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Uber versus BART at SFO

I am traveling this month to San Francisco on business and am planning my route from the airport to my hotel downtown. Having experienced the total cluster that is uber pickup at other large airports like Miami, I am hesitant to attempt it at another large airport. However, the low cost and (general) convenience are nice. Can anyone share their experience using Uber at SFO? Would BART be a better option? Navigating public transportation in an unfamiliar city makes me nervous, but if it’s easy to use and convenient, I’m definitely willing to give it a shot. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
14917 posts

Where in "downtown" is your hotel? If near the BART line I would suggest that. My son and his family live in San Francisco and I go there often ( alone or with my husband) to visit. We find it easy and convenient to use BART. But if your hotel is in the Fishermans' Wharf area or somewhere not close to the BART line, perhaps Uber could be a better option.

Posted by
2495 posts

This week SFO implemented a new pickup spot for Lyft and Uber, you have to walk a ways and take an elevator to a parking garage area where they are now allowed pick-ups. I’ve not done this, and BART is convenient if you’re staying within a couple of blocks of a station.

Posted by
5827 posts

Depends on traffic. SF rush hour is longer than an hour. Crashes can also affect travel time of Uber.

BART runs more frequently weekday "rush hours", less frequently during off hours. Mechanical failures if they occur could affect BART travel.

Posted by
992 posts

My husband takes uber from SFO all the time... says it's easy. Where is hotel? That would depend whether I would take BART. Not sure about the new pickup area... haven't traveled recently.

Posted by
6157 posts

We did both: we took BART from the airport to downtown and took an Uber back to the airport after our vacation. We used Uber a lot besides walking all over.

Posted by
7 posts

My hotel is very near the Montgomery street station, corner of Market and New Montgomery. According to hotel website, around 8 dollars fare one way. I’m assuming Uber would be a lot more for that distance. Cost is a consideration, but main priority is quickest and the least hassle. Thanks for all the replies so far!

Posted by
5697 posts

We live across the Bay from SFO, and we rely on BART for efficient transportation to and from the airport.
For a downtown hotel, BART should be easy and direct -- probably only a walk of a few flat blocks. Ask your hotel for walking directions from the Montgomery BART station. Buy your ticket from a machine at the SFO station, no advance tickets needed. At SFO you will be getting on at the end of the line, so you will be assured of a seat.

Posted by
382 posts

I've done both BART and Uber to SFO and back. As others have said it depends where your hotel is.
Since your hotel is near the BART line, take BART from SFO to Montgomery Station. The one way cost is $9.65.
Uber will cost between $25-30 and you now have to go to a specific pick up spot across the skybridge to the 5th floor of the parking garage if you are arriving from the Domestic Terminal. Have fun in SF.

Posted by
1718 posts

I can add a few details regarding BART. At SFO depending on the terminal you may need to take the air train to get to the BART station. This is easy and well marked.

Ride to Montgomery St station should take about half an hour. The train can get pretty loud in the tunnels so if you have noise canceling headphones you may want to keep them handy.

The Montgomery BART station is under the SF Muni tracks. So it’s a relatively long escalator ride up to the mezzanine level where the entry/exit gates are. Then a shorter set up to the street. If the escalators are inoperable then it can be a bit of a hike up especially if you have a bit of luggage.

Once on the street it’s a short walk of just over a block to get to New Montgomery St. (sounds like you’re at the Palace hotel?).

BTW Cafe Madeleine is just down New Montgomery St. Nice place to grab a coffee and pastry. I really like the double mocha with chocolate whipped cream for a treat.

Here’s a link to BART’s trip planner.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the extra details! I was actually going to ask about the luggage situation because it might affect which carry on I bring. I normally travel with a carry on only, as light as possible. From what I’m hearing, sounds like it could be a bit unwieldy navigating a roller bag on the escalators. I may try to get by with a smaller shoulder bag to minimize awkwardness.

Posted by
11294 posts

"From what I’m hearing, sounds like it could be a bit unwieldy navigating a roller bag on the escalators."

I was just there last month. I didn't find having a roller bag on the escalator difficult at all. I think what the post was referring to was if the escalators aren't functioning, you would have to take your bags up the stairs.

My hotel was at the Powell station, and I took escalators up from platform level to turnstile level, then an elevator to street level. I don't know if Montgomery station has elevators.

If you've ever taken mass transit from an airport to a city, anywhere, taking BART to your hotel is easy - just follow signs upon arrival at the airport. Remember that you have to "tap in" to get on to BART, and "tap out" to get off, so keep the fare card accessible upon arrival at the Montgomery stop.

At least when I was at the airport trying to buy my ticket, there was a very long line for the machines to buy single tickets, but literally no line at all at the machines to buy a Clipper Card. A Clipper Card costs $3, but I got $1 off from price of the airport round trip compared with a single ticket. The $2 extra was money VERY well spent to avoid a wait in a long, slow moving line. Plus, I then bought a one week transit pass for MUNI, and it was substantially cheaper ($39 on the card - or the phone app - vs. $45 bought as a paper pass). So, I didn't even end up spending extra money - but as I said, I gladly would have.

Posted by
7035 posts

BART is really straightforward to figure out, look at the system map in the below link and locate SFO and Montgomery Street Stations (Yellow Line toward Antioch - took me a few seconds). "Quick Links" has other useful info.

Posted by
3518 posts

We’ve never had a problem with our roller bags on the BART escalators. Worst case, the stations have elevators.