Navigating the Bay Area: The Best Options for getting around
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The Main TransitsBart: No we aren’t talking about the troublesome Simpson’s character, BART is a lot more than a cool acronym. Bay Area Rapid Transit ranges from SFO through the city all the way out to the East Bay. At times over crowded and a little bit smelly (as most public transit in big cities are), it is still the best way to avoid the horrendous traffic on the Bay Bridge on the way to work. And although you can hear a Bart train screeching to a stop from a mile away it is inexpensive and reliable.
TIP: late flight or partying all night in the city? Don’t rely on Bart because it unfortunately stops running at midnight.
Caltrain: Your safest and cheapest bet for reliable transport may just be Caltrain. Perfect for getting anywhere on the Peninsula, the train runs from downtown San Francisco to San Jose and beyond! Out of all Bay Area transportation Caltrains has the highest and best reviews. Nothing much more to be said.
TIP: it gets very bright on these trains so sit on the west side in the morning and the east side for the evening.
Muni: Looking to get around the traffic-filled streets of San Francisco? Muni has got your back. This historic transit system not only has the best logo in the Bay, but also offers travel by the always-classic Street Cars, Cable Cars, and busses.
TIP: try not to rely on Muni if you are on a time crunch as it can be crowded and sometimes requires waiting for the next cable car, bus, etc.
Ridesharing: We all know how easy Uber and Lyft are, but compared to other public transit the city offers, it is a more expensive alternative.
TIP: if you select a pool ride on each app, it offers a cheaper (but sometimes longer) trip.
VTA: If you are heading out to a 49ers game at Levis Stadium or going for a day of rollercoaster rides at Great America the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is the perfect option.
TIP: visit the 49ers Museum at Levis Stadium, it is opened Fri – Sun, 10:00AM – 4:00PM.
Ferry: Perhaps the most enjoyable transportation system, the SF Ferry Building can take you to Oakland, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and Sausalito to name a few places. Prices range differently depending on where you are going (Alcatraz is more expensive than a trip to Sausalito).
TIP: for the cheapest boat ride in the city, take the “short hop”, it takes about 10 minutes and runs from Pier 41 to the Ferry Building and back. $1.60 for adults/youths, $0.80 for seniors.
Scooters: To limit the reckless scooter riders, the abandoned scooters, and the endless complaints, San Francisco has allowed only Scoot (now owned by Bird) and Skip (both Bay Area startups) to rent scooters. A scooter ride offers a fun and quick way to make shorter travel distance a lot easier. They are also perfect for a cheap way to go sight-seeing in such a wondrous city.
TIP: in CA you can NOT ride your scooter on the sidewalk. Stick to the bike lanes and the roads.
Taxi: Tax? I? Never heard of one
Car: The reason this article needed to be written
Clipper Card, Clipper Card, Clipper Card. That’s all you need to know. Every transit system in the region accepts Clipper Card for payment. All you need to do is load money or select a monthly pass on your card and press against the card reader as you hop on.
And of course, you can always use cash or card to buy a single ticket, but who wants to go through all that hassle? Not me
The International Airports in Oakland and San Francisco are easily accessible from Bart and make the traveling process a lot less stressful. Additionally, if you are heading down to SoCal, the Megabus can get you there and has frequent stops in SF, San Jose, and Oakland. Lastly, for all those powder shredders, the Bay Area Ski Bus will take you straight to the slopes in Tahoe and also offers discounted lift tickets!