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We bought a 1 day pass for travelling around San Francisco on the bus and the cable car on MuniMobile. It worked really well until we tried to get on the 130. The driver refused to accept the day pass but couldn't explain to us why not.

I was wondering what was different about the 130, why wouldn't the driver accept the pass?

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4 Answers 4

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Unfortunately the San Francisco Bay Area has a number of different public transport providers, who are for the most part not at all integrated. Over recent years they have at least worked on integrating payment via "Clipper Card", however even that integration generally doesn't cover things like passes.

In your case, you purchased a "Muni" day pass, which covers any services run by Muni - including numerous buses, light rail ("metro"), cable cars, etc, that operated within the City of San Francisco.

Bus 130 is not run by Muni, nor is it a route within San Francisco. It is instead run by Golden Gate Transport, and whilst it does start in San Francisco, it ends in San Rafael around 20 miles away.

As this route is not run by Muni, it is not covered by your MUNI day pass.

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    Thanks for this, I wish it had been a little clearer when we boarded. One bus looks like any other, especially at night and to a tourist!
    – Burgi
    Aug 4, 2023 at 16:30
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    one nit: cable cars are run by Muni but aren't covered by the standard $5 Muni day pass, but only the more expensive visitor passport passes and monthly passes. Further confusing things, there's an additional brand new $5 day pass that covers only the California St cable car line and no other services. The absurd number of transit agencies with different fare systems is a well known problem, and there's been renewed attention to trying to fix it in recent years, but as with anything that involves dividing up money and control among parts of the region, it's a political mess. Aug 4, 2023 at 17:55
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San Francisco and the Bay Area are served by a confusing, often overlapping array of transit operators.

The Muni day pass allows riding on all Muni-operated buses, trains, and historic streetcars for the period of its validity; their 1-day visitor passport additionally allows riding on the cable cars. However, neither of these passes allows riding on any of the other transit services serving San Fransisco, such at BART.

Muni does not operate a bus called 130, so it would not be included in your day pass. Probably you encountered the Golden Gate Transit #130, which goes between San Francisco and San Rafael, in Marin County to the north of the city. This bus is operated by Golden Gate Transit and so you must pay a Golden Gate Transit fare to ride it. (Extra-confusingly, SamTrans, which is another operator not included in the Muni pass and which operates south of San Francisco, also runs a Route 130 which connects with Muni, though in a part of the region where tourists are less likely to accidentally run across it.)

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TLDR: For regional travel, use the regional card/app Clipper. Muni has no 130; that's a Golden Gate bus that nominally does not go to San Francisco. Asterisk.

You used the city agency's app (not Clipper) to buy the city pass. That is fine, but it limits you to their vehicles only. If you wanted to unlock travel beyond the City, the Bay Area has a regional platform/card/app called Clipper. Had you bought that identical pass on Clipper, you would then have a Clipper account and have been able to tap onto any regional transit except Amtrak. (of course you would have to pay a fare, and have that pre-deposited into the Clipper system, which is notoriously slow to propagate due to its architecture pre-dating affordable cellular data, secure P2PE, and the like. They're working on it.)

Muni buses are silver and red**. However, the downtown area is like an international airport. There are many private and foreign (from outside San Francisco) bus lines provide express service from their county or other faraway place.

  • Golden Gate Transit across the bridge to Marin
  • Samtrans down the peninsula to San Mateo county
  • AC transit across the Bay Bridge to the east bay
  • Westcat to Vallejo and beyonnnnnd!

They are not there to provide intra-City transit. Some must traverse the city to leave it; they make intermediate "boarding only" stops for people going to their county. They tolerate and cooperate (or do not) with a sort of "hidden city ticketing" where you hop off still within the City. (though you may need to "tap off" or be charged for the farthest zone). Tourists have been known to (ab)use Golden Gate Transit for a very fast "hyperspace jump" to Fort Point (city-side foot of the bridge). Golden Gate Transit has flipped back and forth on dis/allowing this. At last report I understand they allow it because of COVID, but their local fare within San Francisco is downright punitive.

Decades ago, GG once permitted this on a Fast Pass but never on a tourist passport (not sure why; that's the perfect use). Such agreements broke apart decades ago because of the ongoing morphing of regional transit.


I hear from some a hidden gripe that the Bay Area doesn't have a single regional transit system. Feel free to line up at City Hall to sound that complaint; to get to the back of the line, take CalTrain to Morgan Hill :) But in fairness Clipper ain't terrible; it's only a problem if you want to take Amtrak or go to Rio Vista (which is closer to Sacramento than San Francisco anyway).

** Well, the surface streetcars (trams) aren't silver and red, are bedecked with historic liveries of dozens of cities which used PCC type cars. But none of those cities are close enough to be a confusion, and being rail, it's obvious they are limited by their infrastructure. And Muni passes are not valid on cable cars, except for certain specific and costly tourist passes.

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    Of course, all those passes and tourist complaints will probably be obsolete once the transit systems finally transition to “tap to ride”, like London and NYC did. The vast majority of people would then just tap in and not think twice about what happens in the background.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 6, 2023 at 8:28
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    Yes, London has a very nice system, "designed" (copy-pasted-stolen) by contractor Cubic, who was a contractor on a pioneering system called TransLink, which was where? I'll give you one guess. Translink predates tap technology, but when it went 'tap' it was re-branded Clipper. Also, London and NYC seem to be struggling to integrate their commuter rail systems. Unfortunately OP chose a Muni-only pass. Had OP gotten a Clipper card... Aug 6, 2023 at 19:22
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    Clipper is not perfect either because it requires a separate card. The best systems simply use Visa/Mastercard tap and don’t waste peoples time on learning the ticketing system. Just tap and go.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 6, 2023 at 20:55
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica The history is even more complex. The system was designed by ERG out of Australia in partnership with Motorola. ERG had a number of performance issues, both with the Translink project and back at home in New South Wales, Motorola eventually pulled out, and the contract was reassigned to Cubic to take over operations of the system. At least some of the difficulties with the current system—replacement is slowly underway—come from the fact that it's built on ERG's 90s technology that's different and separate from most of Cubic's other systems like Oyster and OMNY. Aug 7, 2023 at 7:45
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    @ave even if a special card is used, an ideal system would not give any choice of "passes" whatsoever to its users, instead automatically deducting the lowest possible total fee at the end of the day/week/month. That's how the system works in London and NYC - you just tap in and the system does the calculations for you. The users of the system should have zero choice - and thus zero headache.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 7, 2023 at 22:12
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In the San Francisco Bay Area there many different agencies providing public transport, including Muni, BART, Golden Gate Transit, Caltrain, etc.

The Muni Day Pass is only valid on Muni services.

The 130 bus is operated by Golden Gate Transit, so it is not included in the Day Pass.

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