Due to its unique geography, and the freeway revolts of the late 1950s, San Francisco is one of the few American cities with arterial thoroughfares instead of having numerous highways within the city.
Interstate 80 begins at the approach to the Bay Bridge and is the only direct automobile link to the East Bay. U.S. Route 101 connects to the western terminus of Interstate 80 and provides access to the south of the city along San Francisco Bay toward Silicon Valley. Northbound, the routing for U.S. 101 uses arterial streets Mission Street, Van Ness Avenue, Lombard Street, Richardson Avenue, and Doyle Drive to connect to the Golden Gate Bridge, the only direct automobile link to Marin County and the North Bay.
State Route 1 also enters San Francisco from the north via the Golden Gate Bridge, but turns south away from the routing of U.S. 101, first onto Park Presidio Blvd through Golden Gate Park, and then bisecting the west side of the city as the 19th Avenue arterial thoroughfare, joining with Interstate 280 at the city's southern border. Interstate 280 continues this southerly routing along the central portion of the Peninsula south to San Jose. Interstate 280 also turns to the east along the southern edge of the city, terminating just south of the Bay Bridge in the South of Market neighborhood. After the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, city leaders decided to demolish the Embarcadero Freeway as well, and voters approved demolition of a portion of the Central Freeway, converting them into street-level boulevards.
State Route 35, which traverses the majority of the Peninsula along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, enters the city from the south as Skyline Boulevard, following city streets until it terminates at its intersection with Highway 1. State Route 82 enters San Francisco from the south as Mission Street, following the path of the historic El Camino Real and terminating shortly thereafter at its junction with 280. Major east–west thoroughfares include Geary Boulevard, the Lincoln Way/Fell Street corridor, and Market Street/Portola Drive.
32% of San Francisco residents use public transportation in daily commuting to work, ranking it first on the West Coast and third overall in the United States. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, is the primary public transit system of San Francisco. Muni is the seventh largest transit system in the United States, with 210,848,310 rides in 2006. The system operates both a combined light rail and subway system, the Muni Metro, and a large bus network. Additionally, it runs a historic streetcar line, which runs on Market Street from Castro Street to Fisherman's Wharf. It also operates the famous cable cars, which have been designated as a National Historic Landmark and are a major tourist attraction.
Bay Area Rapid Transit, a regional Commuter Rail system, connects San Francisco with the East Bay through the underwater Transbay Tube. The line runs under Market Street to Civic Center where it turns south to the Mission District, the southern part of the city, and through northern San Mateo County, to the San Francisco International Airport, and Millbrae.
Another Commuter Rail system, Caltrain, runs from San Francisco along the San Francisco Peninsula to San Jose. Historically, trains operated by Southern Pacific Lines ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles, via Palo Alto and San Jose.
The Transbay Terminal serves as the terminus for long-range bus service (such as Greyhound) and as a hub for regional bus systems AC Transit (Alameda & Contra Costa counties), WestCAT, SamTrans (San Mateo County), and Golden Gate Transit (Marin and Sonoma Counties).
Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach runs a shuttle bus from San Francisco to its rail station across the Bay in Emeryville. Lines from Emeryville Station include the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, California Zephyr, and Coast Starlight. Thruway service also runs south to San Luis Obispo, California with connection to the Pacific Surfliner.
Megabus recently relaunched intercity bus service in California and Nevada. San Francisco riders can chose from three routes (SF-San Jose-LA, SF-Oakland-LA, & SF-Sacramento-Reno). The San Francisco stop is located in front of the Caltrain Station. BoltBus began service between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in October 2013.
San Francisco Bay Ferry operates from the Ferry Building and Pier 39 to points in Oakland, Alameda, Bay Farm Island, South San Francisco, and north to Vallejo in Solano County. The Golden Gate Ferry is the other ferry operator with service between San Francisco and Marin County. Soltrans runs supplemental bus service between the Ferry Building and Vallejo.
Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco. 75,000 residents commute by bicycle per day.
Pedestrian traffic is a major mode of transport. In 2011, Walk Score ranked San Francisco the second most walkable city in the United States.
Bay Area Bike Share launched in August 2013 with 700 bikes in downtown San Francisco and selected cities south to San Jose. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Air Quality Management District are responsible for the operation with management provided by Alta Bicycle Share. The system will be expanded in the future.
Though located south of downtown in unincorporated San Mateo County, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is under the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco. SFO is a hub for United Airlines and Virgin America. SFO is a major international gateway to Asia and Europe, with the largest international terminal in North America. In 2011, SFO was the 8th busiest airport in the U.S. and 22nd busiest in the world, handling over 40.9 million passengers.
Located across the bay, Oakland International Airport is a popular, low-cost alternative to SFO. Geographically, Oakland Airport is approximately the same distance from downtown San Francisco as SFO, but due to its location across San Francisco Bay, it is greater driving distance from San Francisco.
The Port of San Francisco was once the largest and busiest seaport on the West Coast. It featured rows of piers perpendicular to the shore, where cargo from the moored ships was handled by cranes and manual labor and transported to nearby warehouses. The port handled cargo to and from trans-Pacific and Atlantic destinations, and was the West Coast center of the lumber trade. The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike, an important episode in the history of the American labor movement, brought most ports to a standstill. The advent of container shipping made pier-based ports obsolete, and most commercial berths moved to the Port of Oakland and Port of Richmond. A few active berths specializing in break bulk cargo remain alongside the Islais Creek Channel.
Many piers remained derelict for years until the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway reopened the downtown waterfront, allowing for redevelopment. The centerpiece of the port, the Ferry Building, while still receiving commuter ferry traffic, has been restored and redeveloped as a gourmet marketplace. The port's other activities now focus on developing waterside assets to support recreation and tourism.
The port currently uses Pier 35 to handle the 60-80 cruise ship calls and 200,000 passengers that come to San Francisco. Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico. The new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal Project at Pier 27 is scheduled to open 2014 as a replacement. The existing primary terminal at Pier 35 has neither the sufficient capacity to allow for the increasing length and passenger capacity of new cruise ships nor the amenities needed for an international cruise terminal.
On March 16, 2013, Princess Cruises Grand Princess became the first ship to home port in San Francisco year round. The ship offers cruises to Alaska, California Coasts, Hawaii, and Mexico. Grand Princess will be stationed in San Francisco until April 2014. Princess will also operate other ships during the summer of 2014, making it the only cruise line home porting year round in San Francisco.
San Francisco has significantly higher rates of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic deaths than the USA on average. In 2013, 21 pedestrians were killed in vehicle collisions, the highest since 2001, which is 2.5 deaths per 100,000 population - 70% higher than the national average of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 population. Four bicyclists were killed in vehicle collisions in 2013, a rate twice as high as the national average of 0.23 deaths per 100,000 population. On January 14, 2014, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced Vision Zero, a proposal to eliminate all traffic fatalities in San Francisco by 2024.
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