Explore The Best Of The Bay, Leaving The Car At Home
Vallejo Ferry docks at San Francisco Ferry Building
Don’t have an automobile, want to avoid gridlock or would just like to leave the driving to someone else? Public transit options have come a long way for Benicians. With planning, determination and some extra time, it is, indeed, possible to start at point A in Benicia and get to locations throughout the Bay Area, by boat, train, bus or private driver.
Planning a public transit trip, for pleasure or necessity, is just a mouse click, smart device app or phone call away. Transit systems have entered the digital age with online bus routes, and parking and ticketing information. SolTrans and the Vallejo Ferry both take the Clipper Card, the all-in-one transit card that is accepted in a variety of Bay Area ferry, bus and train systems.
It’s pretty straightforward to get to major destinations such as San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento, or closer ones like Diablo Valley or Solano Colleges, or the Fairfield or Sunvalley Malls. The commuter or casual weekend traveler can leave the car at home, as well as the associated traffic and parking hassles. A boon for commuters, the Curtola Park and Ride bus hub offers express service to points along the I-80 corridor in Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco Counties. For those who can not or choose not to drive, Soltrans Route 20 runs from points in Benicia to Vallejo’s Kaiser and Sutter hospitals.
How do you get to where you want to go without spending hours looking up transit schedules and figuring out connections? For Solano County travel, public transit riders can use the SolTrans (soltransride.com) MyRide program, the trip planner tool at solanomobility.org, or speak directly with a trip planner by calling the Solano Mobility Center at 800.535.6883. To get further afield in the nine Bay Area Counties, check out the 511 SF Bay (511.org) online trip planner to check routes in real time, and to get point-to-point transit options and timing, provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The website also offers transit news and alerts, scheduling issues, emergency information, bike trails, voice calls and more.
SolTrans Bus at Vallejo Terminal Center at dusk
SolTrans Route 78 is the main bus line for riders to transfer to routes that will take them throughout the Bay Area. The route goes into Vallejo and the busy Curtola Park & Ride lot as well as the Vallejo Transit Center, where riders can board Route 80 buses that take them to the El Cerrito BART Station. SolTrans Executive Director Beth Kranda said that efforts are in the works to improve the express routes that take riders to transit hubs in Pleasant Hill and Concord, as well as Vallejo. Benicia City Councilman Tom Campbell, Benicia’s representative on the SolTrans board, said the aim is to make the bus service more flexible and eliminate some redundancies.
Bay Area Rapid Transit trains go to San Francisco and the San Francisco International Airport, as well as Oakland and the Oakland International Airport, plus many other Bay Area destinations. BART “powers” hundreds of third party mobile apps, and has a destinations guide on their website.
Amtrak California Zephyr Emeryville
Route 78 buses also take riders to the Vallejo Transit Center, where they can cross the street to the Vallejo Ferry Building, and board a San Francisco Bay Ferry that stops at the San Francisco Ferry Building and at Pier 41. The Vallejo Ferry Building is just across Mare Island Way from theVallejo Transit Center, where riders can catch Vallejo buses, the Vine Transit, and SolTrans Route 85, which takes riders to Solano Community College and the Fairfield Transit Center. Once there, riders can board Fairfield and Suisun Transit buses to Vacaville, Sacramento and the Suisun Amtrak Station, where the Capitol Corridor trains stop to pick up passengers. Amtrak also runs dedicated bus services to get people to train stations. To get to the Martinez train station from Benicia, taxi services or Uber cars are available.
An affordable senior transportation service, Go Go Grandparent offers pickups within 15 minutes to the grocery store, doctor or other destinations, and automated rides for fixed medical appointments. Family members of senior riders can receive by-the-minute text updates, and senior riders can text a gogograndchild at any time.
Although the personal auto is still king, riders also have Yellow Cab of Benicia at their disposal. Uber employs independent contractors to provide transportation services in a private car or ride-share, simply by downloading the app, which provides real-time tracking of the Uber car’s location while you wait. The service is prepaid by credit card and the entire transaction is handled through the app. Here’s a list of available services to get you started on your next transit adventure.
Yellow Cab of Benicia: 707.745.1743.
Uber: Download the app on your smart device
SolTrans: soltrans.org, soltransride.com
Solano Mobility Center: 800.535.6883
The Vine Transit
Bay Area Rapid Transit: bart.gov/guide/destinations
Amtrak Capitol Corridor Train
Go Go Grandparent