For the first time I'll have to commute to Sacramento during rush hour.
October 17, 2013 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I will probably have to spend the entire month of November commuting into Sacramento from Davis. I will DEFINITELY have to travel during rush hour periods. I only got a car a few months ago and I've never had to do the job-type-commute-out-of-town thing before. What do I need to know?

All I know about commuting into Sac during rush hour is trying to go over there between 5:30-6:30 for meetings, which usually takes about 45 minutes with the intermittent crawling traffic. I'm assuming going during REAL rush hour is going to be even worse, right?

Extenuating circumstances:
* will be spending the day in the downtown area.
* have to be there from 8-4:30, so I MIGHT get to leave slightly earlier (hah).
* Two days a week I already have obligations in Davis that start at 5 p.m. and one on a third day that starts at 6. I'm assuming I just have to be late on those days?

So what I need to know is:
(a) How early do I have to leave in the mornings? Is 7 a.m. okay? Do I need to leave by 6 a.m.? Or 5?
(b) How long is the trip likely to be both ways? At least an hour to get there and home?
(c) Is it any advantage to me to not take 80 and drive into Woodland first and then go on I-5 instead at either time of the day? I know it's technically longer, but if the traffic is always going to crawl on 80 it might be slightly preferable.
(d) Would it be any advantage to me to just hang around Sacramento and not leave to go home (on the days I have nothing official going on at 5 or 6, hah) until a certain point in time?

Thanks in advance.
posted by jenfullmoon to Travel & Transportation around Sacramento, CA (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to (2005-2007-ish) commute from Davis to CSUS and the commute actually wasn't that bad. Sac to Roseville was a *lot* worse. I typically did the trip in less than half an hour (getting on/off at the Mace exit). I also rode my bike sometimes, which is sort of awful in a way because of the causeway.

Really though, you can, and are essentially obligated to by trying, answer all these questions on your first day or during the first week. Just leave a little early the first day and keep track of your time.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:14 PM on October 17, 2013

Best answer: I would use google maps to get the best route, it can take current traffic into account in making the plan. I don't know how to get it for the right time except to get up and check it at 6, 6:30, 7 for a couple of mornings and the same in the evening.
posted by metahawk at 5:19 PM on October 17, 2013

Is Amtrak an option for any of this? What about Yolobus?
posted by elsietheeel at 5:40 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Man, you can get from San Francisco to Sac in 2 hours at 6 a.m., you do not need to leave at 6, let alone 5. I think 45 min is a generous estimate that you can use as a starting point (to be fair, evening traffic is worse than morning).

I don't know how to get it for the right time except to get up and check it at 6, 6:30, 7 for a couple of mornings and the same in the evening.

If you turn on traffic monitoring in Google Maps, it also lets you switch from "live traffic" to estimated traffic at various times of day throughout the week, e.g. Tuesday mornings at 7, etc. In case you want to try to plan your first day schedule that way.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:44 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you have a smartphone the Waze app takes current traffic into account while navigating. I've found it decent. Although you need to punch in the destination address pretty exactly the search isn't as good as Google.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:06 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is Amtrak an option for any of this?

That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Looking at the capital corridor schedule, there's a train that's scheduled to leave downtown Sac at 4:40PM and arrive in Davis at 4:55. 15 minutes! I'm not sure you could do that by car except on the luckiest/lightest traffic days. Depending on where in Davis your 5pm obligations are relative to the train station, that might work out really well.

Morning eastbound trains seem to be scheduled to take a bit longer... 25 minutes, leaving at 6:57 and 7:57. While that's a pretty good commute time, it's also a little unfortunate because the departure times mean you effectively have to leave the house an hour and fifteen minutes before a required 8am arrival time, and you could probably make the drive in less than that.

Still, if you take the train, someone else is driving, you get there early, and if it really will get you home in about fifteen minutes, then you'd probably still win in overall travel time.
posted by weston at 7:27 PM on October 17, 2013

Best answer: Do you have a plan for where to park? That could add some travel time.

Sac is full of state workers who have alternative work schedules, which makes Monday and Friday traffic light. Same with holidays.

My guess would be that it would be fine to leave at 7am. Some days the traffic will be worse than others.

Getting home in 30 minutes is possible, but probably not every night.

I wouldn't hang around Sac unless you hear that the traffic is bad. My work is about 30 minutes away and even in the worst traffic, it only adds 15 minutes. While Sac has its charms, I prefer hanging around in Davis!

I would just take 80. No Woodland detours.
posted by icanbreathe at 9:16 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to the Yolobus site.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:01 AM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: I think you're overestimating how bad the traffic is between Davis and Sacramento.

If you're going to drive, there is absolutely no reason to go to Woodland. I don't know the Davis to Sac commute all that well, but there's no way it's going to take an hour on a normal day. My guess is that you'll be able to leave at 7:15 AM and be fine most days.
posted by cnc at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all.

Yolobus didn't work with the location. I was considering Amtrak and that was my original plan before getting the car. On the other hand, (a) it's $18 a day for the entire month which I cannot get reimbursed for, and I can get reimbursed for parking and gas, (b) I'll have to wake up EVEN EARLIER for it and I can't take losing over an hour+ sleep for it, (c) I am not at all confident that I can make a 4:40 train because who knows if I'll actually get out at 4:30 and it would be A Problem if I missed it, and (d) It'd be a pretty long hike to get to where I need to be at 5 from the station and I'd probably actually make it to the location about the same time or possibly worse than if I drove.

But thanks for the tips on Google Maps, I will give that a shot!
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:47 PM on October 18, 2013

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