Are you going between San Francisco and Los Angeles and need to cut your costs drastically to stay on a budget?
Are you somewhat fearful of air travel and prefer to stay on the ground?
Don’t want the hassle of going to the airport, parking and getting through the time-consuming and intrusive security lines? Want to try something different?
Then perhaps the California Shuttle Bus is something that you might want to consider for your next trip to/from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The California Shuttle Bus is a shuttle bus service that operates 7 days a week and departs from both San Francisco and Los Angeles at 1pm and midnight. Pick up starts at 11:45am for the 1pm departure and 11:15 pm for the midnight departure. There are 5 different pick-up and drop-off locations in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The pick-up/drop-off locations are all in safe areas, mostly train stations or in front of hotels. Additionally, some of the hotel pick-up/drop-off locations have rental car agencies.
The California Shuttle Bus fares average between $30 and $40 each way depending on how far in advance you book your trip which is cheaper than the cost of gas to drive there yourself with the extremely high gas prices these days. Although the bus is not the fastest option, considering it is about a 7+ hour drive vs. a 1 hour flight, California Shuttle is great if you are on a budget and have time to spare. Keep in mind, your reservation is non-refundable, and there is a $10 handling charge to change the date of your trip, so it is important that you have a firm date set.
Also, this may not be the best option for last minute travelers. I tried to book a shuttle only a week in advance, for a Saturday departure and there were no open seats available. I then tried for a Sunday departure, and that was full as well. It is also more expensive to ride on the weekends. I got a quote for a Saturday to Saturday trip and it was $80 round trip. However, when I booked my trip a month in advance for Monday to Monday it was only $65 round trip. To get the most out of California Shuttle Bus, you should book your trip at least a couple weeks in advance and ride on a weekday. The prices however can be much less expensive than flights between L.A. and San Francisco, which average around $250 – $300. The bus is a city-to-city route, which differs from the airports in outlying areas. You can expect airport shuttle or taxi costs of at least $20 to-and-from each of the airports, so an additional $80 on top of the $250-$300 for the airfare. In terms of cost alone — depending on how much you value your time, the bus can be a large cost savings. There can also be time savings based on the airport “early arrival” required to handle TSA security scans and potential patdowns — none of which is required for the bus.
When riding the California Shuttle bus the other riders that you will see are typically international visitors on a budget, value-oriented tourists and younger people. Many students take the California Shuttle Bus because it is safe and a cheap travel option. You can read some detailed reviews of riders experience on the “California Express Bus” here.
Keep in mind that when you travel on any bus (much like flying) departure times, traffic delays and mechanical problems can all be a factor in the actual driving time to/from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and these problems are completely out of your control! So beware that you could experience some delays and frustrations with the California Shuttle Bus. However for the low price and convenient pickup/drop off locations – this might be the right travel option for you between San Francisco and Los Angeles.