Trying to understand what might be the best way for a family of 4 (with kids) to ride from San Francisco downtown to the SFO international airport.

I read about BART and its pricing but some things are not clear to me:

  • seems like it is not possible to buy a paper ticket at the downtown stations. Is it correct?
  • What if my mobile phone doesn't support Google Pay?
  • When traveling with kids, do they also need to have their own mobile phone and install Clipper on it, or one family member can have one clipper app for the entire family?
  • As a group, especially with kids, getting a taxi is usually worth it Mar 16, 2023 at 7:41
  • You can’t buy paper tickets but you can buy Clipper cards. But the total cost will be 4 x $3 (Clipper cards) + $30 (fares, 2 adults + 2 youths) = $42.
    – jcaron
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:14
  • You need one card per person (plastic card or device). Apparently on iOS you could have multiple cards on the same device, but it’s probably going to be cumbersome to select the right card one for each passenger. Not sure about Android. Only Google Pay is supported on Android so if you don’t have it you’ll need a plastic card.
    – jcaron
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


As much as I'm a fan of catching BART to/from SFO (in fact, I'll be doing exactly that later today!), with 4 people your better option is likely to use Uber/Lyft - most likely their larger vehicle services (Uber XL/Lyft XL) given the number of people. This will give the most convenient option, and will likely cost around the same price as other options - although as is always the case with Uber/Lyft that can depend on the time of day as their prices are variable.

The other option is BART as you've suggested. This will likely only be a viable option if your starting point is close to a BART station - otherwise you're still going to need to catch Uber/Lyft/taxi to get to the BART station at which point you might as well catch it all the way to SFO.

As you've stated it is not possible to buy paper BART tickets any more - you will need to have a Clipper Card for each person. For those with suitable mobile phones you can use that - otherwise you will need to buy a clipper card which is available for $3 at all BART stations and from other locations that are listed on the Clipper Card website.

The BART fare from downtown San Francisco to SFO is $10. There are discounts available for children below 18 bringing the fare to $5, however in order to get this discount they will need to have a Youth clipper card, which are only available at very select locations, and require proof of age in order to obtain. It's likely going to be easier to simply get a normal clipper card and pay full fare for the children.

If the adults have suitable mobile phones and the children don't, that brings you to a total of 4x$10 for fares, and 2x$3 for Clipper Cards, or $46. Which is probably similar to what an Uber XL fare is going to be!

  • 1
    Thank you very much!
    – riorio
    Mar 16, 2023 at 14:47

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