Home > Transit Tips > Transit Tip: Eating and Drinking on Bay Area Transit Systems

Transit Tip: Eating and Drinking on Bay Area Transit Systems

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Until I started using public transit to get to hiking trails, I never thought too much about which systems allowed food consumption. If anything I preferred being on a bus or train that didn’t allow food; between the food odors, crumbs, and spills, it doesn’t make for a pleasant riding experience. But timing your food consumption is often critical when exercise comes into the picture. Awhile back, I had taken BART and then Golden Gate Transit to get to a hike in Marin. After a small breakfast at home and a long transit ride, I started getting hungry with a half hour or to go on the bus. What to do? Should I sneak a bite or two of an energy bar and hope the driver doesn’t notice? In the end I waited until the bus arrived at my destination and then got some food before embarking on the hike.

After a couple of instances of feeling hungry on the way to or (more often) on the way back from a hike, I started considering the options a bit more carefully before heading out the door. You’ll note that for most of the hike descriptions given here at Car-Free Outdoors, I mention food options along the route. Along with those ideas, you will want to note stores and restaurants on the way from your home to your local transit stops. I also recommend taking more snacks/food than you think you will need so that you will have something to eat while you are waiting at the bus stop.

Below you will find a list of Bay Area transit systems that do allow food and beverages on board. If your trip uses one of these systems, you will not have to worry as much about when to eat. Some of these have food available for purchase However, I recommend bringing your own food if you have dietary restrictions or preferences, as the selection is limited. If you are on a budget, you will also want to avoid purchasing too much food from the on-board vendors. If you enjoy relaxing with a cold beer after a long hike, you can do so as well on these systems. Don’t forget that you can only legally be drinking on the train, ferry, etc., though – you won’t want to open a drink in the waiting area or carry an open container when you off-board unless you feel like risking a ticket! You will notice that BART is not on this list, but if you want to have a drink after your hike and before catching BART, the Beer by BART listing has some good suggestions. Wet Your Whistles lists brewpubs along the Caltrain line.


Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed. “However, consumption and open alcoholic beverage containers are prohibited on post-event and regular trains beginning at 9 p.m.”

Food and Drink Sold on Board: No. However, note that snacks and beer are available from the vendors in the San Francisco Caltrain station. San Carlos station has breakfast and lunch at its Depot Cafe (Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m., closed Sunday). Caffe del Doge has coffee drinks and snacks available in the Palo Alto train station (Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., closed Sunday). Mountain View Caltrain has a snack cart.

Amtrak Capitol Corridor

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Light meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages

Golden Gate Ferries

Food: Allowed

Alcoholic: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages.

Blue and Gold Fleet Ferries

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages. For Angel Island, food is available from Angel Island vendors near the ferry dock.

East Bay Ferries: Alameda/Oakland Ferry and Alameda/Harbor Bay Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages

Angel Island/Tiburon Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: No, but food and alcohol are available from Angel Island vendors near the ferry dock.

Additional Notes: This is a very short ferry ride, so you probably won’t have much time to eat or drink!

Baylink Vallejo Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed. “In accordance with California State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) rules, only alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine, beer) purchased onboard may be consumed onboard. Opening or consuming alcoholic beverages purchased elsewhere is strictly forbidden. Vallejo Baylink will not serve passengers who appear to be intoxicated. Alcohol will not be served on trips that return to Vallejo from AT&T Park after Giants baseball games.”

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages.

This is part of a series of tips on using the San Francisco Bay Area public transportation system, with an emphasis on details that are useful for outdoor trips on transit.

Categories: Transit Tips
  1. February 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Beer by BART – what a find!

  2. February 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Do they really enforce no food policies. In Vancouver, where I hail from, consumption of food and drink are not allowed on the Translink System but everyone, drivers included, does it. Now building a campfire and simmering a pot of beans might be frowned upon but certainly choking down an energy bar would never be a problem.

    • February 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      That’s a good question. I have never seen anyone getting a ticket despite the announcements and warning signs. Eating is much more prevalent on the train systems where no driver is nearby. On the buses, eating is not as common due to proximity to the driver.

      I am very impressed with your website – I have high hopes of having something as comprehensive as the BC Car-Free book and website, but have a long ways to go! Looks like there are numerous possibilities in BC for getting outdoors without a car.

  3. Melanie A.
    March 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for the list! Now, can someone explain why the transit systems which do permit calorie consumption are so much cleaner than the ones which don’t?

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