Summer is one of our busiest times of the year on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, with more than one million people expected to ride between June and September! With daily service to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, the Pacific Surfliner can take you on a scenic ride to some amazing destinations. Plan ahead to help avoid crowds, and make the most of your trip with these tips.
Enjoy Flexibility with Unreserved Coach Tickets
Pacific Surfliner trains offer two types of tickets: Unreserved Coach and Business Class. Unreserved coach tickets allow you to ride any Pacific Surfliner train from the origin station to the destination station listed on your ticket. This gives you the flexibility to take a different train than the one you selected in the booking process if your travel plans change, subject to certain restrictions. Because Unreserved Coach seats are available to boarding passengers on a first-come, first-served basis, trains can occasionally become crowded, especially in the summer and during peak travel periods. On the busiest trains, it may become difficult to find a seat on certain sections of the route.
Avoid the Crowd By Planning Ahead
Fridays and Sundays are typically the busiest travel days on the Pacific Surfliner, especially on the 700-series trains between Los Angeles and San Diego. Consider choosing one of the 500-series trains instead, which are typically less busy, or if your travel plans allow, ride midweek or midday when it’s less crowded. Follow @PacSurfliners on Twitter for train status alerts, including notifications regarding which trains we expect to be particularly busy. With an Unreserved Coach ticket, you can choose to take an earlier or later train at no charge if the one you were planning to take is expected to be crowded. If you are traveling between stations with luggage service, you can check your bags instead of carrying them with you. Stations are marked on the schedule with a suitcase.
Upgrade Your Experience with Business Class
One of the best ways to enhance your travel experience is by upgrading to Business Class. You’ll have a guaranteed seat and extra space to stretch out, plus you’ll receive a complimentary snack and drink, priority boarding in San Diego, access to the Metropolitan Lounge at Los Angeles Union Station, and bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points. The number of Business Class seats on each train is limited, so it’s best to book early before they sell out. Business Class tickets provide a seat on a specific train, so if you need to change your plans, call 1-800-USA-RAIL or go online to modify your reservation in advance.
Planning for Special Events and Ridership Surges
When a train is expected to be crowded based on historical trends, group reservations and ticket sales, we work to accommodate our passengers by adding extra seating whenever possible. During the Del Mar Racing season, we add an extra Café car to the busiest trains so it’s easier to purchase food and drinks, as well as an extra coach and Business Class car. For major events like Comic-Con, we added an extra roundtrip between Los Angeles and San Diego to accommodate the surge of travelers.
Expected Seating Availability
The table below shows the trains that we expect will be busier than others. Due to the nature of Unreserved Seating, this information is an estimate based on on projections, and is subject to change. View schedules for all trains here.
Busier Trains (Between Los Angeles and San Diego)
Trains not listed below may be better options
|Friday, September 15||
Southbound Trains: 580, 582, 784
Northbound Trains: 763, 785
|Saturday, September 16||
Southbound Trains: 1566
Northbound Trains: 769, 777
|Sunday, September 17||
Southbound Trains: 784, 1790
Northbound Trains: 769, 777, 583, 785, 591
Key: Heavy Crowds Expected, Moderate
Note: Information above as of September 15, 2017.