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Getting Around San Francisco

San Francisco is a rare American city where you don't need a car to see everything. In fact, given the chronic shortage of parking and zealous meter maids who love to give expensive parking tickets, going carless makes sense. The public transport system, MUNI, though much maligned by locals for it's unpredictable schedule, covers every neighborhood via it's system of cable cars.

Getting Around San Francisco
Free Transport is the best bet!

Bikes are a good option, as marked bike routes - with lanes - direct riders to all major points of interest. Walking the compact metropolis is the best bet, with each turn revealing surprises. Often these are in the form of stunning homes and bustling marketplaces, but on killer hills, some angled at 30 degrees and all punishment on the legs. Wear comfortable shoes.

Useful Bus Routes.

#5 - From the Transbay Terminal, west alongside Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park to the ocean.

#7 - From the Ferry Terminal (Market St) to the end of Haight St and to Golden Gate Park.

#15 - From Third St (SoMa) to Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, via the Financial District and North Beach.

#20 - (Golden Gate Transit) From corner of Mission and First streets to the Golden Gate Bridge.

#22 - From the Marina up Pacific Heights and north on Fillmore.

#28 and #29 - From the Marina through the Presidio, north through Golden Gate Park, the Richmond and the Sunset.

#30 - From the Caltrain depot on Third Street, north to Ghirardelli Square, via Chinatown and North Beach, and out to Chestnut Street in the Marina district.

#38 - From Geary St via Civic Center, west to the ocean along Geary Blvd through Japantown and the Richmond, ending at Cliff House.

MUNI Train Lines.

Muni F-MARKET LINE - Restored vintage trolleys from other cities run downtown from the Transbay Terminal and Fisherman's Wharf, up Market Street and into the heart of the Castro.

Muni J-CHURCH LINE - From downtown to the edge of the Castro and on to the Mission and Noe Valley.

Muni K-INGLESIDE LINE - From downtown through the Castro to Balboa Park.

Muni L-TARAVAL LINE - From downtown west through the Sunset to the zoo and Ocean Beach.

Muni M-OCEAN VIEW - From downtown west by the Stonestown Galleria shopping center and San Francisco State University.

Muni N-JUDAH LINE - From downtown west through the Inner Sunset and to Ocean Beach, via the outer Haight.

From the Muni N-Judah line or buses #5 and #38, you can connect to bus #44 that goes by the De Young Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, California Academy of Sciences and Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. A Muni transfer will get you discounts at these places.

Municipal Railway.

The city's public transportation is run by the San Francisco Municipal Railway , or Muni (tel 415/673-6864). A comprehensive network of buses, trolleybuses and cable cars run up and over the city's hills, while the underground trains become streetcars when they emerge from the downtown metro system to split off and serve the suburbs. On buses and trains the flat fare (correct change only); with each ticket you buy, ask for a free transfer - good for another two rides on a train or bus, and a fifty-percent reduction on cable cars if used within ninety minutes. Local groceries have begun to vend single-ride tokens, which save money and take care of the annoyance of not having correct change. Most of the streetcar lines (J, K, L, M and N) require proof-of-payment (meaning they can check your ticket), so hold on to a valid ticket, pass or transfer (they often do check) or you may be subject to a steep fine.

If you're staying a few days, the Muni Passport is available in one-day, three-day and seven-day denominations and is valid for unlimited travel on the Muni system and BART stations within the city limits. A Fast Pass costs $35 for a full calendar month. Muni trains run throughout the night on a limited service, except those on the M-Ocean View line, which stop around 1am. Buses run all night, but services are greatly reduced after midnight. For more information , pick up the handy Muni map from the Visitor Information Center or bookstores.

Bikes are allowed on MUNI buses equipped with bicycle racks (on the front of the bus) and on Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART , except during peak commute hours.

Other Forms of Transport.

Various other public transportation networks serve San Francisco and the Bay Area. Along Market Street downtown, Muni shares the station concourses with BART, which runs to the East Bay - including downtown Oakland and Berkeley - and outer suburbs. The Caltrain commuter railway (depot at Fourth and King, South of Market) links San Francisco along the peninsula south to San Jose. Golden Gate Ferry boats (tel 415/923-2000) leave from the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, crossing the bay past Alcatraz to Sausalito and Larkspur in Marin County.

Blue & Gold Fleet (tel 415/773-1188) sails to Sausalito and Tiburon from Pier 41 at Fisherman's Wharf. The Alameda-Oakland ferry (tel 510/522-3300) sails between Oakland's Jack London Square, the Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf and Pac Bell Park ($5 one-way) and, in summer, to Angel Island.

Taxis ply the streets, and you can flag one down (especially downtown), but finding one can be a pain. Phoning around, try De Soto (tel 415/970-1300) or Yellow Cab (tel 415/626-2345).

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