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Old Aug 10, 13, 9:36 am   #1
 
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Cheapest way to get from SF to LA and then LA to SD?

I'm thinking of heading back to SF for a quick trip. What's the cheapest way to get from SF to LA and then from LA to San Diego? Would it be by bus and if so, how much am I looking at?

Thank you!
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Old Aug 10, 13, 1:11 pm   #2
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Probably Amtrak.
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Old Aug 10, 13, 2:28 pm   #3
 
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We need more information to make a recommendation. The best choice in mode of transportation depends on exactly where you want to go (ie, you're planning to visit more than just the airport grounds, train station, or bus terminal, right?), where you're starting from, how much time you have, how much you're willing to spend, and whether you'll want to have a car when you get there.

For example, I've gone between LA and SD at various times by airplane, bus, and one-way rental car depending on the factors I mentioned above. FYI buses run about $25 OW and are the cheapest option short of hitch-hiking.
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Old Aug 10, 13, 4:25 pm   #4
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megabus.com is the cheapest

http://us.megabus.com/

Most of my students (college age) use it for SF-LA. Free wi-fi no other amenities.
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Last edited by squeakr; Aug 10, 13 at 4:26 pm. Reason: correction
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Old Aug 10, 13, 4:47 pm   #5
 
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Agreed on Megabus. It's a relatively new service for SF. The buses appear new and in nice shape. From LA to SD, Greyhound is probably the lowest-cost alternative.
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Old Aug 11, 13, 2:25 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
We need more information to make a recommendation. The best choice in mode of transportation depends on exactly where you want to go (ie, you're planning to visit more than just the airport grounds, train station, or bus terminal, right?), where you're starting from, how much time you have, how much you're willing to spend, and whether you'll want to have a car when you get there.

For example, I've gone between LA and SD at various times by airplane, bus, and one-way rental car depending on the factors I mentioned above. FYI buses run about $25 OW and are the cheapest option short of hitch-hiking.
I think I want to avoid flying not just because of the expense (not sure what the typical SFO-LAX flights cost), but the hassle of dealing with airport security.

I've never been to LA before other than a layover at LAX so I want to hang around downtown and Hollywood. At least that's my rough plan right now.
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Old Aug 11, 13, 2:26 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by squeakr View Post
http://us.megabus.com/

Most of my students (college age) use it for SF-LA. Free wi-fi no other amenities.
Quote:
Originally Posted by norse_aztec View Post
Agreed on Megabus. It's a relatively new service for SF. The buses appear new and in nice shape. From LA to SD, Greyhound is probably the lowest-cost alternative.
Thanks for the information guys. How long is the bus ride from SF to LA and then LA to SD? Are the bus stops at convenient locations? I will most likely not rent a car and I'm crossing my fingers that the stops are close to public transportation.
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Old Aug 11, 13, 11:18 am   #8
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SF to LA is usually 7 hours or so. Most busses make a single stop along the way at some fast food joint at one of the exits. The Coalinga exit is a common one that is used.
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Old Aug 11, 13, 2:01 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsquare View Post
I've never been to LA before other than a layover at LAX so I want to hang around downtown and Hollywood. At least that's my rough plan right now.
Fair warning since you're showing up in LA without a car. Downtown had a little more than it used to with LA Live, but there still ain't much goin' on. And Hollywood isn't like in the movies, either (bring your disinfecting hand wipes?)

There are plenty of things to do, but they are spread out and accessing them without a car will be time consuming (public transit) or expensive (cab).
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Old Aug 11, 13, 4:29 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by elCheapoDeluxe View Post
Fair warning since you're showing up in LA without a car. Downtown had a little more than it used to with LA Live, but there still ain't much goin' on. And Hollywood isn't like in the movies, either (bring your disinfecting hand wipes?)

There are plenty of things to do, but they are spread out and accessing them without a car will be time consuming (public transit) or expensive (cab).
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Old Aug 11, 13, 4:49 pm   #11
 
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Megabus and Greyhound are running similar prices for reasonable advance purchase tickets - the $1 to $5 seats are when you get the tickets months in advance. The downtown Los Angeles Greyhound station is in a horrible location and should be avoided unless you are being picked up immediately afterward - although waiting inside is OK as they do have security. Typical Greyhound crowd though, the Megabus people are much friendlier. The Megabus meal stop is also at In-N-Out in Kettleman City which is an order of magnitude better than Highway 198.

For Los Angeles to San Diego, use the LOSSAN timetable - http://www.sandag.org/uploads/projec..._420_16326.pdf - and find connections between commuter rail at Oceanside. All of them are nicely mapped and while there are not many of them they do exist. Even getting to Oceanside would be a help, as you could then take the Coast Highway bus down to the UCSD/University Towne Center area and then connect southward. The Coast Highway bus is slow but scenic as it basically hugs the coast.

IN LA you could also try using some of the social ridesharing services, as Lyft, Sidecar, and UberX are well used there and can be cheaper than a cab. Overall, I think the main problems with LA transit are the lack of the use of the freeway system, and the large drop in night service after 8 pm which you don't find in other major cities. If you are going to places that are accessible by freeway, it will take forever since very few buses use the freeway system. Places like the amusement parks, mountains, and outer beach cities like Malibu and the South Bay beach cities are out for that reason.

But you can hit most of the destinations in the central core - Santa Monica, Museum Row, Downtown, Pasadena, etc. and even make your way up to places like the Hollywood sign and Universal City fairly easily on transit, provided you don't mind taking a bus occasionally.
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Old Aug 14, 13, 10:42 am   #12
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Here is a classic thread:

San Diego - Los Angeles : $5.15 on public buses ~6 hours
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Old Aug 18, 13, 7:03 am   #13
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Originally Posted by flyboy60 View Post
Probably Amtrak.

Amtrak is NOT cheap. One way SF / LA nondiscounted price, at a minimum, is $59 to $61 (but rates can run much higher depending on departure time/date -- as high as double for the same coach class seat). Discounts are possible, e.g., AAA 10%, Senior 15%, etc. So, figure a minimum of $100+ for a roundtrip WITH discount.

Also, the Amtrak schedule is VERY sparse between SF and LA -- there is really only one through train per day, but even that one is from Oakland to LA Union Station, so the Amtrak connector bus from SF (or alternative transport) needs to be taken to Oakland first. Then, that Oakland - LA "Coast Starlight" train takes over 12 hours -- just the train ride itself!

The other Amtrak "train" trips between SF and LA actually involve very lengthy connector bus trips on one or both ends, connecting to intermediate points such as: Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, etc. So you'll actually spend many hours on a bus, but pay about the same "train" fare for each itinerary.

So, don't assume that Amtrak in California is anything like the trains in the US Northeast Corridor -- the California service overall is pretty pitiful, to put it mildly. (There are some useful train services, though, such as the Capitol Corridor trains between the Bay Area and Sacramento. But Sacramento isn't where the OP is planning to go.)

However, the Amtrak service between LA and San Diego isn't too bad -- it's called the Pacific Surfliner and runs several times per day. Takes roughly 3 hours, costs about $37 one way for coach class, $56 one way business class. So, decent service (in terms of frequency) but again, NOT cheap.
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Last edited by KathyWdrf; Aug 18, 13 at 7:09 am.
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Old Aug 20, 13, 10:13 am   #14
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Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
Ha, you beat me to it. Such a fun thread, may need a bump ...

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Old Aug 20, 13, 10:33 am   #15
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
Ha, you beat me to it. Such a fun thread, may need a bump ...
Did you notice in the last few posts, a reporter figured out how to make the entire journey from SF to LA? So, theoretically, the OP here could go from SF to SD all on public transit. Something on the order of three days. Brutal.

Wonder who would go with me...
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