Adventurous Writer Travels From S.F. to L.A. Using Only Public Transportation


Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

It's easy to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It's fairly easy to fly once you're through the notorious TSA. It's sort of easy to bus or take a train. But... how easy is it to use public transportation to get down the coast of California? One brave soul decided to find out. Joe Eskenazi has an amazing piece in the SFWeekly about his attempt to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles using public transportation exclusively. His route is "the brainchild of transit blogger Matt Nelson" and in total, the trip consisted of16 buses or trains operated by 7 public agencies, with a trip fare of $41.25. And the time, you wonder? Exactly 32 hours and 7 minutes. If that sounds like a new ring of hell to you, I don't blame you. Though the benefits might be worth it to some -- I once took a train from SF to LA that took me 13 hours and $80 and I thought that was bad. I wouldn't want to spend over a day navigating bus lines to save $40, but to know that it is doable at all is great news to those of us who support public transportation systems and want them hauling us toward a car-free life.

Eskenazi's piece details exactly what it was like from the moment he stepped on the N-Owl at Haight and Fillmore in San Francisco to the moment he stepped off the Metro 161 in LA. More important than details about how the seats felt or the view out the window, Eskenazi tells about the people he met along the way -- the daily public transit users upon whom the transit system depends just as much as they depend on the system. He even scores a free walking tour of King City during a layover between bus rides. It's not every day (nor most days) that a person can fill up on local history while waiting for the bus.

Eskenazi writes, "And was it crazy? Of course. But traversing the state via public transit allows you to meet people and see places you'd never encounter in any other way. You share a seat with a cross-section of California."

You can read the full piece, as well as check out more details and photos from his wonderful and weird trek down the coast. It really is a must-read adventure.

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