In some cities, getting around via bus, trolley, or train is de facto. While we have public transportation in San Diego, it’s not very efficient for where I want to go, so I opt to drive or walk. But San Francisco is one of the friendliest cities when it comes to getting around on public transportation. Here’s why I love it (and you should too).
1. You’ve Got Options
San Francisco’s Muni system gives you lots of options for transportation:
- Cable cars
- Light rail
Usually when you map out your route, you can choose among these various options, depending on when you want to get there and what sort of experience you want to have. The bus is fine, but I prefer the trolley or cable car (more on that next).
2. You Can Ride a Cool Historic Cable Car
There’s nothing more quintessentially San Francisco than the cable car. Some of these moving National Historic Landmarks are as old as 100+ years! They’re a great way to see the city, especially the Powell-Hyde line, which runs from Market Street (lots of shops there) to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s fun to watch the cable cars be manually turned on a giant wooden platform so they can turn around and go the other way. Be warned: this is one of the most touristy attractions in town, so you may wait a while to catch a car. I prefer the Powell-Mason line, which is just a few blocks away and has less of a crowd.
3. There’s a Really Easy Way to Get Tickets
On my recent trip to San Francisco, I was given the CityPASS, which includes unlimited transportation on all of the public transportation options, including the cable cars (which typically cost more than other options). Rather than having to buy a ticket every time we boarded, we just showed our passes. That was it. I sometimes get stressed out at trying to navigate public transportation in a strange city, so this definitely made it easier. This public transportation option, plus entry into tons of museums and attractions, made the CityPASS a great value.
4. Mapping Your Route is a Breeze
There is a Muni mobile app, and I’ve used it in the past, but this trip I just used Google Maps. Plug in your destination and choose public transportation, and you’re given several detailed options, including when the next bus or trolley departs, how long each leg is, and where you’ll need to transfer.
5. You Get to Take a Load Off
Nothing in San Francisco is far as the crow flies, but those hills will get you. Japantown was only 1.8 miles from our Fisherman’s Wharf hotel, and we started walking it, but an hour later, soaking in the rain, we decided we were being dumb, and jumped on the next bus. Sometimes ya gotta know when to fold ’em.
On your next trip to San Francisco, I encourage you to try out public transportation. It’s readily available, and it’s kinda fun. And if you’re nervous about what to do, the Muni website has a great page with tips on your first ride.
I was provided complimentary CityPASSes from San Francisco Travel, but all opinions are my own. But you knew that.