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 njtmnrrbuff
Between Aug 28 and 31st, I will be in San Francisco with my family. However, I won't leave out any sort of transitfanning. I am particularly interested in Caltrain, Amtrak operations, and bart. Any tips?

  by umtrr-author
You can do a "circle trip"...

BART to Berkeley
Amtrak California to San Jose
Caltrans back to SF

(or the other direction)

We did this a few years ago starting at San Jose, it was a lot of fun.
We added cable cars and the PCC cars in SF.

  by njtmnrrbuff
Thanks. I will probably ride Bart to the Oakland Coliseum, take Am Cal to San Jose, and then Cal Train northward. I might even decide to go to Sacremento to the rr museum, via train of course. Maybe the first day, if we get back from Alcatraz or whatever nonrail sightseeing we do at a reasonable hour, I might ride a Bart Line end to end. Maybe the yellow to Pittsburg/Bay point. I will definately be riding cable cars; probably the Powell. I plan to explore those PCC cars. How is the neighborhood around the Richmond Amtrak/Bart just in case I decide to ride bart to transfer to Amcal there.

  by Alloy
The neighborhood is rough, but the station area is fairly safe, and you don't have to leave the station to make the transfer, if I remember correctly. (It's been a long time since I did that)

  by kevikens
If you make the transfer at the Ricmond station in the PM a good spot for photography is just south of the parking lot where the UP and Amtrak cross a major highway. The bridge it self is quite interesting and you can get some good pix of freight. passenger and BART. I never had a problem there.

  by orangeline
I would recommend riding the Muni Metro as well. My favorite lines are the N-Judah which runs between King St. Station (Cal Trans) and essentially the Pacific Ocean (Great Highway) and the L-Taraval between Embarcadero Station and the SF Zoo. You should ride the trolley coaches -- it's spooky how quiet they are!

  by njtmnrrbuff
I'm sure that I will be riding the Muni light rail for nonrailfanning purpose. My main focus will be some of BART, Amtrak California, and Cal Train Ops. It would be nice for the ACE to run their midday roundtrip, but I don't think that it will happen by the end of Aug when I'm there.

  by modorney
You can always take ACE to Livermore (from San Jose) and hop a bus at Livermore, which will get you back to Dublin BART.

Another option would be to take ACE to Stockton, and get back on Amtrak (or even Greyhound). The ACE station and the Amtrak station are different, about a mile apart, and you'd have to take two city buses to transfer.

That way, you'd get to see ACE through the pass, which is one of the prettiest rides.

  by njtmnrrbuff
I think this time, I will take BART to the Oakland Coliseum, take a CC to SAC, a CC back down to San Jose, and then come up to SFO on Caltrain.
While ACE will be running their midday trip, one has to start out in Stockton in order to cover it in both directions. If I were riding it, I would probably ride it in one direction and then connect to any type of rail service, unless if I can get a bus to a BART station. If the two stations in Stockton are a mile apart from one another, I would rather walk than take two buses. However, I have heard that the areas around both train stations are very dangerous.
Maybe on my next trip to SFO, I will ride all of BART. I don't think its possible to do everything in three hours. However, I believe that most of the Capital Corridor between just north of Fremont/Centerville and OKJ, is parralelled to the BART line to Fremont. Even if I don't ride their trains, I will automatically count that as mileage ridden on BART between the colliseum and Fremont, assuming that one could see the rest of the line to Fremont from the Capital Corridor.

There are good suggestions posted for trips here in the Bay Area. If you would like to railfan BART you can do it for a minimum nominal fare-back in 2000 I covered all of BARTs lines. For example getting on at Embarcadero and exiting at Powell for example. If you get on and off at the same station the excursion fare applies-around four bucks. A word of caution-watch your time on BART-the tickets have a limit of 3 hours from the time you enter. I learned to time myself riding lines or go and exit at a set destination to get around this. An example: Going from DT SF to Oakland's Lake Merritt I covered the Richmond line and back. Leaving DT Oakland I covered the Fremont line and returned to SF. MUNI and VTA both sell daypasses for their respective services. CALTRAIN sells POP daypasses-the equivalent of a round trip I believe - you can purchase one covering-SF to San Jose and stop over anyplace in between. Go out and enjoy! MACTRAXX

  by lensovet
I think this time, I will take BART to the Oakland Coliseum, take a CC to SAC, a CC back down to San Jose, and then come up to SFO on Caltrain.
if you're going to sac anyway, i'd highly recommend taking bart to richmond instead. first off, it's all one station, unlike the coliseum. second, while the area directly outside of it might not be that great, the station itself is just fine, and like all bart stations (but def NOT caltrain/amtrak stations), it is actually staffed whenever it is open.
the rail and bart stations are connected by an underground lobby, btw. i.e. the lobby is under the tracks and has stairways leading up to both the BART and Amtrak stations (both island platforms).
if you're interested, go look on my website (the www icon), and look under Heavy Rail->Richmond for some photos I took there, as well as a rough idea of the station's context.

  by njtmnrrbuff
My choices are endless. However I have limited time. I don't think that I will do the Richmond shuffle just because I want to cover most of my mileage on the regular rails. I am thinking about taking a thruway bus to Emeryville and even riding the Zepher to SAC or even if I want to get up extra early, take a San Jouquin to either Stockton or Modesto and take one up to SAC and then head back on the CC to maybe Martinez and tranfer there to a bus that would bring me to Bay Point where I would take BART back to SFO.

  by lensovet
interesting, though i personally wouldn't be a fan of all that busing heh. :-) i just figured i'd mention richmond because you asked about it earlier on in the thread and didn't get that much of a response...like i said, i've been there, few problems.
btw, i think a key thing about this CA railfanning business is frequency, try to get schedules or somesuch, because frequency is low. def absolutely nothing like the NEC or even the M&E lines in nj. this is esp true on the single-track segments, of which there is a majority.

  by transitteen
Although... train frequency is increasing on the Capitol Corridor starting the 28th (by 52% to San Jose and 30% OKJ-SAC). According to Eugene Skoropowski, the Managing Director of the CCJPA, "Starting August 28, 2006, the Sacramento-Oakland segment of the Capitol Corridor will offer you as much service as Amtrak operates on its Northeast Corridor between Boston and New York." That sounds quite an improvement (32 weekday roundtrips).

  by lensovet
interesting, that's actually a great improvement and is BETTER than the Amtrak NYP-BOS service. however, i'm not sure he's making the right comparison there – what do you think?