18 August 2008

San Francisco Bay Area - Amtrak to central valley

Yesterday, I took Amtrak from Fremont to Marysville (in the central valley of California). I did everything as last-minute as I think is possible :D. I looked up the schedule and fare for the Capitol Corridor (You can buy your ticket for the train and bus online - to get AAA discount, buy 3 days in advance. Javascript is required - turn it on first, or it dumps you to "failed script" page). I ended up going to the Fremont station without buying a ticket first. Usually, you can buy a ticket there, but on Sundays the building is locked up - and the machine is inside.
So, I just bought the ticket (including the bus transfer) from the conductor on the train. I thought I would need cash, but it turns out they will do a credit card right there.
The train came right on time. All the conductors were very friendly, and answered all my questions. If you buy a ticket in advance, then miss your train or bus, you can just take another one - no problem. There is no extra charge for buying on the train vs buying in advance (unless you qualify for a discount and buy several days in advance); there is no charge for using a ticket on a later train. For the Capitol Corridor, there is no extra charge for bringing a bicycle on (and it doesn't need to be boxed). You don't need a reservation for either yourself or the bike on either the train or the bus. Note that other lines have different rules.

I went upstairs and watched the countryside. Here is a small reservoir we passed when leaving Fremont.

You can also take the train (or BART) to the Oakland Coliseum - it looks like there was a game getting ready to start - plenty of people standing in line waiting to enter...

The train goes right along the Bay, past Jack London Square.
Then it heads into the central valley, through farmland and along the hills.

We pulled into Davis - that was nice. I hadn't been back to Davis in *years!* There were all kinds of new buildings, and these were only the ones I could see from the train! The station has a nice mosaic bench.

Then we got to the Sacramento station - end of the line for now. They are talking about extending the train to Reno, or at least Lake Tahoe. The Sacramento station is right off I-5, just South of Richards Blvd. We pulled in right on time. According to the schedule, I had a whole 5 minutes to get from the train to the bus - yikes! So I was waiting at the door, had used the bathroom, and quickly found the bus. Well, we sat there until 1:15 (schedule said we would leave at 1:00). So I didn't have to worry. It was also a good thing that I had purchased the bus transfer on the train, because a couple of people had to go to the building to buy their bus tickets - you couldn't buy them from the bus driver.

So, even though we left "late," we got to Marysville exactly on time - 2:00. Nice!
I took a couple of minutes to ask the bus driver some more questions :). He has never had a problem fitting bikes in the bus - no reservation required for bikes or people (nice to hear this from the bus driver, since he's who really matters). But, I didn't find out how to buy a ticket *from* Marysville.

Karl was waiting for me - he had actually followed the bus for a couple of blocks, so no waiting!

Had a nice get-together that night - captured 3 of the 4 siblings :)

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