“Are you sure this is a good idea?” This was the question my wife asked me when I told her we will have to take bus, train, and bus again to Yosemite and then to San Francisco. I told her, “Yes, it is and it’s fun.” Also, it wasn’t like we have lots of options. Taking the public transportation was the only way to go.
California is one big state and going to some of its famous places can be hard without a car or renting one. But, not everyone can drive a car, especially tourists. Some do not have international license, some do not know how to drive, some are afraid of Californian traffic, and some do not simply want to drive. Not to mention renting a car is expensive, and oh, the parking. Good thing that public transportation is a ready alternative.
When we decided that we will visit California, we chose cities that are very easy to get around without a car. I know, Los Angeles is not easy without a car, but it is totally doable. Yosemite is not like Yellowstone that having a car is a must. And of course, San Francisco, just like New York, has a very effective public transportation system that is friendly for tourists.
Bad news is, there is no direct bus/train service to bring you from one destination to another. You would have to transfer. Good news is, you purchase all transfer tickets on a single transaction via the AMTRAK service. Normally, AMTRAK is rail service, but, they also have bus service to take you to the nearest railway station.
Upon arrival and departure in Yosemite, their own bus transportation, YARTS, is what you will have to take. YARTS ticket is also included on the single ticket you’ll purchase via AMTRAK. Online booking is very fast and very efficient. You’ll get to your destination the easiest possible. You may check out AMTRAK for schedule: AMTRAK
Here are our routes taken during our California Trip via AMTRAK.
Bus: Los Angeles (Union Station) to Bakersfield (Station Building) – 2 hours and 55 minutes
Train: Bakersfield (Station Building) to Fresno (Station Building) – 1 hour and 49 minutes
Bus: (YARTS) Fresno to Yosemite (Half Dome Village) – 3 hours and 38 minutes
Note: Half Dome Village is not the only stop in Yosemite. Yosemite Lodge and The Majestic Hotel also have bus stops, among others.
Bus: Yosemite to Merced (Train Station Building) – 2 hours and 44 minutes
Train: Merced (Train Station Building) to Richmond (Station Building and BART Station) – 2 hours and 38 minutes
Note: Upon arrival at Richmond Station, head to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station and take the train to your destination in San Francisco.
Taking this service will not let you worry about AMTRAK train schedule and the YARTS schedule, they will take care of it.
It may be exhausting taking public transportation and all these transfers, but, being a tourist meaning being economical. This is definitely cheap and within budget. After all, taking bus or train is also part of the experience. Experience you won’t ever forget.