Emeryville to San Francisco during CZ > CS Layover

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by frugalist, Aug 10, 2010.

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  1. Aug 10, 2010 #1

    frugalist

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    frugalist

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    We have a scheduled 6 hour layover in Emeryville between getting off the westbound California Zephyr and boarding the northbound Coast Starlight. We'd like to use that layover to go into San Francisco to do some sightseeing and have dinner. Can we buy tickets on the Amtrak Thruway bus #5005 from Emeryville into San Francisco, then on bus #5014 later that evening back to Emeryville? Any idea what the cost would be? Our trains are booked as part of a longer AGR reward trip.

    If that isn't possible, what's the best way to get into San Francisco during our layover? Public transportation is preferred.

    Am I correct that we can day-check our bags at Emeryville while we go into San Francisco?

    (am I the only one who wants to contract "Amtrak Thruway bus" to "Amway bus"?) [​IMG]
     
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  2. Aug 10, 2010 #2
    Getting tickets on the Amway, er Amtrak Throughway Bus, to and from the Ferry Building stop would bed the easiest and most efficient method. I would think you could do this, given the itinerary you're holding--i.e. must have rail travel in connection with a bust ticket.

    If not, BART would be the best option. Unfortunately, there is no BART stop at Emeryville. The closest stop would be the West Oakland BART, which is the last station on the East Bay side before going under the tunnel into SF.

    There's an Alameda Transit bus, 31, which I took from the Emeryville station to BART about a year ago. The bus runs every half hour, I believe, at least on weekdays, and terminates at the Emeryville Amtrak/Shopping Mall area. I forget the fare, but it took about 15 minutes to the BART station.

    I think all of this could be arranged on the trip planner on the BART website. It's pretty sophisticate.d

    But still, the thruway bus is the cleanest option if available.

    BTW, if it were to become an Amway bus, you might be required to clean the back toilet as part of the ride! :huh:
     
  3. Aug 10, 2010 #3

    frugalist

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    When I try to book a separate ticket from Emeryville to San Francisco Ferry Terminal, Arrow brings up bus #5005 on the schedule, but it can't be booked separately. The page has a notation that the bus must be booked with a train.

    So, I'll call Amtrak to see if we can book these buses in conjunction with our CZ and CS reservations. I might have to do it through AGR since the longer, main trip is an AGR award trip. Hopefully, one or the other can make it happen.

    By the way, I would hate to see the service called an Amway bus. I like the AmBus designation. It's just that my mind automagically wants to call it Amway. ;)

    I just had another thought. I wonder if we can extend our CZ trip to the San Franciso Ferry Terminal, and begin our CS trip at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. Both of those trips would include AmBus transportation to/from the Emeryville Amtrak station. I wonder if that would fly with AGR? That would give us about 4 hours to play tourist in SF.
     
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  4. Aug 10, 2010 #4

    Rail Freak

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    I, too, will be doing the CZ-CS EMY connection in Feb. Can you just buy the bus portion once you arrive in EMY?

    What is the EMY station like if I wanted to stick close by?
     
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  5. Aug 10, 2010 #5

    Ryan

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    This'll be the best way to go.
     
  6. Aug 10, 2010 #6

    Guest

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    Shouldnt be any problem to use the Thruway Busses, we just rode them from Emeryville to San Francisco on an AGR award! Call AGR, you may want to pay for the tickets if AGR wont extend the trip? The station itself is new but located in a fairly isolated area, theres some new buildings across the street with a Subway and the Woodfine Suites is across the tracks over a walkover! Id suggest checking your big bags when you arrive, not sure about the agent having temporary storeage, the guy there when we arrived was very curt and wouldnt even talk,threw some bathroom tokens into the slot @ the window and disappeared! (Thius was 5AM, may be diifferent when the CZ arrives? The Ferry station is not actually in the Ferry Building but next to it towards the Bay Bridge, the bus loads in the street in front of it! The station itself is just like a small Amtrak Station except no trains go there!Riding BART @ night would involve cabs and traffic and the area around the stationis not safe to walk @ night!
     
  7. Aug 10, 2010 #7
    Not sure what station you're talking about, but the entire area around the Ferry Building--north to the Embarcadero and south to the ballpark-- has tons of people walking at night and is very safe!!

    No one walks far from the Emeryville Station, not because it's particularly unsafe, but because outside of the market-shopping area across the way, there's really nothing there.

    As far as BART, the reason you ride it is to avoid cabs. It's a lot faster than cabs because SF streets are so congested and confusing. Once you're in downtown SF, everything is walkable, especially along the bay.

    The BART and Muni systems in SF are among the best public transit networks in the nation, with bus, trolley, and rapid rail well-integrated. More people should try it before denigrating it!
     
  8. Aug 10, 2010 #8

    caravanman

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    Hi,

    Things might be different nowadays, but on ALL my trips Chicago to Emeryville, the Cal Zephyr train has arrived into EMY several hours late, so you might not get your trip into San Francisco if that happens..

    If you need to wait at the EMY station, it is fine, lots of seats, a Subway sandwich shop just outside the entrance, not sure of their evening opening hours though. Not much else right nearby, if I remember correctly.

    Eddie :cool:
     
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  9. Aug 10, 2010 #9

    darien-l

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    Wow, great minds must think alike! :) I was about to post the VERY SAME QUESTION! I'm also connecting from CZ to a northbound CS at Emeryville, traveling on an AGR award, and would like to venture into San Francisco during the layover. My plan so far is to stop by the Emeryville ticket office after arrival, show my train ticket, and ask if they can issue a connecting bus ticket into San Francisco. I'm not so worried about the trip back: I've gotten on that bus in SF with no ticket before; just telling the driver that I'm taking a specific train out of Emeryville seems to work.

    frugalist, if you do call AGR, though, please post the results!

    P.S. I'll be in Emeryville Sunday, August 29. Any chance we're there on the same day?
     
  10. Aug 10, 2010 #10

    AlanB

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    I'm actually surprised to hear that people have a connection in Emeryville to the Coast Starlight from the Zephyr. The guaranteed connection is at Sacramento, not Emeryville. That means that if the Zephyr is running late, you guys need to be proactive and start talking with your conductor to figure out where you should bail out if the Zephyr isn't going to reach EMY in time to connect. Additionally the conductor will need to get a hold of the crew on the CS to let them know what's going on so that they don't sell your sleeper out from under you when you no show in EMY.

    Hopefully everything will be just fine and you'll be on time or close to it, but stay on your toes that final morning when you wake up in Cali and don't count on getting into San Fran if you're running late.
     
  11. Aug 10, 2010 #11

    the_traveler

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    Are you both positive that you are connecting from the CZ to the CS in EMY - on one award?[​IMG] AFAIK, the official connecting point between the CZ and CS is in SAC![​IMG] Otherwise, AGR would be letting you ride the SAME EXACT ROUTE between EMY and SAC twice![​IMG]

    When I connected between the CS and CZ, I had to buy a ticket SAC-EMY-SAC to ride between them!
     
  12. Aug 10, 2010 #12

    Rail Freak

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    When I made my reservation, the agent said that SAC was the connection station. I told her I would like EMY so I wouldnt have to wait so long in SAC & have more time on the train. Her response was that she could understand that & booked me that way!
     
  13. Aug 10, 2010 #13

    Guest

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    As Alan has said (and the_traveler also)this will not be a guaranteed connection so youll need to keep up with the time as Alan says, if #5 is running late you'll need to bail and have the conductor contact #14 so they dont give away your room/cancel you as a "no show"!

    Im surprised you got this award, must be a newbie AGR agent! :eek:
     
  14. Aug 10, 2010 #14

    darien-l

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    SAC is indeed the default connecting station. However, once I realized that the layover between #5 and #14 is 10 hours, I immediately asked if we could connect in EMY instead, where the layover is "only" 6 hours. The AGR agent said "no problem", and changed the connection to EMY. I'm not too worried about making a 6-hour connection, even with the CZ being chronically late into EMY (the average delay is about 1.5 hours). And, as AlanB said, in the unlikely event the CZ is more than 5 hours late, I can always bail in SAC.
     
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  15. Aug 10, 2010 #15

    guest

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    You could always split the difference and get off halfway in Martinez if the CZ is running really late! You wouldn't have as long a wait as in Sacramento and you'd be boarding the CS more than a full hour b4 midnight too!

    Martinez is a beautiful and not-so-little station as well, newly built and a hub for many Amtrak trains and thruway buses.

    Yet the CZ would have to be SIX hours late into Emeryville for you to miss the CS there, assuming the CS IS on time there (mostly but not always giving the padding of the CS schedule between Salinas and Emeryville, about an hour drive by car--and no more than two hours even in bad traffic--but almost 4 hours by the train sked.
     
  16. Aug 10, 2010 #16

    Rail Freak

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    The agent that booked me was a supervisor!!!
     
  17. Aug 10, 2010 #17

    AlanB

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    Well the big thing here is again to pay attention to the times, there are several stops between SAC and EMY where one can bail out if you're running late.

    My biggest concern however, is what happens if you're so late that you'd even miss connecting in Sacramento. While I don't think that Amtrak would leave you stranded and on your own, it could still happen since the guaranteed connection is SAC and you've broken that connection by booking EMY.
     
  18. Aug 10, 2010 #18

    Rail Freak

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    What are the odds they would sell my room between EMY & SAC? I realize it's a possibility!
     
  19. Aug 10, 2010 #19

    frugalist

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    I have the printout of the confirmation email in front of me. Definitely Train 5 California Zephyr Arrival Emeryville, CA 410pm - Train 14 Coast Starlight Departure Emeryville, CA same day 1012pm. The number of points deducted from our AGR accounts exactly equals the number I was expecting. The AGR rep did not sound like a newbie. On the contrary, she knew exactly what I needed to do (split the journey between my wife's and my AGR accounts with the split coming on the CZ in Denver), and she knew exactly how to book it. Didn't blink an eye when I told her we wanted the CZ to Emeryville connecting to the northbound CS. Guess I got lucky. ;)
     
  20. Aug 10, 2010 #20

    frugalist

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    Based on some of the replies in this thread, I think I'll hold off on calling AGR about this. Don't want to rock the boat, if you know what I mean. ;) I think your idea of just going to the ticket office once your arrive in EMY is a good one.

    Our trip is in 2011, so we'll miss each other by a few days.
     
  21. Aug 10, 2010 #21

    frugalist

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    We will definitely be keeping an eye on the time approaching SAC. If the CZ is significantly late, we would certainly take steps to bail out before EMY to make sure we catch the CS. We always hope for the best, and make plans for when everything goes smoothly. But any wise traveler has to have a Plan B, C and D ready for when stuff happens.
     
  22. Aug 10, 2010 #22

    AlanB

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    If you are unable to connect in Emeryville and instead opt to connect in Sacramento and tell no one, then the odds are quite good that your room would be sold by the time the CS gets to SAC. If you choose to connect at a mid-point station then the odds improve that your room doesn't get sold with each passing mile.

    So again, if you're running late that morning coming into Sacramento, please be proactive and talk with your conductor. Ask your attendant to find the conductor if you can't find him/her. Seek out their advice on which station is the best station to transfer at based upon how late you're running and make sure that they get into either directly with the other crew or with people at Amtrak to inform them that you'll be boarding further up the line, instead of at Emeryville.
     
  23. Aug 10, 2010 #23

    AlanB

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    I concur; don't rock the boat. Wait until you get to EMY and if indeed you do have the time, hope that the agent there will then sell you tickets for San Fran. That will also save on your needing to get a refund should you arrive too late.

    And monkeying with AGR reservations is always dangerous, especially if you hit the wrong agent. You might find yourself traveling on different dates or different trains.
     
  24. Aug 10, 2010 #24

    GaSteve

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    There's a lot more to do in the vicinity of the station at SAC. For one thing, the California State Railroad Museum, assuming that CZ isn't too far down. :rolleyes:
     
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  25. Aug 10, 2010 #25

    darien-l

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    I understand, but I'm not too worried. I was not advised by the AGR agent that the connection in EMY is not guaranteed, and it sounds like frugalist and Rail Freak were not either. So either (i) the connection in EMY is guaranteed or (ii) if it's not guaranteed and Amtrak leaves us stranded, we'll complain up and down because we were not advised of this possibility upon booking, and probably get a nice voucher out of the deal. :)

    Sounds like I may be the first to attempt this, then. I'll report on my experiences in early September.
     

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