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Let's say I'm in Mountain View (next to the Caltrain station) and it's 11:00 pm. Or, equivalently, in Palo Alto or Menlo Park, and it's a little past 11.

Is there any way to get to central San Francisco using public transport late in the night? Or is a taxi or getting a ride from someone your only option?

(It looks like the last Caltrain leaves at 10:49 pm from Mountain View.)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I am not convinced it is really related to travel, but in fact, there is an option if you are near Palo Alto Caltrain Station.

SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit District) offers some night buses between San Francisco (Financial District) and Palo Alto Caltrain station.

This is the line 397 that has 3 buses per night from Palo Alto Caltrain station, respaectively at 12.48, 1.48 and 2.48 am. They take 2 hours to get to San Francisco, near Mission and 1st Street.

There is an earlier possibility. You can get to the Palo Alto Transit Center or at Menlo Park Caltrain station at 11.24, 11.54 PM or 12.24 AM, and catch the ECR. You can stop at the Hillsdale Caltrain station 35 minutes later and then catch the 292 towards San Francisco Financial District. There will be a (maybe tight) connection at Hillsdale station as the 292 leaves at 12.05 and 1.05 AM. It arrives 1h30 later.

There might be some other possible connection (there are a lot of different transit authorities in the area).

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SamTrans seems the best option, but overall I guess we can say the public connections are rather poor (sparse and very slow). And indeed the abundance of transit authorities makes it more confusing. –  Jonik Apr 2 at 14:53
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("I am not convinced it is really related to travel": Well, this was an actual travel question I just had, trying to find out if I can get back to SF around/past midnight if I go to a salsa event in Mountain View.) –  Jonik Apr 2 at 15:00
    
@Jonik Yeah I definitely agree that the multiple transit authorities create a jungle and that helps no one. For the scope of travel, I thought that because Mountain View and Palo Alto are an area with lots of offices and SF-the Valley is a very common commute route. But it was only an opinion, if no one closed the question then it is not off-topic, clearly. –  Vince Apr 2 at 15:13

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