Everything You Need to Know About Public Transportation in San Jose

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San Jose has both bus and light rail transportation options. Whether you need to get around within the city or need to get from or to San Jose from nearby areas in or outside of Santa Clara County, this guide can help. If you’re a tourist, you’ll learn all the basics of transportation here and even natives can learn something about parts of the public transportation system that they may not usually use. Here is your guide to public transportation in San Jose.

How Do You Get Around in San Jose Without a Car?

There are several options to get around within San Jose when you don’t own a vehicle yourself. Those options include: 

  • VTA: The Valley Transit Authority (VTA) offers transport options for both inside and outside of San Jose. They offer the highest volume of bus routes for downtown San Jose, but also plenty of bus and light rail options outside of downtown as well. 
  • Uber/Lyft: Uber, Lyft and other ride share services are great options for navigating in San Jose. 

What about getting around outside of San Jose when you don’t have a vehicle? 

  • BART: The Bay Area Rapid Transit connects to Northern San Jose. Once on it you can get to major hubs throughout the Bay Area. 
  • Caltrain: This is a rail service which stops in San Jose and also runs from Gilroy to San Francisco. 
  • Greyhound: A popular bus service which does regional and even national trips. 
  • Altamont Corridor Express: This rail service connects San Jose to Stockton. 

Does San Jose have a Subway? 

No, San Jose does not currently have a subway as public transit. There is, however, a planned extension for an underground line of BART into downtown San Jose. This is beyond the most recent expansion (which was the Berryessa/North San Jose station completed in 2020.) 

Are San Jose Buses Free?

No, San Jose buses through the VTA are not currently free. Instead, there are several rate options as of July 2022, including: 

  • Single ride: Cost is $2.50
  • 8-hour light rail pass: Cost is $5, you cannot use Clipper.
  • Day pass: Cost is $7.50, you must use Clipper. 
  • Monthly pass: Cost is $90, you must use Clipper. 
  • Annual pass: Cost is $990, you can only buy this through subscription. 

All of these prices are subject to change from the VTA. You should confirm current rates at their website while planning your trip. 

Clipper is the region’s transit fare payment app. You may also want to learn about the SmartPass, a discounted annual calendar-year pass that can be provided to employees, students, or residents through institutions which have purchased them.

Does BART Connect to the San Jose Airport? 

No, currently BART does not connect directly to the San Jose Airport. If you need to get to or from the airport using BART, you will need to use a second transit option to connect to the nearest BART station to the San Jose airport. Currently, that connection point is at Berryessa/North San Jose. 

Although the stop just before that one, the Milpitas Transit Center, may be more convenient depending on which transit you will be taking next. If headed to the airport, Milpitas may be more convenient. However, otherwise, the Berryessa/North San Jose station has rapid transit options into downtown San Jose and Diridon Station.  

BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit. There is a tentative plan in place to extend BART to the San Jose Airport. However, the timeline for that extension is currently for completion in 2029-2030 and subject to change. 

Major Transit Connections in San Jose 

  • BART: Connect with BART through Route 180 or Route 181 (the latter only on weekends.)
  • Monterey: Get to Monterey from Diridon Station, usually through Route 55. 
  • San Francisco: The Caltrain is a convenient way to get to San Francisco. 
  • Santa Cruz: The Highway 17 Express will take you to Santa Cruz on the weekdays. 

What Time Do Buses Stop Running in San Jose? 

The San Jose Rapid bus lines tend to end their routes around 11pm. For example, the Rapid 523 San Jose State – Lockheed Martin via De Anza College ends its Eastbound route at 10:41 pm at 7th and Santa Clara. 

The “frequent” lines run by VTA tend to end their routes around 11:30 pm. For example, the 68 San Jose Diridon Station – Gilroy Transit Center ends its last run at San Jose Diridon Station (Bay 10) at 11:34 pm. 

It’s important to remember that these are the latest times you can arrive somewhere using the bus lines, you would need to catch the bus earlier. If you end up missing the last run, most buses start up again at 5 am. 

The light rail tends to end its final run for the day even later, usually approaching 1am. For example, the Orange Line, which runs from Mountain View through Alum Rock ends its last east bound run at 12:46 am in the Alum Rock station. 

We strongly recommend that you plan ahead using the VTA’s schedules or trip planner. 

Does San Jose Have Good Public Transit?

That depends on what you mean by “good” and what your expectations are. If you’re coming from a major city, or an area in San Francisco or the East Bay, the transport options in San Jose may be a bit of a disappointment. The area is more suburban and less dense, which means that the public transport is also less dense and more infrequent. 

However, San Jose does have quality transportation options considering its size and density. 

Resources for Public Transit in San Jose 

If you have more questions about the transit options in San Jose, you should look into these resources:

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