FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – One of the advantages of living in the Central Valley is its accessibility to numerous California destinations in a decent amount of travel time.

Amtrak’s San Joaquins service provides a way to travel up and down the Central Valley and connects travelers with the rest of California. With this alternative, we wanted to compare the cost of traveling on the train and traveling by car. Is it less expensive to travel by train or car in California?

We are going to be looking at this from the perspective of a single traveler (as buying multiple tickets for any service becomes less and less affordable versus a vehicle as you add more people).

We are going to compare the cost of a trip from Fresno to a variety of different places in California in a car versus the train. The methodology of how we calculated the cost of the trip can be found down below.

Fresno to Sacramento (170 miles)

  • Car trip cost: $21.56
  • Train trip cost: $15
  • Difference: $6.56

Fresno to San Francisco (197 miles)

  • Car trip cost: $24.98
  • Train trip cost: $23
  • Difference: $1.98

Fresno to Bakersfield (109 miles)

  • Car trip cost: $13.82
  • Train trip cost: $11
  • Difference: $2.82

Fresno to Los Angeles (220 miles)

  • Car trip cost: $27.90
  • Train trip cost: $18
  • Difference: $9.90

Fresno to San Diego (337 miles)

  • Car trip cost: $42.74
  • Train trip cost: $25
  • Difference: $17.74

Other benefits of not driving include saving on the wear and tear of your vehicle and not paying for parking. On the negative side, the biggest setback is not having immediate transportation and longer travel times.

As for the cost of the trip by car, we first found the current average price for a gallon of gas in California according to AAA ($4.946) and combined it with the per-gallon range of the most popular vehicle in California according to Carbevy: the Toyota Camry. That comes in at an average of 39 miles per gallon on the highway (according to Toyota) and input that data into a trip calculator to get our one-way cost of the trip. The cost of the train trip can be found on the Amtrak San Joaquins website.