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SFMTA Offers Tips for Safe, Convenient Holiday Shopping

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), offers transportation tips and tools for a safe and convenient holiday shopping season which begins on Friday, Nov. 28.

“We know that many people enjoy coming to San Francisco to take part in the holiday shopping experience. We want to help them get there and back safely and quickly,” said Tom Nolan, Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors.

“Whether you take transit, walk, hail a taxi or ride a bike, there’s a transportation option available to everyone this holiday season,” said Edward D. Reiskin, Director of Transportation. “If you drive, we want to help you avoid the frustration of circling the block for a parking space, so consider going directly to a city garage where spaces are usually available and hourly rates are often lower than meters. Regardless of how you get around this season, please remember to take your time and be aware of your surroundings to ensure that everyone can have a safe holiday.”

Seasonal Parking and Traffic Measures

To decrease traffic congestion and increase transit capacity, during the holiday shopping season, the SFMTA will restrict on-street parking on several downtown streets starting Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. “Tow Away, No Stopping” signs will be installed on the following streets beginning Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Jan. 1:

  • North side of O’Farrell Street between Powell Street and Grant Avenue
  • North side of Geary Street between Powell and Mason streets

Traffic Control

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.

Carpool Discount Program

The Holiday Carpool Program offers one hour of free parking for three passengers and two hours of free parking for four or more passengers that park at the Sutter-Stockton Garage. The Holiday Carpool Program operates from 10 am – 6 pm on Friday November, 28th through Sunday November, 30th. An attendant, at the garage entrance, will issue discount slips to qualified carpoolers.

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 28.  Enter any time between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., and exit by midnight the same day to redeem the special flat rate.

Construction Update

In order to facilitate traffic and transit flow, no traffic lane or sidewalk closures will be allowed 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.

Winter Walk

The Union Square Business Improvement District and our Central Subway team are creating an inviting open plaza near Union Square. A light show at Stockton and O’Farrell streets will transform the Macy’s Men’s building into a stunning holiday light show. Benches will also line Stockton Street from Ellis to O’Farrell creating two blocks of holiday merriment.

Transit Tips

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 Nov. 28). 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
  • 8X Bayshore
  • 30 Stockton
  • 38 Geary
  • 38L Geary Limited
  • 45 Union/Stockton
  • F Market & Wharves
  • Muni Metro lines to Powell Station

Additional Muni options for Market Street can be found on the Market Street map. A trip planner is available at or at

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:

  • Larkspur;
  • Sausalito;
  • Vallejo; and
  • Oakland-Alameda.

Details can be found at or by calling 511.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

The Macy's 25th Annual Great Tree Lighting ceremony will take place on Friday, November 28 at 6 p.m. In turn, there will be various street closures in and around Union Square. Crowds of people viewing the ceremony are expected in the vicinity.

Transit Safety Reminders

Muni customers and shoppers should be careful of pick-pockets, especially during the holiday season.

Carry wallets in front pockets, close handbags and carry them in front of you in crowds.

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 as well as the date and time. Call 911 for emergencies or crimes in progress.

Due to heightened security measures, do not leave bags or parcels unattended at any time.

Transit Fares


Reduced Muni fares: Children age 5-17, seniors, and the disabled ride Muni for a fraction of the regular adult fare. The Adult fare is $2.25 with a 90-minute transfer. The reduced fare is $.75 with a 90-minute transfer. These fares are good on all Muni vehicles, except Cable Cars. For further information, please visit Muni’s Fare Details web page.

The Muni Metro cash-less fare gates will accept Clipper cards and the 90-day limited use Muni tickets. These are also accepted on all Muni vehicles, including the Cable Cars. At the ticket vending machines (TVM) in the Muni Metro stations, cash customers can purchase their fares. They may either buy their fare on a Clipper card or on a paper 90-day limited use Muni ticket. Customers who already have a card or ticket can use the TVMs to check their balance or add value. For further information, please visit the Muni Clipper web page.

Cable Cars are a flat rate of $6 per trip. Those wishing to make more than two trips should purchase a Muni 1-day Passport for $15. Muni also sells 3-day Passports and 7-day Passports. For further information, please visit Muni Visitor Passports and San Francisco CityPASS web page.


Children age 5-12 and seniors 65 or older can ride BART for one-quarter the normal fare with discount tickets. BART discount tickets are only sold online or through the mail. They can also be purchased on Clipper cards at

Bikes and Taxis

Best bicycle parking near Union Square and downtown:

  • Union Square;
  • Ellis-O’Farrell;
  • and 5th/Mission garages

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.

Parking Tips

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.
  • All SFpark garages have the same clear and easy-to-understand rate structure.

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.

Customers can find locations, rates and parking space availability for SFpark garages throughout San Francisco at, iPhone and Android apps or by texting “SFpark” to 877877.