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Public Transit in Bay Area
In the San Francisco Bay Area, visitors and residents rely heavily on a complex and effective web of transport infrastructure. Whether you need to get across town to a restaurant, travel from San Francisco to the East Bay for work, or get out of the major Bay Area cities to the airport or farther, there is a system that will get you where you are going pretty easily.
The multimodal public transportation network in the San Francisco Bay Area consist of roads, bridges, highways, rail, tunnels, ferries, airports, bike routes, and pedestrian paths – which are developed, maintained, overseen, and operated by various agencies. This system is quite elaborate and extensive, ushering travelers and locals practically anywhere they want to go in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Daly City, Dublin, and Pleasanton and surrounding areas.
A series of overlapping bus agencies provides comprehensive public transport coverage throughout the Bay Area, offering transit to many areas not quickly accessible via rail service. The 4 largest bus agencies are Muni, AC Transit, SamTrans, and VTA, all of which operate within the city of San Francisco, East Bay, the Peninsula, and South Bay.
Rail Travel in the San Francisco Bay area is extremely popular, and it is used by a large number of people living in and visiting the city. The Bay Area rail system includes 1 heavy rail/ commuter rail line, 1 commuter line, 2 light rail systems, and an Amtrak inter-city rail service. Traveling by rail in the 9 Bay Area counties is simple and straightforward. Bay Area Rapid Transit, commonly known as BART, provides subway service throughout much of San Francisco, and in parts of Oakland and Berkeley. BART also offers commuter rail service to Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and San Mateo County, and it will bring commuter rail service into Santa Clara County by 2016.
Caltrain also provides commuter rail service on the San Francisco Peninsula and the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) offers commuter rail service from the Central Valley into Silicon Valley. Amtrak has stations in Martinez, Emeryville, and throughout the Bay Area.
While BART and certain bus agencies provide transportation over (and sometimes under) the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Transit runs the Golden Gate Ferry system for service across the Bay. Golden Gate Ferry’s Blue & Gold Fleet and Red & White Fleet (along with major train and bus operators) allow bicycles onto their systems for no additional charge.
Bay Area Bike Share is a regional public bike sharing system that offers a convenient mode of transportation within San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose. Bay Area visitors and residents have access to shared bikes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with Bay Area Bike Share membership. Simply pay for an annual, 3-day, or 24-hour membership and then take unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes within your selected membership period.
Freeways and Highways
The San Francisco Bay area benefits from an expansive freeway and highway system that includes Interstates 80, 580, 280, 680, and 880, Highway 101, Route 1, and many other thoroughfares running throughout the San Francisco area and East Bay.
There are 8 toll bridges crossing over the San Francisco Bay or the Bay tributaries. Each of the bridges, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, collect separate tolls through FasTrak or on-the-spot toll cash toll payment.
- Bay Area Toll Authority (8 bridge information site)
Airport Shuttle Service
Several airport shuttles (typically buses and vans) provide services for the 3 major San Francisco Bay Area airports, San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and San Jose International Airport.
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Distance between selected cities/towns and major Bay Area Airports
|City||San Francisco (SFO)||Oakland (OAK)||San Jose (SJC)|
|East Palo Alto||19.3||26||16.2|
|Half Moon Bay||19.6||36.2||40.5|
|Half oon Bay||20.8||36.4||40.5|
|Los Altos Hills||29||34.7||18.4|
|South San Francisco||3.9||28.2||36.9|