One of the easiest and most convenient methods to travel throughout San Francisco is by riding Muni Metro, the electric light rail train that runs throughout the city.
This post provides tips on how to ride Muni Metro.
The trains will get you where you need to go easily and (typically) on time. But for visitors to San Francisco, it can be difficult to figure out how to use the trains.
Follow this guide for a quick and easy summary, and you'll be riding Muni Metro just like the locals!
How to Ride Muni Metro
Step 1: Figure out where Muni Metro Runs
There are 6 Muni "lines," meaning trains that run to different places throughout the city. The lines are named after the letters of the alphabet.
Here is the list of Muni lines (click on the name to get to a detailed route map):
- J Church - From Embarcadero station to Balboa Park station
- K Ingleside - From Embarcadero station to Balboa Park Station
- L Taraval - From Embarcadero station to the San Francisco Zoo
- M Ocean View - From Embarcadero station to Balboa Park station
- N Judah - From 4th & King train station to La Playa station (Ocean Beach)
- T Third - From Embarcadero Station to Sunnydale station
Here is a map of all the Muni Metro lines and the stops that they all follow:
Step 2. Figure Out When Your Train Departs
The best way that we know of to get up-to-the-second departure information on each train (and bus, and streetcar, and cable car!) throughout San Francisco is to use a smartphone app called Moovit.
You can download this from the iTunes app store, available for free!
If you don't have a smartphone, or if you can't get data service while you're in San Francisco, don't worry! There are other ways to figure out when the trains leave.
You can download a list of schedules for each train:
If you have the Google Maps app, you can also get departure timings, though we should say that these times are not 100% accurate, so be careful when planning with that!
Step 3. Find your Muni Stop
Muni Metro has two different types of stops: underground stops (above left) and above ground stops (right).
The underground stop is easy to find.
There will be signs for them along the street looking like this, along with a set of stairs (or an escalator) leading underground.
You can find an above-ground stop in a similar way.
Look for signs that have the Muni logo, along with at least one of the Muni lines listed.
Step 4. Pay for your Ride
To take a trip on the Muni Metro, a ticket will cost $2.25 for most people. Children and senior citizens get a discounted ride of $1.00.
Boarding Muni from an Above Ground Station
If you are taking the Muni Metro from an above-ground station, you will have to pay cash on the train. The farebox looks a bit like this:
First, you can buy a ticket before your ride from the ticket machine. The machine looks like this:
When you buy your ticket with cash, you will need to enter the train in the front car. The farebox will be up at the front of the train.
One important thing to note is that you cannot get change when you pay in cash on the train.
So either bring exact change or expect that you'll have to lose a bit of money on the far.
If you already have a ticket before boarding the train, you can use any entrance of any car to get on the train.
Boarding Muni from an Underground Station
If you are boarding the train underground, you will need to buy a ticket before you board the train.
You'll use one of the ticket machines that look like this.
You can buy a single ticket, multiple tickets, or a 1, 3, 5, or 7 days pass on Muni.
Once you have a ticket, you can scan your ticket on the entry gates to gain entry into the boarding area. From there, you can board the train on any car using any entrance.
Step 5. Enjoy the Ride!
You can sit down on any seat in the car after you board (or ride the car standing up).
But be aware that there are seats reserved for senior citizens and pregnant women.
So if you're in one of those seats, you will be required to give up your seat to those people.