And welcoming our guest writer (and an amazing travel companion): Bex!
That’s right, this week we have a special guest writer, my little sister Bex – this is the same sister I’ve traveled through the UK and Europe with pretty much every time I talk about my recent travels here on my blog. I haven’t traveled up to her at school yet, but after reading and editing this post, I may be looking at following her lead and use our California public transport! But for now, read on and enjoy!
I just recently used the Amtrak to travel between Fresno and Los Angeles for the weekend and I’ll admit, I’m not a regular commuter on public transportation – I always figured it was easier and faster to just drive myself between the two when I had to and not make the effort to get dropped off and picked up from a station.
The week I decided to use it was the second weekend of four in a row I was planning on making this back and forth trip and the idea of driving for 3+ hours each way four times in a row really didn’t appeal to me. So I decided to check prices before resigning myself to either driving anyway or just scrapping my plans for that week. Round trip cost turned out to only be $64, just slightly more than it costs me for gas.
There were pros and cons – as with most things. I didn’t have to drive, which meant that I could get some reading done or watch things on YouTube or Netflix because the trains I was on (both ways) had free wifi (always a plus!). On my train back, they also had a food car which wasn’t too overpriced.
Another good thing with Amtrak is they have guaranteed connections. My train down from Fresno was delayed about half an hour (and when you get your ticket, you can put your phone number and have them text you notifications about delays which is handy) which meant we got into Bakersfield late. However, my bus connection and all the others were still there because they don’t leave until the train gets there and their passengers have made it to the bus they’re meant for.
All the employees I dealt with had a good attitude and seemed cheerful when checking tickets and offered those with luggage help. I enjoyed my trip thoroughly and not having large amounts of luggage (I only had a backpack) made it even easier to do.
one of the downsides I discovered was that it took longer than it would have to drive myself by about an hour (though that’s not a huge deal by any means).
The big thing is that train doesn’t reach everywhere. My trip to LA, as I mentioned earlier, had me switch out from train to bus at Bakersfield because there aren’t actually direct trains from Fresno to Los Angeles. Also, even when you’ve reached your final destination, you still need to arrange a way to get to where you’re staying in that city instead of just going straight there while driving.
There are also the same hassles whenever you’re taking public transportation – not every other passenger is considerate of those around them and if your train is crowded there is little to no privacy.
However, I can see the appeal in using it from time to time. As a group, I think it would be interesting to take a train to other places – have a group experience without having to worry about being pulled over or distracting the person who’s driving. And even when you’re by yourself, you get to see the places you may drive often from a completely different perspective.
I enjoyed my trip thoroughly and not having large amounts of luggage (I only had a backpack) made it even easier to do.
I hadn’t known when I got my tickets, but many times if you’re a college/university student, your school may have access to codes that can cut down on the ticket price so be sure to check that as well. Tickets can be bought online as eTickets or to be picked up at the station or can be bought directly from the station. I used the eTicket and it was as easy as paying and then printing it in my apartment.
So all in all, a big thumbs up and would go again for Amtrak and that’s all from me!
This is Bex writing for Leave on the Wind, (but still) helping you soar.