Public Transportation in San Francisco

Mar 8th, 2007, 06:20 PM
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Public Transportation in San Francisco

My family is taking a trip to the SF area this July. We're actually staying near Palo Alto and plan to take Caltrain into SF for a couple days. How is the public transportation within the city? I've read a little about the famous trolleys, but is this enough? Are the buses good? We plan to see Golden Gate park, pier area, the chocolate factory, AT&T park primarily. The kids are 4 and 8, so they can move about fairly easiy, but I'd kind of like to know what to expect.
kduncan65 is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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We used the public transport system exclusively this past January. Buy a Muni pass 1, 3, 7 days which allows you to use the cable cars, which the children will love, the buses and the light rail/tram system. Everyone is so very helpful in San Francisco just ask the bus drivers if they are going your way. Have a good time.
schnauzer is online now  
Mar 8th, 2007, 06:59 PM
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SF MUNI goes everywhere in the City with buses, streetcars, cablecars, trolleys, and Metro. So long as you avoid rush hour times, particularly downtown you should have a fairly easy time getting around with kids. BTW her trolleys are buses that are powered by overhead electrical wires, I think you mean cablecars.
SAB is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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SAB sez: "BTW her trolleys are buses that are powered by overhead electrical wires, I think you mean cablecars."

No, the F Market Street-Embarcadero line is real trolleys. But agree with everything else. Busses in SF are fantastic and can take you really interesting places.

Ackislander is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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Your planned destinations are all very acessible via MUNI. The F-line uses true trolley - streetcars and vintage ones at that. They are fun to ride, especially the Italian ones (complete with their advertisements for margarine, etc. intact on the interiors).

Planning your day so you are not struggling against the commuter tides is very wise. A word about the cable cars: I always see long lines at the Powell/Market turnaround during the middle of the afternoon. It reminds me, drearily, of some horrid theme park. How about a cable car ride in the evening? Much fewer passengers and you could get some beautiful views of sundown or city lights.
dovima is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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Disclaimer: I live in New York City.

I visit San Francisco frequently and am generally disappointed with the public transportation. Gaps between service are often/usually very long, and coverage is mediocre at best and often not well-marked.

Whenever I'm in SF, I rent a car (although I do use public transportation options when convenient or necessary).
Gekko is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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Certainly San Francisco is no New York when it comes to public transportation -- what city is?

But having rented in SF for up to a month at a time, I invariably leave my car in a garage 90% of the time (or unless I'm going outside of the city). Staying in North Beach or Cow Hollow for example, even with waiting for the next bus or cable car, I can get to my destination just as quick as getting there by car, finding parking, and then walking the rest of the way. And it's a lot easier on the nerves. And it's usually much less expensive than parking alone, not to mention the cost of renting a car to begin with.
Last summer we rented for two weeks, didn't have a car at all, and never had a single major transporation glitch.
Public transporation will serve you well.

NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Nothing(except maybe Paris and Montreal) compares with NYC in terms of public transportation.

That being said, you should be ok with it in SF. Since you are taking the train into "town" you will be in very close proximity to the Ball Park and the pier area. I would definitely not try to "do it all" in one day especially with kids.

Since you are coming from Palo Alto, consider renting a car for the day(s) you want to visit GG Park(come up 280) and the Chocolate Factory.BTW consider the Exploritorium(the Marina) and the Teddy Bear Factory(Potrero Hill) as other stops.
PamSF is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:08 AM
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Car rental to include GG PArk and the Exploritorium.

You can hit the Teddy Bear Factory pretty easily I think with buses from the train station.
PamSF is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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whoops..just googled and found out TB Facotry is now in the Marina area. Google "Basic Brown Bear".
PamSF is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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I agree with the others, you can definitely see what you want to in a couple days with public transportation. The right outside the Caltrain station at 4th and King is a MUNI lightrail line that goes downtown. From downtown, you can get just about anywhere. Really easy. You can buy transit passes at the Caltrain station.
J_Correa is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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If you plan taking Caltrain, check out also Samtrans - the bus system connecting Palo Alto with San Francisco. Some buses run to a BART station only (Daily City?) and it may be easier for you than Caltrain.

If taking Caltrain, be aware that there are changes in SF starting in April. The MUNI (SF bus and metro system) line N will not be running from Embarcadero to the Caltrain station, it will be either line J or some new line T.

Now, guess which Fodorite doesn't have a car in SF
FainaAgain is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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The chocolate factory - do you mean Scharffen-Berger in Berkeley? They have tours, tell the cocoa history, and let you try different types of chocolates. Well worth visiting, especially with kids.

Look here and thank me later

One thing to remember: for safety reasons, they do not allow open-toe shoes (no sandals)
FainaAgain is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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I hate to be picky, Ackislander, but even MUNI calls the F line streetcars: and the buses trolleys:

It may be more accurate to call the vehicles on the F Line trolleys, but that is not how we refer to them.
SAB is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 07:56 PM
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Oh, when looking at Caltrain's schedule, you'll see that some or the trains stop at more stations. So pick the ones that make less stops if those times are convienent for you.
trippinkpj is offline  
Mar 10th, 2007, 03:43 AM
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Thanks everyone for all of your help. Sounds like the buses will cover us for most everything we'll want to see. We didn't know there was a teddy bear factory there either. More info than I bargained for! Of course our girls would love this. I'll read up a little more on MUNI and the Samtrans too. Thanks again!!
kduncan65 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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I didn't read the other replies.

There is excellent bus and streetcar service within San Francisco. We purchased a very useful map of the public transportation system at the tourist office located below street level near Powell and Market.
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 12:02 PM
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I live in San Francisco with two kids ages 5 and 7 and have not owned a car the entire time I've lived here. We find it no problem to get all over the city using Muni. Sure, sometimes you hit a long wait but overall service is pretty good. The Muni underground, J, K, L, M, N tend to be fast and frequent. F Market, the old time street cars are great fun and run frequently as well. You should have no problem at all. It's a great city for kids. Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park (including Japanese Tea Garden) are all fun. Enjoy!
jenm is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 01:25 PM
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I'd love to live in a city without a car. And San Francisco is one I could do that in. We've rented there for as long as a month, and although he had a car usually, we mainly left it in a garage and took public transportation.

When someone says they can't stand "waiting" for the next bus or train or something like that, I always wonder how much they've driven that they've never been stuck waiting in a major traffic jam, or had to wait in line at a parking garage, or wait to get their car out of a parking garage, or. . .
NeoPatrick is offline  
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