I arrived at SFO airport around 7:30 a.m. I went out to the Samtrans bus stop to wait for a bus that would take me to San Francisco. I could use either the 7B, a local bus that takes about an hour, or the #7F, the 30-minute express. Since #7B was coming first (8:06 instead of 8:21 for the #7F), and both buses would arrive in SF about the same time, I opted for the #7B.
From the Montgomery BART station, I rode over to Walnut Creek (with a short stopover in Lafayette). While in Walnut Creek, I visited the County Connection Transit Center (across the street from Walnut Creek BART) for bus schedules and maps, and took a few pictures of the BART elevated structure in the median of Oakland Blvd.
At Walnut Creek BART, besides the regular County Connection and BART Express buses, is a weekday dial-a-ride service for BART commuters.
I also saw photocopied schedules in some of the BART stations, showing special services (trains leaving San Francisco as late as 2:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings, skip stop service on Sundays)
I returned to the BART and travelled to Fremont, transferring in Oakland.
At Fremont, I intended to transfer to a Transportation Agency (new name for Santa Clara County Transit!) #180 to San Jose. Before doing so, I noticed that one of the AC Transit buses at the station had the new ‘all-over’ advertising on it.
I boarded the #180 and rode to San Jose via Milpitas and the freeways.In San Jose, I took a few short rides on the Light Rail in the downtown area, then took a #22 to Mountain View.
Today, I planned to explore the Santa Clara County Light Rail in its entirety. I rode TA #22, transferring to #20 at the San Antonio Shopping Center at Mountain View. The #20 operates through Lockheed and Moffett Park, and a lot of its routing in that area seemed especially unproductive for a Sunday. Finally, we arrived at the Great America Light Rail station.
The Light Rail trip between Great America and San Jose took about 30 minutes. This is the portion routed in the median of First Street, and, although I don’t remember stopping at any traffic lights along the way, the speed did seem slower than the those light rail systems that have their own right of way.
South of Downtown San Jose, the Light Rail travels along a freeway median for most of its trip, and speeds there are noticeably faster (Up to 55 mph?)
At Ohlone-Chynoweth Station, the Light Rail route splits. Trains from San Jose continue through to Santa Teresa Station. However, there is also a single-track branch line from the Ohlone-Chynoweth station that serves two other stations (Oakridge - near a large mall and some apartments, and Almaden). Service on this branch is about every 10-15 minutes.
I returned to San Jose around 1 p.m., and noticed that the trains were carrying a full seated load, with a few standing passengers. I also noticed that the freeways (those parts that were completed) only had a few vehicles on it.
Later, I took the Light Rail from San Jose to Tamien, for a connection with Caltrain. This station features automatic ticket machines where one can buy not only tickets, but transfers (to MUNI, Samtrans, or TA buses) as well. I bought a ticket, boarded Caltrain, and rode to San Francisco. The train seemed to fill up more once we got to Santa Clara. (It also made a special stop at Bay Meadows)
I noticed that almost no-one boarded or alighted the trains at the San Francisco area stations (South San Francisco, Bayshore, Paul Avenue or 22nd St)
From the San Francisco Caltrain station, I caught a MUNI #45. The driver looked at my Caltrain+MUNI transfer for at least fifteen seconds, remarking that he had never seen one before.
Actually, two #45 trolleybuses operated in tandem during this trip. This route travels via Stockton St. in Chinatown, and the lead bus got rather crowded, although the follower (the one I rode) did not seem to get very crowded at all.
I left the #45 at Union and Van Ness, and caught another route to the Van Ness Muni Metro station. I wanted to take an opportunity to really explore the Muni Metro system, so I rode lines #L and #N. Most of these streetcar routes had tracks sharing lanes with motor vehicles, although in some places, there are reserved right-of-ways. Most of their route seemed to be in residential areas, with a few small clusters of stores in places. On busier streets, islands for passengers were placed in the street, otherwise, passengers just waited on the sidewalk until the streetcar arrived. (Other traffic is supposed to stop while a streetcar is boarding or alighting passengers, however there are a few drivers who choose to ignore that rule)
I finally returned to Downown San Francisco and caught San Francisco
and caught Samtrans #7F and TA #22 to my Mountain View hotel.
While in Union City, I saw, but did not ride, the 30-foot Gilligs of Union City Transit. Instead I caught BART to Oakland (MTC-Abag library) and Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
I then reboarded BART to El Cerrito, for my connection with Golden Gate Transit Line #40
The GGT #40 bus was a GMC RTS like most GGT buses; however, it lacked the high backed seating and other commuter amenities of many GGT vehicles. #40 ran via Richmond industrial areas before crossing the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. In San Rafael, there is a relatively new bus terminal, serving GGT and Greyhound (and maybe in the future, commuter rail). I could still see rails in some of the bus lanes.
I rode GGT #20 back to San Francisco. Although #70 and #80 are faster (they use the freeway), #20 took a much more scenic route through Marin County. Ridership was suprisingly good for a mid-day trip in a not-too-transit-dependent area; there were several college students going to and from various campuses in Marin.
We finally entered San Francisco via (what else) the Golden Gate Bridge.
I took one last opportunity to ride Muni Metro #K and #J, includietro #K and #J, including the recently opened #J extension. A portion of the #J extension (connecting the old terminal at 30th and Church with the Balboa Park BART station ) has its own right of way, and the ride is very smooth, reminiscent of modern light-rail lines.
From the Transbay Terminal, I caught #7B back to the airport. The weather was beautiful and the mood of the passengers on the bus was relaxed, providing a soothing ending to a relaxing trip.