Bart, Relax, Enjoy The San Francisco Bay Area While Someone Else Drives

Adventures as a tourist allow you to witness and participate in experiences that will give you memories of a lifetime.

Mostly from a surface level. True?

You need to spend far more time in a locale or an activity to truly understand and appreciate the full dynamics of what’s involved. writer, San Francisco Examiner photo credit

Traversing around the very crowded San Francisco Bay Area can be a challenging experience especially by car. With the hills and the bumper to bumper traffic along with your enjoyable visits to new and exciting attractions can also involve transportation headaches.

No, make that transportation nightmares.

One possible solution is to take advantage of the vast benefits of riding Bart. writer, photo credit via SF Weekly

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a rapid transit public transportation system serving the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

The heavy rail elevated and subway system connects San Francisco and Oakland with urban and suburban areas in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties.

BART connects 48 stations along six routes on 112 miles of rapid transit lines, including a ten-mile spur line in eastern Contra Costa County which utilizes diesel multiple-unit trains and a 3.2-mile automated guideway transit line to the Oakland International Airport.

With an average of 423,000 weekday passengers and 124.2 million annual passengers in fiscal year 2017, BART is the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States.

Pretty amazing.

For those of us who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bart has provided us with tremendous memories of visiting relatives, hanging out with teenage friends and escaping the suburbs to have fun downtown and in nearby China town lined with delicious authentic restaurants without having to fight traffic. The cost to ride was nominal for what you received in return.

Depending upon what time of day that you leave, instead of struggling with traffic that could keep you trapped for hours, especially if you want to connect from the South Bay to the East Bay and need to ride across the Bay Bridge, using Bart instead can turn a hour and a half trip into a 30-45 minute one without the hassle. It is always fun to let someone else do the driving while you glance out expansive windows taking in the sights and the often beautiful serene calm waters of the aqua bay.

Then there is parking.

The local experts at educate us that $375 is about how much a typical parking space costs monthly in the city by the bay.

No wonder you need to have such high paying jobs to exist in this emerald city.

So how did this Nor Cal wonder begin?

The team at share, “The BART story began in 1946. It began not by governmental fiat, but as a concept gradually evolving at informal gatherings of business and civic leaders on both sides of the San Francisco Bay. Facing a heavy post-war migration to the area and its consequent automobile boom, these people discussed ways of easing the mounting congestion that was clogging the bridges spanning the Bay.

In 1947, a joint Army-Navy review Board concluded that another connecting link between San Francisco and Oakland would be needed in the years ahead to prevent intolerable congestion on the Bay Bridge.

The link? An underwater tube devoted exclusively to high-speed electric trains.”

Intriguing. This sounds so very Sci-Fi and Jules Verne.

BART is operated by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.

It was formed in 1957.

As of 2018, it is being expanded to San Jose with the contiguous Warm Springs and Silicon Valley BART extensions.

The innovative system continues to improve and move into the future. As reported on June 28, 2018 at, “BART is moving forward with plans to install 22 shiny new canopies to shield train station entrances on Market Street.

That project will also see BART replace 40 escalators throughout its Market Street stations. The new canopies and escalators will debut at Embarcadero, Powell, Civic Center and Montgomery BART stations.

The canopies come equipped with motorized barriers intended to prevent people from sleeping in station entrances.”

Fantastic. This is something to look forward to.

So many of us have had incredible memories riding Bart. We have a visiting writer who would like to share enjoying this unique transportation experience from another angle.

BART to San Francisco writer, photo credit

By Christian Montoya 

Parking is at a premium in San Francisco with most hotels charging $60+ per day extra if they even have parking spaces available. In addition, fueling stations are few and far between which translates to inflated prices. Public transportation is superb in San Francisco making it the best choice for getting around. For those flying into the San Francisco Airport (SFO), BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) will be your first step for quickly covering the distance from the airport to popular tourist destinations like Union Square, Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. BART is a mostly subterranean train that links the entire bay area.

The cost to ride BART from SFO to any one of four stops between the Civic Center and Embarcadero is $8.10 one way per person. Upon exiting your plane, you’ll need to head for the upper level of the airport and catch SkyTrain to the BART terminal. SkyTrain is a small train that circles the airport connecting all terminals with BART. There is no cost to ride SkyTrain since it is a very short ride that never leaves the airport facility. Once at the BART terminal, you’ll be on your way in 15 minutes or less.

It’s easy to purchase your BART ticket. Find the ticket kiosk at the station entrance. Use the pricing chart on the front of the kiosk to calculate the cost to your destination. Insert cash, credit or debit card into the machine to begin. Choose the dollar amount and number of tickets needed and print tickets. For cash customers, the BART ticket kiosk dispenses change in quarters. So an $8.10 ticket purchased using a $20 bill will return nearly $12 in quarters… you’ve been forewarned.

Take your ticket and head for the entrance gates – easily identified as hip to waist high, stainless steel shoots with orange panels blocking passage through. Insert your ticket in the slot at the front of the gate. Your ticket will suck into the machine, the orange panels will retract and your ticket will reappear from the top of the gate as you pass through. You’ll need your ticket again later in order to exit the BART system. Hop on the next train and make yourself comfortable. There’s plenty of room for you and your baggage.

It will be approximately 9 stops before the Civic Center/UN Plaza station which marks the beginning of the downtown region. Stops are announced from overhead speakers and when the doors open, overhead signs identify the current station. Once your destination is achieved, hop off the train and head for the exit gates. The exit gates look just like the entrance gates. Once again, insert your ticket in the front and the panels will open allowing passage through. This time your ticket will remain in the machine. In the event that the ticket price paid did not cover the entire cost to the destination, your ticket will not be accepted into the gate. No problem – Locate the ADDFARE ticket kiosk and purchase a ticket to cover the difference.

Exit the BART station and head up to street level for connections via bus, classic streetcar, cable car or taxi. Cable cars are $5 and connect from the Powell Street Station. They are very popular making them a little too crowded for traveling with baggage. The classic streetcars are only $2 and follow Market Street to the Embarcadero and on to Fisherman’s Wharf. Buses are also $2 and cover all other inner-city destinations.

When returning home, be sure to board the correct BART train to the San Francisco Airport, SFO. Watch the digital displays for the destination of the next arriving train. There will be four separate trains heading to different destinations. Refer to the BART System Map if you accidentally board the wrong train. There will be several opportunities to correct your mistake by exiting and re-boarding on the correct train. BART trains run from 4 a.m. to past midnight during the week and start at 6 a.m. on weekends. We hope this article answers all of your questions about the BART process and entices you to give BART a try. Visit the San Francisco page of our website for everything else you may need for your trip.

California Revealed is comprised of Californians who have spent a lifetime traveling and exploring California. We can give you local insight on popular destinations, but also let you know about the obscure, less traveled destinations that only locals of this state would know about. This is not the most extensive listing of California destinations but instead, an extensive listing of places and adventures that are sure to please you. Simply put, we want you to have a fantastic, unforgettable time in California.

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OPENING PHOTO writer, photo credit

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