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“Los Angeles to San Francisco with bus transfer service”
Review of Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight
Ranked #983 of 8,879 things to do in California
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Attraction details
Owner description: This Amtrak route goes from Seattle, WA., to Los Angeles.
Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, United States
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Los Angeles to San Francisco with bus transfer service”
Reviewed October 8, 2012

We'd tried to find reviews describing the Amtrak bus service using the Coast Starlight going northbound and couldn't find any recent info. We had concerns about available, affordable taxi service from Oakland or Emeryville. Loved the first 9 hours on the train but had to stop 7 times to make sure crossing gates were working correctly on Union Pacific tracks.With the train arriving more than an hour late into Oakland (10 PM?), the trip was dragging on a little too long. We just wanted to get to our hotel in San Francisco ASAP. Did not see any taxis outside the rather dark station and there was no signage how to find the Thruway bus from Oakland Station. We finally spotted the bus sitting in the lot beside the train- of course. Happy to say that we got efficient bus service into San Fran, well worth the additional few dollars fare. We did take a taxi the from the Financial District bus stop for the last 4 blocks of the journey, but the cost was minimal, we were tired and it was dark and cold. Hope this helps the next nervous travelers. Book the the Thruway bus!!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Sharon K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amtrak O, Public Relations Manager at Coast Starlight, responded to this review, October 25, 2012
Dear Sharon K,
We're glad you enjoyed traveling with us via train and our thruway service. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and we hope you choose to travel with us again in the future.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Huntington Beach, California
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Coast Starlight to Oregon”
Reviewed October 5, 2012

I recently completed a trip to Chemult, Oregon (just north of Klamath Falls, OR) on the Coast Sarlight from Los Angeles. Splurged and added the sleeper for comfort.

We ended up behind schedule after delays leaving LAX and a two hour sit in Sacramento waiting for connecting passengers on another train. I called my ride at Chemult ot say we were two and half hours behind, so no problems. I then heard over the train PA that there were passengers on board that were connecting with the Empire Builder out of Portland, OR. They were to be off-loaded in Eugene, OR and bussed to Portland to make their connectioin. So, there was some urgency to get to Eugene (further north than Chemult).

As we entered Chemult, we seemed to be traveling fairly quickly. By the time the engineer stopped the train, the sleeper cars were passed the small loading dock at Chemult. . My sleeper car attendant opened the door, looked out at the large rocks covering the railroad emankment and said "The conductor will have to move the train back to the platform so you can get off." She waved out the door at the conductor who, I believe, was outside at the end of the train. She then called using the lock-box phone to try to contact the conductor, but no luck. She then waved out the door opening again and yelled. She then turned to me and said that they may take off and I may have to go to Eugene. She tried calling again, but still no contact with the conductor. At that point she said "You have to get off here" and dropped a small stool out onto the rocks below. I jumped down the 2 to three feet to the stool and the attendant helpled me haul my suitcase out of the door and down the rock covered embankment to the dirt service road below. She said as she climbed the embankment, picked up her stool and pulled herself back in the door, "You should complain to Amtrak about this."

Offloading passengers in a fairly unsafe area, I am over 65 but not feeble, is certainly an issue. However, of more concern is the safety aspect of the conductor not having direct communication with attendants who are off-loading passengers. I found out later from the person picking me up that he was standing on the Chemult loading platform next to the conductor and heard him say that he was going to move the train back to the platform to let the sleeper car passengers off that were getting off. He then saw my sleeper attendant and me jumping out of the door.

I've written Amtrak regarding my concerns. Will see what happens. Other than that, I still really enjoy train travel.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank Jeff S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amtrak O, Public Relations Manager at Coast Starlight, responded to this review, October 15, 2012
Dear Jeff S,
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we greatly appreciate your feedback. We look forward to seeing you onboard again in the future.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, California
Level 4 Contributor
22 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Los Angeles to Sacramento, with a Roomette”
Reviewed September 30, 2012

My mother and I took the Coast Starlight from LA to Sacramento. Due to the length of the trip, and knowing it's often late, we got a roomette. This was a great choice. We had a separate seating area in LA, with red cap service to our precise train car. Our attendant, Sandy, was great. We ate both meals (lunch & dinner) in the Parlour car, having discovered that it was more spacious and relaxed than the dining car, although the menu was limited.

Having the roomette was great -- while it is a small space, it does provide privacy, and we got in a short nap before our middle of the night arrival in Sacramento. It also includes the meals, and various other amenities -- welcome champagne or sparkling apple juice, toiletries, coffee & juice, and the wonderfully helpful attendant. Our only disappointment was not being on the coast side of the train, so missing some of the lovely scenery (would love to know how to pick your side when reserving, if you're reading this Amtrak!). We mitigated that by having lunch in the Parlour car while going along part of the coast.

Will have to try it again, the rest of the way up to Seattle.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Chris S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amtrak O, Public Relations Manager at Coast Starlight, responded to this review, October 4, 2012
Dear Chris S,
We're so happy to hear you and your mother had a great trip on the Coast Starlight. It sounds like you really enjoyed the views from the Parlour Car. Thank you for writing a review, and we can't wait to see you onboard again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Medford, Oregon
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“First time on the train”
Reviewed September 27, 2012

When planning our trip to Seattle to see a football game we thought about the Seattle traffic and parking and decided that since we had always wanted to take a train trip across the country that this would be a good way to try the train on a shorter route.
We all know that flying has become such a nightmare and taking the train was the exact opposite.
We were greated in Eugene Oregon by truly nice employees. Nobody treated us like potential criminals, no body searches, no charge for luggage. Wow, I am liking this already.
Taking the train isn't the fastest way to travel but it is probably the most stress free. The gentle chug chug chug was pretty soothing and really relaxing.
We took the Cascade to Seattle and it has wifi and we came back on the Coast Starlight and it had no wifi. That was kind of dissapointing.
The Coast Starlight was a much bigger train with sleeper cars, dining car and an observation deck. There is so much leg room and the seat has an ottoman of sorts so you can get pretty cozy.
I have heard that the train is never on time that it can be running hours late and that there can be a lot of delays but we got lucky I guess because we just clipped along and made every stop right on time.
The only clitch. There was an announcement that the hostess would come through the cars and take lunch reservations. We never saw her. Maybe we were in the bathroom, I don't know. We really wanted to eat in the dining car but settled for a microwaved burger that wasn't too bad, but I wanted to have the dining car experience.
I thought the train was comfortable, the employes very nice and it was so easy at all points. Traveling by train in our experience was a wonderful stress free way to travel.
Do I still want to go across the country by train? With a sleeper car definetly. It is not a fast way to travel but you actually get to see the country as you pass through it.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank cozette
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amtrak O, Public Relations Manager at Coast Starlight, responded to this review, October 1, 2012
Dear cozette,
We're so glad you enjoyed your recent Amtrak experience. We appreciate you sharing your experience with us, and we look forward to having you onboard in the future for a cross-country trip.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles
Level 5 Contributor
86 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Four Year Old was Enchanted”
Reviewed September 25, 2012

My four year old son is crazy about trains. Rather than fly back from a recent trip up north, we decided instead to take the Coast Starlight from Oakland to Burbank Airport. Because he had to nap, I decided to get a roomlette, which was well worth the price. It gave us some privacy, and a place to retreat to if he got fussy. The room was small, but comfortable, especially considering the space they are giving you on airplanes these days. The trip was also the perfect length for him (9 to 9), since he could wander around, watch movies on my lap top, read, nap, eat and shift activities whenever his attention span shifted. Our porter was very friendly, gave my son a glow stick when we departed in the dark, and helped me get an early reservation for lunch (thereby sparing his dining mates from a meltdown from a tired and hungry kid). 1/2 the roomlettes face the ocean, and 1/2 face the interior-- we got an interior roomlette which I didn't mind given that I'd done the coast starlight before....my son could have cared less about an ocean view.

Where the trip was lacking was the dining car. Meals are included for sleeper passengers except for alcohol. The food isn't anything to write home about but it's edible and they have choice for kids (hot dogs, pizza, kraft mac & cheese)...understandable given it's being cooked on a moving train. But the service staff was surly. I got rolling eyes when I changed part of my order. They served everyone else's drinks except my son and then took 10 minutes to bring it to him. They served everyone else's dessert except my son (who was 1/2 falling asleep at lunch) and then took 15 minutes to bring him his (prepackaged) ice cream. Their announcements calling people in were curt and they repeatedly complained about being short staffed. Also, the lunch reservation system doesn't make sense....you ability to pick up time depends on the luck of the draw, even if you have a special need (such as being diabetic or having a toddler that needs to nap). Since there were 2 of us, we had to share our table with two dinner companions, the arrangement for lunch of which was something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel (a charming older recent widower, my 4 year old, a friendly professional woman on a business trip who was expecting her second child, and myself). Dinner was shared with 2 nice Korean women who didn't speak much English. Would have made more sense to put us with the other young toddler who was seated with an elderly retired couple. In short, my recommendation to them is they really need to 1) do something about their staff and giving service with a smile (the Parlor car attendant by contrast was very friendly and helpful), and 2) work out their system to allow adjustments for people with special needs (asking a child under 5 to lunch at 2:30 is simply not reasonable particularly when at noon they seat a group of 25 from Norway traveling together). I understand the need for rolling seating given the kitchen limitations (1/2 the dining room was empty at any one time), but the code of the west is no way to run a dining room.

A few other notes to travelers. The wifi in the parlor car was not up to snuff...was hoping to connect into work but the bandwidth being taken up by the ipad users made it impossible and signal is blocked when passing military bases. The seating in the parlor car lounge is limited...8 chairs and some people show up early in the morning and just camp out there all day. The dining menu in the parlor car dining room is more limited but it seems to help the kitchen and the attendant in that car was more friendly. Didn't see anyone use the theatre while we were there, but we didn't go to movie show times since there weren't any kid choices. The name "coast" starlight is misleading...large portions of the ride are spent in the interior. Didn't get to partake of the wine and cheese reception but it's a nice time to mingle with fellow passengers.

All in all, though, given my son's enthusiasm for trains, and given the hassels of flying these days, I'd still recommend this trip for trainophiles. It was an incredible journey, and notwithstanding the surly dining car, most of the employees we met on the trip provided incredible service, and went out of their way to make my child feel welcome. We'll be back, hopefully soon.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank gretayesinia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amtrak O, Public Relations Manager at Coast Starlight, responded to this review, September 27, 2012
Dear gretayesinia,
We're so glad your son enjoyed his first Amtrak experience. We apologize for any trouble in the dining car. Thank you for sharing your feedback, and we can't wait to see you onboard again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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