UPDATED: $3 Amtrak tickets, free Unitrans during Fix 50

Graphic: Fix50.com logo, with traffic cone
Graphic: Fix50.com logo, with traffic cone

Fix 50 and UC Davis: The latest information, plus helpful links.

Read about Sacramento Regional Transit's augmentation of light rail service during Fix 50.


Originally published April 15. Updated at 8 a.m. April 17: Link added to The Sacramento Bee's story on Sacramento Regional Transit's augmentation of light rail service during Fix 50. Earlier update provided new information from the Yolo County Transportation District indicating that the district-discounted Amtrak tickets will be good all during Fix 50, not just Stage 1, as the district announced previously. The new information also tells when and where the tickets are being sold, and the trains you can ride with the tickets.

By Dateline staff

Option A (for Amtrak) just got cheaper for commuters looking to avoid Fix 50, scheduled to start in earnest in one week. Unitrans just got cheaper, too, as in free for everyone.

The Yolo County Transportation District board of directors voted Monday night (April 14) to buy 13,200 Amtrak tickets for one-way rides between Davis and Sacramento on the Capitol Corridor line, and sell the tickets for $3 each (regular price $5.50). The district announced today (April 16) that the tickets will be good on selected morning and evening trains, weekdays, April 22-June 25, the entire duration of the repair project on the elevated section of U.S. Highway 50 in central Sacramento.

Stage 1 is scheduled from April 22 to May 21, eastbound only, with only half the lanes closed at any one time. If you’re driving, see below.

If you’re taking Amtrak, and you’re headed for the UC Davis campus in Sacramento, remember the UC Davis Health System will run a special shuttle, “Last Mile, First Mile,” free of charge, between the campus and downtown Sacramento (Fifth and L streets, three blocks from the Amtrak station). Shuttles will run 10 to 30 minutes apart, from 5:40 to 9 a.m. and 3:05 to 6:15 p.m. Here's the schedule.

In another Fix 50 modification, the health system is adding service to its free Green Line shuttle between the Sacramento campus and the 39th Street light rail station. During Fix 50, the Green Line will start earlier (with three runs from 5:30 to 6 a.m., starting at the main hospital), and end later (with three runs from 5:40 to 6 p.m.), in addition to runs every 20 minutes from 6:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Here's the revised schedule.

The Unitrans link

On this side of the causeway, Unitrans provides a link between Amtrak and the campus (and the rest of Davis), via the A Line, running between the downtown depot and the Silo Terminal.

Unitrans said “no” to the county transit district’s request to establish a second line between the Amtrak station and the campus, serving the Memorial Union Terminal. “We thought it would overextend our drivers,” Unitrans Manager Anthony Palmere said. “Our current service should be adequate to accommodate more Amtrak ridership.”

All those passengers and everyone else will ride for free during Stage 1. The county transit board voted to cover half of Unitrans’ lost revenue, an estimated $5,000, and Unitrans will cover the other half.

“The theory is that free service will make transit simpler for people to use — by not having to pay or worry about getting a transfer — and therefore may attract some new riders who might otherwise be driving,” Palmere said. 

Amtrak ticket details

The county transit district is offering a discount on Capitol Corridor tickets for one-way rides between Davis and Sacramento, on selected morning and evening trains, weekdays only, during all of Fix 50 (the district announced previously that the tickets would be good only during Stage 1).

The tickets are available in 10-ride packages, $30 each, limit eight packages (80 rides) per person. When and where to buy:

  • Davis Farmers Market — for a limited time, Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Davis train station (outsde) — 6:30-8:30 a.m. April 22-25, and 6:30-8:30 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, April 28-May 20
  • Transportation and Parking Services, or TAPS, just north of the west entry parking garage) — TAPS does not expect to have the tickets available for sale until Tuesday (April 22)
  • Davis Community Services — 600 A St., Suite C
  • Transit district office 350 Industrial Way, Woodland
  • Online

According to TAPS, the tickets are good on these trains:

Westbound (Sacramento to Davis)

  • 525 — departs Sacramento at 6:20 a.m.
  • 527 — 7 a.m.
  • 529 — 7:40 a.m.
  • 531 — 8:30 a.m.
  • 543 — 3:35 p.m.
  • 545 — 4:40 p.m.
  • 547 — 5:40 p.m.
  • 549 — 6:40 p.m.

Eastbound (Davis to Sacramento)

  • 520 — departs Davis at 7:12 a.m.
  • 522 — 8:02 a.m.
  • 534 — 4:22 p.m.
  • 536 — 5:02 p.m.
  • 538 — 5:42 p.m.
  • 540 — 6:22 p.m.

In other Fix 50-relation action, the transit board agreed to lease four buses and one paratransit vehicle for two months, at a cost of $41,950, to augment Yolobus service during the highway project. See Fix 50 and UC Davis for information on additional runs on two Yolobus express routes: 232 (Davis-Sacramento) and 45 (Woodland-Sacramento); look under "Yolobus."

The district estimates the cost of its Fix 50 mitigation plan, less fare revenue, at $290,343 — and has asked for reimbursement from the California Department of Transportation. Caltrans has indicated it will pay only about $170,000.

If you’re driving (or shuttling) ...

Stage 1 is eastbound only; all westbound lanes and ramps will be open. So, if you’re commuting to the Davis campus, you should be OK driving in, and not OK driving home — with Caltrans estimating delays of up to an hour. Tip: If you’re Elk Grove-bound, use Interstate 5.

You might want to consider riding the intercampus shuttle. Park on the Sacramento campus (certain Davis campus permits are valid there, and vice versa), and ride the shuttle. It’ll be free during Fix 50, and the schedule will be beefed up; the revised schedule shows buses running every half hour (instead of hourly) during peak commute times.

  • Davis to Sacramento — Additional runs start at 5:40, 6:40, 7:40, 8:40 and 9:40 a.m., and 2:40, 3:40, 4:40, 5:40 and 6:40 p.m.
  • Sacramento to Davis — Additional runs start at 6:40, 7:40, 8:40, 9:40 and 10:40 a.m., and 3:40, 4:40, 5:40, 5:40, 6:40 and 7:40 p.m.

Even with added frequency, there's still no guarantee you’ll catch the shuttle when you want, or that you’ll arrive on time — it all depends on traffic. So you’ll need to factor that in. Say, for example, you normally catch the 9:10 a.m. shuttle at the Silo Terminal, and arrive at the UC Davis Medical Center at 9:45. During Fix 50, you should probably consider the 7:40 a.m. shuttle. “That's what I would do,” said Duane Hicks, manager, Parking and Transportation Services on the Sacramento campus.

If you’re driving from the Davis campus to the Sacramento campus during the day, say, for a meeting, you’ll get caught in traffic, no doubt about it. You might want to hold your meeting by conference call, instead.

Earlier coverage: "New and expanded shuttle service during Fix 50," Dateline UC Davis (April 8, 2014)

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Media Resources

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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