Getting Around San Francisco

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Most Viewed Transportation in San Francisco

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    Central T Subway to Chinatown and North Beach

    by atufft Updated Aug 31, 2014

    The newest MUNI train project still under construction is the 1.7 mile Central T Subway that will link the bayshore and CalTrain station directly below 4th Street and Stockton Street, and eventually terminating at Columbus in North Beach. Tunneling on this project is amazing because it actually bores below ground for 3 of 4 stations, all below major urban high rise buildings, below the existing Stockton tunnel. The 4th and Brannon station and tracks will be above ground, but there are underground stations at the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, at Union Square, and at Chinatown. Exactly how this line will eventually link to North Beach is still to be determined. Project completion is supposed to be 2019, so while the tunnels have already been bored, expect to see a lot of work on the stations for years to come.

    The ridership of this line will probably exceed all other MUNI train lines mile for mile. This is a vast corridor of tourism, of course, but there is also a large number working class Chinese Americans living in high density Chinatown needing more than the existing bus and cable car service. These folks have political clout and have been demanding more service for years. So, while the cable car and surface electric bus system will still be available. This high speed transit system will be welcome news once it opens. The train cars will be the same as used elsewhere in the MUNI train system--comfortable, relatively quiet, and fast.

    Central T Subway Chinatown Station Construction Central T Subway Union Square Station Construction View of Route from Above Stockton Tunnel at Bush
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    Fisherman's Wharf to Marina District

    by atufft Written Sep 9, 2013

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    There's a hill that separates Fisherman's Wharf/Maritime Museum waterfront from the Fort Mason/Marina waterfront areas. On the east side, the northern end of Van Ness Ave appears to end at a jetty. On the west side, Lagunda ends at Fort Mason. Both streets are closed to vehicular traffic. In between, Franklin Street narrows and deadends in a parking area where tourists might get ticketed. This obstruction makes passage confusing because automobile and bus traffic must detour around a wooded hillside back a couple of blocks to Bay Street, which on the west side exposes an expansive lawn area, known as the Fort Mason. For those trying to use public transit, the predictable cable car and trolley tracks seem to abruptly end, and confusing bus begins.

    However, if you are on foot or bicycle, there is a path that follows the coastline over this hill. This is important because many tourists miss visiting The Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Mason because of this obstruction of view and transit confusion. Thus, it's also possible, for example, to walk from Fisherman's Wharf all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, if one takes this route along the coast and over the hill. See photos to understand more clearly this path. There's also some good views from the hill.

    Coastal Path View Over Fort Mason Facing West Coastal Path View Facing East East Side Path Entrance at Deadend of Van Ness Ave Maritime Museum at End of Van Ness Ave Fort Mason Great Meadow on the West Side
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    Bradford Street--Steepest Street in SF?

    by atufft Written Aug 6, 2012

    Setting the curvy or twisted street claims aside, there is also several claims for steepest grade in San Francisco. Bradford Street, at Tompkins, is clearly one of the contenders. This street is located very near the US101 and I-280 south bound junction, and not too far south from Vermont street. Bradford Street is in the Bernal Heights district, which is capped with the Bernal Heights Park. Bradford is a street interrupted by dead end due to steepness of the rock. There is a stairway with switchbacks that links to the rest of Bradford further atop the ridge. There is one section of specially poured concrete that has a grade of 41%! This is adjacent to a set of stairs, so it's not hard to recognize. Yet, city engineers had claimed that sections of Filbert or 22nd Streets were the steepest in town until some internet sleuths performed some grade measurements.

    Bradford Street, Bernal Heights, SF Bradford Street, Bernal Heights, SF Bradford Street Stairs, Bernal Heights, SF Bradford Street, Bernal Heights, SF Bradford Street, Bernal Heights, SF
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    World's Crookedest Street--Lombard or Vermont?

    by atufft Updated Aug 6, 2012

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    These two streets are car streets only, although there are also sidewalks and stairs for walking along these two very unique tourist attractions.

    Wikipedia has an entry that describes Lombard, the brick paved and more famous of the two: Lombard Street is best known for the one-way[3] section on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, in which the roadway has eight sharp turns (or switchbacks) that have earned the street the distinction of being the crookedest [most winding] street in the world (though this title is contested - see below). The switchback's design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry[citation needed] and instituted in 1922,[4] was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade,[5] which was too steep for most vehicles to climb. It is also a serious hazard to pedestrians, who are accustomed to a more reasonable sixteen-degree incline. The crooked section of the street, which is about 1/4 mile (400 m) long, is reserved for one-way traffic traveling east (downhill) and is paved with red bricks. The speed limit in this section is a mere 5 mph (8 km/h).

    However, many believe that concrete paved Vermont Street, on Potrero Hill, is actually more crooked and steep than Lombard but has fewer turns. The section of Vermont in question is located between 20th and 22nd Street, near McKinley Square. It has a series of seven sharp turns, fewer than Lombard, but has a steeper grade. Wikipedia notes that on an episode of Fact or Fiction on the Travel Channel, Jayms Ramirez measured the sinuosity of both Lombard and Vermont streets, and proved that Vermont is indeed more crooked (with a sinuosity of 1.56 versus 1.2 for Lombard Street). Although Lombard has more turns, some of the turns on the south end of Vermont were removed during the construction of the US101 freeway. I have a relative whose home was affected by this freeway construction and modification of Vermont.

    You can examine the images taken from Google Earth showing both streets. The first is Lombard, which runs basically west to east one-way. The second is Vermont, which runs on-way north to south. The Vermont Street satellite image is rotated 180 degrees so that an easier comparison can be made.

    Now, to throw a wrench into the which is grade is steeper debate, there actually is yet another street in San Francisco that has no twists and turns, but claims to have the steepest slope, along a short section of its pavement. See the tip for Bradford Street in Bernal Heights. In any case, San Francisco claims to steepest slope and most twisted street are legendary...

    Lombard Street, Russian Hill, San Francisco Vermont Street, Potrero Hill, San Francisco
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    Air Train

    by cjg1 Updated May 19, 2011

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    Air Train is the airport's tram that ransports passnegers to all SFO terminals, Parking Garages, Rental Car Center and the BART Station. The train has two lines' the Red Line and the blue Line. The Red line connects all terminals, terminal garages and the BART Station. The Blue Line connects all terminals, terminal garages and the BART Station with the Rental Car Center.

    The train runs twenty-four hourS a day and is a quick ride to the BART station.

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  • HO HO Busses

    by froggyhenry Written Apr 26, 2011

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    Any newbie tourist to SF would be wise to look into the HO HO busses that run loops around the city. HO HO means hop-on, hop-off. One fee for the entire day gets you on nice, safe, commercially run tourist serving busses that do loops to all the main areas of the city. Go somewhere like the Golden Gate, hop off and enjoy it. Next buss back by, hop on it and continue to some other attraction/part of town you wish to see, then repeat.

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    must sees and how to purchase transportation

    by rkearns Written Apr 17, 2011

    yep. no need to rent a car here. they do have zipcar though if you just need one for a few hours. it's more affordable.

    i live here in s.f. and it's one of the best cities in the world in terms of culture, progressive thinking, economy, standard of living, landscape, integrity, etc. so take a look at my travel pages for things to do and restaurants to eat at. dolores park is a must. it has a spectacular view of the city. the weather is totally unpredictable. bring a sweater and a jacket and shoes that can get wet that you can walk in. you might need them.

    other must sees/do's:

    baker beach (clothing optional)
    golden gate park (they have the de young museum and the science museum, buffalo, an arboretum, hippy hill where people play drums, playgrounds with really cool concrete slides, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, trails to mountain bike on, etc. etc.)
    the mission district: great mexican and el salvadorian food
    noe valley and upper fillmore street and upper haight for good shopping
    go to upper haight anyway for a feel of the past

    bart can take you to south san francisco, the airport, east bay (oakland, berkeley and beyond).

    just some advice on buying transportation tickets;

    the muni tickets can be purchased directly on the train. they're $2 and you need to keep your transfer (the paper ticket) for proof of purchase. they usually don't expire for 2-3 hours. they can also be purchased in the kiosk inside the underground muni (the lines that run up and down market street where bart is) and you put your money into the machine and are issued a "clipper card" which can be refilled, but they only last 90 minutes there.

    for bart tickets, you can buy them at the kiosk in the same place you buy the clipper card. bart is basically the long distance train while muni is just within the city. bart is pretty cheap. you can get from s.f. to berkeley for about $6.00.

    hope that helps, and feel free to email me with any other questions.

    and here's a useful map for navigation.

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    Double-decker City Sightseeing

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    We saw this CITY SIGHTSEEING tour company all over San Francisco. You can't miss this brilliantly colored red double decker bus!

    Passengers have a choice of either riding inside the lower level or above in the open top section. There are four tour selections beginning at $20.00 and up. It's an 'on and off' system with 24 and 48 hour unlimited passes available.

    Departures are from 165 Jefferson Street in Fisherman's Wharf area. It travels to all the important landmarks in San Francisco. Happy Travels!

    A Double-decker View of San Francisco
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    getting around s.f.

    by rkearns Written Mar 7, 2011

    to the OP, is it just that you want to ride a cable car? because the muni will take you everywhere you need to go for a lot less money. to ride muni, it's $2 and that gets you a few hours of travel time, so save your pass. i highly doubt you will spend $13 per day on muni fares. but if you want the experience of riding the cable car, why not do it once then just purchase muni tickets for the rest of the time you are there? you purchase them right at the front of the bus or train and you need exact change. here's a link to the muni map. you can see all the bus lines here:

    if you pick your destinations and look at the sfmuni map website, you can find all the attractions are accessible by muni (so, within s.f.)

    be warned, you may need to transfer buses to get to certain locations. you may also have to walk a few blocks. for example, if you are coming from fisherman's wharf and want to go to chinatown, you will take the 8X to columbus then walk to chinatown. or, you can transfer to the 30. it will make more sense when you look at the map.
    hope that helps.

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    Emission Free Buses

    by atufft Updated Feb 27, 2011

    San Francisco is very congested and yet the city is working very hard to keep it's air clean. This city is very liberal and being "green" is politically correct. For a long time though, the MUNI has had emission free transit in the cable car, electric trolley, and electric bus sytem--at least at the street level. The maze of wires overhead may not look too pretty, but these buses are quiet and efficient. Don't drive around them to closely if you're in a rental car. Sometimes the bus has to stop short to avoid an accident, and the electrodes leads get disconnected from the overheat wires. Then, the driver has to get out of his seat and go to the back of the bus to reposition the leads.

    Electric Bus in SF
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    by rkearns Written Dec 10, 2010

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    i think the previous poster may be talking about

    go there and you can type in your location and destination and it will tell you in exactly how many minutes the bus arrives. i haven't heard of up next, but i typed it into google and nothing resembling muni came up.

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    muni vs bart

    by rkearns Written Nov 25, 2010

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    i live here, and i pay $2 for a muni pass and that lasts about three to four hours, depending on what ticket they give you, so keep it and you can use the transfer for later. bart is cheap. i can get to oakland and back for about $6-$7. i don't think you will need to buy a day pass for just two or three days unless you're going to be out the entire day. if you go out twice a day, the muni is cheap. you will spend $4.

    i doubt you will be taking bart anywhere. yes, the F line is good if you want a slow cable car going up market street. but the underground muni is WAY faster. the N and the J all go from embarcadero up to the castro. to be honest, there's not much to see past those areas except for family neighborhoods. the 6, 7, and 71 are also the muni's best best. they go from the embarcadero (above ground buses) up to the haight and out into the sunset.

    bart is more of a hassle because you have to buy the tickets underground then navigate your way from there, and they have fewer stops. i would just take the muni buses.

    does that make sense??

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    #38 Bus toward Palace of Legion of Honor

    by atufft Updated Nov 20, 2010

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    For those who don't bother to rent a car, the Palace of the Legion of Honor and other places in the Outer Richmond District can seem complicated because no MUNI nor BART train services the northwest corner of the city. But MUNI buses do service this area, so from Montgomery/Market Streets downtown, take Muni Bus #38. This bus will turn off Market and travel along Geary toward the west for several miles. At 33rd Avenue, get off and either walk north, zag to 34th avenue and up the hill through the Lincoln Park Golf Course to Palace of the Legion of Honor, OR if you don't have the stamina for the uphill climb, take Bus #18 straight to the Legion of Honor. There are some great views of downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge for this area. Also, since Geary and Clement Street run parallel for quite a ways within, #38 is also a good way to get to the Clement Street commercial district. Get off the bus, just past corner of Arguello/Geary, at about 5th Avenue and walk one block north. See my tips on these neighborhoods for more information.

    View from Lincoln Golf Course toward downtown SF

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    from the airport to north beach

    by rkearns Written Jul 21, 2010

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    just take bart to montgomery station then take a cab to north beach. it will take a lot less time than a shuttle which makes many stops. if you want to get really adventurous, you could take bart to montgomery station, then walk to the stokton tunnel to catch the 30 or the 45 to north beach. just ask the driver to tell you when you're at columbus and union and you will be right smack dab in the middle of it all.

    here's the genaral area you will need to know.

    see the 2nd blue bar on market st. just left of the water? that's montgomery station. now follow kearny st. north then a couple blocks up, you will take a left at sutter. a couple blocks up and take a right at stockton then about a block right up stockton, you will see the tunnel. just ask a local store owner. they should know if you get confused.

    on second thought, if you're not feeling like wasting that time, just bart in and take a cab.

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    F Line Streetcars

    by vichatherly Written Jul 20, 2010

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    With our three day MUNI passport we were covered not just for the cable cars but also for the streetcars and buses.

    We used the F line of the streetcars to get quickly from Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf and back . The Streetcars on this route commemorate streetcars from around the World and each one is different and tells its own story.

    F Line Streetcar
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San Francisco Transportation

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BART, CalTrain, SF Bay Ferry, and MUNI  combined provide one of the nation's best region transit systems entering and exiting San Francisco.  Why?  Because it has great variety of...

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