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SF Public Transportation Help

Old May 15th, 2003, 03:28 PM
  #1  
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SF Public Transportation Help

Planning a trip to SF in late June, and hoping to return the rental car in right after we check in to our hotel (we're driving up from LA). We're staying in the Union Square area (Westin St. Francis) and planning to use the CalTrain to visit Stanford area, BART to get to the UC Berkeley area, and the muni to get to the Twin Peaks and Castro areas, as well as ferries to get to Marin county bay locations. Should we encounter any safety issues along these routes? We're not planning on travelling any later than 6PM on the public transportation systems. Would we be better off just keeping the car? any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:37 PM
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Tough question! You are located a in great location for public transit. You are within walking distance to BART as well as walking distance to the "F" line which will take you to Castro (or any of the underground buses, M, L, K, or N). Getting to the top of Twin Peaks may be more difficult as the only public buses go up the back side (not the side where the tour buses stop for the view). Caltrain and BART are safe beyond belief!! The areas you are going to in San Francisco are also very safe. I am assuming you are from Chicago (given your name) and I feel as safe at home on MUNI as I do on the El in Chicago. I would probably keep the car for a couple of days for the out of town trips visiting college campuses just for convience, but just know that public transit to the locations you mentioned is very doable.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:37 PM
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If no later then 6 pm (and in summer it's 8 pm) you'll be safe everywhere. As everywhere public transportation is packed during rush hours when people go to/from work. Caltrain had discount tickets for travelling off-peak hours. Happy travels!
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:42 PM
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There are no real safety concerns for any of those transit systems. The places where you will be going are not high crime areas. As a single female I feel comfortable riding BART until about 10:30 at night.

The only reason I would keep the car is under the following set of conditions

A) minimal or no parking fee at your hotel -AND-
B) good daily rate on the car.

For example if you were to take your spouse and 3 kids to tour UC Berkeley, your round trip BART fee would be $25. That is pretty close to a daily rental for a compact car. In that case the convenience factor might outweigh taking public transit.

The reason I say this is because you may wish to do a drive around the area where each school is located and really get an good view of the entire surrounding neighborhood, something that would be time consuming and tiring on foot.

However, if budget constraints are important, and you have a high per day parking fee at the hotel, and the rental isn't that cheap, then it would be both environmental and economical to return the car.

For just exploring around SF you really don't need a car.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:47 PM
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It looks as if parking is going to be kind of steep, close to $40 per day, on top of the daily rental for the car. If we were to turn the car in, is there a fairly easy way to get to SFO from Union Square? There is a rental location right in Union Square, so returning the car might be convenient.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 03:54 PM
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The answer to the question depends on whether the BART people get their act together.

They are supposed to open the new BART station at SFO on June 22nd. If it's open, then getting from there to Union Square is easy-peasy, a two block walk from BART station at Powel Street.

If not it requires taking a bus to connect to BART. Not super hard, just kind of a pain.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 04:59 PM
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What day will you will going to Stanford? If it's on a weekend, Caltrain will not be running.

I would say to keep the car. Some of the characters that you encounter on MUNI busses and light rail can make you really uncomfortable. MUNI has had a number of cutbacks in service lately due to the economy. Even before the cuts service, even service during the daytime was not too reliable. Sometimes you have to wait a half hour for a bus, especially outside of the downtown area.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 05:05 PM
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Since you are driving up from LA you might want to stop in Palo Alto on the way up and drive around the Stanford campus and its environs before you drop the car off in downtown SF. Just a thought. As previous poster stated IF BART gets it act together you have and easy and fairly inexpensive way to get to SFO. If not and that's always a possibility it might end up being better to take a cab depending on size of your party. Costs around $35 plus tip, but the SuperShuttle which will pick up at hotel is around $15 per person, I think.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 05:57 PM
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I've been riding Muni Metro twice a day for 10 years and even though I do on ocasion piss and moan about it, I have to admit that it has in fact become more reliable not less. SF is well covered by public transportation but some bus lines, particularly those that don't have high ridership do not run that frequently. Most of the bus lines that run through downtown run fairly frequently before 6pm. Once rush hour is over most lines run less frequently because the ridership has decreased.
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