|Amtrak Station Location
|840 2nd Street at the Train Station downtown
|Note: Parking permit required! (and parking fills up at 6AM on weekdays). Request permit from agent by showing your ticket
|Station & Service, Ticketing, and Quik-Trak Hours:
|Mon-Fri 4:15am-11:33pm or later. The station stays open until the last train arrives.
|Checked Baggage Hours:
|Mon-Fri 4:15am-11:00pm or later (see above)
|(877) 974-3322 Capitol Corridor specific number
|(800) 872-7245 (800 USA RAIL), Reservations/Schedule
|(530) 758-7160 Davis station. Talk to staff in the station, they are very helpful.
|(702) 997-8943 Pay Phone
Amtrak offers two types of train service from the Davis train station: the "Capitol Corridor" service with trains about every hour east to Sacramento and west to Oakland/San Jose, and the Long Distance service with one departure daily of the Coast Starlight (north to Portland and Seattle, south to Los Angeles), and the California Zephyr (east to Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha and Chicago). Capitol Corridor trains are the ones commonly seen in Davis, with blue orange and silver cars, about 5 cars long. Long distance trains are silver with red and blue stripes, have 2 engines, and 7-11 cars.
The "Capitol Corridor" service is one of the easiest ways to get out of Davis to Sacramento or the Bay Area via the Capitol Corridor. The Capitol Corridor is a medium-distance train with unreserved seating. On board WiFi launched in January 2012 and is free on all trains. 110 V power outlets are available at many seats on the Capitol Corridor trains. Before boarding, passengers should buy tickets at the train station to avoid grumpy conductors and the extra 50% charge for buying tickets on board. If you board the train at a station that does not have an attendant, however, you will not be charged the extra 50% fee. All Capitol Corridor trains have bike racks so you can travel with your bike to and from your destination at no extra charge. The train station is serviced by Unitrans on the A bus line during weekdays and the O line during the weekend. If you are returning to Davis weekday evenings, the Amtrak Shuttle is an excellent way to go home after getting off at the Train Station. Capitol Corridor trains usually run on time.
Long distance service has older trains, with amenities such as sleeper cars, lounges and diners. If you want to bring a bike you'll need to box it up (boxes are available at the station), you can check luggage, etc. Travel is often cheaper than airfare if you buy in advance (busy travel periods) or even if you don't (off-season). Long distance trains often run late (a lot can happen between Chicago and Davis), but improvements were made in 2007 to both routes through Davis and now trains run routinely on time, or close to it.
You can check the likelihood of your train being on time by going to the Amtrak website and clicking on "Historical On-Time Performance" directly under the Train Status box.
For more about how to get out of Davis by bus or train, see Transit Destinations.
The original Southern Pacific train line (hence the insignia "SP" on the station's exterior) running through town was established in 1868. The original station burned down but a new one was built in 1914. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, despite a (perhaps illegal) renovation in 1986, ten years after it had secured National Register designation.
Typical Fares from Davis
[updated December 2023]
- A one-way train ticket to Sacramento costs $9
- A one-way train ticket to San Jose costs $35 (it costs twelve dollars less [and takes about thirty minutes less] to drive the distance if you have a car that gives you 20 miles a gallon)
- A one-way train ticket to Martinez costs $16
- A one-way ticket to the Richmond Station is $23
- A one-way ticket to Jack London Square in Oakland is $27
- A one-way ticket to San Francisco (connect by coach from Emeryville) is $31
Students age 13-25 receive 15% discount for single-ride or 25% for a six-ride ticket which is valid for 365 days. Can be ordered online, from a ticket agent at staffed stations, or conductor when boarding at unstaffed stations. Must have student ID.
Long Distance Trains
The Zephyr runs between Chicago, Ill and Emeryville, CA. It departs Davis at 10:36am going east, and arrives in Chicago at 2:50PM two days later. The Zephyr has great daytime scenery, crossing Donner Pass and the Colorado Rockies by day, and going across the desert and plains at night. Major cities include Reno, NV, Salt Lake City UT, Grand Junction, CO, Denver CO, Omaha NE, and Chicago Il. With connecting trains to New York and Washington DC from Chicago. Timetable and Route Guide can be downloaded from here http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer/AM_Route_C/1237608341980/1237405732511
The Starlight runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, with great scenery along the coast from Ventura to north of Santa Barbara, and a spectacular crossing of Oregon's Cascade Range east of Eugene, OR. The Starlight runs at night from the Bay Area to Klamath Falls, OR, so you'll miss the great scenery around Mt. Shasta unless you travel during summer solstice. The Starlight leaves Davis at 11:11pm northbound to Seattle (arriving the next day at 7:51pm) and at 7:05am south to Los Angeles (arriving the same day at 9:11pm). Astute observers will note that this is a 14 hour train ride instead of a 6 hour drive, but you might also note that 1) you're not driving, 2) you're on the coast where track is curvy and scenery great. Major stops include Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Redding, Klamath Falls OR, Eugene OR, Portland OR, Olympia WA, and Seattle WA. With a connecting bus north to Vancouver BC (another 4 hours). Timetable and Route Guide can be downloaded from here http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer/AM_Route_C/1241245648567/1237405732511
Typical fares (bought a week in advance, as of Dec 2023)
- $142 Davis to Seattle
- $56 Davis to Los Angeles
- $126 Davis to Salt Lake City
- $209 Davis to Chicago
Tips for long-distance travel.
- don't be surprised if the train is late, possibly many hours late. Odds are good you'll be on time or close to it, but if there's some serious problem just chill out and
- bring a good book.
- bring snacks. Train food is hearty and wholesome, but bland, and snacks will add variety. Snacks can also help you
- make friends. Amtrak lounge cars are full of lovely travelers of all ages and walks in life. In the diner you'll sit with other people. It's good times.
- bring creature comforts for a good night's sleep. Bring your own pillowcase and stuff it with clothes for a pillow, and bring a blanket for coziness and privacy. If you're sensitive to sound and light at night, bring an old turtleneck — when you're settling in for the night, hold it by the sleeves and furl up the torso-part, then tie it around your head so it covers your eyes and ears as a blindfold/earmuff.
- expect a few crotchety onboard staff. They're on the trains for 4 or 6 days at a time, they're on call 24-7, and they spent the last 8 years (Bush administration) with zero job security. Many of the folks with other skills found other jobs, and you can help make the current set of staff kind and courteous if you treat them that way. 90% of them are great, but you'll meet the 10% once in a while.
- Call Amtrak (800-USA-RAIL) and ask Julie the automated voice for 'Train Status" to find out if your train is on time. Even if Julie says something like "the Starlight is expected in at 9:12AM, 2 hours and 22 minutes late..." be sure to be there at least a half hour before expected arrival. The Amtrak automatic delay calculator can have problems, and you're better off waiting an extra half hour at the Davis station than missing your train. Trains running on time can't leave early, but trains running late will leave the station as soon as they possibly can.
- Sleeping compartments can be purchased, it's about $150 per 24 hour period in addition to coach fare, and comes with 3 meals a day. If you have the extra cash and want to be guaranteed a good nights sleep, it's a good choice.
- For some "small cities with major universities" destinations (San Luis Obispo CA, Santa Barbara CA, Eugene OR, Corvallis/Albany OR, Olympia WA, Reno NV, Provo UT) Amtrak is often more convenient than flying, as it offers direct service from downtown Davis to the downtown of the destination city.
- You can check any baggage item up to 40lbs. in weight. Remember to have your tickets and ID for claiming your bag(s)
- Bicycles need to be checked as baggage. There is a fee and you need a box (arrive early for this). Folding bikes can be taken as carry-on.
- You can only take checked baggage (or bicycles) to cities with **staffed stations** marked with a little suitcase icon on the timetables (see timetables in above links) i.e., you can check a bag to Klamath Falls, OR or Santa Barbara, CA, but not to Paso Robles, CA or Chemult, OR.
Why take use Amtrak for long distance travel? While trains are slower than airplanes, they have definite advantages.
- You don't need to arrive an hour early.
- You don't need to drive to the airport.
- If your train is late you'll be sitting in the sun eating Village Bakery Pizza with a friend.
- You won't be strip-searched.
- You won't get herded like cattle,
- You'll have wide comfy reclining seats with a ton of leg room.
- You can get up and walk around.
- You'll see great scenery. Much better than driving, since it's up-close and personal, and you go up canyons and on mountains with no roads.
- You won't have your crotch groped and boobs fondled. & neither will your children.
If you've never taken a long train trip in the US, you're fortunate to be living in Davis. Davis is a great place to start a long trip
- The Davis train station is convenient, central, clean and inviting (most stations lack one or more of these qualities).
- Davis is one of a handful of small cities in the western US with two different long distance trains (the only other small cities are Martinez, CA, Vancouver WA and Galesburg, Ill).
- You can take a long-weekend vacation to Klamath Falls, OR, Glenwood Springs CO, or San Luis Obispo, CA.
- If you're presenting at a conference in a city on a route served by Davis, go by train one way or both. It's a fun way to travel, and you can put together your powerpoint while traveling.
Power for laptops and other electronic devices on Long Distance Trains
- Superliner coaches were designed and built in the 80s and 90s, before everyone had laptops and cell phones. The is one outlet on the top level of each car, though. It was put in for vaccuuming the cars during servicing, so it's not designed to be "user friendly" but it works just fine. Here's how you can find it and use it:
Privacy Considerations and Other Policies
Amtrak requires all of its adult passengers to show government-issued photo ID when asked, and they will actually go so far as to enter in your ID number (driving license, state ID, passport) into their computer system if you buy from a human at the counter. Security expert Bruce Schneier explains why this is silly. You probably can't avoid being forced to show your ID without being branded a terrorist (because, as we all know, only terrorists refuse to show ID) but you can avoid having your ID number entered in to their computer system if you purchase tickets online or from the kiosks. The staff on the long distance routes are far more likely to ask for your ID than the staff on the Capital Corridor.
Of course, you'll be expected to show ID if you choose to purchase alcohol from the snack bar. You're not allowed to bring your own personal alcohol on the train, but it's doubtful they'll notice if it's one of the same brands (which include Sierra Nevada and Corona).
Amtrak restricts photography and 'first amendment activities' on its property without proper permits. Though seemingly rarely enforced, these policies could be used against you so be aware!
Getting to San Francisco
There are a couple different options for getting to San Francisco via Amtrak (which are both relatively the same price):
- Take Amtrak to Emeryville, and take Amtrak coach to San Francisco for $24.00 one-way (Oct. 2010). The coach stops at the Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf, the Financial Center, Union Square, the Moscone Center and finally the CalTrain station on 4th and Townsend Streets. This option allows you to buy just one ticket for your entire journey.
Take Amtrak to Richmond Station, where you can then take the BART to Civic Center for a total of $24.25. It is quite simple to change between Amtrak and BART. Walk down the stairs from the Amtrak platform, walk through the station to the BART ticket machine, and take an escalator up to the BART platform. This option is quicker than taking the Amtrak coach into the city.
- Amtrak now sells $10 BART cards for $8 on their snack car. And their snack car takes credit cards.
- If you take the Amtrak+Bart route, you can also get a BART Transfer for the MUNI system, which saves you $.25 off the $2.00 fare, even on their rail lines, such as the F-Line, which goes to Embarcadero/Fisherman's Wharf.
A third, and slightly more expensive, but more scenic way into the city is to take Amtrak to Jack London Square and then catch the Oakland/Alameda Ferry. This drops you off at the ferry building and you can catch MUNI from there. This is a more leisurely way into the city and makes the travel part more interesting.
- It is $6.25 each way for the ferry and $27.00 for the train, but it is an interesting trip that gives you a better view while crossing the bay.
- It is not a particularly fast way to travel since the two modes of transportation do not coordinate their schedules so there can be a sizable amount of wait time spent hanging around Jack London Square waiting for the ferry or the train back.
Getting to Yosemite National Park
Amtrak is a great way to get to Yosemite to have an adventure. The trip requires a minimum of two transfers. Riders pick up the Amtrak bus at the Davis station, swing through Sacramento and then transfer to a train in Stockton. Disembarking in Merced, you will move a few steps on to a YARTS bus that takes you to Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Valley. The morning YARTS bus is usually a tour bus for Grayline Tours so you get to listen to the tour guide for free. The entire trip takes a minimum of 5 hours (6+ hours being typical if one has to wait for transfers). Included in the cost is the park entrance fee ($20 per vehicle) which can be seen as a substantial discount to travel. Amtrak charges $41 (one way) if you book the entire trip through them. You can save money by purchasing the Amtrak and YARTS legs separately. Amtrak to/from Merced costs $25 and the YARTS ride will set you back $10 for a savings of $6 each way.
Leaving Northern California
Amtrak also serves as a gateway to Southern California. The San Joaquin Route, via Sacramento, will take you as far as Bakersfield, where you can then connect to anywhere in Southern California via bus.
Rail Passes & Multi-Rides
Amtrak offers a "California Rail Pass" that allows someone to take 7 train trips in a 21 day period. The cost is $159 (as of 12/30/23) and can only be applied to journey segments within California. If you travel outside of California, then you can use the pass towards the segment of your journey that contains the last stop in California.
Amtrak also offers multi-ride and monthly pass tickets for the Capitol Corridor. As of 12/30/23 10 ride and monthly tickets between Sacramento and Davis cost $40 and $100, respectively. Between Davis and San Jose a 10 ride is $231 and a monthly is $606. Between Davis and Oakland (Jack London Square) a 10 ride is $175 and a monthly is $462. 10-ride tickets can be shared by multiple people traveling together, or at different times.
Advice from fellow travelers
- When traveling on the Capitol Corridor, be sure to ask for a transfer. The conductor will give each passenger two free transfers that are good for the next two days on a variety of transit agencies, including AC Transit (incl. the transbay service,) San Jose's VTA, Unitrans, Yolobus and Sacramento Regional Transit.
- All Amtrak trains are equipped with power outlets, and many, especially the Capitol Corridor trains, have desks. It's a good idea to bring a laptop to do work or watch movies on. A headphone splitter can be procured from RadioShack for under $5 allowing you to watch a movie with your honey.
- In most automobiles, you're going to use 3 gallons of gas (@30mpg) each way (=$6), plus tolls ($3 each way). So, it is still cheaper to drive yourself. But it is usually faster to take the Train because of no traffic. And I'd usually pay the extra $6 to avoid Traffic. And actually if you're stuck in traffic, your Gas Mileage will be actually much worse. And if you drive a 5.7L V-8 Truck, it's more cost effective to take the train anyway. I just wish BART and Amtrak ran later. -jr
This section needs to be modified given the increase in gas prices - the above estimation assumes $2/gallon gas and it is twice as much. The argument for using public transit has now shifted: whereas before it was mostly for reasons of principles and avoiding hassle, now we must include the fact that it is, indeed, cheaper.
Actually, the price of an Amtrak ticket to SF (One Way) is $23, whereas the price for driving (given the formula above) would be $8 in bridge fare and $24 in gas total. Yes, $32>$23, but if you want to return to Davis via Amtrak then the total fare is going to be $46.—JoePomidor
Aren't tolls only one way? They are for me, at least. -AndreyGoder
Yeah but there's two bridges. You only pay at the Bay Bridge if you're crossing into San Francisco, not leaving it. The other bridge is the Carquinez bridge later on.
- Ah, ok, going to the South Bay there is only one bridge.
- Yeah but there's two bridges. You only pay at the Bay Bridge if you're crossing into San Francisco, not leaving it. The other bridge is the Carquinez bridge later on.
- Aren't tolls only one way? They are for me, at least. -AndreyGoder
- If you're traveling on Amtrak, always plan to arrive at your destination 1/2 hour late. I don't know why it happens, but it does.—KenBloom
- But do not arrive late to the Train Station because the train may show up a couple minutes early, it happened to me at the Santa Clara station when I was coming back to Davis. I watched my train leave without me stranding me in Sunnyvale. - RobRoy
Be sure to purchase your ticket in advance (they are good for about a month), especially if you plan on catching an evening Friday train. Those trains are lousy with undergrads carrying huge bags of dirty laundry home and the ticket line will stretch to infinity. The Emeryville - SF coach drivers have a variety of interesting personalities. Take notes and emerge with the backbones for a sociology paper. - TaliaJewell
Actually, tickets are good for 6 months. Anyway, I highly recommend using BART to get to San Francisco instead of the Amtrak shuttle. The last (and only time) I used the shuttle, they charged me roughly 2 tickets for a single trip. - StephenHo
- Tickets during the holiday rushes (Thanksgiving, X-Mas, and Easter)
- Actually, tickets are good for 6 months. Anyway, I highly recommend using BART to get to San Francisco instead of the Amtrak shuttle. The last (and only time) I used the shuttle, they charged me roughly 2 tickets for a single trip. - StephenHo
a) Cost more than normal
b) Only work on the days specified that you want to travel on. (No in-and-out privileges everybody) - MartySmith
If you're traveling on Amtrak from Davis to Oakland, you will surprisingly arrive about 10 minutes early at your destination. You can almost bet on it. I've taken this train route about 15 times now from october 2004 to april 2005. The only time it has been not early or late has been during bad weather (e.g. heavy rain).—PatrickSing
- Well, during rush hour, I find myself beating my friends (who go to SF by car by) about 30-60 minutes— and they're even in the carpool lane! I do the Richmond Amtrak+BART combo. —JaimeRaba
I know that the adult fare for MUNI rose 25 cents to $1.50. Did the Bart transfer cost rise too, or is the savings now 50 cents?
- I do not believe that the Muni transfer ticket value went up with the price. I still had to pay $1.25 when I blew into town. - MartySmith
Not infrequently, I've experienced delays on the San Jose - Sacramento line due to the fact that freight trains apparently have priority over Amtrak trains (I hear Amtrak doesn't own the tracks). Once I arrived over five hours late in Davis because of that! —JoFeuerstein
I agree, going to San Jose direct from Sacramento / Davis on the Capitols line always seems to have a delay. I recently was supposed to board a train in davis at 7am and arrive at 10, turns out right when I was leaving for the station at 6:30 I get a call saying the train was 4 hours late ...wonderful. —ManiGandham
- Update - I'm glad I didnt get on this train, turns out it was more than 8 hours late by the time it got to san jose. —ManiGandham
- I agree, going to San Jose direct from Sacramento / Davis on the Capitols line always seems to have a delay. I recently was supposed to board a train in davis at 7am and arrive at 10, turns out right when I was leaving for the station at 6:30 I get a call saying the train was 4 hours late ...wonderful. —ManiGandham
- I absolutely agree with Bruce Schneier that it is a considerable privacy invasion to store every traveler's driver's license number. That said, the system doesn't even work properly: The conductors only check your ID when you buy the ticket, not when you travel. So they actually never know who travels; you could have somebody buy the ticket for you. So we pay with our privacy (and a bit of money) for some BS system that doesn't even work. —JoFeuerstein
- Amtrak does actually check ID's, just not regularly, on its trains. On the Coast Starlight, and on the Zephyr, I have had my ID checked every time. It has only been on the Capitol Corridor that I find the ID checks to be infrequent. —RichardCarrillo
The Bruce Schneier web page says Amtrak will have random id checks, which I agree would be pointless, because as he says, terrorists are as likely to have ids as anyone else, and then, what would they be looking for? However, taking drivers license numbers at the time of buying a ticket from a conductor is not necessarily pointless. It does tell them the drivers license numbers of everybody who bought a ticket from a conductor, and I presume Amtrak has their own reasons for doing this. If you don't like it, don't buy a ticket from a conductor.
I don't know why Amtrak is doing it, maybe it has nothing at all to do with security, but I don't think they are stupid or would want to hassle customers without reason. I presume they have some reason that is good for them, and I for one don't have a problem with this. If an individual doesn't like that, they don't have to buy a ticket from a conductor. As pointed out, there are some alternatives. Anyway, what it comes down to is that Amtrak can sell whatever they want however they want if it is legal, and if people still don't like it they don't have to buy it. Also, I think the second Bruce Schneier article is very sensible, thank you for pointing me to it. —NickSchmalenberger
- Your argument makes no sense to me. You say that it's not necessarily pointless for Amtrak to record personally identifying information (such as ID numbers) at point of sale - because they "[have] their own reasons for doing this"? So, is it OK for any government or corporate entity to abuse any individual as long as they have a reason? Shouldn't it be a *good* reason - one that the governed populace gives informed consent to? —GrahamFreeman
- I heard it was to have a record of who is on board in case of an accident, to avoid people who weren't passengers from filing a lawsuit. Still an imperfect system since at unstaffed stations you can legally buy a ticket after you board the train with no penalty. Also, 10-ride tickets only have the name of the purchaser but can be shared and transferred to other people. I suspect the real reason is some policy made by someone who didn't know the facts on the ground.—AlfredTwu
The Capitol Corridor route has quite consistently been delayed, when I was aboard, between Richmond and Martinez (the portion of the route that follows the shoreline). I would advise anybody planning a trip between Davis and the Bay, on this line, to expect a journey 15-25 minutes longer than that which is advertised (1hr 10min, for Richmond<>Davis), for both directions. —LeonardMarque
- I take the Capitol Corridor to work one morning every week. On average, it is not delayed. However, unexpected delays DO happen and I do not have statistics on it. —KellyM