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San Francisco BART, Caltrain and Ferries

Public Transportation Strategies

Caltrain

San Francisco has many train and ferry lines to help you get around!

BART

Bart entrance

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) takes you long distances from San Francisco to the suburbs, and is your best bet for reaching the East Bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland. It’s mostly a commuter train, but many tourists ride BART to see Berkeley or to get to the SFO and Oakland airports.

Tickets are for sale at every station, and prices are based on distance traveled. At the ticket machine, check the price of your destination and purchase a ticket for the exact amount. There is no discount for roundtrip tickets. BART does offer slight discounts for “high-value” tickets (over $30), but for a tourist this is hardly worth the effort.

CalTrain

Cal Train station

CalTrain is another commuter train that runs out of San Francisco’s 4th/King Street station. It is mostly used by people living or working in the South Bay cities of Silicon Valley, but it does go as far as San Jose and Gilroy. If you are staying in Palo Alto or Mountain View, for instance, this may be a convenient way to get to San Francisco. From the 4th/King station, you can walk or take a bus to many city destinations. Tickets are sold at stations and are based on distance, like BART. Monthly passes are available.

Ferry boats

There are also ferry boats which travel to some of the more "high-class" suburban areas in Marin County. The ferries are quite nice and a fun ride with great views when the weather allows. This is a great alternative to buying a Bay Cruise from Fisherman’s wharf because you’ll see and experience much of the same trip without the cost or the very annoying audio narration. Sausalito and Tiburon are the best destinations for a nice half-day trip. Many ferries leave from the Ferry Building at the end of Market St. at Embarcadero, or from the piers near Fisherman’s Wharf. The Ferry Building is also home to a farmer’s market on Saturday morning, which is well worth visiting.

Ferry Boat at the Fery Building

Everything you need to know:

Buses and Streetcars
Cable Cars
Luxurious Limousines
BART

Other Links:

San Francisco CityPass

511.org Public Transit information

San Francisco Muni Maps

BART information

CalTrain - San Jose to San Francisco Trains

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