Muni Passports details


Vintage Streetcars

A vintage streetcar going down Market Street


San Francisco is famous for its historic cable cars. But its Muni system also has a line of vintage streetcars, saved and restored from around the world that are almost as interesting as the cable cars for historic and nostalgic buffs. The line runs from Fisherman’s Wharf eastward along the waterfront street, the Embarcadero, to the Ferry Building where it turns inland, down Market Street. It continues down Market Street until it gets to Castro Street. There it turns around and goes back to Fisherman’s Wharf.


The fleet has some 44 streetcars. Not all are in regular use, but the ones that are have been beautifully restored and have become a much beloved addition to the city.


Vintage Streetcars details



Going into BART's underworld

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is the heavy rail system that links the cities of the Bay Area and feeds commuters into downtown San Francisco. Tourists to the city are most likely to use it to get from the San Francisco International Airport and the Oakland Airport to downtown.


BART does not accept Muni passes, since they are different systems. Fares can be purchased in the stations. They have an online fare calculator at BART.gov/tickets/calculator


BART details





Caltrain is a commuter heavy rail train that runs between its depot in the South of Market district to the city of Gilroy, 70 miles to the south, with many stops in towns along the way. Designed for commuters, the trains run in the morning and late afternoon with little going on in the middle of the day. It is of little value to most tourist.


Neighborhood: SOMA
700 4th Street
(between Jewett St and Townsend Streets)
San Francisco, CA 94107

(800) 660-4287 / Caltrain.com



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