New Amtrak Thruway Bus, Madera to San Jose, to Debut in 2020

The Amtrak California network map has a gap. The system is made up of three state-supported rail lines, some long-distance rail lines, and a network of buses to connect cities that do not get rail (thruway buses). Many years ago (at least a decade) you could take an Amtrak bus from the Central Valley to San Jose, via Los Banos and Gilroy. Once that bus line was cancelled, Amtrak riders had to take the train all the way up and around the Bay Area.

Current Amtrak California system map. The thruway bus lines are in green.

Greyhound used to provide buses across to San Jose, but they have continued to cut their routes and no longer do so. BoltBus never provided a route like that, but instead of expanding, they cancelled their entire California network. Flixbus only connects Fresno to LA, and Megabus doesn’t serve the Central Valley at all.

Starting in 2020, this will change. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority has been working to add a new bus line between Madera and San Jose. This would reduce travel time by over an hour, compared to the current train routing that send you up to Stockton and then back down.

Additionally, state legislators have been working to repeal a law that prohibits Amtrak from offering bus service that competes with private carriers. If this law passes, then anyone, not just connecting rail passengers, would be able to board the new bus. This would help the bus to be profitable.

The preliminary schedule shows three departures from San Jose to Madera:

  • 6:30am – 9:05am
  • 10:30am – 1:05pm
  • 2:30pm – 5:05pm

And three departures from Madera to San Jose

  • 8:50am – 11:20am
  • 2:50pm – 5:20pm
  • 6:50pm – 9:20pm

I think these times should be reversed, but it’s something.

Right now they’re aiming to launch this bus with the Spring 2020 schedule change, which should be in late April or early May of next year. The preliminary schedule will change as they continue to tinker with the train schedules.

2 Replies to “New Amtrak Thruway Bus, Madera to San Jose, to Debut in 2020”

  1. These times are bogus as fuck but I guess its a start, the times should be reversed because what we want is to leave fresno as early as possible and to leave SJ as late as possible. Its not rocket science, the way they have it now you HAVE to stay overnight in the Bay Area to get any benefit, if you make it a day trip then you only have a couple hrs to spend in SJ before catching the last fucking bus to come back home SMMFH.

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