"Travel Like a Local" Tips for San Francisco Tourists

Categories: Public Transit
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Joe Eskenazi
Eat oatmeal on the train when you "travel like a local"
A cheery publication aimed at visitors to our fair city encouraging them to "travel like a local" on public transit is a massive softball waiting to be belted over the fence and deep, deep into the bleachers. 

Jokes about remembering to avoid scattering detritus when rolling a joint on the bus or being sure to speak loudly enough for everyone to hear when engaging in a cell phone discussion about sexual activity and/or its resultant skin conditions are gimmes. 

But the American Public Transportation Association is free of guile in its San Francisco list (which you can read here). But that doesn't mean we have to be. 

Muni is light rail, BART is the train system, and we also have buses and cable cars...

Oily bus.jpg
Jim Herd
"Be sure to allow extra time when traveling..."
This is oddly worded. Buses, cable cars, trolleys, and light rail vehicles are all Muni -- not just light rail. A more accurate statement would be "BART is the intercity system and Muni is the intra-city system slowly moving people and urine around San Francisco." 

When you're on an escalator, stand on the right and walk on the left. This is true in many cities -- especially San Francisco. 

Huh? Is that so? Is this a statement on city politics? 

Where would this be acceptable? Are people who need to be given advice like this -- in writing -- the sort of folks who make a point of studying local public transit tips published by a national public transit association? 

Be sure to allow extra time when traveling. 

Oh yes. 

Use a Clipper Card ... Be sure to load your Clipper Card in advance ... Don't store your BART tickets in your wallet (or near any magnets). 

But I thought you were pushing Clipper Cards? Also, what would be the point of toting around magnets strong enough to ruin a BART card? Other than a public transit-using magnet salesman, how would this take place? (Any ideas? Put 'em in the comment section!)

My Voice Nation Help

It's funny people complain so much about the transportation system when they are able to go anywhere, anytime, on tap away from google maps. I'm not saying it's perfect, but they don't appreciate what they have.

BART is ridiculously crowded though. Muni should implement a system that charges more for rides for transfer stations when you should have taken it. For example, if you take the SFO bart but only had to go to Balboa, you should have waited for the Daily City train.


To tourists staying a short time: don't buy a Clipper card.  

Pay the $2 on a MUNI bus and get a transfer from the driver.  If you pay for one from a machine, you'll have an hour and a half to use it.  If you get one from a bus driver, they usually add several hours more than that to the transfer. 

Also, if you want to do a bike tour, please remember: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR ANYONE OVER 12 YEARS OLD TO RIDE THEIR BICYCLE ON THE SIDEWALK!!! 

If you eat at a fast food restaurant, do not get in line to order until you know what you want.  The same is true for movie theater lines. 

For escalators that are two people wide, the left side is the passing lane for people in a hurry.  The right side is for lazy asses that don't want to exert themselves.  This is an unwritten yet understood law. 

No Smoking signs aren't put up for decoration.  OBEY THEM! 

And, above all else, learn how to use a credit card swiping/payment machine before coming out here! 

Thank you. 

aliasetc topcommenter

The entire city is starting to suck like the SFMTA. Time for a change. A modern Committee of Vigilance is needed to restore the City!

Barbara Mcwilliams
Barbara Mcwilliams

Highly recommended if you are traveling light during the day and not using your cell phone.


I love to travel and when I'm  in a new city or country, I use public transportation (during the day only) so that I can watch locals going about their lives.  Lost my watch on the Paris subway, their pick-pockets are 5star rated, recommend traveling lite.


Cell phones should be kept away from BART tickets also.


Often credit cards, debit cards, ID cards, health plan cards et al. are clustered together in a wallet.

If those with magnetically-encoded information slide across each other, it can create an electric discharge.

BART tickets next to them can be affected.

It's more important to comment on the language of the APTA guide to its conventioneers.

The "we" reference to " MUNI is light -rail...we also have trolleys and cable cars" makes one think this mis-information cited by the reporter comes from MTA.

Yet, most of the tips refer to BART, including the reference to stand to the right of an escalator while others walk up on the left.  Both BART and APTA ignore how this causes problems for those many transit riders who use walkers, canes, crutches --a group often pushed aside and / or bumped by the impatient transit riders who feel empowered by BART to be rude and brusque.

Robert la Bohème
Robert la Bohème

They don't come here anymore because of the parking prices, hard to understand parking signs, and the crazy way the town's been cut in half by closing off Market Street. Their money stays home too.

Pat Tea
Pat Tea

When you're on an escalator, stand on the right and walk on the left. This is true in many cities -- especially San Francisco!


@bob680 Thanks for the knowledge, Bob. 

Rest assured, the text cited comes from the APTA, not Muni. In retrospect, the use of "we" was rather chummy. 



@Robert Sooverit No one comes to SF anymore, it's too crowded.

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