San Francisco The ESL Student Hack

 In San Francisco

San Francisco is an iconic American city.  Nearly every mile of this hilly city is famous, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Palace of Fine Arts to Lombard Street.  When you arrive in San Francisco even if you’ve never been before it’ll feel familiar.

san francisco San Francisco – the Essentials

State:               California
City:                 San Francisco
County:           San Francisco is one of 34 consolidated city-counties in the US, 
and the only one in California!
Area codes:     415, 628
Zip codes:       94102-94105, 94107-94112, 94114-94134, 94137, 94139-94147, 94151, 94158-94161, 94163-94164,
San Francisco has a local population of 870,000+ people.

There are about 70 crimes per 1,000 people in San Francisco, most are property crimes but that’s nothing to celebrate—San Francisco has almost double the crime of California generally.  Cut the thumb of the peninsula on which San Francisco resides diagonally, ocean to bay, and the half that faces the bay is the safest.

Getting There

San Francisco International Airport is the nearest airport and is about 16 miles south of Fisherman’s Wharf, the location of TALK San Francisco.

The 16-mile trip north of the airport will take around 30 minutes.  You can take a cab, app based car service, shared van ride, or public transportation.

A cab from the airport to Belmont will cost $50.00-$55.00, plus tip, depending on traffic.

Uber, Lyft, Sitbaq, and Wingz are all app based ride services operating at the San Francisco Airport.  Fares vary based on demand and traffic but should be $32.00-$41.00.  The pick-up area for these ride services is outside the International terminal on level 3, Departures, curbside.  Contact your driver after you have your bags, they can’t idle at the curb.

“Super Shuttle” is the most popular of the shared ride van services (415-558-8500).  The 35-minute ride will be about $16.00.  If the shuttle drops off other passengers enroute, count on 60 to 90 minutes travel time.  The shuttles can be found outside the International terminal, baggage claim area, on level 2 at the “Arrival Level Center Island Transportation Zone”.

Bay Area Transit, or BART as it’s better known, has trains that depart regulary to and from SF International terminal. BART tickets are available through automated machines at the SFO BART Terminal. Each adult ticket as of Jan 2014 is $8.65, and children and seniors can purchase a discount ticket for $9 which allows for up to $24 worth of travel. BART travel is metered and the price varies based on the distance traveled. Discount tickets for Adults 65 and over and Children 5-12 are available at the SFO Information Desk and NOT at the BART ticket kiosks. Details here about the BART Green and Red Ticket:

Take BART to the Embarcadero Station. Come out of the station (via Exit A2) and there is a Taxi Stand near the Hyatt Embarcadero. A cab from there to Fisherman’s Wharf will be around $10 – $11.

Travel time: Actual BART transit time; 35 minutes plus 10 – 15 minutes in the Cab. Plan on approx 60 to 90 minutes of elapsed time based on wait time to get a train, walk to cab, and the the cab time.

Car rentals are available at the “Rental Car Canter”.  Take the “Airtrain Blue Line”—it’s the automated people mover located at all terminals, parking garages, and BART stations within the airport.  To rent a car you’ll need to be 21 years of age or older, have a valid driver’s license from your home country, and have or purchase the appropriate insurance coverage.  There are special rental agencies that cater to drivers under 21 years old in San Francisco, but you’ll need to do your booking online ahead of time to find the most convenient pick-up location.  Now, for my 2 cents on renting a car—DON’T DO IT!  Parking in San Francisco is expensive (if you can find it), and the terrain can be challenging for someone who’s not familiar with the city.

san franciscoGetting Around

You can bike and walk around town—there are literally dozens of bike rental companies around Fisherman’s Wharf.

Uber, and Lyft operate in the city, as do a number of cab companies—try “UpHail” to compare fares and look for promotions.

TALK San Francisco is conveniently located in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood which is the center of the city’s tourist district and 10 minutes on “F” line streetcar cable car lines to Union Square in downtown San Francisco. The School is a couple of minutes on the streetcar to the Embarcadero BART station. BART is the rapid transit public transportation system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The Caltrain serves dozens of stations in the San Francisco Bay area. You can purchase tickets at a Ticket Vending Machine at any of the stations. Most stations offer bicycle access.

“Caltrain” and “Sam Trans” can get you around town AND connect you to BART and other San Francisco municipal mass transit systems.  There are so many choices for getting around, and so many places you’ll want to go that I recommend you download the “Mobile web app for BART”, the “Caltrain real-time Scheduler and Planner”, the “Routesy” app, and “511 SF Bay Transit” app.  Also, you want to enter and save the site address for “Sam Trans” in your phone.  Their 3rd party app host is LAME don’t bother with it.  Sam Trans’ own site is far more comprehensive and accurate.  AND…you can use google maps and enter your location and destination, then press the icon—bus, train, car, biking or walking man—to get step by step directions with your specific choice detailed.

Important Numbers

Dial 911 in an emergency!

San Francisco City Information (415) 391‑2000
North Beach Public Library (415) 355-5626
San Francisco Police Dept 415-553-0123
San Francisco Fire Dept. 415) 558-3200
Golden Gate Urgent Care (415) 796-2242
St Francis Memorial Hospital (415) 353-6000
Pet Hospital 415-400-5754

Studying English couldn’t be more attractive if it is in most exciting cities in the US—San Francisco!




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