San Francisco Transportation Options For Getting to the Airport

San Francisco International Airport has a good transportation system in place.  Just about any option you can think of is available.  Here is a list of the major San Francisco transportation options that will help make your trip a little bit easier:

Air Train at San Francisco International Airport

AirTrain is a people mover that gets people from terminal to terminal. AirTrain was built by the same company that has constructed similar systems at other airports around the country, notably Denver, Houston, Atlanta and Tampa. So the system is tried and true. Bombardier of Montreal, Canada is responsible for constructing the trains that circle the airport and help you get from terminal to terminal in just a few minutes. Otherwise, it could be a long walk! And the best thing about AirTrain is that it’s free!

AirTrain also provides a means of getting to the car rental center, since there are no rental car kiosks or booths in the arrival area. To rent a car, you must take AirTrain to the Rental Car Center and complete your reservation there. It is not possible to walk to the Rental Car Center.

AirTrain System Map

The system runs a Red Line and a Blue Line. If you miss a train, then you can expect another to come along in about two and a half minutes.

The Red Line travels in a loop (clockwise direction) from the Garage G stop and travels to all the terminals and ends at the Garage A stop.

The Blue Line travels the other way (counterclockwise direction), stopping at all the same places, and completes a loop in the reverse order. It also continues on to West Field Road and the Rental Car Center, so the Blue Line is the one to take to pickup you car when you arrive (or return it when you are leaving!).

You can walk between terminals, but it takes a lot more time. So plan to use AirTrain for your next run through the airport at San Francisco.

NOTE: AirTrain does not currently take passengers to the long term parking lots or the parking garage, so you’ll need to take the free shuttle bus to get to your car if you’ve parked in long term parking lots. There are plans to extend AirTrain to the parking garage in the future.


Rental Cars at San Francisco International

It’s usually easiest to rent your car at the airport.  However, many car rental agencies will bring a car to your hotel for you.  You can avoid paying for the time you are sleeping and also avoid paying the high parking fees charged by most hotels.  For this reason, it makes good sense to see if you can minimize the amount of time you have a rental car.  You’ll save money!

Rental Cars On The Airport

Nine companies offer car rentals at San Francisco Car Rental Center. If you are landing at San Francisco Airport and plan on renting a car, then take the AirTrain to the San Francisco Car Rental Center.

If you are driving to the San Francisco Car Rental Center from Highway 280 North or Highway 280 South, take the exit onto Highway 380 East. After you are on 380, then take the exit marked South Airport Boulevard. At the end of the off-ramp, follow the signs to the San Francisco Car Rental Center.

If you are driving to the San Francisco Car Rental Center from San Francisco, get on Route 101 . Take the exit marked San Bruno Avenue/San Francisco International Airport. Stay on San Bruno Avenue and follow the signs to the San Francisco Car Rental Center.

If you will be arriving from San Jose, drive past the airport and take Route 101 North. Take the exit marked San Bruno Avenue, which is just past the airport. Watch for the easy to read signs at the end of the off-ramp.

These car rental companies have a location at the airport:

Alamo Rent A Car 650.616.2400 daily, 24 hours a day
Avis Rent-A-Car 650.877.6780 daily, 24 hours a day
Budget Rent A Car 650.877.0998 daily, 24 hours a day
Dollar 866.434.2226 daily, 24 hours a day
Enterprise 650.697.9200 daily, 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Fox 800.225.4369 daily, 24 hours a day
Hertz Corporation 650.624.6600 daily, 24 hours a day
National Car Rental 650.616.3000 daily, 24 hours a day
Thrifty Car Rental 877.283.0898 daily, 24 hours a day

Here is a special tip just for those renting cars. On the fourth floor of the building you will find a balcony. The balcony lines up exactly with many of the runways. It is a great place to watch the planes.

Rental Cars Off The Airport

Many travelers to San Francisco may choose to rent a car away from the San Francisco International Airport. Some of the rental agencies below have a booth in the SFO Car Rental Center, but will require a shuttle to take you to their lot. Several agencies will be glad to help you. Here is a list of some of them:

5 Star Rent A Van
Alamo Rent A Car
Airport Van Rental
Avis Rent-A-Car
Budget Car Rental
City CarShare
City Rent A Car
Coast Truck Rental
Dollar Rent-a-Car
Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Francisco Car Rental
Fox Rent a Car
GoGo Rent A Van no website (877) 413-4646
Hertz Rent A Car
Holiday Autos
National Car Rentals
Pacific Car Rental
Quality Used Car Rental & Sales no website (415) 389-9405
Reliable Rent-A-Car no website (415) 928-4414
Rent A Relic
Scootcar San Francisco no website (415) 567-7994
Think Escape Party Bus
Thrifty Car Rentals

Rental cars are available in all shapes and forms in San Francisco. It is possible to rent party buses, vans, pickups, go carts and scooters. Have fun exploring the city by the bay.

Taxis, Buses and Shuttle Companies

Taxis, buses, shuttles and limousines supply a needed service to and from the airport.  You have a lot of options and therefore a lot of choices to fit your budget and needs.

San Francisco Taxi Cabs

Most people think of taking a taxi from the airport to their destination. This is a rather expensive option, but it can be the easiest and require the least amount of planning.  There are only six taxi companies authorized to pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport, so choose one of the following:

• Arrow Cab Company (415) 648-3181
• DeSoto Cab Company (415) 970-1300
• Luxor Cab Company (415) 282-4141
• Metro Cab Company (415) 920-0700
• Yellow Cab Company (415) 333-3333
• Veterans Cab Company (415) 648-4119

All of these taxi companies are allowed to charge a $2.00 airport surcharge. They are allowed to charge $3.10 for the first 1/5th mile and .45 for each additional mile. They are also allowed to charge $0.45 for each minute of waiting or traffic delay. You can expect the average cost to or from downtown San Francisco to the airport to be around $38.00.

If you are approached by someone who asks you if you need a cab, it is best to wave these people off, as they are most likely not an authorized taxi and you can have problems with them. You are better off to stick to the authorized taxis and save yourself some grief. You’ll find them on the lower level where the baggage carousels are. Proceed outside and follow the signs for the taxi stands.


Airport Bus Services

Six bus companies provide service to the San Francisco International Airport. The most popular of these San Francisco transportation companies is SamTrans Public Bus Service. The SamTrans runs 24 hours a day between the airport and other parts San Mateo County, along with other parts of San Francisco and Palo Alto.

SamTrans runs three buses to the airport known as 292, 397 and KK. The 292 and 397 provides the cheapest transportation from San Francisco International Airport to downtown San Francisco.

SamTrans has three pickup and drop off locations at the airport. The first one is located curbside of courtyard 2 in Terminal 1. The second one is located on level 1 of the International Terminal and the third one is located curbside adjacent to courtyard G of the same terminal.

Passengers wanting to plan their schedule can consult or call 1-800-660-4287. Riders need to inquire about luggage restrictions on some of these buses.

Evans Transportation ( provides bus service between the airport and Napa, California and Vallejo, California. This service is available from 4:45 AM to 12:15 AM, except on Christmas Day. Evans Transportation runs the route nine times during each day. It will pick travelers up directly from many Napa hotels. It is important to note that the company will only accept cash. Passengers are limited to two suitcases and one carry-on.

In order to catch this bus passengers arriving at the International Terminal should proceed to level two. They should wait at the airporter sign located on the center island, outside customs door number 3. Those arriving at Terminal 1 should proceed to the lower level. They should then walk to the center island and wait between the blue concrete pillar number 296 and 299, under the airporter sign. Those leaving from Terminal 2 should proceed to the lower level and proceed to the center island. Once at the center island, they should wait at the airporter sign near blue concrete pillar number 343.

Those choosing to travel to Marin County can ride the Marin Airporter ( This service operates every day of the year on the hour and half hour from 5 AM to 12 AM. The stop is located outside the baggage claims area of Terminal 1. Proceed to the center courtesy island and look for the signs that read Marin/Sonoma County. If you will be arriving at the International Terminal, proceed to the center island and wait on the green and white striped curb, under the sign that reads airporter.

Those choosing to fly into the San Francisco Airport and wanting to stay in Monterey can ride the Monterey Airbus.

Those wanting to travel to or from Santa Cruz can use the Santa Cruz Airport Flyer.

Those wanting to travel to Sonoma County can use the Sonoma County Airport Express.


Limousine Companies for SFO

Limousines are a great way to get to and from the San Francisco Airport in style. There are many different types of limousines available. Here is a list of the most popular.

A Plus Limousine 800.583.5466
AAA Transportation LLC 866.558.0222
ABM Limo 800.480.8070
A Black Sedan Service 415.956.5466
Airport Commuter Limousine and Sedan 888.876.1777
American International Transportation Services Inc. 888.334.5466
Angel Limousine Service 866.803.9898
Avalon Transportation 408.845.0001
Bauer’s Limousine Service 800.546.6688
Bella Limo Service 925.575.1565 no website
Bennett Car Service 415.505.4567 no website
Bernie Limousine 415.533.0288 no website
Butterfly Limo Service 415.410.8301
DS Coach 650.827.1000
Early Bird Airport Shuttle 831.462.3933
Embarque San Francisco 866.444.2144
Gold Star Limousine and Taxi Service 650.773-2263
Grand Limo 650.588-8333
Green Carpet Limousine 925.362.0304
Ground Link 866- 243-9345
Limos and More LLC 855.546.6757
Mason’s Limousine 650.589-8950
My Shofer DotCom Corporation 888.592.0055
One Size Ride Inc. 707.277.4939
Pacific Heights Limousine 888.325.9888
Planettran LLC 888.756.8876
Pure Luxury Limousine 800. 626.5466
Quicksilver Towncar Service 800.486.9622
Royal Limousine and Sedan Service 415.227.4676
San Francisco Car Services 650.440.6666 no website
Style N Comfort 800.487.5466
Superior Limousine 650.757-9999 no website
Super Shuttle 650.246.8942
Transtar Limo 800.295.1211


Airport Shuttle Services

Shared-ride vans do not always need to be reserved ahead of time and are generally available from early in the morning until 11 PM. Some will take advanced reservations and when this option is available it is a great idea since you are assured of a spot on their van at the time that you need it. Some will require additional fees to operate before 6 AM and after 11 PM. Some will serve only your party while others will make multiple stops. It is customary to tip your driver between ten and 15 percent. All vans leave from roadway center islands located on the departures/ticketing level of each terminal.

These vans can also be hired to haul passengers to the airports. If you need a ride to the airport, then it will be necessary to call your chosen provider. Many companies prefer a 24-hour notice, although some will work on a much shorter notice.

Advanced Airport Shuttle 650-504-6641 no website
Airport Express 415-775-5121
American Airporter Shuttle 800-282-7758
Bay Shuttle 415-564-3400
Bayporter Express 877-467-1800
Door-to-Door Airport Express 415-775-5121 no web site
East Bay Connection 925-609-1920
East Bay Shuttle 925-800-4500
Evans Airport Service 707-944-2025
Franklin Shuttle 415-205-7594
Go Lorrie’s Airport Shuttle 415-334-9000
Pacific Airport Shuttle 415-681-6318 no website
Marin Airporter 415-461-4222
Peter’s Airport Shuttle 650-0577-8858 no website
Quake City Shuttle 415-255-4899
San Francisco City Shuttle 415.822.2648
Sonoma Airporter 707-938-4246
South & East Bay Shuttle 800.548.4664
SuperShuttle 415.558.8500
VIP Airport Shuttle 408-986-6000

So many choices makes for a much more enjoyable trip.  You can tailor the transportation to fit your special circumstances and also your budget.  Plan ahead and find the perfect ride while visiting San Francisco!


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