Cheapest way to get from Santa Clara to San Francisco at 5:00 am?
July 24, 2007 10:00 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to get from far south bay into downtown San Francisco early in the morning, without owning a car?

I need to do some early-morning travel but unfortunately do not own a car. I live in Santa Clara and need to be in the city early early in the morning, like 5:00 am. What's the most cost-effective way to get into the city by that hour? What are my public transportation options?
posted by boscord to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
posted by rtha at 10:07 AM on July 24, 2007

I don't think Caltrain can get you there before 6am. Is this a one time thing? You'd probably be best off getting to SF the night before and staying with friends or a hotel.
posted by mrthotep at 10:09 AM on July 24, 2007

Usually the answer is Caltrain. But the schedules show that the earliest that gets into SF is 6am.

Next best option: Call a shuttle service to take you to the airport. Tell them you need to be there by 4:15 at the International Terminal. Then catch the 4:30am BART to be downtown by 5am.
posted by vacapinta at 10:09 AM on July 24, 2007

Sorry about the Caltrain link - I misread the schedule. The shuttle-airport-BART sounds good, though.
posted by rtha at 10:16 AM on July 24, 2007

I was about to agree but then I looked at this:

Pretty expensive! Maybe call a cab company to compare?
posted by ORthey at 10:20 AM on July 24, 2007

sorry, that was unprofessional. This is better.
posted by ORthey at 10:21 AM on July 24, 2007

If money is the concern then take the last train into San Francisco and then hang out at a 24 hour place in the city. If you look nice, this includes the bigger downtown hotel lobbies.
posted by vacapinta at 10:26 AM on July 24, 2007

Not only is the shuttle not cheap, but from Santa Clara you probabaly will have to leave at 2:30am to get to SFO at 4:15 (based on my personal experience).

I still say looking for a cheap hotel room the night before is a valid option. Especially if you want to get any sleep the night before.
posted by mrthotep at 10:26 AM on July 24, 2007

Check out, any public transportation you're likely to find will be there.

You could also rent a super cheap car for the day.
posted by iamabot at 10:55 AM on July 24, 2007

Warning, mildy rambling (with plenty of false positives) as I wander through the various transportation systems in the Bay Area (I do this regularly when planning trips places from San Jose).

The earliest Caltrain can get you into the city is about 6am if you leave Santa Clara around 4:30am. caltrain timetable

If you can get yourself to Millbrae, downtown SF is about 30 minutes by Bart. Fremont to downtown SF is about an hour. These are both options at the ongodly hours you speak of. This leaves getting Fremont or Millbrae though.

VTA bus routes 120, 140, and 180 go up to the Fremont Bart stop from the general vicinity of Santa Clara. 120 and 140 are designed for people coming from Fremont so aren't much use to you. Route 180 can get you from San Jose Civic Center to Fremont Bart at 5:50am.

A taxi from SJC to downtown SF would run about $90. link estimates from SJC. At that price, I would look to going with a chauffeured service from a limo company. They will likely be similarly priced, and the service will be much more pleasant

A rental car for the day can be had for under $50. 20ish dollars in gas, and up to $30 for parking in SF for the day puts you at a similar price to a taxi with more flexibility (and transit both ways).
posted by fief at 11:40 AM on July 24, 2007

Nobody has mentioned Greyhound buses yet. I'd look there.
posted by rhizome at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2007

The earliest Greyhound bus from San Jose to San Francisco leaves at 6:30 am, so that's not an option (though not a bad idea).

If you're looking to save money and are opting to stay somewhere the night before, look for a hotel near a Bart station, as opposed to a hotel in the city. Hotels in the city are expensive, or awful, in my experience.
posted by Brak at 12:13 PM on July 24, 2007

Best answer: You can also try a Rideshare on craigslist.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:57 PM on July 24, 2007

Public transportation is good in the Bay Area, but not so much for (a) early morning hours and (b) areas that are at a remove from BART lines.

Another option might be one of the car-share companies, like Flexcar, City CarShare, or ZipCar, although these require up-front cash to join.
posted by blucevalo at 2:54 PM on July 24, 2007

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