The San Francisco Bay area has excellent public transport when compared with other American cities. The transport network is comprised of buses, cable cars, trams, suburban trains and two different metro systems.
MUNI (tel (415) 673 6864) operates local bus services in San Francisco. Fares are $2 and if you ask for a transfer you can transfer to up to two connecting services within a 90-minute period.
Suburban bus services are operated by Golden Gate Transit (tel (415) 932 2000) in Marin County, by SamTrans (tel 800 660 4287) in San Mateo County, by VTA (tel (408) 321 2330) in Santa Clara Country and by AC Transit (tel (510) 839 2882) in Oakland and the East Bay. Many of these suburban bus services terminate at the Transbay Terminal (425 Mission Street, San Francisco).
San Francisco is famous for its cable cars and a ride is a must for all visitors. There are several lines that include the California Street line running from the Financial District, through Chinatown and the posh Nob Hill neighbourhood plus the popular Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines that leave from outside the Powell Street BART and MUNI station.
The historic cable cars tackle some of the city’s notoriously hilly streets and are packed with a mix of locals and tourists. Cable cars are very popular with visitors to San Francisco and there can be quite a long wait for a ride at the cable car termini at Powell Street and Fishermans Wharf, although there is usually a much shorter wait for the California Street cable car. A ride on the cable car costs $5.
Historic trams from around the world run along MUNI's F line, which runs from Fishermans Wharf, along the Embarcadero and down Market Street to the Castro district. Trams running on the F line include restored tramcars from Blackpool, Brussels, Hamburg, Kobe, Melbourne, Moscow, Newark, Osaka, Philadelphia, Porto and San Francisco. A one-way fare is $2.
Historic trams run between Fisherman's Wharf and the Castro district
The modern BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit; tel (415) 989 2278) metro system is the quickest way to get around the Bay Area.
Most city centre stations are under Market Street but BART extends beyond the city to San Francisco International Airport, Berkley, Oakland and the East Bay.
Fares are calculated according to the distance travelled. A one-way ride within the San Francisco city limits costs $1.75, a ride to Oakland costs $3.10, a trip to Berkeley costs $3.65 and it costs $8.10 to get to San Francisco International Airport.
The longer established MUNI Metro (tel (415) 673 6864) has underground stations in the city centre and operates along the street like a tram outside the city centre. This is a good way to get around and many travellers use MUNI Metro rather than BART as the MUNI Passport is accepted on it. A one-way fare is $2.
Caltrain (tel 800 660 4287) runs a suburban train service connecting suburbs between San Francisco and San Jose. This is the easiest way to visit Silicon Valley if you don’t have a car.
The MUNI Passport is a travel pass valid for one, three or seven days travel on MUNI buses, cable cars, trams and the MUNI Metro; however it is not valid on BART trains or buses run by operators other than MUNI. A one-day MUNI Passport costs $13, a three-day MUNI Passport costs $20 and a seven-day MUNI Passport costs $26.