Aug. 29 to
Sept. 2, 2002
Knowing the Way to ConJosé
It's time to start making your travel plans for ConJosé. The purpose of this article is to give people detailed information on how to get to ConJosé by car, airplane, train, and local public transit. There is a lot of information here that may not be directly relevant to you; if you live in the Bay Area, for instance, you probably don't need to know how to fly here, and if you're flying, the driving directions won't be that important. We're trying to cover as many bases as possible here.
Because there are so many ways to get here, and because we want to cover them all, we split the directions into two articles. In this PR we are including the directions on how to get from the three major Bay Area airports via public transportation, and also information about public transportation in the Bay Area. Driving directions (including driving directions from the airports) will be in our next publication, ConJosé Offline 4.
Where is San José?
San José, California is part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, about 50 miles (about 80 km) south of San Francisco. It is not in the Los Angeles area (based on some of the messages we've received, many people appear to assume that everything in California is in the Los Angeles area). If you go to Los Angeles, you will find yourself about 400 miles (about 650 km) away from ConJosé. This map should give you an idea of the general location.
Where is ConJosé?
ConJosé will be in the San José McEnery Convention Center and the downtown San José hotels. The McEnery Convention Center is located in downtown San José on West San Carlos Street between South Almaden Blvd. and South Market St. The convention is not at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
Not the Only Way
There are many different ways to get to the convention, and all of them are right. We have not tried to cover them all. If you know a different way that works better for you, we encourage you to use it. We have divided this into sections covering air travel, intercity bus, intercity train, public transportation and by car.
ConJosé has no official airline, and although three major airports serve the San Francisco Bay Area, we recommend that you fly to San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) if possible.
The other airports are San Francisco International (SFO) and Oakland International (OAK), both of which are about 30-40 miles (about 50-65 km) from downtown San José. SJC is less than 3 miles (5 km) from downtown. The San José Convention & Visitor's Bureau calls SJC a "downtown airport." During congested times (which is actually most of the day, not just a limited "rush hour") it can take on the order of two hours to get from SFO or OAK to downtown San José. This may well offset any time you save by not having to change planes. We realize that SFO has more direct cross-country and international flights, and that OAK may be more convenient for your preferred airline, so we're providing directions on how to get from all three airports to San José.
Car Rental: All three airports have extensive rental car operations. Unless you need a car for a specific reason during the convention, there's no need to rent one to get from SJC to downtown, due the short distance and the expense of the car rental and parking. If you do rent a car at SJC, when you exit the airport, you should turn right (South) on Guadalupe Pkwy/CA-87, then follow our driving directions "From San Francisco, SFO Airport, and the Peninsula via US 101." Ask the rental agent for an area map.
About Using Public Transportation: The Bay Area's public transportation system is regrettably fragmented and sometimes quite difficult to use. Fares quoted here may change, and in some cases in this article we're quoting anticipated higher fares that may not be in effect when you arrive. Also, service frequencies drop off dramatically at night, as many of the systems are geared completely around commuter traffic. Don't assume that you can take a flight that arrives late at night and then take public transit to your hotel, unless you have checked the specific schedules involved. Weekdays from about 6 AM to about 8 PM service is reasonable, but it is much less so beyond those hours except in limited cases. Check with the specific airport or public transit service if you are traveling outside of those hours. Also, check http://www.transitinfo.org/ for Bay Area transit info. Unfortunately, space prevents us from giving every possible transit connection or schedule in this article.
Walking Around Downtown San José: San José is the safest large city in the USA, so don't be alarmed by instructions that say things like "walk two blocks south." Walking in downtown San José is safe. (It also is practically flat in all directions.) However, much of downtown San José has a sort of "unfinished" look to it, as it is in the midst of a downtown redevelopment project. Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings as you would in any major city center.
From San José Mineta International Airport (SJC): SJC has two terminals: A and C (there is no terminal B). American and Southwest flights are in terminal A; all other airlines are in terminal C. Terminal C (the older, original terminal) does not have jetways; you enter and exit the airplanes via stairways.
The downtown San José hotels do not offer airport shuttle service.
Taxi: A taxi ride from SJC to downtown is short and should cost
less than $20. There are taxi stands at both terminals.
Public Transportation: To get from SJC to downtown via public transportation, follow the signs within the airport to Public Transportation and take the free bus (usually this bus is painted "VTA Airport Flyer") with a head-sign of 10 LIGHT RAIL. (Don't take "10 SANTA CLARA CALTRAIN", it's going the other way.) Getting to the bus stop at terminal A is a little cumbersome if you have checked luggage, as the bus stop is on the same side of the street as the main terminal. After you claim your luggage, you have to return over the skywalk to the main terminal and go downstairs to the curbside bus stop. At terminal C, the stop is not far from baggage claim at curbside. Other than making sure you get on a bus heading for light rail, you do not have to worry about being on the wrong route; the only public buses that serve the airport are those running to the light rail stop or the Caltrain commuter rail station.
The Airport Flyer (10 LIGHT RAIL) bus will take you to the Metro/Airport light rail station, which is in the median of 1st Street. Buy a ticket from the vending machine ($1.40); you can't get them on the train.
As you cross to the station from the bus stop, you want to catch a train running from left to right (the closer track) at the platform to your right. Its head sign you read SANTA TERESA. Board the next train going that way. If you are heading for the Fairmont, get off at Paseo de San Antonio station and walk one block west (right, relative to the direction the train was going) to the Fairmont. For the Convention Center and the other downtown hotels, get off at Convention Center station.
From San Francisco International Airport (SFO): SFO consists of an International Terminal and Domestic Terminals 1 and 3 (Terminal 2 is closed). Domestic American and United flights are in Terminal 3; all other domestic flights are in Terminal 1. International flights, other than flights to and from Canada (which are considered "domestic" for airline purposes) are in the new International Terminal.
Taxis: A taxi ride from SFO will cost you on the order of $75. In the domestic terminals, taxis depart from level 1, outside the baggage claim area (center island, yellow columns). In the international terminal, taxis depart from level 2 arrivals, center island.
Door-to-door Shuttles: Door to door shared-ride shuttles will cost around $25-$30 per person. Follow the signs for ground transportation to Door-to-door Shuttles. Tell the coordinator on duty that you're going to downtown San José and s/he will point you at the correct company and van.
Scheduled Bus to SJC: Serendipity Land Yachts (http://www.landyacht.com/) operates the "South Bay Flyer" scheduled bus service between SFO and SJC airports. If you fly to ConJosé on United Airlines, you can book a "connecting flight" between SFO and SJC that is actually this bus. Fare is $20 one-way. See their web site or call 1-888-GO FLYER (1-888-463-5937) for details. Once you get to SJC, you will still have to get downtown as described above in the SJC Airport section above.
There are public transit alternatives other than Caltrain, but as they involve riding a public bus for up to three hours, we decided not to include more details of how to do it.
A free shuttle bus to the Caltrain station leaves approximately every 15 minutes from the upper level of each terminal near other public transportation stops. (Follow the signs for the SFO-Caltrain Shuttle.) When you get to the station, purchase a ticket ($4.50) from the vending machines, or buy it on board for a $3 surcharge (the shuttle drivers like to cut it very close!). Catch any southbound train (track closest to the station); they are all going to San José. On most trains, the second car from the South end of the train (the end with a locomotive on it) has a green "luggage car" sign; these cars have luggage racks in them. Caltrain cars have steep steps, so be careful when lifting luggage into the cars.
From San José Diridon train station: From the station, it is a short taxi ride to the Convention Center or your hotel. On weekdays only between 0615 and 1835, there is a free Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) that operates between the train station and downtown. You can even walk from the train station, walking along either Santa Clara or San Fernando Streets to the Guadalupe River walk or to Almaden Blvd. (See locator map.) There is a great deal of construction going on at Diridon Station, but if you turn right coming out of the station and walk a block south to San Fernando St., you should be able to see the Hilton and other downtown buildings; walk in that direction.
Alternatively, you may find it easier to continue on Caltrain south one stop to Tamien station (a shared stop with San José's light rail system) then ride light rail back north to Convention Center station. (See the section on Public Transportation: Caltrain Commuter Rail below for more information.)
From Oakland International Airport (OAK):
Taxis and Door-to-Door Shuttles: Fares and travel times from Oakland to San José are comparable to those from SFO: $75 for a taxi, about $25-$30 for a shared-ride van. OAK's Ground Transportation Information Hotline is 1-888-IFLYOAK, and a list of shuttle services that serve the airport is available on their web site. As with the other airports, follow the signs to taxis or shuttles and ask for a taxi or van going to downtown San José.
Public Transportation/BART Getting from OAK to downtown San José on public transportation requires a lot of patience and a lot of small change. You will have to ride a bus to BART (the heavy-rail subway/tube-style train system serving San Francisco, Oakland, and parts of the East Bay area, but not San Jose), take BART itself to Fremont, and then a VTA bus to downtown San José. This will take between two and three hours depending on traffic.
In the airport, buy an AirBART ticket from the vending machines, then board an AirBART bus to the Coliseum/Oakland International Airport BART station. At the station, buy a ticket from the vending machine. You're heading for Fremont, and the fare is $2.60. Some BART machines do make change. Feed the money into the ticket machine and it will dispense a card with the fare amount magnetically coded on it. Feed this card into the fare gate (remember to pull it out of the top of the machine) to enter the system. Go to the platform marked "Fremont." Board the next train that the electronic signs in the station identify as "Fremont." Do not get on a Dublin/Pleasanton train.
Fremont is the end of the line. Before you leave through the BART exit gates, look for white machines that dispense BART-to-bus transfers. Press the button to collect a transfer (no money is needed). With this transfer you will save $1.25 on the fare for the bus to downtown San José. You must insert your BART ticket into the gate to get out of the system. If you bought a ticket for the exact amount, the gate will eat your ticket (but it will let you out). If you paid more, it will give it back to use on another trip. Now you need the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus route 180, which starts at this station. The fare is $3 ($1.75 with the transfer), and drivers do not make change. Buses leave Fremont approximately half-hourly between 0525 and 2010, then hourly until the last bus at 0005. The ride to San José takes about an hour. Get off at 2nd and Santa Clara Streets and walk South about two blocks to Paseo de San Antonio (a pedestrian path), turn right and the Fairmont Hotel will be in front of you at 1st and Paseo de San Antonio. The other hotels and the Convention Center are a short distance away (see the locator map at http://www.sjcc.com/downloads/SJDowntown.pdf).
BY INTERCITY BUS: The Greyhound intercity bus station is at 70 S. Almaden Avenue, between Post and San Fernando Streets, and is only a few blocks from the Convention Center. It's an easy walk from the bus station to the hotel. Walk south on Almaden Avenue to San Fernando St.; from there, turn left for the Fairmont and Sainte Claire via Market Street or right for the other hotels and the Convention Center via Almaden Avenue. The Fairmont is on Market St. South of San Fernando St. The Sainte Claire is at the corner of Market and San Carlos. The Crowne Plaza and Hilton face each other across San Carlos Street on Almaden Blvd. (Note that Almaden Ave. and Almaden Blvd. are different streets that parallel each other.) The Convention Center is on San Carlos St. between Almaden Blvd. and Market St.
BY INTERCITY TRAIN (Amtrak): Amtrak trains call at San José Diridon station, about one mile (about 1.6 km) from the San José Convention Center. See "From San José Diridon train station" above to get to the hotels.
The only long-distance Amtrak train that serves San José is the Coast Starlight, which runs daily between Los Angeles and Seattle. If you are coming from the east through Chicago, you will probably take the California Zephyr to Emeryville, where you will transfer to the Capitol Corridor train for the trip to San José. From the south, you may take an Amtrak train to Los Angeles and transfer there to the Coast Starlight.
The Capitol Corridor (http://www.amtrakcapitols.com/) trains operate between Sacramento and San José four times daily (more often between Sacramento and Oakland, with connecting bus service to San José). In addition, the San Joaquins run between Bakersfield and Oakland four times a day, with bus connections at Stockton to San José. The Capitol Corridor trains do not have checked baggage.
This section is aimed at people living in the Bay Area who have a general idea of how to use public transit in this area. For more detailed questions about fare structures, routes, and schedules, we will provide contact information for the major transit providers in the area.
General transit information may be found at http://www.transitinfo.org/
Local Bus and Light Rail: VTA 800-894-9908 (650 Area code and South Santa Clara County only) 408-321-2300
The main provider of public transportation San José is the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). A significant portion of VTA bus and light rail service centers on the downtown core; check their web site for a complete list. VTA light rail has a stop at the Convention Center. If you live in the built-up areas of Santa Clara County, it should be relatively easy to get to ConJosé by public transit.
VTA light rail runs 24 hours a day on the main line running through downtown. A single ride is $1.40, and a day pass is $3.50. You must buy your light rail ticket from the vending machines in the stations before boarding the train.
Caltrain Commuter Rail 800-660-4287 (Bay Area only) 650-817-1717
Caltrain operates daily train service between Gilroy, San José, and San Francisco, with trains running at least half-hourly between 0600 and 2000, with more intense commute-hour service and limited evening service. Caltrain has stops at San José Diridon (the main train station), and also at Tamien, a shared station with VTA light rail, where you can transfer from Caltrain to light rail for the ride into downtown San José. Alternatively, you can ride the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) from San José Diridon to downtown. (see above)
Although it is a good way to get to San José if you live on the Peninsula, Caltrain will not be a good alternative for commuting to ConJosé. Due to extensive rebuilding, the service will be shut down on weekends starting this summer; therefore, there will be no Caltrain service on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday of Labor Day Weekend. Caltrain intends to operate a limited substitute bus service for people traveling between San José and San Francisco, but for local service along the peninsula, riders are being told to use local transit services such as VTA.
BART 510 465-2278
Bay Area Rapid Transit operates subway/tube-style heavy-rail transit serving San Francisco, Oakland, and parts of the East Bay. However, there is presently no BART line to San José. To get to/from a BART line from San José, ride VTA route 180 express bus to/from Fremont BART.
These directions are not necessarily the shortest or fastest routes to the convention, but they all should work. We tested all of the driving directions in the San José area on April 6, 2002, and they worked as of that date. However, the south Bay Area is undergoing a road construction boom, and it's possible that you may encounter detours or delays due to changes between now and the convention. We will point out the most-likely places for such delays when we know them.
Using Online Driving Directions: The numerous driving direction web sites will get you to approximately the right location in San José, but they may take you on strange routes as they attempt to give you the absolutely shortest route to downtown San José. We also discovered that Mapquest has the wrong street address for the convention center. If you follow its directions, you will end up at the rear of the building, where there are no public entrances. If you use Mapquest or another similar service, try getting directions to "W San Carlos St At S Market St", that's roughly the middle of all the hotels and the convention center.
Many Roads Lead to San José: You can get here from many different directions, and we expect many people will be driving from far away, so we've organized these directions first by getting you to the edge of the Bay Area, then to downtown San José itself. If you're a local resident, you can skip down to "From Bay Area Points" below.
Getting to the Bay Area
From Points North via I-5: Take Interstate 5 south toward Sacramento, then I-505 south toward San Francisco to I-80 west toward San Francisco to I-680 South toward San José. When you get to I-580, see the directions "From Dublin/Pleasanton" below. An alternate (and very scenic trip, worthy of taking several days to enjoy it) is to come down US-101 along the Pacific Coast (see next section).
From Marin County and the California North Coast: Take US-101 to the Golden Gate Bridge. Go through San Francisco, take CA-1 south (this is a San Francisco surface street for some distance) to I-280 south, then see the directions for "From San Francisco via I-280" below.
From the Sacramento Valley, Reno, and Points East via I-80: Take I-80 west toward San Francisco, then I-680 South toward San José. When you get to I-580, see the directions "From Dublin/Pleasanton" below.
From Stockton and the Central Valley: Take I-580 West to I-680 South in Pleasanton, then see the directions "From Dublin/Pleasanton" below.
From Central/Southern California and Other Points South: Take I-5 North toward Sacramento, CA-152 West toward Gilroy/San José, then US-101 North. See the directions "From Gilroy" below.From Bay Area Points
Here is a map of downtown San José that may help once you reach town.
These directions will take you to the Convention Center and the various hotels; however, they will not necessarily take you to the place you will want to park your vehicle. See the section about parking in downtown San José before reading the detailed directions.
Street Closures on Friday-Monday
Because of the Tapestry Arts Festival (a large street fair) in downtown San José, also happening on Labor Day Weekend, several downtown streets near ConJosé's site will be closed from 7 PM Friday evening through Monday. Even if you are familiar with downtown San José, the routes you usually use to get downtown may not be available. As of this article, the closed streets are: Almaden Blvd. from San Carlos St. to Santa Clara St.; Park Avenue from Woz Way to Market St.; and San Fernando St. from CA-87/Guadalupe Pkwy. to San Pedro St. The driving directions below avoid these streets, so they should work even during the weekend days during the Tapestry street fair.
Each of our hotels offer parking (see the hotel comparison charts), but only the Hilton and Crowne Plaza have self-park garages (the Fairmont and Hyatt have only valet parking), and none of them can accommodate vehicles much taller than the average minivan or SUV. There are other parking lots in the downtown area, which offer usually better rates, and which are free or less expensive on weekends. This includes surface lots that can handle tall vehicles. The downtown map at http://www.sjcc.com/downloads/SJDowntown.pdf shows many of these parking lots and garages. The Tapestry Arts Festival (see above) also generates a lot of local traffic that will have a major impact on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Local merchants have a web site that also shows the locations of the many parking lots and garages and shows which lots are free on nights and weekends. There are so many possibilities that we can't give you a single answer to "where should I park?"
Overnight Parking: Don't park in the Convention Center Parking Garage, unless you are only coming for a single day, because it doesn't allow overnight parking, and closes totally at midnight. There is a hefty fee to retrieve your car after it's closed.
Most of the other lots in the area do allow overnight/multiple-day parking, including those with free nights and weekends; however, all of the parking lots handle multiple-day parking in different ways. Some lots that are "pay on entry" will leave envelopes on your windshield with bills for the additional days; others that are "pay on exit" will charge for the total stay at the end. Unfortunately, with so many different variations, you need to check with the specific parking lot for its multiple-day parking policy.
Park at a Light Rail Station: The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail system runs right through the center of downtown, including a stop in front of the Convention Center. Parking at a light rail station and riding the train downtown is a good way to beat traffic and save money on parking.
VTA allows up to seven days' parking in specially marked "Airport Parking Only" spaces. Parking is free at all VTA light rail lots (except Mountain View Downtown). Instead of paying to park downtown, you may want to park at a light rail station and ride the train to Convention Center station. See the section below labeled "Local Bus and Light Rail" for more information about riding light rail.
From the North, use the Tamien light rail station. Take CA-87/Guadalupe Pkwy to Alma St (first exit South of I-280). At the foot of the exit ramp, turn right for the long-term parking or left for ordinary parking.
From the South, you can't go to Tamien (there is no exit from northbound CA-87), so we suggest using the Blossom Hill station. Take CA-85 to Blossom Hill Road. At the foot of the exit ramp, turn left onto Blossom Hill Road and cross over the freeway. The light rail station is on the right.
Driving to Downtown
From Santa Cruz/Monterey via CA-17: Take CA-17 North toward San José. In San José, take I-280 South, then follow the "From San Francisco via I-280" instructions below.
From San Francisco via I-280: Take I-280 South to San José to the Vine Street/Almaden Avenue exit. (This is the exit immediately after CA-87/Guadalupe Pkwy. The CA-87 exit is also labeled "Downtown San José," but don't take that.) Keep to the right as you exit the freeway, and turn to the left under the freeway onto S. Almaden Blvd. A few blocks ahead will be W. San Carlos St. The Hilton and Crown Plaza are on your right, across San Carlos from each other. Turn right at San Carlos St. for the Hilton parking garage, the Convention Center forecourt, and the other hotels. Straight ahead of you is Market Street; on the left is the Fairmont and on the right is the Hyatt Sainte Claire.
From San Francisco, SFO Airport, and the Peninsula via US-101: Take US-101 South to CA-87/Guadalupe Pkwy South in San José. This area is under construction, and the first few miles of the parkway are an expressway with traffic lights through the construction zone. When the road becomes a freeway, you're almost there. Take the second exit, into Park Avenue. Warning: the Park Avenue exit is an exit-only lane that appears rather suddenly, so you need to get all the way to the right as soon as the lane appears. At the foot of the off-ramp, continue straight onto Delmas St. (Don't follow the signs pointing toward the Convention Center. That street is closed during the Tapestry festival.) Continue straight ahead to San Carlos St. and turn left. Cross under the freeway. The next street is Almaden Blvd., the Crowne Plaza and the Hilton are at the corner of San Carlos and Almaden Blvd. Straight ahead on San Carlos St. is the entrance to the Hilton parking garage, the Convention Center forecourt, and the other hotels. The next street is Market Street, with the Fairmont on the left and the Hyatt Sainte Claire on the right.
From Oakland, OAK Airport, and the East Bay via I-880: This route will take you over surface streets for about two miles before downtown, but it's is the most efficient way to get downtown. If you prefer a more freeway-oriented routing, continue South on I-880 to I-280 north and follow the "From San Francisco via I-280" instructions above; otherwise, read on. Take I-880 South toward San José. Warning: There is a lot of road construction happening between South Mission Blvd. and Brokaw Road in the Milpitas-North San José area, and you can expect congested traffic at all hours in this area. There are no alternate routes that do not involve swinging far to the east or west.
Just after I-880 crosses US-101 in San José, take the North First Street exit. Turn left at the foot of the off-ramp. You are now paralleling the light rail tracks. Take N 1st St. for about 1.5 miles (about 2 km), where you are forced to make a right turn onto Julian Street. One block later, turn left onto Market Street. About 3/4 mile (about 1 km) ahead is the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, the park between the Fairmont and the Convention Center, and San Carlos St. Make a U-turn at Market and San Carlos St. for the Fairmont. The Hyatt Sainte Clare is ahead and on the left at the corner of Market and San Carlos. For the Crowne Plaza, Hilton, and Convention Center, turn right at San Carlos St. (you'll see the Convention Center on your left). The next street is Almaden Blvd. For the Crowne Plaza, turn right, then right at the first driveway. Make a U-turn at Almaden for the Convention Center forecourt or the Hilton parking garage.
From Dublin/Pleasanton via I-680: Take I-680 South toward San
José. When I-680 crosses US-101 in San José, it changes
from I-680 South to I-280 North. Take the 7th Street/CA-82 Exit. (Signs
on the freeway will suggest CA-87/Guadalupe Freeway as the route to
downtown. Don't take this route, it's the long way.)
From Gilroy via US-101: Take US-101 North toward San José. In South San José, take CA-85 North toward Cupertino and Mountain View. About five miles (about 8 km) later, take the CA-87/Guadalupe Pkwy North toward Downtown San José. Continue another five miles (8 km) and take the exit immediately after I-280, San Carlos St./Auzerais Ave./CA-82. At the foot of the off-ramp, turn left (using the rightmost of the two left-turn lanes), then turn right onto San Carlos St. Ahead of you will be Almaden Blvd. For the Crowne Plaza, turn left at Almaden Blvd, then right into the first driveway. Straight ahead on San Carlos St. is the Convention Center and the other hotels. The Convention Center forecourt and the Hilton parking garage will be on your right. Ahead of you is Market Street; the Fairmont is on the left, and the Hyatt Sainte Claire is on the right.
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