The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), would like to extend good wishes for a joyous holiday season. Every year at this time, San Francisco streets are transformed into a California-style winter wonderland – brimming with festive decorations and twinkling lights. This year the tradition continues.
“The holidays are a special time in San Francisco, and I encourage people who live, work and visit our City to support our local businesses and tour our unique attractions,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “We are committed to keeping traffic moving efficiently and safely, Muni will be available everyday including the legal holidays, we’ve made finding parking easier, and coordination with Traffic Control Officers will help residents and visitors alike better move around our city this holiday season."
Whether the shimmering holiday lights beckon you to stuff stockings or splurge on yourself, starting Friday, November 27, the SFMTA offers a host of tips and tools to maximize your holiday shopping experience.
“We’ve seen holiday shopping in San Francisco evolve from a Bay Area tradition to an internationally recognized shopping showcase – attracting visitors from around the globe every November,” said Chairman of the SFMTA Board, Tom Nolan. “So our effort is to ensure that shoppers traveling, from near or far, find their way to one of our city’s many magical stores and return home safely.”
“San Francisco is a holiday destination due in part to our many transportation alternatives that allow you to get where you need to go safely,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Muni’s 24 hours of service, coupled with round-the-clock taxi’s, expanded bicycle lanes, bike share and inviting downtown streets mean people can spend more time shopping and dining and enjoying time with friends and family and less time in traffic or looking for parking. And for those driving, city garage and lots are available, and with rates that are often lower than other options.”
The Union Square Business Improvement District, with a little help from the Central Subway team, is creating an inviting open plaza near Union Square. An evening light show on Stockton and O’Farrell streets will transform the Macy’s Men’s building into a holiday spectacular. Illuminated benches in the pop-up space on Stockton Street from Ellis to O’Farrell add the perfect touch to the two blocks of open space where shoppers and visitors alike can pause and enjoy a variety of sights.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Macy's 26th Annual Great Tree Lighting ceremony will take place on Friday, November 27 at 6 p.m. Please be aware, that large crowds of people viewing the ceremony are expected in the vicinity. To enhance pedestrian safety, there will be a variety of street closures in and around Union Square.
Black Friday Special at St. Mary’s Square Garage
On Black Friday, park just a short walk from Union Square and receive a special, all-day flat rate of $15 at St. Mary’s Square Garage, 433 Kearny Street, between Pine and California streets on Friday, November 27. Enter any time between 8:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., and exit by midnight the same day to redeem the special flat rate.
Construction and Traffic Regulations Update
In order to facilitate traffic and transit flow, there will be no street or sidewalk closures on business area streets between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – other than emergency work.
Central Subway construction in the Union Square area will be temporarily suspended.
Ellis Street Turn Changes for a Safer Market Street
With the temporary reopening of Ellis Street, drivers will not be permitted to turn onto Market Street. This turn restriction is part of the Safer Market Street project, a Vision Zero project aimed to eliminate conflicts and make Market Street safer for everyone. This turn restriction is one of 15 turn restrictions between 3rd and 8th streets, indicated in the updated turn restriction notice. Muni, taxis, bikes, emergency and commercial vehicles are exempt from the restrictions.
Powell Street Safety Changes
Similarly, as part of the Powell Street Safety Pilot project, cars will not be permitted to turn onto Powell Street, and all through traffic will be prohibited from using Powell Street between Ellis and Geary streets, as indicated in the turn restriction flyer. The Powell Street Safety Pilot project is a Muni Forward project, targeted to improve the safety and efficiency of San Francisco’s iconic cable car. Please follow the instructions of traffic control officers patrolling these areas during the holiday season.
Traffic Control Officers will be deployed to the Union Square and Moscone Center areas as needed to facilitate traffic flow and ensure pedestrian safety and access.
Muni Metro and BART offer the two best ways to and from Union Square and downtown San Francisco during the holidays, especially on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving November 27). The Powell Street stop for Muni Metro and BART will transport you to both the foot of Union Square, directly beneath the Westfield San Francisco Center, and one block from the Metreon at 4th and Mission streets.
The following Muni lines and routes will take you to Union Square:
- Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde Cable Car lines
- 2 Clement
- 3 Jackson
- 8 Bayshore
- 30 Stockton
- 38 Geary
- 38R Geary Rapid
- 45 Union/Stockton
- F Market & Wharves
- Muni Metro lines to Powell Station
The historic cable car and F Market & Wharves lines will certainly make holiday shopping a fun excursion for the entire family.
Four routes will operate the day after Thanksgiving:
- Vallejo; and
Details can be found at 511.org or by calling 511.
Transit Safety Reminders
Muni customers and shoppers should be careful of pick-pockets, especially during the holiday season.
Carry wallets in hard-to-reach places like front pockets. Always securely close handbags and carry them in front of you in crowds. Always remain alert to your surroundings especially when using electronic devices. Riders are encouraged to be observant of anyone causing a distraction aboard transit vehicles.
If you believe you have experienced a theft on a Muni vehicle please alert the operator, if possible, and call the SFPD non-emergency at 553-0123. Please note the bus or train number, the vehicle’s direction, as well as the date and time. Call 911 for emergencies or crimes in progress.
Customers using Bay Area public transportation systems are strongly encouraged to purchase their fares in advance or use Clipper® Card to attend holiday events. Customers using a Clipper Card receive 50 cents off an adult single ride when transferring to Muni from BART, Golden Gate Ferry and Transit, and San Francisco Bay Ferry routes (Oakland-Alameda, Harbor Bay and Vallejo). Golden Gate Ferry and Transit and San Francisco Bay Ferry provide the same discount on return trips.
For more information on using Clipper on Muni, please visit clippercard.com/muni.
The adult fare is $2.25 and is good for 90 minutes of travel, whether it be on a single route or a trip with multiple transfers across buses and light rail. Children ages 5-17, seniors and persons with disabilities pay a discount fare of $1.00 with a 90-minute transfer. Children five and under ride free. These fares are good on all Muni vehicles, except cable cars.
One-way cable car fare is $7 for all ages.
Visitors may also be interested in our 1, 3 and 7 Day Visitor Passes. For further information, please visit Muni Visitor Passports and San Francisco CityPASS web page.
For further information, please visit Muni’s Fare Details web page. One way, youth and senior fares, as well as 1, 3 and 7 day passes can also be purchased on theMuniMobile app.
Easier than cash, MuniMobile offers an easy way to pay for Muni fares using your smart phone. Download MuniMobile – SFMTA’s new mobile ticketing app. The app is free to the public. MuniMobile allows users to purchase Muni bus, rail, cable car and SF Access tickets for paratransit services ahead of time with the click of a button. Traveling with multiple people? Multiple riders can use the same phone. With MuniMobile, your phone is your fare.
Download on the App Store:
Download on Google Play:
SFpark makes finding a spot in San Francisco easier than ever. Garages near downtown and Union Square include: Union Square (985 spaces), Ellis-O’Farrell (950 spaces); 5th/Mission (2,585 spaces); Moscone Center (732 spaces) and Sutter Stockton (1,865 spaces).
The SFMTA encourages holiday shoppers to go straight to SFpark garages rather than circle for parking on streets filled with traffic and pedestrians.
Benefits of the SFpark garages include:
- Many hourly rates have dropped due to demand-responsive pricing, often below on-street meter rates.
- SFpark garages charge in 30-minute increments instead of one hour.
- Ability to pay by cash or credit card without worrying about getting a citation
Other parking garages near Union Square that do not fill up on Saturdays or the day after Thanksgiving: Hearst Garage on 3rd Street between Mission and Market streets and the Jessie Square Garage on Stevenson Street west of 3rd Street.
Read all parking signs carefully before parking. Many downtown parking spaces are designated for commercial-vehicle parking, and many spaces become tow-away zones after 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.
If a parking garage is full, garage attendants will provide maps to nearby garages that have space available. Do not wait outside full garages.
Help avoid vehicle break-ins by leaving nothing visible inside your car. Shoppers are encouraged to keep packages locked in the car trunk. San Francisco Police recommend that you move your vehicle to a different location each time you load packages into the trunk.
Customers can find locations, rates and parking space availability for SFpark garages throughout San Francisco at SFpark.org, iPhone and Android apps or by texting “SFpark” to 877877.
Bikes and BikeShare
Best bicycle parking near Union Square and downtown:
- Union Square;
- and 5th/Mission garages
BikeShare is an efficient and inexpensive travel option during the holiday shopping season. Riders have access to 350 bicycles conveniently located at 35 stations. In addition to annual memberships, riders may purchase a 24-hour or three-day membership from any station kiosk using a credit card.
- Annual membership = $88
- 24-hour access = $9
- 3-day membership = $22
Once a 24-hour or three-day membership is purchased, riders are issued a code to enter on the keypad next to any available bicycle. Wait for the green light, pull the bike out of its dock while lifting the seat, and ride. The bike may be returned to any BikeShare station. Return by pushing the bicycle firmly into any available dock.
Available BikeShare locations can be found at:
Taxi stands are situated throughout downtown San Francisco, usually near hotels. For a full list, please visit SFMTA’s Taxi Stands web page. To ensure you choose a legitimate San Francisco taxi, please visit SFMTA’s Always Hire a Real San Francisco Taxi web page. SFMTA has made it easier to hail a cab by using your smartphone.