The 49ers' debut game at Levi's Stadium Sunday, an embarrassing 34-0 loss to the Broncos in 80-degree heat that even took the life of one loyal fan a man who suffered cardiac arrest during the third quarter was at least less of an epic traffic nightmare than that San Jose Earthquakes game a couple weeks back.
But because all anyone can talk about is how far Santa Clara is and how football season is going to entail a whole lot more schlepping, four Chronicle staffers decided to time their trips to the Niners' opener and journal their travels. These included Ann Killion (who suffered through getting to the Earthquakes' game, for journalism), and C.W. Nevius, who opted for CalTrain from San Francisco, and whose journey took a full two hours. Still he got there 90 minutes before kickoff because, obviously.
Nevius notes a couple of important details: CalTrain is running two extra trains before and after each game, but everyone showed up for the earliest regularly scheduled one, at 9:15 a.m., which was packed to the gills. They also ran trains Sunday at 9:35 a.m. and 9:55 a.m., on which there was plenty of room, and Nevius was in the know.
Killion got to the stadium fastest, driving her Prius from Mill Valley (again, obv.), clocking her trip at 1 hour and 18 minutes. Of course she left her house four hours before kickoff, at 9 a.m., and therefore was probably only competing with the most elderly and traffic-paranoid of fans to get into those parking lots.
Mike Lerseth left home in Vallejo at 9:30 a.m., drove to the Amtrak station in Martinez, and rode the Capitol Corridor train that left at 10:13 a.m., arriving at the stadium by 12:15 p.m. Even though the actual train commute was 2 hours, 2 hours and 45 minutes (5 and a half hours round trip) sounds like a hell of a long time to travel for football, but that's just me.
And the person who had the worst time getting there was Mike Cabanatuan, who took BART from his home in Albany and then the VTA express shuttle bus from Fremont Station. Everything goes smoothly until that bus hits traffic on 237, which becomes stop and go as it gets closer to the stadium, so the total journey from Fremont ended up taking almost twice as long as promised: 49 minutes. (On Friday Cabanatuan noted all the transportation options, and quipped that like getting to Candlestick, getting to Levi's Stadium will require "planning, perseverance, patience, and a little luck... plus endurance.")
Lesson learned: If you want to get into your seats before kickoff and you live anywhere north of San Mateo, you're looking at an entire day of commuting unless you leave super early like Ann and zip in in your Prius.
As a non-football fan, all I can say is I'm glad the Giants are still in S.F., glad that I live in the city, and all of the above sounds completely exhausting. And there's no word on how long it took any of them to get home, but they did file their stories by 11 p.m.
Editors' Note: SFist will be bringing you opening day coverage from our very own Daisy Barringer later today.