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Late night shuttle service that makes Caltrain 24/7 (takefleet.com)
224 points by shauryasaluja on July 14, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments

Two things:

1. This is great for before 7AM flights out of SFO / SJC, where public transit is not an option.

2. I showed this to my fiancée (who does the south bay / city commute every day). She said: "This would be a lot more useful to me if they came in between Caltrains, which can be an hour apart."

It seems like these guys are relying on there being zero traffic in the dead of night to deliver these travel times. How feasible would it be to drive from San Jose to San Francisco in an hour and a half during the day?

Disclosure: I don't live in California, and I have no idea. I only just looked up the schedule from Caltrain.

I've done 101 from SF to SJ in about 40 minutes at midnight. Multiply that by 3 for rush hour.

Ok so they've already really factored in all the time for all the stops and the inevitable delays... Wow, then my question is... why is the train so slow!

there are three level of trains. baby bullets go from san jose to sf in about an hour with very limited stops. there's local express which have more stops than baby bullet, but don't stop at every station (gross oversimplification). And then there's the trains that stop. at. every. single. s.t.a.t.i.o.n.

The train makes many more stops.

I live in San Mateo, makes it super easy to split the difference. ;-)

Suggestion #2 is probably feasible outside of the core commute hours -- which is inline with constraints because Caltrain runs trains more frequently during commute hours already (ie. this service is not needed then).

Driving takes <1 hour without traffic. Could take >2 hours at peak commute hours.

This is great for before 7AM flights out of SFO / SJC, where public transit is not an option.

So how does one get from Millbrae to SFO if the BART is not running? (asks the occasional visitor)

SamTrans Route 397. http://www.samtrans.com/schedulesandmaps/timetables/397.html

Catch is you have to pick it up around 4 AM and get to the airport that early, but if you're not flying until 7, maybe you can snooze in the airport for a bit...

Super shuttle is a popular and econimical option. Or you just call a cab. At that hour it's $35 before tip.

I used to live down El Camino Real from the Millbrae station. It should be closer to $15-20.

FYI, bart starts running at 4am, and google maps is pretty good at giving public transit direction in the bay area. the only caveat is to choose when you want to arrive as opposed to depart (duh), and if you plan to drive part way, choose the start to be where you start taking public transit.

BART starts running at 4 AM - but that's at the terminus, which is Pittsburg for trains going to SFO. The first train doesn't get to the airport until about 5:30.

(I know this from a painful morning where my wife missed a 6 AM flight.)

UberX is a pretty good option for that, although it's a pretty short fare for the driver.

It's a $15 (10min) taxi ride from the Milbrae station to the airport arrival terminal of your choice, if you take one of the cabs that's at the taxi stand (which I've used, and never seen empty.)

But will there be taxis there when the trains aren't running?

The 192 or the KX also...except maybe those don't start running until later.

> "This would be a lot more useful to me if they came in between Caltrains, which can be an hour apart."

The fact that this bus actually seems more appealing than Caltrain actually makes me question the Caltrain's existence as a matter of transportation policy.

EDIT: note that the bus is faster.

The implication was if she just missed the Caltrain, she'd take this bus in 30 minutes instead of waiting one hour for the next train (not stop taking the train altogether).

It's a complaint about the Caltrain's infrequency rather than existence.

your fiancée should get funded!

Public transit in the Bay Area isn't ideal and I appreciate every effort attempting making to make it better. Would you guys consider connecting with the East Bay? Going from EB -> PA takes a very long time between BART and Caltrain.

If you find this exciting you might also enjoying Night School: http://www.night.sc/

I second east bay. 19th St BART stop in Oakland is a great hub.

It is pretty amazing. Especially at off-peak times, Sunnyvale to Oakland can take 3+ hours by transit, vs. 45 minutes by car.

I may be showing a bias against buses here, but the ride will be infuriatingly tortuous.

Bus routes attempting to operate along train stations are always convoluted routes forced to go back and forth between main roads and the stations, trying to drop passengers off at the same transfer points as the train.

It would better just drop people off along El Camino, instead of looping round and round through those stations.

Not that it's dramatically worse than having no option, of course. Just that it would drive me crazy as a mode of transport, if you're expecting it to behave like a train...

Eh. Caltrain parallels US-101 pretty closely and El Camino even closer. Between these two I doubt it will be more tortuous than a Caltrain local service (sooo many stops) and to save $50+ on the alternatives, easily worth it.

Towards the beginning of my career (while still relatively poor) I got stranded in San Jose after Caltrain hours. I got a ride with someone to San Bruno, waited in the cold and dark for a bus with my laptop as a space-heater, caught the night bus, and after ~2.5 hours and 3 buses -- including a transfer in a dark creepy neighborhood at the southern edge of San Francisco proper that I didn't actually expect I'd need to make -- I made it the rest of the way home. Now THAT was tortuous. :b

Perhaps they're expecting people to have parked at the train station?


And that, of course, is also how buses operate that replace portions of the subways that are temporarily out of service. For example, I sometimes encounter it when I come home late at night on Boston Orange line, which has a lot of construction (they are trying to insert a new station inside an operating segment) and an occasional late-night or weekend replacement of subway service with a shuttle service. I never remember that tonight it is going to be a bus and, in any case, I have to park in a parking garage next to a [redacted] subway station where I have a monthly parking ticket.

That's what a lot of the buses do here in Brisbane, Australia (well sort of), and they run buses directly along the routes when there are track works (which for the last few years has been nearly every weekend sigh), but it's really not that bad. In fact, I quite enjoy it, it's more comfortable and heading down the highway can often be quicker funnily enough (especially now that they're running the trains slower to "save money"...)

Ok, you're on. I missed the last Caltrain last night.

Edit: Never heard back. I guess this isn't live.

Edit: Just got an email. Running to Caltrain now. :)

The $60 uber of shame.

Do they have Passenger Carrier permits and are they insured? This is a great idea, but should something go wrong (and it looks like it very well could in dead middle of the night), these things are pretty essential.


Probably essential some day, but not yet. These guys could just hire a bus and eat the loss if it turns out there's significant demand.

I guess that's true. They should at least warn the early adopters that there's no insurance on their end.

This reminds me of a recent article on NYC's dollar vans: http://www.newyorker.com/sandbox/projects/nyc-dollar-vans/

Of which this appears to be a slightly more modern take: https://kutsuplus.fi/home

Sounds like a great idea to me.

In Morocco, they have something in between public transport and private taxi where these beat-up old Mercedes ("grands taxis") wait to drive popular routes - when the car fills, you leave and all split the fare. Or you can pay a higher price to leave sooner. During one ride inland, I wanted to wind down the window and the driver passed back the sole hand-carved window-winder he had resting on the dash. All the existing winders had been lost or long-since removed!

Great idea. I'd only be interested if I could buy a ticket at the last possible minute instead of scheduling in advance.

Seconded. Most of my late-night travel is completely unplanned -- I can't imagine scheduling a 4:00 AM trip the day before.

I'd really like a BART one. Connecting, Downtown Berkeley, one of the main four SF stops, and Fremont.

And perhaps more importantly, connecting Fremont Bart to Caltrain in south bay.

As a side, I'd really like an entire loop around the bay. No public transportation does that, and it'd be great for drunk people at night.

Also, 680/880 is severely underserved by public transit. Every day it's bumper-to-bumper traffic from Walnut Creek->San Jose.

BART will eventually connect this, but you would still need to transfer in Oakland, which is roughly 20-30 minute detour. Walnut Creek -> Fremont currently takes over 1 hour on BART, to cover a distance of roughly 30 miles.

Great idea and pretty decent initial offering. The price is low. Consider doubling it right away. (Sorry, but I want this to succeed).

Matching the Caltrain prices exactly seems like a brilliant marketing move on their part, actually. If they can do it sustainably for that price, that is.

This is a great idea. I do wonder how many people taking the southbound shuttle on Fridays or Saturdays will be drunk!


I hope they have a bunch of sailor songs on MP3! And a barf bucket. And everything can be cleaned by hose.

Something like this, if run all day, could be a great service in Los Angeles Metropolitan which has a severely crippled public transport system. The area is spread out into a lot of decent sized cities with almost no public transport connections - hence causing a driving nightmare every single day. Just so I can avoid crazy traffic, if you come to LA, I'll make the app for free.

Nice, now if they would stop at the peninsula's largest city, Sunnyvale, ... :-) Mountain View isn't that far away but Sunnyvale is definitely one of the heavier stops on my commute. Seems like most of the train gets on or off there when I'm riding it.

> the peninsula's largest city, Sunnyvale

Wouldn't Sunnyvale be at most the second largest city, behind San Francisco?

Its an inside joke, there was a lot of 'cachet' associated with being a 'peninsula city' (like Palo Alto or Menlo Park) and folks would define the peninsula ending at Mountain View, and Sunnyvale being the start of the 'South bay'. Generally meant about a 15% difference in home price. (Mtn View/Sunnyvale). However since 'south bay' is associated with San Jose (which is a nice, if rather boring city compared to San Francisco) there has been an argument for at least 30 years as to whether or not Sunnyvale is a peninsula city or a south bay city. Everyone agrees that the center of Silicon Valley is somewhere inside Sunnyvale but that is about all they agree on.

Wow, this is cool -- it needs "drunk connection" app:

"I am going out in SF, drinking. Set the app to send me SMS reminders of when I need to head out. Connect me with an uberX to the pickup spot. Make me reply to the SMS that I got home safe."

Glad you guys are doing this, but it infuriates me that Caltrain doesn't run 24/7 on weekends at least. For the amount of money we taxpayers pay for their pensions and operation, that's the least we can get.

It is fairly obvious Caltrain needs to run one more late night train on Friday and Saturday nights. Midnight is too early, especially if you're out in the city and need to take public transit just to get to Millbrae or 4th and King, and get there on time.

They're a private company, so they unfortunately don't need to do anything. They used to run a later train, but I can only assume they decided a train full of drunk people wasn't worth the money.

Although seeing as this runs faster than the Caltrain, perhaps the real story is that Caltrain should be replaced by busses overnight.

How about Caltrain allow / license a bus refitted with rail wheels to use the tracks in the off hours? (aside from the host of legal liabilities that I'm sure would sink the idea immediately)

this is really awesome. was always hoping caltrain would introduce that - never occured to me that you could hack the system like you guys are - very amazing and wish you best of luck!

They are also testing regular commute service on their homepage. I'm pretty sure that they just collecting data at this point to see if there is interest in the service.

They forgot to mention that they're faster than Caltrain.

Maybe because it's not that clear cut.

A local train covers the same distance in 91 minutes (vs 81 minutes for this shuttle) but also makes every stop. A baby bullet train that makes roughly the same number of stops as the shuttle does the trip in 57 minutes.

Caltrain's baby bullet trains beat every other mode of transportation up and down the peninsula in terms of speed assuming you live by one of the stops AND the train isn't delayed due to the distressingly frequent accidents and mechanical failures.

Almost every mode. During traffic they certainly do although on my motorcycle with the power of lane splitting I can beat even the bullet (48 minutes) from mountain view to my office by about 8 minutes. Not including the 12 or so minute walk from 4th and king to work. And of course the baby bullet only operates at peak times.

In the middle of the night (like this service) perhaps not. I still like it though because parking is such a nightmare.

This is incredibly timely. I can't wait to try it out.

In other words, they've started a jitney service.

I hope this becomes reality. I would use it, I would also be happy to pay about twice the price y'all are asking.

This is something I could test/validate quite readily. Challenge accepted.

do you guys have any contact info? I'm working on a similar problem and would love to chat

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