Have you ever wondered if it were possible to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco using only an interconnecting mishmash of local bus and train services? Probably not. Why would you want to, when you could just book a flight from LAX to SFO or a trip on Amtrak California?
I wondered if it were possible. I even drew up an itinerary for a journey along the coast from the City by the Bay to the City of Angels, but it was lacking in one major respect – there was no local transit service that could bridge a roughly 40-mile gap along 101 between King City and San Miguel. I failed you, Dear Readers.
But I’m back with another itinerary, this time taking you from Los Angeles Union Station to Embarcadero Station in San Francisco via Yosemite using only unreserved fixed-route public transit.
Disclaimer: If you are actually brave enough to try this, I’m not responsible if you miss a connection and get stranded. The trip is based on currently available published schedules from transit agency websites – please check with the agency you’ll be using before your trip to make sure the data is current and correct.
This trip is only possible in July or August due to seasonal closures of the YARTS route from Mammoth Lakes to Merced. You’ll also need to come up with overnight accommodations in Mammoth Lakes, Merced, and Modesto.
Monday in July or August:
11:20 a.m.: Depart Los Angeles Union Station on Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line, Train 207. Adult one-way fare: $12.75.
1:20 p.m.: Arrive Lancaster Metrolink Station. Layover: 1 hour 10 minutes.
2:30 p.m.: Depart Lancaster Metrolink Station on Eastern Sierra Transit’s Mammoth bus. Adult one-way fare: $33.00.
7:35 p.m.: Arrive Mammoth Lakes McDonald’s. Enjoy a delicious McRib sandwich. Layover: 11 hours 45 minutes.
Tuesday in July or August:
7:20 a.m.: Depart from Mammoth Lakes Shilo Inn (directly adjacent to McDonald’s) on YARTS Highway 120 route. Adult one-way fare: $15.00.
10:55 a.m.: Arrive Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. Purchase a post card and mail to CaliforniaStreets.org Headquarters, San Francisco, Calif. – it’ll probably make it here before you do. Layover: 4 hours 55 minutes.
3:50 p.m.: Depart Yosemite Valley Visitors Center on YARTS Highway 140 route. Adult one-way fare: $13.00.
6:27 p.m.: Arrive Merced Transportation Center. Do whatever it is people do in Merced. Layover: 22 hours 58 minutes.
Wednesday in July or August:
5:25 p.m.: Depart Merced Transportation Center on Stanislaus Regional Transite Route 70. Adult one-way fare: $2.50.
6:35 p.m.: Arrive Modesto Transit Center. Layover: 10 hours 5 minutes.
Thursday in July or August:
4:40 a.m.: Depart Modesto Transit Center on the MAX Modesto BART Express. Adult one-way fare: $14.00.
6:35 a.m.: Arrive Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station. Layover: 8 minutes.
6:43 a.m.: Depart Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station on a Daly City train. Adult one-way fare: $5.55.
7:28 a.m.: Arrive San Francisco Embarcadero Station. Walk to the Ferry Building and spend $5 on a mocha at Blue Bottle – you deserve it.
Total time from leaving L.A. Union to arriving at S.F. Embarcadero: 68 hours 8 minutes (time spent waiting for transfers: 51 hours 1 minute – time spent moving: 17 hours 7 minutes)
Total fare (excluding McRib, post card, and Blue Bottle Coffee): $95.80.
If you decide to undertake this adventure, please let me know in the comments. And if you know of a better route that also only uses local carriers, please let me know! There should be a better way to bridge the Merced to Modesto gap.