How To Get a Taxi in San Francisco: Tips, Rates from a Local

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If you're in need of a taxi while visiting San Francisco, don't fret – there are plenty of taxis available to get you where you need to go. However, there are a few things you should know about getting a taxi in San Francisco, including the rates and what to do if you experience problems with your driver. In this article, I'll provide tips for finding and using taxis in San Francisco so that you can get where you need to go quickly and easily. Let's dive in!

How To Hail a Taxi in San Francisco

In San Francisco, there are 19 taxi companies with close to 3,000 taxi drivers and more than 1,000 medallions.

Thus, hailing a taxi cab is not that complicated.

Taxi Stands

There are plenty of taxi stands in SF.

At official taxi ranks you can find a cab already waiting, or you can wait there for the next one to arrive which is often quick.

Hail a Cab

You can easily grab a ride and catch a taxi on the streets of San Francisco.

As a reminder, if the 'TAXI' light on the hood of the car is on, the taxi is available for passengers. Some taxis have lights surrounding the TAXI light, which will turn off when the taxi is full.

Just stand on the edge of the sidewalk and raise your arm in the air. The SF taxi cab will notice you and approach and pull over for you.

We suggest you talk to the driver at the front window and explain where you need to get to or ask other questions such as if they accept credit cards before you jump in the back of the car.

Book a Cab in Advance

In some situations such as late at night, our suggestion is to book a cab over the phone.

You can easily book a San Francisco Taxi cab in advance using one of the apps below.

Some of them have a phone number that you can call too if you prefer.

💡 PRO TIP: If you book in advance, you will sometimes be charged a few extra dollars.

How Much Does A Taxi Ride Cost In San Francisco

Very similarly to all cities across the United States of America, cab rates in San Francisco are officially set by the city or district authorities.

Taxi rates are the same for all rides in San Francisco and must be respected by all taxi companies and drivers.

The taxi fares in San Francisco were last set in January 2015 and published in the official tariff ordinance.

The San Francisco taxi fare established by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency shall be as follows:

  • Standard Fare: $3.50
  • Per Mile Charge: $2.75
  • Airport Fees: The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) currently requires taxi drivers to pay a $4.50 Ground Transportation Access Fee each time they enter SFO for the purpose of picking up a passenger, and the Transportation Code allows drivers to recoup $4.00 of that access fee from their passengers whose trips originate at SFO.

San Francisco cabs can also provide long distance rides.

Keep in mind that for trips exceeding 15 miles from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) that don't end within city limits, the fare will be 150% of the metered rate, except for those trips from SFO going through San Francisco and ending in Marin County or the East Bay.

The 15-mile limit will apply only after you have passed through San Francisco and gone 15 miles outside the city limit.

Every cab has installed calibrated taximeters that ensure your taxi respects the official rates.

If you want to get an estimated cost of your ride, you can use the San Francisco taxi fare calculator.

Popular Taxi Fare Estimates for San Francisco, CA

To give you an idea, you can find below populare taxi fare estimates:

  • Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf: $13.73
  • Oakland, CA to Union Square: $57.78
  • Montgomery St. BART Station to 746 23rd Avenue: $27.31

Best Taxi Apps in San Francisco

Find below our list with the most popular SF taxi apps.

Flywheel Taxi App

If you're looking for a ride in San Francisco, you may want to consider using Flywheel. Flywheel is a taxi service that allows you to hail a cab using your smartphone. The app also provides fare estimates and allows you to pay your fare electronically.

What We Like

Flywheel is convenient and easy to use.

Overall, it is an affordable way to get around San Francisco. Just be aware that it may not always be reliable, which are explained below.

The app let you select a default tip of your choice or customize your own! Take a look at our guide on how much to tip taxi drivers.

What We Don’t Like

However, there are some downsides to using Flywheel. For example, Flywheel cabs can be hard to find in some areas of the city, and the service isn't available 24/7.

Additionally, the app lacks stability. A lot of unsatisfied customers reported a bad user experience because the mobile app crashed regularly.

Mobile Apps: iOS | Android

Yellow Cab SF

Yellow cab SF is one of the most popular taxi services in San Francisco. It is known for its Yellow cabs, which are a distinctive feature of the cityscape. The company has a long history, dating back to the early days of the city's transportation system. Yellow Cab SF is reliable and efficient, and is one of the best ways to get around the city.

What We Like

The San Francisco Yellow Cab app offers riders the opportunity to book a ride or to make a reservation using the schedule feature.

Very similarly to Uber and Lyft, you will be prompted to rate your taxi driver at the end of your ride.

What We Don’t Like

Overall, Yellow cab SF is a great option for getting around San Francisco. However, there are also some downsides.

Everyone knows that it is definitely appropriate to tip taxi drivers. Unfortunately, the SF Yellow Cab app doesn’t have an in-app tipping option. Passengers need to tip the driver by cash, which can be a limitation for some.

Finally, it can be expensive. The app provides users with estimated fares for rides, however the final cost of your taxi journey may vary depending on multiple factors, including:

  • Waiting time
  • Driver deviates from the system’s suggested routes

If you need help or want to report something, you can contact Yellow Cab San Francisco help desk

Mobile Apps: IOS | Android

Phone Number: 415-333-3333

Rideshare in San Francisco

Find below a complete list of rideshare apps in San Francisco

Uber

Uber is one of the most popular rideshare apps. The company offers different ride options that will fit all of the passengers' needs, with rides that range from cheaper, economy rides to pricier luxury rides.

The service available include the following options:

Requesting an Uber in San Francisco is not very complicated. You just need the app and to create an account if you haven’t already.

Uber is a safe transportation option in San Francisco. However, we suggest you read our complete guide where you can find some rideshare safety tips and precautions .

In April 2022, in a press release, Uber Technologies announced a new partnership with Flywheel, the taxi-hailing app.

This agreement will give Uber riders access to taxis, and Flywheel's 50,000 drivers will be able to provide service for Uber app users as well as for people who still want to take taxis.

The partnership will initially only be available in San Francisco, but it is likely to be rolled out to other cities in the future if it continues to be successful. The Uber Flywheel partnership is a win for both companies.

For Uber, it provides an additional distribution channel for its rides and a solution to the driver shortage.

For Flywheel, it gives drivers access to Uber's larger passenger rides. In addition, the partnership will help reduce congestion on San Francisco's busy streets. By allowing passengers to book rides from within the Uber app, Flywheel can direct drivers to areas where there is high demand for rides. This will help reduce the number of cars on the road and improve traffic flow.

What We Like

Uber has revolutionized the transportation industry. The Uber app very rarely crashes and offers its riders a seamless experience.

If you are a loyal user, you can save money on rides and food delivey with Uber One.

What We Don’t Like

One of the main disadvantages of Uber is the surge pricing due to driver shortages. However, the negative effects of the driver shortage will be attenuated thanks to the numerous partnerships with the taxi companies.

If you are looking for ways to make extra money, it is the right time to become an Uber driver. The San Francisco headquartered company increased rewards and incentives for new and current drivers.

Lyft

Does San Francisco have Lyft? The short answer is Yes. Lyft operates and is headquartered in San Francisco.

With Lyft you can request a ride up to 7 days in advance, at any time and on any day of the year.

Lyft offers a wide range of cars for all your needs and you can get a fare estimate within the app.

What We Like

Lyft is committed to providing sustainable rides. Bike sharing has never been so easy. Using the Lyft app you can unlock bikes and scooters in San Francisco.

Tap the bike icon to select a bike or a station near you.

You can also book a car ride, which is always helpful.

What We Don’t Like

Very similar to Uber, Lyft is struggling to find new drivers and retain workers as the U.S.

Lyft doesn't provide child seats in SF. If you are traveling with a child you will need to get your own.

Finally, getting refunds is really hard. You should always know the cancellation policy before booking a Lyft ride.

Alto Rideshare

Located in the Bay Area, Alto is a relative newcomer to the rideshare scene. Founded in 2016, the company has been gaining traction in recent years, thanks in part to its focus on safety and clean energy.

I like that Alto Rideshare exists in San Francisco and offers services to passengers. I don't like how it's not as readily available as other ride-sharing options, such as Lyft or Uber. The company needs to improve its marketing and availability if it wants to be a major player in the rideshare market.

What We Like

Drivers are not independent contractors but employees. They must undergo a rigorous screening process, which includes a background check and an in-person interview. As a result of these measures, Alto has become a popular choice for families and businesses who are looking for a safe and reliable rideshare option.

What We Don’t Like

While Alto is still growing, it faces stiff competition from well-established companies such as Lyft and Uber. In order to attract more customers, Alto needs to improve its marketing and availability.

At present, the company only operates in certain areas of the Bay Area. It should expand its service area to include more suburbs and cities. In addition, Alto needs to do a better job at promoting itself online and through social media.

Mobile Apps: iOS | Android

Wingz

Wingz is one of the approved SFO rideshare companies.

The rideshare company was launched in 2013 by Jeremie Romand, Fred Gomez, and Geoff Mathieux.

Wingz connects local drivers with passengers who need to pre-book rides to or from the airport.

What We Like

Wingz is more affordable and convenient than taxis or shuttles. If you are new to the app, you can give it a try and save money with our promo code.

What We Don’t Like

It is not always reliable. I personally scheduled a ride 3 days in advance and I got a message about 3 hours prior to my pick up informing me that no drivers were available.

Finally, if you are looking for ways to make money driving, becoming a Wingz driver can be a great opportunity. However, for the moment they have a long waiting list.

San Francisco Water Taxi

In San Francisco there is another commuting option: water taxis. Using a taxi water gives you a different perspective of the city.

Stops are marked with yellow checkered taxi signs.

Hop-on hop-off locations are:

  • Pier 1.5 – Near Ferry Building
  • Pier 15 – The Embarcadero
  • Pier 39 – A San Francisco Tourist

Find a Taxi Near You in San Francisco

San Francisco is a great city to explore, but getting around can be tricky. With so many transportation options available, it can be hard to know which one to choose. Hopefully this article has helped clear up some of the confusion and given you a good starting point for your next visit or next ride. Choose from one of the San Francisco Taxi options or book a ride with Uber.

Enjoy your time in The City by the Bay!

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