Transportation Beyond San Francisco Made Simple
For meeting professionals who need to transport attendees from San Francisco International Airport to a destination beyond the city, options are plentiful. From small VIP groups to larger groups arriving from multiple destinations, local transportation companies offer a variety of solutions that ensure simplicity and comfort. Check one more thing off your to-do list with these helpful suggestions. Note that these options all originate at SFO, but they can service other points of origin as well.
For shorter trips, taxis are an easy option. SFO is served by flotillas of taxicabs under a variety of company names. Taxis depart from roadway islands on the lower level outside the arrivals/baggage claims area in all terminals. Uniformed taxi coordinators work from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. to help ensure a smooth process for travelers. All cabs are metered. Approximate fares from SFO to popular drop-off points in San Francisco’s financial district are about $45, so getting over the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge will cost extra.
The popularity of app-based transportation services like Lyft and Uber have skyrocketed over the past several years. Passengers can arrange service online, typically via a smartphone app, to catch a ride with drivers using their personal, non-commercial vehicles. Ride-share services pick up passengers curbside from a terminal’s Departures/Ticketing level. Fares vary, but as a frame of reference, it typically costs $30-40 to get from the airport to San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood, so expect more for a ride to points north of the city.
Buses & Shuttle Service
The San Mateo County Transit Agency (SamTrans) runs public buses between SFO and San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal on the KX, 292, 397 and 398 lines for $2-$5 one-way for adults. For destinations south, Route 397 goes to Palo Alto; KX and 398 both head to Redwood City; and 292 reaches Hillsdale. Privately-owned, wi-fi-enabled buses and shuttles are available from SFO to points north, including Oakland, Marin County, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa via Sonoma County Airport Express. One-way fares range from $26-34 for an adult, and hourly departures from SFO between 5:30 am and midnight make service a convenient option for most arrivals. To the south, service is available to Monterey, Marina and San Jose Airport from SFO via Monterey Airbus Shuttle. Rates range from $20-50, depending on the length of the trip and where you book.
Eight major car rental agencies operate from SFO’s Rental Car Center, located at the northern edge of the airport and best reached on AirTrain’s blue line. With an abundance of carriers, it doesn’t matter who belongs to what loyalty program: Alamo, Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Thrifty and National are located on the fourth floor; Hertz is on the first floor.
For groups arriving together (or around the same time), charters are a simple solution for moving attendees from the airport to your meeting location. San Francisco Sightseeing & Tours, Bauer’s Intelligent Transporation, Pure Luxury Transportation, San Francisco Minibus and 18 other companies provide charter services at SFO. Pick-up is located in the courtyards at the Arrivals/Baggage Claim level.
If you’ve got environmentally conscious VIPs in your group, there are four different companies that provide 100 percent low-emissions limousine service at SFO: Early Bird Shuttles, Green Carpet Limousine, Embarque San Francisco and T3 Tesla Tours & Transportation. Reservations are required. They can be made in advance, in-person at one of SFO’s Information booths, or via the Lodging, Transportation and Attraction boards on the arrivals/baggage claims level of each terminal. Those boards offer travelers free telephone connections to participating companies. Limo drivers are not allowed to solicit customers at the Terminal.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a hybrid aboveground and subway system, operates from SFO’s International Terminal, level 3. One-way fares between SFO and downtown San Francisco are $8.95 one way for adults. The ride takes about 30 minutes. A ride from SFO to downtown Oakland will cost $9.25 for an adult. BART service is also available to and from the Oakland Airport. And you can take advantage of BART's Sustainable Convention Travel Program to move more of your attendees around the city in an efficient, environmentally-friendly way.
BART connects at its Millbrae station to Caltrain, a commuter line that runs between the South Bay and San Francisco’s Fourth Street Caltrain station. Stations south of the airport include Burlingame, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose, among others.
For trips farther afield from the city, Amtrak service offers the comfortable, convenient and breath-takingly scenic Coast Starlight route, which stretches from San Francisco south to Los Angeles, including stops in San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles and more. The line heads north all the way to Seattle with stops in Oakland, Emeryville and Sacramento, to name a few. The Capital Corridor line connects points including San Jose, Oakland, Emeryville and Sacramento. You can catch that train from the East Bay.