Today’s Headlines

  • How Bay Area Seniors Benefit from Walkable Surroundings (SFGate)
  • Megabus to Relaunch Service From SF to LA Starting Dec. 12 (SFGateOakTrib)
  • A Day of SF Transit Data Visualized in Time Lapse Video (SFist)
  • SFMTA Releases Posters, Photos Highlighting Muni History
  • Caltrans Preparing New Bay Bridge East Span Ahead of Storm (ABC)
  • Oakland Couple Attacked After Filming Erratic Driver (KTVUOakTrib)
  • New SPUR Exhibit Shows Urban Visions Over the Past 200 Years (SFGate)
  • More on Teenage Cyclist Killed by Redwood City Truck Driver (SFGateABCCBS)
  • Santa Rosa Residents Petition for Safer Mission Boulevard Crossing (PressDemo)
  • Santa Rosa Wraps Up Third Street Project With Stamped “Brick” Crosswalks (PressDemo)
  • Atlantic Cities: Four Reasons Retailers Don’t Need Free Parking to Thrive

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • JimT

    Megabus will stop at 4th and King, which isn’t a good place for a Caltrain terminal, and definitely isn’t a good place to stop an intercity bus. Go for a stop near BART, which has 10 times as many average daily riders as Caltrain.

  • SteveS

     This definitely hurts the value proposition. They are already asking people to take a 8 hour bus ride instead of a 1.5 hour flight to save $25-50. If you have to take a cab from Powell BART to the Caltrain station instead of taking BART directly to SFO, the savings is wiped out entirely.

  • mikesonn

    It’s more like a 2.5 hr flight when you add in getting to SFO from Powell, ticketing, security, padded time, etc. Also, the savings are more than that, no?

    And HSR is going to be stopping at 4/K until (if) DTX is built. There are plenty of transit options from Powell to 4/K as well [30, 45, N, T] so why would you cab? Heck, you can even walk it under 20 min.

    My only concern is that there really isn’t a place to park the bus around the station with all the cabs, jitneys, Muni buses, and Amtrak buses – not to mention the all the private autos.

  • TN

    I think Megabus is also planning to stop at the West Oakland BART station.

  • SteveS

     I’m figuring the people who actually stand to save a decent amount of money are those who are checking a couple large bags, and hence would find Muni very inconvenient if it’s at all crowded. If you can comfortably get on the 30/45, you probably have something that could be carried on and would only be paying $50-60 or so for a ticket to LAX, so even allowing the extra hour for the airport you’re saving about $4 for each extra hour spent.

    I hope they’ll look at routes to NorCal destinations like Lake Tahoe and Yosemite in the future; those aren’t well served by air or train travel now and are much more in the sweet spot for trip length by intercity bus.

  • Steve – how exactly can you be paying $50-$60 to fly to LAX with your couple of large bags if the airlines are charging $25 per bag?

  • Prinzrob

    @cf7cd2a7184954f71ead9aadc77ae732:disqus I’m not familiar with these $50-$60 flights to LA you speak of, but for me it’s usually more like $70-$90, plus baggage fees, plus 1 hour to the airport, 1 hour through the Rapiscan at security, and additional time for flight delays or at the other end getting my bags and then a shuttle to the Metro station.The Megabus stop at West Oakland BART is most convenient for me, so I’ll just be biking down there and stowing my bike in a BikeLink locker, then jumping right on the bus for the 7 (not 8) hour trip down to LA. The ticket prices start at $1, but are based on availability and can often be had for less than $10. The buses have free wifi and will drop me off right at the downtown transit center where I can catch a ride to basically anywhere in the city.

    The savings in cost and convenience is worth the extra couple hours to me. I imagine that there will be plenty of other people who feel the same.

  • Anonymous

    @4aea702b6e9b764973427eb7d17e95e2:disqus Yep, and they are budgeting 30 mins to get from West Oakland BART to SF Caltrain. You could make it from West Oakland to most BART stations in that time.

    However pro-transit you may be, there’s no escaping the fact that travelling on intercity bus for 7-8 hours is pretty hideous and will be an option only for people who can’t afford to fly. Megabus is no substitute for a functioning rail system, though it will probably take all of Amtrak’s passengers for SF-LA.

  • Anonymous

    @jonobate:disqus From the Megabus schedules on their website, it appears that they are picking up in SF first then Oakland second before heading to LA. Then on the way back it appears they are dropping off in Oakland first before SF. If that’s the case then travelers are much better off boarding in Oakland.

    “there’s no escaping the fact that travelling on intercity bus for 7-8 hours is pretty hideous”
    Your opinion, not mine. I feel that way about airport security and cramped planes, and would much rather be on a bus with wifi and almost 0% chance of my luggage getting lost. I know people who drive SF to LA solo a lot, which takes almost as long as this bus ride. Having the option to do the same thing while working, reading, or taking a nap is awesome, and a great option until HSR is built.

  • Anonymous

    Have you ever spent 7-8 hours on a Megabus? I have, from Edinburgh to London/Cardiff/Bristol, back when I was a poor student and couldn’t afford the train fares.

    Never again. Take an SF – LA trip on the bus and then we’ll talk. (And I certainly agree with your points about air travel, but bus travel ain’t much better. At least air travel is over relatively quickly.)

  • Andy Chow

     If you ask SFMTA, they certainly don’t want intercity buses (or any bus) to clog their bus stops on or near BART stations. There’s no off-street bus area for any of the BART stations in SF, the 4th & King is marginally a better spot. The main off street bus stop is Transbay which is occupied by Greyhound.

  • Anonymous

    Having just gone to LA recently and dealt with the challenge of getting flights versus bus versus driving, I think you need to get the numbers right.

    First of all, flights are running very expensive right now. I searched Kayak.com for a weekend in LA from SFO in mid-January 2013, and a round-trip flight is $175 at the cheapest. You then need to take Bart to SFO, which is $16 round-trip, or a cab, which is about $80 round-trip (with tip). Then, in LA, you still need to pay to get where you’re going. If you are taking public transit, you still need to take the bus or a cab to Union Station, and the FlyAway bus is $14 round-trip. It obviously varies, but you’re talking at least another $20 in LA, and I think that’s being conservative for most people. Oh yeah: plus baggage fees if you need them.

    Next is time. Flight is 1 hour, you need to get to the airport 1.5 hours earlier, and Bart takes 30 minutes. So that’s 3 hours. Plus, you need to walk to Bart and presumably wait there for a bit (unless you time it perfectly). If you’re cabbing-it, you shave off some time, but still: it’s at least 3 hours, probably more like 3.5 Then you gotta get to where you are going in LA and navigate through the airport and maybe wait for baggage, so that’s at least another hour. All told, it’s at *least* 4 hours, probably more like 5.

    Summary: flying is $200-300 round-trip and takes 4-5 hours one-way.

    I just went to Megabus’ website and looked up prices and the schedule for the same weekend in January. $2 roundtrip (!!) and takes anywhere from 7 hours to almost 8 hours, depending on what time you leave. The options for flights and the bus are pretty comparable, though clearly you have more choices with flying. You still need to factor in the cost to get to/from the bus station at the SF end, so that’s another $4 (Muni/Bart) to $40 (cab) round-trip and say takes 1 hour (since you have to factor in arriving ahead of time). Since it drops you off at Union Station, it’s much easier to take public transit in LA, so the cost to get where you are going is $4 (metro) – $50 (cab) round-trip in LA and say another hour (probably less though).

    Summary: Megabus is $10-100 round-trip and takes 9-10 hours one-way.

    The way I see it, both are useful depending on what you value more: your time or your money. As somebody else pointed out, the majority of the time on the bus can be used productively (sleeping, reading, working, etc) since you are in the same seat, whereas the majority of the time you are flying you are constantly changing transit modes and you’re time is less productive. There are other issues that sway things one way or the other — like car-sickness, hating airport security, really cheap or expensive flights, horrendous traffic, etc — but in general I don’t think you can make a case that one is always better than the other for everybody. Personally, I won’t spend 20 hours on a bus for weekend in LA, but I would for anything over 5 days.

  • One thing with the bus that you can’t do when flying or even driving is to take an overnight trip (flight is too short for overnight, and driving overnight is unsafe). That way people can spend as much time at their destination and save on lodging costs.

  • I vote for “this trip would suck”. Especially with a 3 year old – we did a nonstop flight to Miami and it sucked. But I have the resources to avoid it. Some do not. For them, this might be an option. But this debate is meaningless, Megabus is a private operator, the market will decide.

  • mikesonn

    4/K isn’t a bad place for a Caltrain Terminal considering built environment (see also: AT&T Park). However, there could be simple improvements that make the Muni connection to job center much better (see NOT the #hashtagexpress). The 4/K intersection could be prioritized for transit/peds and EMB could have lights prioritized for transit (technology already installed, just not turned on). Also, 3rd street could have its bus only lane enforced.

    But murph is right, moot discussion since market will decide if bus works. The city just needs to make sure it doesn’t further clog up the area around the 4/K station.

  • Anonymous

    Anybody know if SFBC, WalkSF etc have looked at 4/K for potential bike/ped improvements.  Really nasty biking and walking access and egress in most directions.

  • If the Central Subway is completed and they don’t move the T stop from where it is to directly in front of the Caltrain station, what a waste.

  • mikesonn

    They aren’t moving that platform. I bet some T’s still get diverted up EMB.

    Also, what will happen with the K/T transition that happens now?

  • HoJo

    Most of the comments here assume a single traveler. Make it a couple, let alone a family, and a car is still easily the best way to go.

    6 hours door-to-door using I-5 (unless you’re heading for Orange County, then add another hour).

    Throw your bags in the trunk and you’re done.

    Total cost assuming 25 mpg, is maybe $120 round trip.

    You really need a car in LA anyway so, when I fly, I have to rent one adding to the cost.

    Total flexibility about timing i.e. can leave early or stay later.

    Maybe HRT will change the math but will it be built in our lifetime?

  • Andy Chow

     A lot of people who drive such a long distance tend to rent a car just for the purpose, so there’s some costs and hassles of getting a rental. Unless you get a car with a large gas tank, you probably will have to stop and put gas somewhere along the way, and adding up the restroom and meal breaks I doubt not many can drive there in 6 hours door to door.

    One time I chose to drive slower (65 mph) but was able to get passed by the same cars twice (they drove really fast but make a stop somewhere along the way). If I drive by myself, I can choose to make very few or no stops if I plan around it, but it is very unlikely if I travel with another person.