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  1. #1
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    San Francisco Amtrak

    Does anyone have experience getting to the AMTRAK station in Emeryville after doing the Pacific Coast to SF? How would one best cross the bay?

    Jay

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    There is an amtrak train station in Oakland (Jack London Square). You can take BART from SF, though I'm not sure how close it will get you to the station.

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    BART station in Downtown Oakland is 12-15 (flat, busy) city blocks from Jack London Square. You can take your loaded tour bike right onto BART (just wheel it on), but bikes are not allowed during commute hours.

    I BARTed across the bay to start my last tour, it was easy as pie.
    ...

  4. #4
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    Bob trailer might complicate things.

  5. #5
    Hooked on Touring
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    Amtrak might complicate things.

    I used to be a big supporter - worked to preserve funding, etc.
    But service is positively awful. They lost my bike last time. Sent it to a different place than I was going. I don't know what kind of drugs the ticket agent was doing. I mean, why would I be going to East Glacier and want my bike in Whitefish? Plus, Amtrak has horrendous on-time performance - esp. on the West Coast. The Coast Starlight was 8, 12, even 16 hours late this past summer. It was a total joke.

    This past summer, I took Greyhound instead. Did someone say, "Out of the frying pan into the fire?" I feel lucky to have emerged alive from the bus. So the options aren't pleasant. Another possibility - if you haven't already bought your Amtrak ticket - is to ship your bike from a bike shop and take Southwest or another discount airline. You'd be surprised when you add the cost of food - esp. Amtrak food - that they might come out even.

  6. #6
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    The AMTRAK commuter to Sacramento has bike racks on it. You can hang your bike in your car near the entrances. The BOB could also go on the rack though you may have to figure it out a bit. Take some bungies.

    If you're heading anywhere but on the Capital Corrador you'll have to contact AMTRAK ahead of time and talk to them about it. Don't take NO for an answer. Then don't take REALLY NO. Then don't take HELL NO! They will take just about anything in the baggage car though they can be a pain in the butt to deal with sometimes.

    As noted their service is awful to nonexistant. The schedules are generally off sometimes by 12 hours. If you're only a little late somewhere compliment every employee you see because it will be a miracle.

  7. #7
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    Check your bike for damage BEFORE you leave the station. Those ****ing bastard Amtrak *******s trashed my bike a few years ago. It was packaged properly and loaded properly into the compartment, but somewhere between Minneapolis and Seattle it was laid down on its side and crushed. I didn't notice till I took it out of the container the next day, and complained to Amtrak (I even had supplemental insurance through those jerks) but they wouldn't honor the claim. They said nobody saw the damage before I took it home. ****ing ******.

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    Don't hold back guys, let me know what you really think.

    Thanks,

    Jay

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    AND its greatly over-priced. It hasn't been legit transportation in decades. Just an amusement ride. And how often does the "B" ticket ride break down and needs buses to haul people on to the next "destination?"

  10. #10
    Flying and Riding sam21fire's Avatar
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    Oakland is a bit hairy traffic-wise, but BART and AMTRAK both have stations in Emeryville and Martinez. Both are pretty bike friendly and the extra cost is minimal.

    Sam

  11. #11
    Senior Member savage24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani
    Amtrak might complicate things.


    Jamawani, I think I read your journal somewhere - were you the one waiting at the Greyhound station when the prison bus pulled up and dropped off several freshly released prisoners (and it turned out that the ex-convicts where some of the best behaved people on the bus )?

    jjones, I am riding Seattle to S.F. this summer. I will ship my bike to Seattle ahead of time via Fedex (I have a cousin near Seattle) and fly out. When I arrive in S.F. I will ship the bike home via FedEx (my employer has an office in Mt View, which helps) and then I will get on a plane and fly home. As much as I hate to fly, there is no way I'm messing with Amtrak!
    If you go Amtrak with a Bob trailer, carefully read their baggage policies. For instance, the Amtrak route across Missouri will allow you to bring a bike onboard for an additional fee, but they do not allow trailers, so if you wanted to do the Katy Trail with a Bob trailer and use Amtrak, you're SOL. Other routes allow bikes and trailers as checked baggage only, but then many of the stations on the route do not have baggage service (meaning they'll stop and let YOU off of the train but they won't retrieve your bike from the baggage car). Bottom line: Amtrak SUCKS.
    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    "So, in this plan....when do we drink the kool-aid? I'm thirsty."
    "Marriage is a deathtrap these days. I would no more get married than I would own a chinese SUV."

    ....

  12. #12
    Hooked on Touring
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    Savage - -

    When I lived in Jackson, Wyo I worked in convention services at one of the resorts and had to deal with patronizing business-types frequently. One time this exec came up to Jerry (One of the best telly skiers in the world) and me, draped his arms over our shoulders, and said, "You boys really have it made. Where did you live before you moved here?" I said, "Oh, I'm on work release from the State Pen." That shut him up real good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by savage24
    : Bottom line: Amtrak SUCKS.
    Incorrect.

    Amtrak sucks because your state does NOT fund the system as it should. Only 13 states fund Amtrak and most of those funds come from the North East. Is it any wonder that our Amtrak service is so much better than yours? Your state probably spends all it's funds on highways so your rail service suck. I have excellant Amtrak service and if you stand on the platform at New Brunswick, you'll see those same trains that are hours late arrive on time and blast past you at 100 mph!

  14. #14
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    SD - -
    There are many reasons why passenger rail service is excellent in the Northeast - and pathetic elsewhere. The primary one is that ONLY in the Northeast does Amtrak own the rails on which its trains run. Everywhere else they are at the mercy of the freight railroads - the ones who begged to be relieved of passenger service - the ones who promised to give priority to Amtrak passenger trains - and who now could care less whether Amtrak's trains run on time or twelve hours late. What's more - whereas 50 years ago most of the primary passenger routes outside of the Northeast had double-track - they are now single-track which makes higher speeds and on-time service very improbably. Yes, the Northeastern states support passenger rail strongly - - but they started out with a functioning system. Other states inherited a decrepit system and equipment and private railroads unwilling to improve them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani
    SD - -
    There are many reasons why passenger rail service is excellent in the Northeast - and pathetic elsewhere. The primary one is that ONLY in the Northeast does Amtrak own the rails on which its trains run. Everywhere else they are at the mercy of the freight railroads - the ones who begged to be relieved of passenger service - the ones who promised to give priority to Amtrak passenger trains - and who now could care less whether Amtrak's trains run on time or twelve hours late. What's more - whereas 50 years ago most of the primary passenger routes outside of the Northeast had double-track - they are now single-track which makes higher speeds and on-time service very improbably. Yes, the Northeastern states support passenger rail strongly - - but they started out with a functioning system. Other states inherited a decrepit system and equipment and private railroads unwilling to improve them.

    I would also add, even though this is at least partially conjecture that there is another reason rail service works better here in the NE, than in the west. Overall Higher population density and smaller geography.

    -D

  16. #16
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    I did the coast to Florence, rode back to Eugene, then took amtrak back to Seattle. Wonderful on time service with efficeint and helpful agents. i did not have to box anything and the BOB was the "other " piece of luggage. I have heard only the looves and the hates here. Obviously it is not a bell curve.

  17. #17
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    Amtrack

    You guys are scarying me - we just decided on a Southern trip mid April. We are in Seattle and were planning to take the train down to San Diego then fly home from Florida. Main reason we were told we didn't have disassemble our bikes to load them on the train. We are free and loose on timing so being on time is not a big deal. But you guys have some horror reports? MW

  18. #18
    ...brick by brick... katio's Avatar
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    I took the Amtrak around the country last year and brought my bike along for the ride by boxing it up and checking it as baggage on the train. I ran into no problems until the very end when I arrived in San Francisco and my bike did not arrive until three days later. This WOULD have been a problem had San Francisco not been my final destination. I guess I can count myself lucky after hearing all your horror stories but I do have some sound advice for the OP.

    Just take the Richmond of Pittsburg/Bay Point BART to Oakland City Center/12th Street then you can ride down Broadway to Oakland/Jack London Square and get on there and if you can't check your bike at Oak/JL Square then go Emeryville via the Amtrak bus where you will have check the bike and B-O-B but it'll take you to Emeryville straight-away. Hope everything works out for you!

  19. #19
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    I took my long-planned bicycle tour from Pensacola to Tallahasse, Florida. We drove to Tallahassee and took Amtrak to Pensacola and rode back to our car at the Amtrak station in Tallahassee. It was almost a disaster. The train was probably 5-6 hours late. We fell asleep but only after telling the Amtrak employees we were going to Pensacola. They woke us up and said, "Pensacola, right?". I said, "Yeah, thanks..." and he said, "We just left Pensacola." Travelling with a woman has its advantages because she started to cry. They ended up stopping the train and letting us out close to a hotel where we could catch a taxi to our hotel. Of course the hotel had just gone through a hurricane and was boarded up. When we finally got to our hotel they said it was so late they didn't have a room for us. A little more crying and we finally got a room. We had shipped our bikes to a bike store and one of them was mangled beyond repair so I had to take a taxi to a "real" bike store for repair. Can you believe after all this we had a great trip?!!
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  20. #20
    Senior Member savage24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    Amtrak sucks because your state does NOT fund the system as it should. Only 13 states fund Amtrak and most of those funds come from the North East.
    The reasons why Amtrak sucks may be open to debate, but Amtrak SUCKS.
    I would hope that my state does not give any of my tax dollars to Amtrak.
    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    "So, in this plan....when do we drink the kool-aid? I'm thirsty."
    "Marriage is a deathtrap these days. I would no more get married than I would own a chinese SUV."

    ....

  21. #21
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    There's an amtrak bus that picks up at the ferry building to take you across the bridge to emeryville station. They hold the train for this bus. If you are taking any of the interstate trains (Zephyr,Coast Starlight,etc) then you'll have to box your bike. (The commuter trains have bike racks though) They sell bike boxes at the train stations for $10. You will need to take the pedals off and rotate the handlebars 90 degrees to fit the bike in the box. The busses don't have bike racks, so do this at the ferry building. They'll probably let you take your trailer on as baggage, especially if you have your own cabin. Call them ahead of time with the measurements and ask them if it must be checked or if you can bring it aboard, and make sure they've got their bike boxes in stock for you.

    I've taken the Zephyr twice and the Starlight numerous times, and various commuter trains 2-4 times a week. Despite the scheduling problems due to the fact that Amtrak doesn't own most of its track and has to yield to freight trains all of the time, I've always found travelling on Amtrak to be pleasant. Much better than greyhound and dealing with airport snafus these days. If you're doing one of the interstate trains, I definitely recommend a first class cabin. I've never experienced the luggage problems that many are reporting, I guess I've just been lucky.

    Ferry Building Station:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&hl=e...5&om=1&iwloc=A

  22. #22
    California über Alles!! Radfahrer's Avatar
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    Forget the bus service or BART, take the ferry - service runs between SF and Jack London Square, just around the corner from the Jack London Square Amtrak station - use this combo and forget about Emeryville!
    To wat du wüllt, de Lüüt snackt doch.
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  23. #23
    Easily distracted...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani
    The Coast Starlight was 8, 12, even 16 hours late this past summer. It was a total joke.
    I took the train to New Orleans two summers ago (just before Katrina) and the conductor was so impressed that we were only 4 hours behind the published arrival time. He said 8 is more likely.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

  24. #24
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    On our first trip down the coast we took Amtrak from SLC to Portland. We had to box up the bikes and we had a sleeper car all the way. I took my 16 year old son and his friend. Sure it was late. But damn did we have a great time. When we got to Portland we took the Amtrak bus to the coast. The driver was a biker and as this was our first tour was really helpful and got us stoked for the ride.

    He even broke the rules and took us right to the hotel we were starting from.

  25. #25
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vosyer
    You guys are scarying me - we just decided on a Southern trip mid April. We are in Seattle and were planning to take the train down to San Diego then fly home from Florida. Main reason we were told we didn't have disassemble our bikes to load them on the train. We are free and loose on timing so being on time is not a big deal. But you guys have some horror reports? MW
    We have always had to box our bikes the same whether it's for an airline or amtrak. I don't think it's a problem. Like was said before I think alot of the difference in exsperience is if you have a cabin. I love the Coast Starlite. I liked everything about it, the service was great, the train clean and the scenery was awesome.

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