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transit pass?

New York City, New...
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transit pass?

is there a 3-4 day pass that we can use on all forms of transport (sort of like a metrocard in NYC)?

Does the term "muni " refer to buses or the entire system?

i was thinking of getting a clipper card but from the website it does not seem to cover cable cars?

Edited: 14 June 2013, 18:31
San Francisco...
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11. Re: transit pass?

>>>So I am guessing in SF "metro" does not mean subway?

We can go into details but I am not sure where this is going because of the name.

there are MUNI streetcars or light rail which run below ground primarily along market street but then they come above ground as well just as some of your subway trains do when the cross the bridge say to go to Queens. They are still referred to as the Subway are they not ?


Does not mention BART. It mentions light rail which is the MUNI system.

If the Article that you read in the Top Question is not clear, I wil be happy to fix up any confusion but I really don't know where this is going.

Edited: 14 June 2013, 23:36
Santa Cruz...
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12. Re: transit pass?

Some of the muni streetcars go underground for part of their trips, as does BART. There is no "subway" line per se. If you will tell us the name of your hotel, a local can tell you exactlly which conveyances you should take from the airport to the hotel.

San Francisco
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13. Re: transit pass?

Like most big city transit, San Francisco's is an example of evolution. Cable cars were first. There used to be 120 miles of cable car track. Now there's 12.

There used to be streetcars (on tracks and powered by an electric wire) along Market. Those routes (with lettered route identifiers) made Market Street a nightmare to drive on. So they were submerged along Market and in some cases they share stations with BART -- Muni runs a level about BART. And the cars were updated to what we now called "Metro." Locals often say "metro" when the route is underground but still use "streetcar" when it's above ground out in the neighborhoods.

One lettered streetcar line still runs at street level along Market -- the F trolley which uses historic rolling stock from around the world.

It's not consistent because it didn't rise up out of the ground overnight. It's a reflection of the growth of the city and the rise of technology as well.

Edited: 15 June 2013, 02:03
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14. Re: transit pass?


I am from the East Coast also and been researching the same thing for a summer trip to California.

we are settling with the city pass (www.citypass.com) as it also include a number of the touristy stuff we will be doing. . . plus a 7 day muni & cable car pass.

Now- I am looking at a "customized" version of the go pass by www.smartdestinations.com for a few of the "other" touristy stuff we are interested.

when I compared costs for an airport transfer - I am still going back and forth between just taking the BART and a supershuttle.

good luck

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15. Re: transit pass?

The BART, taxi, or shuttle "answer" usually hinges on 3 or 4 main questions:

1. Timing - time of day/day of week of your arrival;

2. Numbers - number of people in your party and number of bags (really your ability to manage with your luggage);

3. Destination - where is your hotel or final destination in the city; and

4. Your priority/preference - this is sort of a price versus convenience question. If price is no object, cab will almost always "win.". If you're more budget minded, BART is often better (but number of people has to be considered).

Generally speaking, BART often comes in first (just over $8/person and ~30 minutes station to station), particularly if the hotel is an easy walk from an SF BART station. Taxis tend to win when the numbers are right and/or when speed, convenience (door-to-door service), is prefered, or money is no object. Shuttles generally come in "last," but there are certainly situations where they make sense.

If you can give is some details on those 4 questions, we can go into the detailed pros/cons of each method for your specific situation.


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16. Re: transit pass?

Being a bit of a mass transit nerd I find this conversation about transit systems cool – not being facetious – not remotely. We have Muni and BART. Muni has cable cars and streetcars sometimes called trolleys, and lots of buses and then there is the Muni Metro which is a subway on its underground lines running between the Embarcadero out beyond Castro. Muni Metro is a light-rail service sometimes called the Underground by San Franciscans whose experience – presumably – is to use it in its subway sections. But these same light-rail trains run above ground beyond Market Street.

Muni, in all its systems, is the transit system within San Francisco.

BART serves stations passing through San Francisco from locations south of SF to many locations across San Francisco in the area we call the East Bay. BART is an inter-urban system. It’s not quite SF’s PATH in that it does provide intra-city service between some locations. There are four other mass transit systems linking San Francisco with environs.

Along Market Street some of BART’s stations coincide with Muni’s stations. Such stations are all underground and the Muni rails are one level below the underground stations with the concurrent BART rails a second level lower.

All that aside - to the OP - besides asking about the systems, a worthy topic, if you are merely asking how to get to a hotel from SFO which you say is in the Castro, if I were staying at a hotel near Castro, such as the Beck Motor Lodge where I’ve regularly stayed and I think is the only such hotel which is a hotel, as such, actually in the Castro, arriving at SFO, I’d take BART to Civic Center, come up one level – exiting the BART system – crossing over to the Muni Underground system to board Muni Metro outbound to Castro. Once down on the Muni platform I’d want to take either a “K,” “L,” or “M” train either of which serve Castro from Civic Center – easy to remember – just think the Dutch Airlines.

Other trains, such as the “J” or “N” run outbound on my track – maybe stopping at my platform before KLM - I won’t want to get on one of them.

As to paying fares, if you are not to become a resident or recurring visitor to San Francisco – which is unfortunate but happens - you’ll have no need for Clipper. You might buy a roundtrip ticket for BART at the airport. Your decision as to a Muni Pass or City Pass, or to just pay transit as you go, depends upon your transit plans while visiting and the amount you expect to use Muni. If you plan to ride cable cars, you probably want some kind of pass. These, I think, are available at information booths at SFO.

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17. Re: transit pass?

Penny, in case you're still confused about all of the acronyms, here is my best shot at comparing the SF and NYC transit systems:

1. BART -- this is a REGIONAL transit system like Metro North or the LIRR in New York. You COULD use BART to get around within SF but you wouldn't (just as you probably wouldn't take a metro north train from Grand Central Terminal to Harlem/125th Street since there are less expensive, more frequent options).

2. MUNI -- this is the main public transit agency in SF and includes the street cars, light rail (which goes underground at times and is referred to as 'metro'), buses and cable cars. The regular muni 'visitor day passes' which can be purchased for 1, 3 or 7 days include access to all of these.

Info at: sfmta.com/getting-around/…visitor-day-passes

See? That's not so hard.

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18. Re: transit pass?

Not as clear cut as you might think. Of course it's all evident when you know. But the reason for these forums is to help people who do not know. When posts say that Muni covers all public transportation within SF, there is no reason for anyone to assume that that excludes BART. If the TQs say one thing, and then subsequent posts forget to mention the little detail that BART and Muni are two different systems, then the forum seems to be giving conflicting information. So we have to ask for clarification. If this exasperates you, well, maybe you need a vacation yourself! May I suggest New York City? We have a great transportation system. The Metrocard covers all subways and buses in the entire city, all five boroughs. ;>

San Francisco...
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19. Re: transit pass?


Where did you see the conflicting info. The info that you see in the TQs and the point you asked RamblinSal to clarify say the same thing.

Yes this forum is to help clarify issues. Now this is what the Top Question on MUNI and BART says. (see the paras below) We want to help people and hence we wrote the article. If something is not clear in the paragraphs below, please let us know as we think we are clear but visitors may read it and find it confusing. The TQs are for visitors and if they need an update to clear up or stress a point, happy to do that.

As the OP pointed out, she read google maps and it mentioned light rail and metro and she thought it was BART. Please read the TQ on MUNI and BART and if it is confusing we can fix the language.

---- Quote from the TOP QUESTION on BART AND MUNI--


Use BART to get from SFO or OAK Airports to San Francisco and back.

Use SF MUNI to travel around SF (buy MUNI Passport or Individual Tickets to cover buses, streetcars and the cable car)

BART and MUNI do not offer a combined PASS that is cost effective for Visitors (locals have other options) so purchase the tickets separately.

Citypass is a package that includes MUNI Passport and attractions. Cost effective if you are planning to do the attractions

CALTRAIN is the transit to use from SJC (San Jose Airport) to SF

1. What is MUNI and what is BART?

Muni is the San Francisco local transit which runs all the local streetcars. cable cars and buses within the city of SF. MUNI can take visitors to all the popular attractions from Fisherman's Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Alcatraz Ferry to Union Square and many other locations.

BART is the local train which runs from SFO (San Francisco Airport) through the Peninsula, to San Francisco and to destinations in the East Bay from Berkeley, to Richmond to Fremont. BART can also be used to get to and from Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Athletics Baseball Stadium


BART Website BART Train Website

MUNI tickets and BART tickets are sold separately. For short term visitors, there is no advantage in trying to find a card that includes both fares. Please purchase your BART ticket and your MUNI ticket or MUNI Passport (explained below) separately.

Visitors staying in San Francisco generally use BART only to get to or from SF Airport (known as SFO) which is 13 miles south of SF to San Francisco (Powell street or Embarcadero Stations). BART is also an option to get to SF from Oakland Aiport (OAK) or to the Oakland A's Baseball games

Visitors can then use MUNI Buses, Streetcars and Cable Cars to travel within San Francisco. MUNI goes to all the attractions and neighborhoods within the city and it is a convenient and easy way to travel around town.

Google Maps offers directions by public transit. Enter the destiination, click on the "bus" icon and enter the date and time to get routing and schedule information.

Edited: 16 June 2013, 18:06
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20. Re: transit pass?

Guys, the TQ on transit is excellent. Every word is accurate. Seemingly it answers likely questions providing the most generally needed advice.

There are things it doesn’t address. There’s no need for elaborate discussion of Clipper when Clipper is not to be recommended for visitors. The TQ doesn’t mislead and say there’s no universal pass for both BART and Muni; it tells visitors this – the Clipper – wouldn’t be to their advantage. That’s entirely correct.

The TQ is accurate describing BART and Muni as separate. The TQ doesn’t address use of BART for point to point transit within SF although I have seen this addressed in response to specific queries. As a rule, visitors for a few days will not need to make use of BART within the city and if they buy any kind of Muni pass would probably not want to waste the money.

It’s perfectly fine for a visitor to learn as much as they like about BART and Muni and their differences. A visitor doesn’t need to understand these distinctions to get from the airport to a hotel.

I’m familiar enough with the MTA and MetroCards. As a rule, getting around San Francisco is easier. SF is, of course, much smaller and I must admit I’m mostly a dunce about MTA’s bus routes. MetroCards are positively persnickety about not being used to get right back in the system – no doubt to prevent abuse – but a common problem for visitors. When there’s an agent near I’ve been known to go helpless in my best Southern accent. I’m unaware of any similar complication using transit cards or passes in the Bay Area.

Regular transit users in any city have their strategies. There’s the Express vs. Local subway game in NY. In San Francisco, I’ll hop an arriving eastbound trolley to the Van Ness subway station to pick up a westbound K, L, or M underground, to get to Castro rather than cross Gough and Market to wait for an eastbound trolley.

These nitty-gritties don’t belong in any general TQ – it would be mind-boggling.

If Penny, the OP, needs help getting to her – I’m assuming a female Penny – hotel, we can help.

SF’s TA’s are quite helpful.