How to Ride San Francisco’s Historic Streetcar
One of the best ways to get around San Francisco is to take the Historic Streetcar. Sure, you can catch a modern Muni Metro train or the BART subway, but nothing can quite match the excitement and nostalgia of riding on an Italian streetcar from 1928, or an English “boat tram” from 1934. If you want a great experience, take the F Line Historic Streetcar during your trip to San Francisco.
To help you take a ride, we have put together an easy set of steps about how to ride San Francisco’s Historic Streetcar. Read on to learn more, and to see a great video about the cars!
The History of the Historic San Francisco Streetcar
In the early 1980s, San Francisco maintained a system of both cable cars and streetcars. In 1982, San Francisco was going to cancel all cable car service for two years to do a major rehabilitation of the system. But the city realized that canceling cable car service could lose the city some of the tourism dollars it has come to rely on.
That year the city created the Historic Streetcar Festival. Cities all around the country and around the world shipped their old streetcars into San Francisco. From the 1928 cars of Milan, Italy to cars from Melbourne, Australia, London, and Mexico City, you can take a world tour of streetcars by riding on Market Street. The festival was so popular that they decided to make it permanent.
Take a look at all the streetcars currently running on this page!
How to Ride the Streetcar
1. Figure out Where the Streetcar Goes
The first step is to figure out if the Historic Streetcar can take you where you need to go. And to do that, you’ll have to check the map. An easy one is on this page.
The Historic Streetcar goes on one long path, beginning near Fisherman’s Wharf and tracing the path of the Embarcadero waterfront freeway to the Ferry Building. From there, it takes a turn down Market Street, passing through the high tech corridor and Civic Center, and ending in the famed Castro District.
2. Figure Out When the Streetcar Departs
There are a few ways of checking the Historic Streetcar schedule. The first is to go directly to the SF MTA website.
If you want to get updated timings on departures, the easy (though not always accurate) method is to check the Google Trip Planner.
To get more accurate, realtime schedules for departures, you’ll need an app for your phone. The one we would recommend is called Moovit, available for free.
3. Another Option: Charter a Streetcar!
If you REALLY love San Francisco’s Historic Streetcar, but you don’t want to share your ride with the public, you can charter your own course throughout the city.
For a 2-hour private ride for you and up to 58 friends, you can charter the streetcar for $839.50 (that’s only about $15 per person!). And you can even bring food and drinks on your ride!
4. Find the Stop on the Street
The streetcar stops are on islands in the street. The picture above shows you exactly what the stops look like, and what to look out for. Be sure to watch out for cars when you’re crossing the street!
5. Pay for your Ride
A ride on the streetcar costs $2.25 for adults, and $1.00 for kids and senior citizens. You can pay this fee in cash, with a Muni Farecard, or a Clipper Card.
If you’re paying with cash, you must board up at the front of the streetcar. You can insert your coins and bills directly into the fare box near the driver (shown in the picture above). But remember, if you’re paying in cash, the driver can’t make change.
If you’re paying with any other method, you can use any entrance.
6. Enjoy the Ride!
When you’re on the car, take any seat (but watch out and avoid the seats set aside for pregnant women, senior citizens and people in wheelchairs.
When you’re approaching your stop, just pull the metal cord that runs along the side walls in order to ring the bell and ask the driver to stop the car.