Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is one of my favorite options to get to/from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and downtown San Francisco. Even with a lot of luggage┬á in tow the trip is relatively hassle free, and fairly convenient if your destination in the city is relatively close to one of BART’s eight subway stations in the city.


At $8.10 (one-way) BART ain’t cheap but it’s still less expensive than taking a cab into the city (which will run $30-$45), or shuttle service such as SuperShuttle ($17 first person, $10 for each additional). The title of “cheapest,” route to the city from the airport goes to the SamTrans KX bus at $5. But with restrictions on the size of luggage allowed on the buses (carry-on size only), the frequent traffic delays, and spotty arrival/departure times, I would recommend paying the extra $3.10 and taking BART.

SFO Station Location

The BART station at SFO is located in the International Terminal. It’s a short walk from United Airlines in Terminal 3 and a slightly longer walk from Terminal 1. You can also take the free AirTrain from both terminals directly to the BART station. Just follow the signs to AirTrain and board the Red Line train. When you arrive, take the escalator down to the departures level and walk straight ahead to the BART station. Terminals 1, 2 & 3 are approximately a one to three-minute AirTrain ride to the BART station.


Trains arrive at the SFO International Terminal every 15 minutes and it’s just 30 minutes to downtown San Francisco. Trains start running from the airport at 4:09am on weekdays and 6:07am on weekends. The last train from the airport runs at 11:54pm 11:40pm (both weekdays and weekends). You can use the BART QuickPlanner here to check station times.

Buying a Ticket

Tickets can be bought at SFO from one of the many ticket machines located inside the SFO BART station. The ticket machines accept coins, bills (up to $20 bills), MasterCard/Visa, and Debit cards. There’s even an option to pre-pay for a round trip BART voucher online although at $18 it’s $1.80 more than just buying the ticket at the station. There really is no need to buy this voucher. You will have no problems buying a ticket at the station.

Arriving in San Francisco

There are eight BART stations in San Francisco and the one-way fare from the airport is $8.10 to any of these stations. If you are staying in a hotel most likely you will get off at the Civic Center, Powell, or Embarcadero stations. Most major hotels are less than a five minute walk from these stations.