Christy loves to explore the city of San Francisco and share her delicious findings.
Can I Move Furniture on the Bus?
There are lots of reasons you may have considered trying to take furniture on the bus.
- Maybe you just found the most amazing free couch on Craigslist.
- Maybe you spotted an awesome bookshelf on the curb.
- Maybe a friend is moving out and offers you some nice furniture.
My home city of San Francisco is a freecycling, curb-shopping Mecca. Free furniture (and free stuff in general) is everywhere. But if you don't have a car or truck, getting it home can be quite a challenge.
My Furniture on SF MUNI Story
I haven't tried taking furniture on MUNI myself, but I did have occasion to seriously consider it, which is why I did the research to find out if it's possible.
I don't have a car, so I depend entirely on public transit. (Besides, finding parking anywhere in SF is hopeless anyway.) I recently found myself in need of two new dining room chairs. Most of my furniture is mismatched anyway, so I just wanted to find some sturdy ones for cheap. I scouted local thrift stores and finally found two that I liked...But I had no way to get them home.
Which is when my roommate suggested carrying them home on the bus. I argued that there must be rules against that sort of thing, but a quick Google search left me no more enlightened on the subject.
So, I decided to ask a bus driver. Here's what I found:
So, Can I Take Furniture on the Bus?
Luckily, I have a close friend who is a bus driver, so I brought my strange question to him. I was very surprised to learn that there's no set policy on taking furniture on the bus. Here's what he had to say about it:
"You can't bring anything on the bus that blocks the walkways. If you can manage to get it into a seat, it may be allowed, but that's up to each individual bus driver. I would say no, it probably wouldn't be allowed. But you may end up with a cool driver. You never know. LOL"
Can I Take Furniture on BART?
I wondered if the rules were the same for subway systems like BART. I take BART to work daily, so I stopped and asked an operator. Here's what he had to say:
"Hm... No. Anything that blocks the aisles is forbidden, and you can't put objects in seats on a crowded train-- they need to be available for passengers to sit. Basically, if it doesn't fit through the turnstile, you can't bring it on train."
I asked him if he'd ever seen anybody try to take furniture on BART, and here's what he said:
"I've never seen anyone try to take stuff like couches or chairs, but people do take stereos, computers, and TVs. As long as they can carry it and keep it out of the way, it's fine."
UPDATE: I recently saw a man with a fairly large rocking chair waiting for a BART train. He made it past the turnstiles and nobody was giving him any trouble, but I have no idea if he was able to make it all the way home. If you decide to try this, make sure you avoid rush hour and pick a slow time of day when there will be a lot of free space in the station and on the trains.
Can I Take Furniture on SF MUNI Trains?
I haven't had the opportunity to talk with a MUNI train operator, but MUNI trains and buses are all part of the same transit system and have the same passenger rules, so my assumption is that just like with the buses, it's possible that you'll get a cool operator, but most won't allow anything that blocks the seats, which includes most (if not all) furniture.
In Conclusion: No, You Can't Move Furniture on Public Transit...Probably?
So, it looks like the short answer is no, you can not take furniture on public transit.
But the long answer is... maybe?
You will probably never be allowed to transport large items of furniture like couches, loveseats, armchairs, tables, beds, dressers, or desks on the public transit system. But according to the bus driver and BART operator I spoke with, you may be able to get away with small items like stools, nightstands, chairs, and small shelves if you're lucky, and large electronics are a fairly safe bet (I've transported a computer monitor myself on a MUNI train without incident).
In the end, you can always try your luck with smaller items, but considering the odds, I would not recommend attempting to transport any sort of furniture on public transit.
So, How Can I Move My Furniture Without a Car?
So, public transit is out, but you don't have a car and you still need to move your stuff. What are your options?
- Hire someone on Craigslist. Craigslist is one way that people with trucks like to make a little extra money. You can usually find someone willing to deliver furniture for you for $20 or less per trip. But it's Craigslist (a site known for being kind of shady), so be cautious and sensible, and it might take a couple tries to find someone who will actually show up. But hey, free furniture with a $20 delivery beats spending hundreds of dollars on new furniture and $80+ for delivery.
- Rent a Zipcar van. If you think you'll need to transport furniture pretty frequently (say, because you refurbish it and sell it at yard sales or flea markets) but you don't want the expense and hassle of a car, you should consider signing up for Zipcar. It's a service with a $60 yearly membership fee that allows members to rent cars (including vans) by the hour for $9-$10/hr. Depending on how often you need to transport furniture, this can be a very affordable option. But since you're just renting the car, be aware that you'll have to lift and move the furniture yourself. Bring a friend to help with heavy objects.
- Rent a truck with Getaround. Getaround is a peer-to-peer carsharing service that connects you with private individuals who want to rent their vehicles for an hourly fee. Most vehicles cost $7-$19/hr and the service does not charge any membership fees. Like Zipcar (and unlike Craigslist) there will be no driver to help you move the furniture, so bring help if you need it.
- Hire someone with TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is a site that allows you to hire affordable temporary help for a one-time job or task (like picking up and delivering your furniture). You can set a price or allow members to bid for your task, but be aware that if your price is not competitive you may not get any responses.
Have you ever tried to move furniture on public transit? Have you ever considered it? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!
Walter Clark on April 02, 2018:
I ride on a CDTA bus. I'm from Scotia, NY.
I go to a Walmart which is located in Glenville, NY. I do my grocery shopping there, and I have my own shopping cart for carrying the groceries in. I have food stamps. I realized that this bus driver who drives this bus at night is very strict on passengers who take heavy items on the bus., e.g., when my shopping cart is full of groceries making it heavy (he would not allow passengers to carry heavy items on the bus). He is cracking down on people who carry heavy items on the bus, putting a strict limit of items in a shopping cart like mine, by having it halfway full, not full all the way. He will say if my cart is full, e.g. "You can't carry that on the bus."
Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on December 21, 2017:
I am from San Francisco and currently live in Pittsburgh. While in SF, I never really noticed MUNI passengers moving their household possessions, etc. on a bus, streetcar, etc. (Maybe I just wasn’t noticing.) One thing that I did notice was the large number of passengers carrying grocery bags on MUNI. That also included me. I can remember dozens of people boarding an outbound J Church on a Sunday afternoon carrying a gazillion grocery bags from the Market & Church Safeway.
In Pittsburgh, it is no different. Like San Francisco, Pittsburgh is a big public transit city. Passengers carry everything except the kitchen sink on PAT (Port Authority Transit) buses. Like San Francisco as well, many PAT (Port Authority Transit) bus drivers can be very rude just like MUNI drivers can be. I wonder who trained who.
Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on July 27, 2017:
I would not recommend moving furniture on the N Judah or 38 Geary during rush hour.
Harley on November 12, 2016:
I've taken HUGE cabinets and tables. Just got on get on the back. Sometimes the drivers have an issue but that's because they are tight asses. It's not illegal & if you're a paying customer & if it doesn't block the aisle then you are A Okay.
Rida on March 10, 2015:
As a recent transplant to Seattle (and the US) without a car or a driving license and in the process of setting up a house on a budget, I can understand your temptation. I've hauled small items on the bus - ikea lack side tables (I screw off the legs, put them in a bag and hold the top), a collapsible ironing board and a large mounted poster (around 30''x40''). I'm sure I could do an ikea lack coffee table the same way (and might). The craziest thing I thought of moving were 2x4 kallax/expedit shelves. It was night, and the buses were empty and it was only like 5-10 blocks from my house. But it was ridiculously heavy and I later realized I would never have been able to get it on the bus coz of the angles. Thankfully, the guy who sold me the shelves offered to drop them off when he heard my plan :)
Christy Kirwan (author) from San Francisco on February 24, 2014:
Thanks for the TaskRabbit suggestion, Marina! I'll add it to the list.
Uber and Lyft are indeed both expensive, plus Lyft only allows 4-door passenger cars (no vans or trucks) and Uber does not allow riders to specify what type of car they'd like, so neither are very good options for moving furniture, unfortunately.
Marina from San Francisco, CA on February 24, 2014:
As a car-less resident of San Fran myself, I've thought about this very thing. I imagine it's next to impossible to carry anything bulky (even a small lamp or table) on public transit systems during rush hour. But when buses and trains are basically empty, why not?
Your list of options are great. I'd consider adding TaskRabbit for similar reasons that you explain for Craigslist. Uber / Lyft / other cabs are also convenient options, but they will definitely be expensive!