Overview of BART



BART is one the convenient ways to get around the Bay Area. If you arrive in San Francisco by plane, it is the cheapest public transportation option from the airport (SFO) to the city itself.

by luisvilla

The cost

Children 4 and under ride free but everybody else must purchase a ticket. The cost is based on mileage travel. There are ticket vending machines on each station with a little table next to it that tells you how much it’ll cost to go to a specific destination. Once you figure out how much it’ll cost, you can then use either cash or credit card to purchase the ticket. All BART stations have vending machines that accept cash. You can also use credit and debit cards in select machines.

It’s ok to put in more money than your current trip will cost. In this case, your BART ticket will act like a debit card with each trip’s cost taken from the balance.

BART Discount Tickets

Clipper Card

For long term residents or travelers, it might be worth it to purchase a Clipper card. It saves a little bit of money but lots of time in convenience. See this link for more info on Clipper card.

BART Blue High Value Ticket
Offer limited savings: $48 ticket for $45 and $64 ticket for $60. Available only in select BART stations. In San Francisco these can be purchased from Civic Center, Montgomery, Embarcadero, and Powell stations.

The terminal

Once you have your ticket, you’ll head to the terminal, inserting your card and collecting it again at the turnstile.

At the terminal, there will be 2 platforms. There will be a sign above each platform that tells you what train and when it’s coming. You need to know the end station of your line (see map below). Or else you’ll risk ending up on the train heading to the opposite direction (when that happens, don’t panic, just get out and cross the platform and get on the right train).

bart system-map

BART Routes

For most visitors, the stops of interest are usually the ones downtown: (From Embarcadero to UN Plaza), and the airport. Fortunately, all BART lines pass through all downtown stops.

BART airport stop end in Millbrae and all the trains that pass through SFO will list that on the sign as the train is arriving. NOT ALL trains going to Millbrae will pass through the airport, so make sure that the one you’re getting on does.

A Note on MUNI

BART is great for getting around the different cities in the Bay Area, but is a limited mean to get around San Francisco itself. To reach other areas of interest in San Francisco, MUNI is your best bet. If you have a smartphone, the best thing to do is download a MUNI app such as Muni Alert (Android) or SmartRide (Iphone). This will tell you which MUNI buses run near you and when they are arriving.

These apps in conjunction with Google Map (the public transportation option will tell you which line to take) will make your sightseeing in San Francisco that much faster and easier.

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