LONG BEACH — Bus-train combinations from Long Beach through the San Joaquin Valley to Oakland have run at a profit over the first six months of operation and will continue, the California Department of Transportation has announced.
One bus departs Long Beach every day at 12:30 p.m.. from Long Beach Boulevard in front of Long Beach Plaza, arriving at the Bakersfield railroad station to meet Train 709, which leaves at 4:05 p.m. for Fresno, Merced, Stockton, Martinez, Richmond and Oakland.
Another bus meets the 1:45 p.m. southbound train at Bakersfield, arriving in Long Beach at 5:15 p.m.
The buses also pick up train-bound passengers at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, Lot C at Los Angeles International Airport, 1401 Sepulveda Blvd. in West Los Angeles, and the Van Nuys FlyAway Terminal.
Train service from the Los Angeles area to the Bay Area is available along the coastline but the buses provide the only access to train service through the San Joaquin Valley, said Caltrans spokesman Gene Berthelsen.
Since the operation began Sept. 4, the buses have carried more than 3,400 passengers, with an average of 9.6 per trip.
Passengers buy one ticket, through Amtrak, for the bus-train combination. Fares vary depending with the final destination. For example, a one-way ticket from Long Beach to Fresno costs $27.50; a round-trip, $34.50, if return is within seven days. A one-way trip from Long Beach to Oakland is $52; round-trip, $59.
Caltrans contracts with Amtrak for the bus service, agreeing to reimburse the railroad for any losses, said Matt Paul, chief of the Caltrans rail service branch.
But so far there has been no need for payment. Total passenger revenue has been $63,400; costs were $59,700.
"While the surplus appears small, we are gratified with the results," said Caltrans Director Leo J. Trombatore.
"We expect a strong uptrend to continue through summer and that these buses will provide substantial revenue to the state," he added.
The Long Beach service is the fifth bus-train route initiated by Caltrans, Paul said.
For further information on schedules and fares, call 624-0171.