How to Ride
SamTrans would like the bus to be your favorite way to get around to work, to shop, to events, the library, the movies, the beach or to visit family and friends. Your ride on SamTrans will be safe and comfortable, at a bargain price.
This guide shows you how to ride the bus in 5 easy steps.
Planning Your Trip
SamTrans travels throughout San Mateo County and into parts of San Francisco and Palo Alto via 48 routes. To plan your trip, look at the SamTrans System Map to see which bus routes serve the areas you want to travel. Then, look at the route’s timetable. Each route has an individual timetable .
Reading a Timetable
Each timetable lists key stops, known as time points, along the route. The timetable also includes a basic map of the route (see below). For our example, we will take a trip from Foster City to the Hillsdale Shopping Center and plan to get there for lunch.
- Locate a time point (noted with a capital letter) on the map near the point where you want to board the bus.
- Find the same time point on the timetable. The bus serves the stop at the times listed below the time point. Please note: timetables only list time points; the stops in between the time points are not shown.
- Find your destination time point, noted with another capital letter and verify that the bus you board will stop there by reading across.
- The pick-up and drop-off times will be shown.
- If your trip requires transferring or if you have questions, call SamTrans Customer Service at
1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448 for hearing impaired).
Copies of the SamTrans System Map and timetables are available on buses, at SamTrans headquarters and at key civic centers.
Boarding the Bus
Be at the bus stop a few minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. As the bus approaches, check the electronic sign on the front or side of the bus to verify the route number and destination. Allow passengers to get off the bus before you board.
SamTrans buses have a kneeling feature that lowers the front end making the first step easier to reach and also are equipped with lifts or ramps for those who have difficulty climbing steps or who use a mobility device, such as a wheelchair.
Paying Your Fare
SamTrans accepts cash, tokens, tickets and the Clipper Card.
When inserting your fare into the farebox, use flat bills and drop coins one at-a-time to prevent jamming. If you insert more than the price of the fare, the farebox will issue a Change Card that can be used on future bus rides (Note: Change cards expire one year from date of issue and are non-refundable). For more tips and farebox information including a “how-to-use” video, click here
SamTrans offers a variety of fare products including Day passes and discounted tokens and Monthly passes. Youth, seniors, persons with disabilities and Medicare cardholders also receive a discount.
Take a Seat
The seats nearest the bus operator are designated for seniors and people with disabilities. If you choose to sit in them, be prepared to move if someone who needs them boards the bus. For safety, always remain seated or hold onto the bar or straps when the bus is moving.
Getting Off the Bus
Pull the yellow cord near the window or push the strip on the side of the window to signal the bus operator that you want to get off at the next bus stop. You also can ask the bus operator to call out your stop.
Other Things to Know
Many SamTrans buses feature the latest safety and comfort advances in public transportation. All SamTrans buses are equipped with security cameras. Major intersections and transfer locations are automatically announced. The green SamTrans passenger shelters have solar-powered lighting.
SamTrans is your ticket to work, malls, libraries, appointments and fun destinations. SamTrans makes daily trips from Palo Alto to downtown San Francisco and connects you to hundreds of other places throughout San Mateo County, including Caltrain and BART.
Check out our Key Destinations site for a list of key locations served by SamTrans.
SamTrans predictive departure time equipment installed at key transit centers displays when the next bus is coming.
511 Trip Planner
You can plan your trip with the interactive Trip Planner on the transit.511.org website.
Thank you for riding SamTrans.
1/10/13 - maw