San Francisco: Transportation

Approaching the City

The San Francisco International Airport is the ninth busiest in the nation, handling more than 40 million passengers on more than 1,300 flights a day from more than 35 airlines. An efficient customs clearance, modern facilities, and computerized ground transportation information make the airport easy to use. A $2.4 billion expansion, including a new international terminal, centralized rental car center, and new AirTrain system is currently underway. Many of the downtown hotels offer free transportation to and from the airport.

The city is at the intersection of several major highways. U.S. 101 and S.R. 1, the Pacific Coastal Highway, converge on San Francisco from the north and south. From the east, Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 serve the city. Interstate Loops 580 and 680 provide access to Interstate 5, the major north-south route from Canada to Mexico.

Amtrak rail service is available, as is CalTrain, a commuter service that operates from San Francisco to San Jose. Bus service is offered via Greyhound Bus Lines.

Traveling in the City

Because of the city's compact size, walking is a favored means of transportation, but when the distance is too great, several public transportation options are available. The famous cable cars are not only a tourist attraction, but also a convenient way for commuters to travel in the downtown area. The city's Municipal Railway System (Muni) light-rail vehicles, descendants of the cable cars, travel underground in the inner city and above ground in the outlying areas; bearers of Muni Passports have access to Muni's entire 978-vehicle fleet of buses, trolleys, light-rail vehicles, and cable cars. Muni is the country's seventh largest transit system in terms of ridership. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is an ultra-modern train system linking the city with 43 stations in the East Bay Area. The year 2005 marks BART's seventh of a critical $1.2 billion program to renovate system infrastructure to provide optimum on-time performance, safe and comfortable station and train environments, and enhanced system accessibility. Four ferry services also connect the city with Oakland and Berkeley across the bay.