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San Francisco Airport (SFO) is about 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco This article provides a summary of travel options from SFO to the popular hotel areas around the Downtown Union Square area where the bulk of the hotels are. The hotels are situated in about a mile's radius in Union Square, Moscone Center/South of Market, Downtown/Financial District/Embarcadero and Nob Hill. These areas can be seen on this map
There are five options to get to these hotels.
(Feb 2016 prices)
|2 adults||4 adults or 2 Adults and 2 kids|
|Rental Car||Rental car rate plus hotel parking $30- $50||Rental car rate plus hotel parking $30- $50|
|Limo or Cab or Smartphone Car Service|
Limo: $57 to $60 + tip Some limos companies used by TA members include Pleasant Limo, Execucar, Avalon Transportation, and Seven-24 limos
Cab: Metered rate at approx $45 -$50 + tip
Smartphone Car Service: UberX $38-$44 and UberBlack $65 (tip included) Wingz offer a flat $31 -$35 rate to any part of SF. There are no additional tips for any of these service. Uber may have surge pricing that is a surcharge levied during peak times (approx 15 to 20%) Uber Pool is another option at $20 per person (preferable for single riders) Lyft is a third option
Limo: $57 to $60 + tip Parties of 5 or may may need a SUV which could be around $90
Cab: Metered rate at approx $45-50 + tip
Smartphone Car Service: UberX $38-$44 and UberBlack $65 (tip Included) Wingz has a $31-37 rate fixed when booking depending on number of bags and people. Lyft is a third option
BART: $8.95 per adult = 18 (discounts for seniors)
If a cab is needed due to distance from BART(Nob Hill) or heavy bags. Add approx $5-$7
BART: $8.95 per adult = $36
Kids and seniors with Special BART ticket $9 RT
Add $5-$7 if a cab is needed to go to Nob Hill or the walk is too long with heavy bags
Approx $32 to $34 one way + tip
Entire van booked = $80 to $90
Lorrie's and Super Shuttle are the ones to look at if pre-booking but in most cases just walk out and take the next available shuttle. No need to book unless it is late night after 11 pm or really early AM
Approx $64 to $68 one way + tip
Entire van booked = $80 - $90 (ideal for parties of 4 and more or kids needing child seats)
The major car rental companies all have counters a short AirTrain ride away from the Terminals. One can rent from Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise, National or other chains such as Dollar and Thrfty. Parking at Downtown hotels can range from $30 to $50 per night and a car is not advised in San Francisco.
Travel Time to Downtown; 20 minutes late night. Average time is 30 minutes during light or moderate traffic. It can take up to an hour during rush hour. The Rental Car Center is approx a mile north of the Airport and can be reached via the free AirTrain from the Terminals.
San Francisco Taxis /Cabs are available at the Taxi Stands (marked with a yellow TAXI sign painted on the wall) in the arrivals level of each Terminal. There is a taxi dispatcher to assist should one have questions. Most cabs are quite small hybrids. Two or three can fit comfortably but with 4 people and bags, it may be hard to fit in a regular cab. A few vans are available and the visitor should request one from the taxi dispatcher. A cab to downtown or for that matter to any part of San Francisco is metered. The average cost is around $45-$50 plus tip.
A Limo or a car service can be rented before hand and the typical charge is between $57 and $60 for curb side pick up. There is an additional charge should one need the limo driver to wait with a sign in the arrivals area. SF forum members have suggested a few companies. It would be best to search the SF forum for Limo company recommendations. Some limos companies used by TA members include Pleasant Limo, Execucar, Avalon Transportation, and Seven-24 limos
Children requiring car seats should be in a car seat in Cabs. Cabs DO NOT provide seats. Some limo companies will rent car seats for an extra price. It may be easier to book a private Shuttle for $80 to $90 and take kids as they will provide car seats.
Cabs and limos are available 24 hours a day and would be the recommended mode of transport late night or perhaps after arriving on International flights from Europe, Asia or South America.
Yellow Cab SF has a $35 fixed rate from SF to SFO (not from SFO to SF) if you book your cab in advance via their app or website and use code GOSFO
There are new Smartphone car services that can take visitors for a flat rate from SFO to SF. Uber has UberX and UberBlack which costs between $38- $50 for UberX and $65 for UberBlack including tips from SFO to SF. Please check the uber website. A smartphone with internet connection is needed to reserve this vehicle realtime. No advance reservations can be made. Uber pricing varies based on demand and time of day. Other smartphone car service companies in SF include Sidecar and Lyft A new company Wingz offers fixed $31- $37 rides to anywhere in San Francisco based on number of bags and people. Wingz, Uber, Lyft have official agreements with SFO to operate at the airport so it is legal to use them at SFO for both pickup and drop off.
Travel Time to FW; Average time is 30 minutes during light or moderate traffic. It can take up to an hour during rush hour and stop and go traffic. If you have "Sir Speedy", 20 minutes late night.
See the map of the various BART station on Market street here
BART or Bay Area Rapid Transit has trains that leave the SF International terminal. BART tickets are available through automated machines at the SFO BART Station. Each adult ticket as of Jan 1 2016 is $8.95 and children and seniors can purchase a discount ticket for $9 which allows for up to $24 worth of travel. BART travel is metered and the price varies based on the distance traveled. Discount tickets for Adults 65 and over and children 5-12 are available at the SFO Information Desk and NOT at the BART ticket kiosks. Check the BART website for more details
Union Square or Moscone Center/ 3rd Street Hotels
Take BART to the Powell Street Station. Most of the hotels will be a 5-15 minute walk.
Financial District or Chinatown or Downtown Hotels
Take BART to the Montgomery Street Station. Most hotels will be a 10 minute walk
Take BART to the Embarcadero Station.
Nob Hill Hotels or getting to a hotel 15 minutes from BART with heavy bags
Take BART to the Embarcadero Station. Come out and look for the Hyatt Embarcadero (north of the station) and see the Taxi Stand near the Hyatt. Take a cab to the hotel (5-10 minutes to any of the hotels in this area)
Travel time: Actual BART transit time; 35 minutes Plan on approx 60 minutes of elapsed time based on wait time to get a train and then about 10-15 minutes to get to the hotel. In the best case, especially during the rush hour, if one gets the train as soon as one arrivies at BART SFO, one can be in the hotel in about 40-45 minutes.
Check BART schedule on Sunday Mornings as BART does not operate early Sunday morning. BART does not operate late night (after midnight)
Shuttles or Shared Ride Vans are available at the DEPARTURE level of each terminal. Search the San Francisco Forum for a discussion on Shuttles. One does not have to book a shuttle until about 10.30 at night but can just catch the next shuttle at the Departure level. One DOES need to book a shuttle after 11pm at night.
The average cost of each ride is $16 per person. The entire shuttle can be rented for $80 to $90 For parties of 4 or more with plenty of luggage, a private shuttle would be the most cost effective. With minimal luggage, a Cab or Limo would be more convenient. Shuttles wait until they are full and may circle the airport to add passengers before they leave. A shared shuttle will drop off passengers in other parts of the city before it reaches Fisherman's Wharf.
Travel time: If the shuttle drops off passengers enroute, which very well may be the case, plan on a 60- 90 minutes or more ride to your hotel with a bunch of fellow travelers. If there is traffc, add more time.