Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by CHIP72
As someone not who hasn't lived or visited the San Francisco Bay Area (yet), the vast number of different heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, and Amtrak services in that area is nuts. People think keeping track of the New York area systems is tough, but at least some of them (like the MTA subways, LIRR, and MNRR) are under the same organizational umbrella. I'm not sure if it would be preferable if some of the systems were part of the same organization, but it would easier to keep track of them all!

Someone make a comment if I miss something. I think all the systems in the Bay Area include:

Heavy rail/light rail:
*BART (San Francisco-Oakland)
*Muni (San Francisco)
*Santa Clara Valley Transit (San Jose)

Commuter rail:
*Caltrains (San Francisco-San Jose)
*Altamont Commuter Express (San Jose-Stockton)

*Capitol Corridor (San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento)
*San Joaquins (Oakland-Stockton-Bakersfield & Sacramento-Stockton-Bakersfield)

Heck, Sacramento isn't too far away from the Bay Area and it has its own light rail too, Sacramento Regional Transit.

Good grief, that's a lot of systems! Did I miss any, besides the long distance, one train/day, Amtrak Coast Starlight? It has to be kind of daunting, especially for non-transportation savvy people, to figure out what system to use to go where if you are unfamilar with the Bay Area's transit network.

One other, related question - has anyone ever created a map that shows all these systems in the Bay Area and/or Sacramento or Stockton?

  by kevikens
The Bay Area is not that confusing when you consider how large in area that is. You mention that Sacramento has its own light rail system but keep in mind that SF is about the same distance from Sacramento as Philly is from Harrisburg. San Jose is about the same distance from SF as Trenton NJ from NYC. If you were to superimpose a map of the Bay Area over the NYC region you would see that the NYC metro area has the MTA, Metro North, Conn Dot, NJT, PATH and Amtrak. It's pretty similar to the Bay Area in size and variety of transportation systems. Many of the folks who live out there use only what is close to them so they might be familiar with BART amd MUNI but never going into San Jose might not know anything about Caltrain or VTA. It's not bewildering when you live there.

  by umtrr-author
Makes for a great "Circle Trip" too...

Amtrak California from San Jose to Berkeley
BART from Berkeley to San Franscisco
Cable cars, MUNI, etc. in SFO
Caltrans from San Francisco back to San Jose

As Kevikens noted, the Bay Area is a lot larger than people in the East think it is. I've been there enough to get a sense, but a round trip from where we stay in San Jose to visit a hobby shop in Marin County, for example, is longer than the entire top to bottom length of New Jersey (where I'm from originally).

If you're planning a trip there, it will be well worth it. If not, maybe you can :-D

  by CHIP72
Oh, I realize the Bay Area is fairly large (SF/Oakland to San Jose is about the same distance as DC to Baltimore), and I also realize Sacramento and Stockton aren't that close to the Bay Area; the distance between Sacramento and San Francisco/Oakland is similar to New York-Philadelphia. Still, when you think about areas similar in population to SF/Oakland/SJ, there are an awful lot of systems under different organizational umbrellas. As a basis of comparison, DC/Baltimore, which is similar in population size and area to the Bay Area, has 3 different transit agencies - WMATA, MTA-MD, and VRE - that cover all the heavy/light rail and commuter rail in the combined metro area. It would probably be 2 organizations if the area around DC was all in one state, like it is in the Bay Area (VRE would be part of MTA-MD). By contrast, the Bay Area has 5 different agencies, including 2 heavy/light rail providers in San Francisco and 2 commuter rail providers in San Jose. This is what I mean by the Bay Area being confusing from a rail transit perspective.