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How to sustainably travel through California using public transport.
A traditional California road trip from San Francisco to San Diego isn't exactly sustainable travel. It's about a 500 mile drive from San Francisco to San Diego – just think about how much gas you'd use on that trip, just for yourself, or maybe a couple of other people, too. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning one gallon of gasoline results in about 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide. It's no wonder that carbon dioxide makes up for about 82% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Using mass public transportation is a great way to take part in sustainable travel. You'll be reducing your own carbon footprint by traveling via bus or train, and not to mention, you'll also be saving a pretty penny, leaving you with more money to spend on other travel and living expenses.
Many people think that a traditional road trip is the only way to see the California coast...but we're here to prove otherwise.
Wondering how to road trip California with public transport? Read on.
We suggest starting in San Francisco and heading south so you'll be on the right side of the road (and therefore have better views) as you make your way down the coast, but if you’d like to go south to north instead, just reverse these instructions. It'll still be beautiful!
In San Francisco, we have two locations: Pacific Heights and Mission. Our Pacific Heights location is a classic San Francisco build on California street, where you can enjoy panoramic views and picture perfect streets. This location is for Outsite Members only. Our Mission location is a restored Victorian home in an LGBT friendly neighborhood, and is open to non-Outsite members. You can’t go wrong with either location, both being in beautiful, walkable neighborhoods.
The bus is the easiest, cheapest, and fastest public transport option for getting from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Any option with a train will make you transfer and need to take a bus anyway, and will end up taking you much longer, so in our eyes, the bus is the winner here. The Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Santa Cruz starts at around $14 for an economy seat. The journey will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to 3 hours. The bus usually runs 2 to 3 times a day on this route. The best part is there are no transfers!
Santa Cruz has a number of neighborhoods - Pleasure Point is well known for the surf break 'The Hook', and Westcliff is great for easy supermarket and beach access. These are the best neighborhoods if you're keen on living by the beach. Check out Outsite Spaces in Santa Cruz.
Bus: The Greyhound bus from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles is also very cost effective, starting at about $23 for an economy ticket. However, this is a bit of a longer drive. It’ll take about 8 and a half to 9 and a half hours.
Train: You can take the Amtrak train from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles, but it will take a bit longer. First, you’ll take a train from Santa Cruz to San Jose, and then transfer from San Jose to LA. There is no direct route. This takes about 12.5 to 13.5 hours total. The bonus of the train is that after the transfer you’ll be on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, which offers amenities like a “sightseer lounge,” reserved seats, “roomettes” or rooms on the train, and dining cars where you can buy snacks, food and drinks.
The city that has the most Outsite locations is Los Angeles – it's a Member favorite. Two of our Venice locations (Glyndon and Lincoln) are located in quiet, residential neighborhoods, whereas Dell is just a few minutes walk from the beach.
Bus: It’s super affordable to get from LA to North County San Diego, where our two Encinitas locations are. You’ll start with a bus from Downtown LA to Oceanside through Flixbus, which can cost you as little as $4.99. From there, you’ll transfer to the BREEZE bus which is run by the North County Transit District, and costs $2.50. That will take you right to Encinitas! This should take you overall about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Train: You have two options, depending on the amenities you’d like for your journey. The first option is the Amtrak Metrolink train, which is pretty bare-bones. You take the Orange County line ($16.75) from Downtown LA’s Union Station to Oceanside, where you transfer to the COASTER to Encinitas ($5). Your other option is taking Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train, which has Wi-Fi, cafe cars, big picture windows, from Union Station to Oceanside ($28.20), and then transferring to the COASTER to Encintas ($5). There is no direct route. Either of these options take around 2.5 hours hours.
Our locations in San Diego are in the idyllic West Coast surf town of Encinitas. The Grandview house has a workspace with ocean views and is a 5 minute walk away from Grandview Beach. Ponto is in a quiet neighborhood, with a lush garden and pool.
Now that you know how to road trip California by public transportation, you're on your way to become a sustainable travel pro! By traveling with these tips, you’ll be saving money and the planet.