San Francisco: Local Travel Info
San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco
San Francisco International (SFO) is the city’s airport, although the San Francisco Bay Area is also served by both Oakland International and San Jose International airports.
Getting to and from the airport in San Francisco
You have three options for getting to and from the airport in San Francisco: taxis, shuttle buses and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport). Both a taxi and a shuttle bus will take you from the airport to your hotel and visa versa. With BART you will need to make your own way to your hotel from the station and then back to the station when you leave.
Travel Costs in San Francisco
BART is the least expensive way to get to and from the airport and a single fare costs $4.70. A shuttle bus will run around $$15 - $20 per person per trip, whereas a taxi will be at least $40 or more. If you are thinking of taking taxi make sure it’s a licensed one. The side and rear of the taxi should say “San Francisco Taxi Cabs” and the driver’s ID will be visible to passengers.
Renting Cars in San Francisco
Another option for transport during your holiday in San Francisco is to rent a car. Be warned however, parking can be difficult in San Francisco. If your hotel has parking this may not be a problem. If you want to venture out of the city to see the wine country or the Californian coast you could just hire a car for a day. Expect to pay around $55 per day or at least $250 a week (plus taxes and insurance) for a compact car. Prices may vary depending on the time of year. All you will need to drive is a valid driver license. You may pay more if you pick up and return you rental car from the airport. If you already have American car insurance, bring a copy of your policy if you want to use your insurance for your rental car.
Driving Rules in San Francisco
Seatbelts must be worn in the US and the usual speed limit in town is 25 miles per hour. On the motorway the limit is usually 65 miles per hour. You drive on the right in the US and give way to the right. In California you may stop at a red light, check that it is safe and then turn right if it is safe to go. On one way streets you may do the same thing to the left. If you park on a hill in San Francisco, remember to “curb” your wheels – point the front wheels towards the curb if heading down the hill and the front wheels pointing away from the curbs if heading up hill. The idea being that the curb will stop the car if the brakes fail.
Buses/Muni/BART in San Francisco
San Francisco is well serviced for public transport with its buses and tram (Muni) lines. All trips costs $1.50 (exact change ONLY) and you pay the driver as you get on. It is common courtesy to let the other passengers off before you get on the bus or tram. The BART system links San Francisco with the airport to the south and the East Bay. Prices start at $1.40 and depend on how far you travel. The buses/trams and BART are all generally well regarded and reliable. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has an online journey planner which you can use to help you get around the city. You can also get a 1-day ($11), 3-day ($18) or 7-day ($24) Muni Visitor Passport which you can use on all trams, buses and cables cars.
Taxis in San Francisco
Taxis can be hard to find and hail in San Francisco, so you may want to a major hotel and use its taxi queue. If you do hail a taxi make sure it’s licensed – the sides and rear of a real taxis will have “San Francisco Licensed Taxi” on them and there will be a metal license plate in the dashboard as well as the driver’s ID on display to passengers. Costs run about $3.10 for a pick up and .45cents thereafter per 1/3 of a kilometre.
Cycling in San Francisco
If you have the stamina to take on the hills, San Francisco can be a good place for cycling. More leisurely cycling in San Francisco can be done on the Embarcadero, around Golden Gate Park or the Presidio. There are several businesses offering bicycle renting in San Francisco. You can rent a bike in San Francisco for less than $30 a day and $20 for kids.
Water Transport in San Francisco
If you fancy a trip on the Bay you can take a ferry over to Sausalito to visit this lovely seaside town, take a ferry to explore the prison on Alcatraz Island or the state park on Angle Island. Prices per person for a ferry to and from Sausalito are around $15, with tickets to Angle Island costing $13.50 and a trip to Alcatraz will be around $26.
Hitch Hiking in San Francisco
Hitch Hiking is not that popular in California or anywhere in the States for that matter. It is illegal to hitchhike on a motorway and it is also illegal to hitchhike in the road – you MUST stand on the pavement. If a driver stops to pick you up it must be in a safe, legal place for them to stop. It is probably best to not rely on hitch hiking in San Francisco or California.