Trip Report and Photos by Mike Palmer
Some time ago Amtrak and Caltrans extended a Thruway bus route to Torrance; it connects at Bakersfield with the San Joaquins and stops at Van Nuys along the way. I decided to check it out on March 11.
Amtrak bus 5919 is at the Van Nuys Amtrak station on March 11.
My northbound trip – Bus 5919 Torrance to Van Nuys, then train 769 Van Nuys to Camarillo was mostly fine. The bus ran on time but had few passengers: me and one other person boarded at Torrance; no one boarded at El Segundo or Westchester; 2 more boarded at UCLA. The bus was 20 minutes early to Van Nuys.
Amtrak train 769 is at the Camarillo Amtrak station on March 11.
Train 769 was on time at Van Nuys. It had some on-board problems with the head-end power – no a/c or microwave food at first. They successfully got the onboard power re-started at Chatsworth.
Southbound was another matter. I had intended to ride 784 back to Van Nuys, then bus 5910 back to Torrance. While at Camarillo I received a series of text alerts stating the train was delayed – 30, 40 minutes, then over an hour. I found a local cab, we agreed to an appropriate barter rate, and he drove me back to the Van Nuys station. With luck, I caught a late running bus 5910 back to Torrance, again with a light load. Three people got off at Van Nuys, one other person rode to UCLA. With no passengers for Westchester or El Segundo those stops were skipped. The bus got back to Torrance about 20 minutes late. The text messages for the delayed 784 kept coming – it was close to 3 hours late. I don’t know what caused the delay except that the Coast Starlight had hit a trespasser in Montecito earlier in the day, and I don’t know if the rail line was closed to all traffic for the investigation.
I did appreciate not having to drive in LA traffic, though I would have driven to LAUS and not Van Nuys had I gone by car to catch the train. At some point I plan to ride the San Joaquin again – I will see if the Torrance bus works for that trip.