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Harrison Street facing the Bay Bridge in SoMa
Photograph: Flickr/Shawn Clover

The best ways to get from San Jose to San Francisco

Zoom between the Bay Area's two largest cities with the best ways to get from San Jose to San Francisco

Written by
Garrick Ramirez
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Given the flourishing tech industries in each city, San Jose and San Francisco send a lot of traffic each other’s way. The roughly 50-mile route that links the Bay Area’s two largest cities teems with daily commuters. As a result, you’ll find no shortage of options to get to either city. Here are all of the ways to travel from San Jose and San Francisco .. and back again. 

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Best ways to get from San Jose to San Francisco

Car
Photograph: Flickr/Martijn de Valk/CC

1. Car

San Jose and San Francisco are linked by two, nearly equidistant stretches of highway, Interstate 280 and Highway 101. Each route should get you to your destination in about an hour (busy morning and evening commute times can add thirty minutes or more). The Interstate 280 route is slightly lengthier, but often less congested and ultimately quicker than the 101, but check your traffic app of choice before choosing a route. If you don’t have a car, you can easily rent one with Getaround which offers an assortment of privately owned, shared vehicles within walking distance—no need to huff it to the airport—for any duration of time. Their app quickly scans your surroundings, and lets you unlock the doors to your rental in minutes. The relatively short distance between the cities also makes a ride hailing service such as Lyft and Uber an option with conventional fares averaging $65.

Bus
Photograph: Flickr/Roadsidepictures/CC

2. Bus

You’ll see numerous coaches en route between San Jose to San Francisco, yet the bulk are private coaches shuttling employees to major tech firms such as Google and Facebook. For everyone else, there’s Greyhound which runs seven daily buses between San Jose’s Diridon Station and San Francisco’s shiny new Salesforce Transit Center. Hoping to appeal to a younger, tech-savvy crowd, the long-standing provider offers free WiFi, power outlets with every seat, and an app for e-ticketing and tracking your bus. Expect a ticket to run between $6-$15.

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Train
Photograph: Flickr/Andrew Nash/CC

3. Train

Caltrain offers a compelling alternative to the busy freeways. The popular commuter rail line zips between San Jose’s Diridon Station and San Francisco’s Mission Bay station. One-way fare costs $10.50, and tickets must be purchased in advance from station vending machines. Nearly 50 trains run each day, with a regular trip duration of one and a half hours given the many stops along the way. Seek out the Baby Bullet express train for fewer stops and a shorter trip. San Jose’s Diridon station is a major hub for Greyhound, Amtrak, and San Jose’s VTA light rail system. From San Fransico’s Caltrain station you can walk to Oracle Stadium, the waterfront Embarcadero, and MUNI trains which can deliver to other points

Helicopter
Photograph: Flickr/Prayitno/CC

4. Helicopter

By 2023, Uber hopes to fly commuters from San Jose to San Francisco in just 15 minutes via  futuristic-looking, electrically powered, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (or, eVTOL). Until then, travelers hoping to soar above traffic can secure a helicopter ride via Voom. For $250 each way, the Airbus company will find you a seat aboard a privately owned helicopter with a licensed flyer that’ll take you from San Jose to San Francisco in roughly 20 minutes. Trips can be booked online or via their app no less than one hour in advance. Passengers also have the option of booking ground transportation to the heliopad which is often at San Jose International Airport (SJC) and San Francisco International (SFO). 

Grab a drink when you arrive

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