Public transport

I have been into San Francisco both of the past couple of days. Both times I cycled to the station, took the Caltrain into the city, and then caught a bus to get across town. They haven’t completely got the hang of public transport here I have to say. I suspect the Caltrain is somewhat underused (a bit hard to tell as I haven’t used it at rush hour). It’s a good enough service though, very punctual and fairly efficient, though it’s hampered by very frequent stops on most services. Also, as Americans tend not to bother with bridges and tunnels for railway lines, the train sounds it’s horn or rings it’s bell almost constantly through the journey to warn people at the level crossings. So, not the most relaxing journey. I did get to catch a ‘baby bullet’ service yesterday though, which was a much smoother and quicker journey (although comparing it to a Japanese bullet train seems a bit far fetched).

Buses in San Francisco (the Muni) are also pretty frequent and efficient. The thing these two modes of transport have in common is a reluctance to tell you anything about the journey until you’re actually on board. For the buses, there is very little information other than a city-wide map available at bus stops, and no help at all in identifying where other bus stops are. Comparing these to the

information on London bus stops
leaves a lot to be desired (although London certainly has plenty of transport problems!). Likewise, the train only announces where it will be stopping once you are on board and the train is moving – by which point it’s a little late! I suppose this comes from having a train service that basically only runs along one line (to San Jose and back), the only variable being which stops it makes along the way. Still, anything is better than driving into the city…

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