As of September 2017, VTA will no longer provide direct light rail service between Santa Teresa and San Fernando/San Jose Diridon station to and from arena events. VTA will only provide regularly scheduled bus and light rail service for all arena events. Please plan accordingly.
Table of Contents
- Introduction and Disclaimer
- Purpose Of This Guide
- Area Map of the SAP Center
- From San Jose
- From San Francisco and the Peninsula
- From Milpitas and the East Bay
- From Campbell/Los Gatos and the West Valley (Monte Sereno, Cupertino)
- Park and Ride Tips for Driving
- Santa Clara Caltrain Station/Transit Center
- From San Francisco, the North Bay, and the Peninsula (US 101 side)
- From Saratoga and the Western (Interstate 280) side of the Peninsula
- From Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Santa Cruz County
- From the South (South San Jose to Gilroy to Salinas/Monterey and beyond)
- Bascom Park and Ride
- Transit Options to Sunday Night Events at SAP Center
- Disclaimer and Conclusion
Introduction and Disclaimer
The SAP Center at San Jose – formerly known as the H.P. Pavilion, Compaq Center At San Jose, and formerly known as the San Jose Arena – opened in 1993 to serve as San Jose’s sports and entertainment venue. Its primary tenant is the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, who play from the fall until spring of the following year. Because of this, fans of the Sharks often refer to the arena as the “Shark Tank.”
Over the years, the “Tank” has hosted the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, figure skating and gymnastics tours, musical concerts, mixed martial arts, and numerous “professional” wrestling events seen on cable and pay-per-view television worldwide.
In addition to serving as the Sharks’ home, the SAP Center at San Jose is also the home of the SAP Open men’s tennis tournament held every February.
Famous events held at the arena throughout its history:
- The 1996 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
- The 1997 NHL All-Star Game
- The 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Regional Finals, and the first two rounds of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament
- The 1999 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four
- Arena Bowl XVI in 2002 (which our San Jose SaberCats won the championship game 52-14 over Arizona)
In the spring of 2011, the San Jose SaberCats rejoined the Arena Football League with the SAP Center as its home. In January 2012, the SAP Center hosted the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
This guide was created as a public service from the Silicon Valley Transit Users, a grassroots group of citizens concerned about mass transit in Silicon Valley. We are not affiliated with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in any form whatsoever. VTA has not endorsed this guide in any way whatsoever.
For specific information about VTA bus and light rail services, system maps, and fares, please contact VTA at (408)321-2300.
We are not responsible for anything that occurs on VTA property or any public property as a result of use of this guide.
Special thanks goes to Gary Richards of the San Jose Mercury News for providing additional VTA bus information for the guide.
Purpose Of This Guide
The purpose of this guide is to give you additional Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and other regional public transit alternatives to and from the SAP Center. These alternatives let you beat the high costs of gasoline and hassles of parking near or at the Center. As a result, you save money to dine in downtown San Jose while you cheer your favorite team or player to victory – or buy more concessions at Center events. This guide can also save you from the high costs of gasoline while beating traffic gridlock to and from events at the Center.
Before you board any VTA bus to and from the SAP Center, make sure to have the exact total fare ready for you (or your traveling party) when you board. It is best to buy a day pass (or day passes if you are not traveling alone) if you are taking a local bus to the SAP Center.
VTA buses and their drivers cannot make change. If you have never taken a VTA bus or light rail train before, here are some basic rules of etiquette aboard VTA buses, light rail, and other trains.
If you are using VTA light rail to get to and from the SAP Center, and if you are transferring from another VTA bus line, it is best to purchase a day pass from the ticket vending machines at the platform of the station you are boarding from. Even though light rail ticket vending machines now accept credit or debit cards, be prepared to pay with cash or coins. Try to have the exact total fare ready for the vending machines in case of issues with vending machines accepting your credit or debit card. Light rail operators do not sell tickets nor will they makechange. If you are caught by any light rail fare inspector without valid fare, you can be fined!
Area Map of the SAP Center
The SAP Center is directly northeast from Santa Clara Street to the San Jose Diridon Station. At San Jose Diridon station, you can take Caltrain or VTA light rail to and from events at the HP Pavilion.
All bus and rail options to and from SAP Center events are detailed below.
From San Jose
VTA’s 22 bus line passes by the SAP Center on W. Santa Clara Street. Starting at Eastridge Mall, the 22 bus line serves the heart of East San Jose along King Road and then East Santa Clara Street. The 22 bus line makes all local stops along its route, and it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Before SAP Center events starting at 7:00pm, the VTA 522 Rapid bus is a very good service to use. The benefit with using the 522 Rapid: it only stops at major intersections and bus/train transfer points. It also does not wait at timepoints to adjust for scheduling like the 22 bus normally does. The 522 Rapid, like the 22 bus line, starts at Eastridge Mall in East San Jose.
However, the 522 travels along Capitol Expressway and then Capitol Avenue to Alum Rock Avenue, which becomes East Santa Clara Street at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. Like the 22 bus, it travels along East Santa Clara Street into downtown San Jose and the H. P. Pavilion, and then along El Camino Real to Palo Alto. On weekdays the 522 Rapid bus runs every 15-30 minutes from 5:30am to 7:30pm; on weekends.
Both the 22 and the 522 buses stop in front of and across the street from the SAP Center. In addition, the 63, 64 and 65 bus lines from the Almaden Valley section of San Jose stop at San Jose Diridon Station – across the street from SAP Center.
Live in the Alum Rock area of San Jose? VTA’s 64 bus line serves the McKee light rail station via McKee Avenue in East San Jose. The 64 bus line also links Willow Glen to the SAP Center for events.
Coming from the Almaden Valley? You can take VTA’s 65 bus line to the SAP Center.
South San Jose
Live in South San Jose ? One alternative for attending arena events using public transit is to drive to any VTA light rail station “park-and-ride” lots at the Tamien or Oholne-Chynoweth light rail stations.
Ohlone-Chynoweth Light Rail Station map
At either station, take any northbound light rail train to Santa Clara Street station and walk about 4-5 blocks down West Santa Clara Street to the SAP Center.
As with any “park-and-ride” lot, you are parking at your own risk. Make sure to lock your car and take all valuables with you before boarding the light rail train.
Even though some light rail ticket vending machines now accept credit or debit cards, be prepared to pay with cash or coins. Try to have the exact total fare ready for the vending machines in case of issues with vending machines accepting your credit or debit card. Light rail operators do not sell tickets nor will they makechange. If you are caught by any light rail fare inspector without valid fare, you can be fined!
Sharks fans and other SAP Center event attendees can obtain VTA bus and light rail information such as schedules, maps, and fares online at http://www.vta.org/ or by calling VTA at (408)321-2300.
From San Francisco and the Peninsula
For all Sharks games and other SAP Center events, Caltrain provides commuter rail service to San Jose Diridon Station – across the street from the SAP Center on Cahill Street. The last train leaves San Jose Diridon station at 10:30pm or 15 minutes after the Sharks game ends, whichever is later. Since Caltrain is a proof-of-payment system (no tickets sold aboard trains), make sure to buy the proper ticket in advance at the train station you are traveling from, before boarding your train.
All Caltrain stations have vending machines which you can buy tickets from. The ticket vending machines can makechange. They also accept all major credit and debit cards. WARNING: If you are caught without a valid ticket aboard Caltrain, you will be cited!
As an alternate to Caltrain, Sharks fans can take a westbound VTA 22 bus in front of the SAP Center to the Palo Alto Transit Center. There, you can catch the SamTrans 390 bus up the Peninsula along El Camino Real to the Daly City BART station.
For those really late evening games or SAP Center events that run long, Sharks fans can take the 22 bus in front of SAP Center to Palo Alto Caltrain Station. There, they can transfer to the SamTrans 397 bus which runs all the way to San Francisco.
Be advised that for any SamTrans bus ending in San Francisco (KX or 397) you will need to pay $4.00 if you get off either bus in San Francisco or at San Francisco International Airport.
Sharks fans and other SAP Center attendees can obtain Caltrain and SamTrans schedule and fare information by visiting their respective web sites at http://www.caltrain.com/ and http://www.samtrans.com/ respectively. Alternately, Caltrain and SamTrans can be reached by calling 1(800)660-4287.
From Milpitas and the East Bay
From the Fremont BART station, VTA’s 180 and 181 express buses end across the street from the SAP Center, at the San Jose Diridon station. Both buses typically connect with the last BART train leaving Fremont.. Travel time is 45-60 minutes depending on traffic along Interstates 880 and 680. As of September 10, 2007, there is a $1 daily fee to park at the Fremont BART station.
The 181 express bus to and from SAP Center only runs Monday-Friday. The express bus directly links the SAP Center area with Fremont BART station via Interstate 880, Mission Boulevard, and Interstate 680. The 181 does NOT stop at the Great Mall. For service to the SAP Center from the Great Mall on weekdays, see the alternate tip below.
On weekends, the 181 express bus also serves the Great Mall in Milpitas, at its Transit Center, between San Jose and Fremont BART station. Free parking is available at this stop. If you want to use this bus to and from the SAP Center, it’s best to buy one-way express bus fares for your party to the SAP Center and on your return trip.
Great Mall Transit Center/Light Rail Station map
Another alternative to the SAP Center is by boarding VTA light rail at the Great Mall/Main stop. FREE parking is available at this light rail station. Take any train marked “Santa Teresa” to downtown San Jose and get off at the Santa Clara Street stop. From there, you can transfer at 1st and Santa Clara Street to either a VTA 22/522 (Menlo Park/Palo Alto) or 64 (Almaden LRT Station) bus to the H. P. Pavilion, or walk 4-5 blocks down W. Santa Clara Street to the SAP Center. At the Great Mall/Main light rail station, make sure to buy a day pass for each passenger in your group at the light rail station and keep it with you as proof of fare on light rail and the bus. You will be cited if you are caught on light rail without a valid proof of fare.
Sharks fans and other arena attendees can obtain VTA information such as schedules, maps, and fares online at http://www.vta.org/ or by calling VTA at (408)321-2300.
From the South County (South San Jose, Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy)
For Sharks fans and other SAP Center event attendees living in the South County, VTA’s 68 bus line is your direct, one-seat ride to SAP Center. This bus originates from either Gavilan College in southern Gilroy or the Gilroy Transit Center/Caltrain station on Monterey Highway. The bus goes along Monterey Highway, Hale, Santa Teresa, Cottle, and back on Monterey Highway through San Martin, Morgan Hill, and South San Jose, terminating at San Jose Diridon Station, across the street from SAP Center.
As of January 24 (the first Sharks home game of the 2013 hockey season) VTA will operate one special light rail train from Santa Teresa station to San Jose Diridon Station. Sharks fans can get off the special light rail train at San Fernando station – only one block south of HP Pavilion. The special train will leave Santa Teresa about 1 hour before face-off time, with the return train leaving 15 minutes after the game ends.
To take this special light rail train from Morgan Hill or Gilroy, take any San Jose-bound 68 bus to the Santa Teresa light rail station and transfer to the special light rail train. Make sure you purchase a day pass when boarding the 68 bus so that you’re covered for the light rail train to the game, and for the return light rail train and bus trip home. Remember that VTA bus drivers and fare boxes do not have nor cannot make change, so have exact fare for you and your traveling party ready.
Depending on where you board, the trip from the South County to the SAP Center lasts between 60-90 minutes. Plan on bringing along something to read or listen during the ride to and from the SAP Center. On weekdays and weekends, the last bus to Gilroy leaves San Jose Diridon station at 11:59pm and 11:58pm respectively.
Sharks fans and other arena attendees can obtain information on Line 68 schedules, maps, and fares online from VTA by visiting their website or by calling them at (408)321-2300.
From Campbell/Los Gatos and the West Valley (Monte Sereno, Cupertino)
Sharks fans and other SAP Center event attendees in the West Valley can use VTA’s Vasona (Mountain View-Winchester) light rail line to get to the arena. Get off at the Diridon or San Fernando stationsand you will be within walking distance of the SAP Center. The line starts at Winchester (south of downtown Campbell on Winchester Boulevard) and goes through Campbell and southwestern San Jose to serve the Bascom, Fruitdale, and Race street areas in San Jose. Get off the light rail train at either Diridon station or San Fernando station and walk about two (2) blocks north to the SAP Center.
Some notes on using light rail:
- On weekdays: trains heading north (to Mountain View) arrive at Diridon and San Fernando Stations every 15 minutes from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and depart every 30 minutes from 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The last train from Diridon is at 12:16 but this train only goes as far as Civic Center Station. Trains heading southbound to Winchester from Diridon and San Fernando Stations every 15 minutes from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and departing every 30 minutes from 8:00 p.m. until 11:43 from the San Fernando Station and 11:49 from Diridon Station.
- On weekends: trains from Winchester to Mountain View arrive and depart the Diridon and San Fernando Stations every 30 minutes from 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. with the last train leaving Diridon at 12:16 and again this train is only going to Civic Center station. Weekend trains, Mountain View to Winchester arrive and depart from Diridon and San Fernando Stations, every 30 minutes from 5:00 p.m. to 11:43 p.m. and 11:49pm is the last train leaving from Diridon Station.
For San Jose Sharks home games and playoff games, VTA will run a special train from San Fernando station to Winchester, making all local stops. The special train leaves San Fernando 15 minutes after the game ends. Contact VTA at (408)321-2300 to verify the special train will run at whatever Sharks home game you are attending this season.
Coming from Cupertino? Ride VTA’s 23 bus line to downtown San Jose and get off at Santa Clara light rail station. There, transfer at 1st and Santa Clara streets and transfer to a 22 or 522 bus (going to Palo Alto or Menlo Park) or 64 bus to Almaden light rail station, and get off in front of the H. P. Pavilion at Santa Clara and Delmas. Alternately, get off the 23 bus at Bird and W. San Carlos (the first bus stop after the railroad bridge), then walk 3 blocks up Autumn Street to the SAP Center. As a third alternate, you can walk the 4-5 blocks down West Santa Clara Street & N. 1st Street to the SAP Center.
Call VTA at (408)321-2300 for more information on the Vasona light rail line, VTA’s 23 bus line, and their respective schedules.
From Santa Cruz County
For weekday and weeknight games and other arena events, Santa Cruz METRO provides the Highway 17 Express bus service from San Jose Diridon station (across the street from the SAP Center) to the Scotts Valley Transit Center, and downtown Santa Cruz (Highway 1 and Soquel Drive). For events at the SAP Center on Monday-Friday, the last bus leaves San Jose Diridon Station at 10:42pm; for weekend arena events, the last bus leaves San Jose Diridon Station at 10:10pm.
Sharks fans and other SAP Center event attendees in Santa Cruz County can score information on the Highway 17 Express by calling Santa Cruz METRO at (831)425-8600 or by visiting their web site at http://www.scmtd.com/.
Park and Ride Tips for Driving
Santa Clara Caltrain Station/Transit Center
If you live north or west of Santa Clara or in the East Bay and you must drive, the Santa Clara Caltrain station/transit center is a decent – and cheap – place to park your automobile. Note the Caltrain web site for information and policies on parking at stations.
Santa Clara Caltrain Station map
From the Santa Clara Transit Center, you can take either VTA’s Line 22 bus to Eastridge (which runs 24 hours/day, 7 days/week) or the 522 Rapid bus to Eastridge (which does not run on Sundays). Both buses drop you off right across the street from the SAP Center on W. Santa Clara Street between Cahill and Montgomery Streets. The latest fares for VTA buses can be found on VTA’s web site. Make sure to lock your automobile and take all valuables with you (including your event ticket[s]!) before boarding the bus!
DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible for anything lost or stolen in the parking lots nor lost change in the vending machines. Please contact Caltrain at 1(800)660-4287 for further information on parking at Santa Clara’s Caltrain station. Call the information number listed on the parking validation vending machines if you have problems using the machines. For the latest information on VTA schedules, maps, and fares, contact VTA via their web site or at (408)321-2300. As with all information in this guide, it is being presented as a public service.
Since the 22 and 522 buses stop across from SAP Center’s main entrance on W. Santa Clara Street, you have already saved time and stress in finding a parking spot. When the arena event ends, the 22 bus stops right in front of the SAP Center’s West Santa Clara Street exit (near section 209-210/109-110). In the 10 to 15 minutes riding the 22 back to Santa Clara’s Caltrain station and transit center, you are not fighting automobile traffic leaving the parking lots – saving you stress, fuel, and money.
For your added safety and security, Santa Clara’s Caltrain station and transit center is right next to the Santa Clara Police Station.
Here’s how to get to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station and Transit Center from the East Bay:
Take Interstate 880 South past Mineta San Jose International Airport to The Alameda/Highway 82 exit. At the top of the ramp, make a right turn. (You are now on The Alameda.) Stay in the right lane as you pass the second light after I-880 where you will curve to the right on the main stretch of road (which is at this point El Camino Real – also known as State Highway 82). You should have Santa Clara University’s athletic fields on your left. The second light after the right curve will be Railroad Ave. on the right, with the entrance to Santa Clara University on the left. Make a right turn onto Railroad Ave (you will see a brown railroad building in front of you) which will curve left. Park in the Caltrain parking lots on your left or your right.
From San Francisco, the North Bay, and the Peninsula (US 101 side)
Take US 101 southbound to Interstate 880 southbound (Santa Cruz). Follow directions for coming from the East Bay above.
From Saratoga and the Western (Interstate 280) side of the Peninsula
Take Interstate 280 eastbound to Interstate 880 northbound (Oakland). From Interstate 880 northbound, get off at the second exit (The Alameda) and make a left turn at the end of the ramp. Follow the instructions for the East Bay from there.
Winchester Park and Ride
Winchester light rail station map
From Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Santa Cruz County
Take Highway 17 northbound to the Camden Avenue/San Tomas Expressway exit. Stay in either of the two left lanes when you exit, and make a left turn at the light. Go under Highway 17 and get off at the 2nd exit you encounter (Winchester Boulevard NORTH). Go down the ramp onto Winchester Boulevard and at the 2nd light, make a right turn into the Winchester Park & Ride Lot .
From the South (South San Jose to Gilroy to Salinas/Monterey and beyond)
Take U.S. 101 northbound (San Francisco) to Highway 85 northbound to Highway 17 northbound. Follow directions above Campbell and Los Gatos.
Make sure to buy your light rail tickets at the ticket vending machines on the station platform. You will be cited if you are caught on light rail without a valid proof of fare.
Bascom Park and Ride
Bascom light rail station map
From the South (Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Santa Cruz County)
On Highway 17 northbound, get off at the Hamilton Avenue exit. Stay in the left lane and make a left at the top of the ramp (Creekside Way). Make an immediate right at the light (which will be Hamilton Avenue). Once on Hamilton, immediately go to the left lane and make a left at the first light (which will be Bascom Avenue). The Bascom light rail station with park and ride lot will be on your right, at the railroad tracks. Park your car there and then take any light rail train labeled “Mountain View” or “Civic Center” to either the Diridon on San Fernando light rail station and walk two (2) short blocks north to the SAP Center.
Make sure to buy your light rail tickets at the ticket vending machines on the station platform. You will be cited if you are caught on light rail without a valid proof of fare.
Transit Options to Sunday Night Events at SAP Center
Some events at SAP Center occur on Sunday evening after 7pm and usually do not end until 11pm or later. As of January 2014, on Sundays the last northbound Caltrain to San Francisco leaves San Jose Diridon Station at 9pm. Most VTA bus lines have already ended their (limited) service day.
Here are some public transit alternative for Sunday night events at SAP Center.
VTA and SamTrans Bus Between San Jose and San Francisco
From the SAP Center in San Jose, VTA’s 22 bus line runs along W. Santa Clara Street, the Alameda and El Camino Real, running parallel to the Caltrain line. This all-night bus line ends at the Palo Alto Caltrain Station.
From Palo Alto Caltrain Station to San Francisco, the SamTrans ECR bus line runs parallel to the Caltrain line until the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station. Afterward, the ECR bus line travels along El Camino Real to the Daly City BART station. (You can transfer to BART from either Millbrae or Daly City into San Francisco. To ride BART, however, you must pay a separate fare.) Planning on partying after the game and live north of Palo Alto? SamTrans 397 late-night bus line runs hourly from Palo Alto, from 12:44am until 2:44am.
For riding these VTA and SamTrans buses, a Caltrain monthly pass for two (2) or more zones on your Clipper card gets you FREE local fare credit. Just tag your Clipper card on the buses where the white Clipper card reader is located (typically at the front window of the bus as you enter). Otherwise, you will need to pay cash-only fare for the VTA 22 bus line and SamTrans ECR or 397 bus lines.
Other VTA Sunday night bus service from SAP Center
- Going back to South San Jose, Morgan Hill, San Martin or Gilroy from the SAP Center? VTA’s last southbound 68 bus between these cities leaves San Jose Diridon Station (across the street from SAP Center) at 11:54pm. This bus arrives in Santa Teresa light rail station at 12:35am, and is due to end in Gilroy at 1:21am. The 68 bus line shares much of the same routing as the 66, until Kaiser San Jose Hospital.
- For travel to Milpitas or BART to the East Bay from the SAP Center, VTA’s northbound 181 express bus between San Jose, Milpitas, and Fremont BART station leaves San Jose Diridon Station (across the street from SAP Center) at 11:05pm. That bus is due to arrive in Milpitas at 11:29pm, and is due to end at the Fremont BART station at 11:50pm.
- For travel to Milpitas or BART into San Francisco and San Mateo County from SAP Center, take the VTA 181 express bus leaving San Jose Diridon Station (across the street from SAP Center) at 10:02pm. The bus is due to arrive in Milpitas at 10:29pm, and arrives at the Fremont BART station at 10:48pm.
All information above is as of January 2014.
VTA Light Rail
As of January 2014, VTA Light Rail from SAP Center for Sunday night events goes as follows:
- The last southbound Sunday train to Winchester (Campbell) leaves San Jose Diridon at about 11:53pm
- The last northbound Sunday train from to Mountain View from San Jose Diridon leaves at 9:34pm. As an alternate, walk a few blocks west to the Santa Clara light rail station on N. First and Santa Clara and take a Northbound (Sunday) Alum Rock train leaving at 11:29pm. This train is due to arrive at Tasman at 11:49pm. From Tasman, transfer to a Mountain View-bound 200 bus at Tasman and 1st. (Ask the light rail operator for where the particular bus stop is.) That 200 bus leaves Tasman and North 1st at 11:55pm and is due to arrive at the Mountain View Caltrain station at 12:16am.
- The last northbound Sunday train to Alum Rock leaves the Santa Clara (Street) light rail station at 12:01am, arriving at Alum Rock at 12:45am.
- The last northbound Sunday train southbound to Santa Teresa leaves the Santa Clara (Street) light rail stop at 12:46am; that train is due to arrive in Santa Teresa at 1:13am.
Disclaimer and Conclusion
We are not responsible for anything lost or stolen in the parking lots nor lost change in the vending machines. Please contact Caltrain at 1(800)660-4287 for further information on parking at Santa Clara’s Caltrain station. Call the information number listed on the parking validation vending machines if you have problems using the machines. For the latest information on VTA schedules, maps, and fares, contact VTA via their web site or at (408)321-2300. As with all information in this guide, it is being presented as a public service.