Getting around San Francisco

Public transport

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency - SFMTA (tel: +1 415 710 2311; operates trolley cars, buses, streetcars, cable cars and a light rail system. Find information online or at the Bay Area Travel Info line (tel: +1 888 500 4636;

Buses, trolleys and streetcars cover the same routes and command the same fare. Pole signs and curb and street markings designate stops. Tickets are available upon boarding and exact change is required. Cable cars run on three routes. Passengers can buy tickets on board (with exact change) or from kiosks at the cable car turnarounds.

Muni light rail covers Market Street, the Mission District and Noe Valley (J line), the Ingleside district (K line), the Sunset District (L, M, and N lines), and the Castro, Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf (F line). Transfers are good for bus and rail connections within 90 minutes.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system (tel: +1 415 989 2278; operates the subway, which runs along Market Street. It operates from early morning until 2400. Tickets are available from machines in stations.

SFMTA Visitor Passports are available for one day, three days or seven days and allow unlimited travel on Muni services.

Ferries depart from the Ferry Building, The Embarcadero, located at the east end of Market Street. Regular crossings go to and from Bay communities. 


Taxis are plentiful. Tipping is customary and drivers expect about 15%. Yellow Cab Cooperative (tel: +1 415 333 3333) is a reputable provider.


Parking is at a premium and car parks are expensive. Regulations can be confusing and are aggressively enforced. It is important to note that, when parking on a hill, the driver must curb the wheels to prevent a runaway and ensure that the handbrake is on. Wheels should be turned out facing uphill.

Car hire

The best reason for hiring a car is to explore the magnificent coastal road, Highway 1. Most car hire companies offer deals that include insurance and unlimited mileage but drivers should be at least 21 years of age. A valid driving licence is required, while a second form of identification and booking ahead is advised.

All the major car hire companies have offices in San Francisco, including Avis (tel: +1 415 929 2555;, Budget (tel: +1 415 674 1917; and Hertz (tel: +1 800 654 3131;

Bicycle hire

The Bike Hut at Pier 40 (tel: +1 415 543 4335; hires mountain and street bikes.

Bay Area Bike Share (tel: +1 855 480 2453; is the city's bikeshare system, with 700 bikes across 70 stations. You can buy 24-hour and three-day memberships.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.