San Francisco Public Transit Strategies

Buses, Trains and Boats - San Francisco Style

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Understand Muni... and travel like a local San Franciscan!

There's nothing quite like climbing on the #30 bus to Chinatown during rush hour to get a taste of San Francisco. From the elbowing locals, to the bellowing homeless, to the three or four people who have no inner monologue -- it's a cramped, sweat-filled, iPod-blaring boiling pot of locals and tourists unlike anything you've ever seen -- unless you've been to Haight Street on Halloween.

With the best public transportation system on the West Coast, visitors and locals not only use San Francisco's world-famous cable cars filled with dangling, overly-excited tourists to get around, but also ride the old-fashioned streetcars, Italian-made trains, ferries, and, of course, buses. The transit system inside the city is called the MUNI (Municipal Railway) and it can either get you where you need to go right on time, or get you there two to three hours late -- it depends on the line, the street, the time, the day and the mood of the bus driver.

Much more reliable than MUNI is the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and CalTrain commuter train systems that reach suburban cities around the Bay, as well as SFO and OAK airports -- plus, it's nearly an identical experience to that of MUNI (with elbowing locals and all). BART will also take you to San Francisco's surrounding and equally quirky cities where you can either go to Berkeley and join an ultra-liberal movement or go to Oakland and get wild, the surrounding cities easily match San Francisco in  sheer strangeness.

Ferry under the Bay Bridge

Finally, go to the Embarcadero or Fisherman's Wharf and take the ferry across the Bay to Marin -- a beautiful county that holds the likes of bayside towns Sausalito and Tiburon, both gorgeous and both practically overflowing with money.

With a slew of transportation choices, it's no wonder why most locals don't get their driver's license until they're 19-20 -- there's just no need. With the wealth of public transportation, locals and tourists alike can not only go where they need to go, they can also do it while experiencing the entirety of San Francisco's culture.

Just don't forget to bring some change for the bus.

Everything you need to know:

Buses and Streetcars
Cable Cars
Luxurious Limousines
BART, Caltrain, and Ferries