Steep hills and aching feet can be spared if you use the city’s exemplary public transport network. The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) (Tel: (415) 673 68 64 or 673-MUNI. Internet: www.sfmuni.com) offers a wide range of public transportation around the clock. Trams , buses , cable cars and a subway ensure that the tourist does not have to walk long.
The Muni – buses drive all over the city and have their name, destination and line number at the front. Stops are marked with signs, curb and road markings. The Muni Metro Streetcars (rapid transit lines J, K, L, M, N) run underground in the city center, but in the areas a little further out on the street. There is an extended route of the Muni F-line that leads from Market Street along the Embarcadero past the harbor to Fisherman’s Wharf. Up to 16 historic trams run every 6 to 15 minutes every day. The historic tram cars sometimes come from far away, some were even sourced from Italy, and can be dated back to 1928. For a bus or tram ride, you should buy the card in the vehicle and have the exact amount ready, because change will not be given out.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (Tel: (415) 989 22 78. Internet: www.bart.gov) operates the subway. It runs along Market Street and has stops at Embarcadero, Montgomery and Powell Street as well as at the Civic Center and connects San Francisco with the East Bay and Daly City. Subways run from early in the morning until midnight. Tickets are available from machines in the underground stations.
The cable cars travel three routes and offer the best views of the city.
With the practical multi-trip cards, the Muni Passports , you can use unlimited public transport. The passes are available for one day, three days or seven days. They are available in numerous places, such as at the ticket offices of the cable car turning points in the Civic Center, Union Square in Chinatown, in the Marina District, at Fisherman’s Wharf, inter alia,
a route map of Muni-transport system can in many bookstores, newspaper kiosks and small shops can be bought.
Ferries lay at the Ferry Building, Embarcadero, which is at the end of Market Street. In its heyday, 100,000 commuters were handled here every day – at that time the second highest number of ferry passengers worldwide – but even today there are regular crossings to the other places on the bay.
Ships from Golden Gate Ferry (Tel: (415) 923 20 00. Internet: www.goldengateferry.org) operate between Sausalito and Larkspur and leave behind the southern end of the ferry building. A crossing takes 30-45 minutes.
Blue and Gold Fleet (Internet: www.blueandgoldfleet.com) , Red and White Fleet (Internet: www.redandwhite.com) and Vallejo Baylink ( Internet: www.baylinkferry.com) offer daily crossings to Oakland from the ferry building and Pier 41 , Alameda, Vallejo, Tiburon and Sausalito.
Taxis are plentiful, and although you may be lucky enough to wave one on the street, it is advisable to order a taxi in advance. The prices vary. A trip from or to the airport costs a surcharge. Tipping is common, most taxi drivers expect around 15%.
Yellow Cab Cooperative Inc (tel: (415) 626 23 45) and Veterans Taxicab Company (tel: (415) 552 13 00) are both respected taxi companies.
Driving in the city
Getting to San Francisco by car is a pleasure, but driving in the city itself is less. Steep hills and cable cars that always have right of way do not make it particularly easy for the driver. Parking on the side of the road and in parking lots is very expensive and the unsuspecting tourist can easily face a hefty penalty fee. The regulations can be quite confusing and are followed relentlessly. Colored markings on the sidewalk indicate restricted parking. When parking on a slope, be sure to turn the wheels to prevent rolling back and make sure the handbrake is applied.
The city’s largest car park is the Fifth and Mission Parking Garage. More parking garages can be found online atwww.sfgov.org.
It is worth renting a car to explore the splendid coastal route Route 1 or to take longer trips in the area. Most companies rent cars with insurance and unlimited mileage. However, drivers must be at least 21 years old, and some companies even insist on a minimum age of 25. You need a valid driver’s license and ID and should book in advance.
Avis (Tel: (650) 588 55 85 Internet: www.avis.com),
Budget (Tel: (415) 775 66 07, Internet: www.budget.com) and
Thrifty (Tel: (415) 621 89 89. Internet: www.thrifty.com) offer cheap tariffs.
Fitness fanatics and those who like challenges get their money’s worth when renting a bike in San Francisco. It is definitely worthwhile to cross the Golden Gate Bridge by bike.
At Holiday Adventures Sales and Rentals (Tel: (415) 567 11 92) you can rent mountain bikes and other bicycles.
Other providers are Bay City Bike Rentals and Tours (Tel: (415) 346-BIKE. Internet: www.baycitybike.com) and Blazing Saddles (Tel: (415) 202 88 88. Internet: www.blazingsaddles.com).
Especially adventurers may want to fulfill their personal “American Dream” while sitting on a Harley Davidson.Eaglerider Motorcycle Rental (Tel: (415) 503 19 00. Internet: www.eaglerider.com) enables ordinary consumers to transform themselves into an “Easyrider”. The price includes helmets, liability insurance and unlimited mileage. Riders must be at least 21 years old and have a motorcycle license.