Travel Information

Once you have obtained the J-1 Visa stamp, you can make arrangements to travel to the U.S. You can arrive up to 30 days before the start date listed on your DS-2019. 

When traveling, it is important that you keep all immigration-related documents in your hand luggage. This includes your passport (valid for at least six months), DS-2019, SEVIS fee receipt, UC Merced appointment letter, evidence of funds (if not receiving a UC Merced salary), and contact information for UC Merced Office of International Affairs.
 
Appointment start date: You must arrive in the U.S. in time to start your appointment on the date stated in your appointment or invitation letter. It is your responsibility to notify UC Merced of any delay.
 
As a J-1 Scholar, you are eligible to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date listed on your DS-2019 (your UC Merced appointment start date). This period is given to allow you time to find housing in Merced and become familiar with the surrounding area. You are not eligible to work or begin your appointment during this time, but you are welcome to visit and become familiar with the campus.

 

Traveling to Merced

Merced is located two to three hours away from several major international airports. Students coming to the area often fly in to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno or other smaller but international airports such as San Jose and Sacramento. The Office of International Affairs (OIA) has compiled a list of methods that students can use to get to Merced from some of these major airports.

The information is compiled to give you an understanding of the options available but is not comprehensive of all the methods and prices available. Prices vary depending on which method of transportation you choose, the day of the week (weekends are typically more expensive) and which airport you are traveling from. Please note prices may have changed since we created this report. We advise you to research the many websites and contacts provided in the report and make arrangements before you arrive in the U.S.

Below is a chart that shows a summary of the price ranges identified by OIA. We hope this will be helpful to you in making your travel plans.

Estimated Costs to Merced
 
 
From San Francisco (SFO)
From Los Angeles (LAX)
From Sacramento (SMF)
From Fresno (FYI)
Car Rental
$163
$175
$63
$137
Greyhound Bus
$30-35*
$35-45*
$30-35*
$15*
Amtrak
$30-40
$35-40
$20*
$13*
Taxi
$145-340
$500-900
$300-350
$125-150

*Does not include cost of taxi or pubic transportation cost to Greyhound or Amtrak station.

 

 

A breakdown of travel options from major airports closest to Merced.

 

San Francisco (SFO): Website - Directions

 

      Price*  Company  Travel Info  Additional  Comments
 Train

 $30-$40

 (on way,  includes BART  ticket*)

 AMTRAK

 Website

 1-800-872-7245

Take BART from the Intl'  Terminal to Coliseum/Oakland Airport  (will transfer once), cross  Pedestrian Bridge to board AMTRAK for Merced

Some traveling on AMTRAK will require  train-to-bus transfers. Approximate travel time: 4 hours 10 minutes
 Bus

 $30-$40

 (one way)

 Greyhound Bus

 Website

 1-800-231-2222

Will have to take either a  taxi or BART from the airport to the SF Greyhound Station There are, on average, only 2 buses that leave for Merced daily. Approximate travel time: 4 hours
 Taxi

 $145-$340

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 Luxor Cabs

 1-415-282-4141

 Airport Taxi Cab

 1-650-755-1234 

Additional fees may apply  for gas, traffic time, etc. Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours
 Car Rental

 $163-$222

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 Hertz

 Avis

 Budget

Additional fees may apply.

Will have to pick car up at  SFO and drop off at office  in Merced

Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours
 Limo/Town Car  Cost depends  on type of  vehicle ordered

 SF Limo

 1-800-632-1212

 San Francisco  Limousine

 1-877-546-6414

 

Additional fees may apply,  gratuity is usually included Approximate travel time: 2.5 hours

 *BART: Bay Area Rapid Transit - A train system only active within the Bay Area.

 

 

Los Angeles (LAX): Website - Directions

     Price*  Company  Travel Info  Additional  Comments
 Train

 $35-$46

 (one way,  includes  shuttle ticket)

 AMTRAK

 Website

 1-800-872-7245

Take the FLYAWAY shuttle from LAX to Union Station, board AMTRAK there. AMTRAK from LA to Merced will depart from the bus terminal.

Some traveling on AMTRAK will require  train-to-bus transfers. Approximate travel time: 7 hours
 Bus

 $35-$45

 (one way, not  including taxi)

 Greyhound Bus

 Website

 1-800-231-2222

Will have to take a taxi  from the airport to the LA Greyhound Station There are, on average, 6 buses that leave for Merced daily. Approximate travel time: 4 hours
 Taxi

 $500-$850

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 A Yellow Cab Taxi

 1-562-927-0707

 Yellow Cab Co. LA

 1-877-733-3305

Additional fees may apply for gas, traffic time, etc.  Approximate travel time: 5 hours
 Car Rental

 $175

 Hertz

Additional fees may  apply. Will have to pick car up at  LAX and drop off at office  in Merced

Approximate travel time: 5 hours
 Limo/Town Car Cost depends on type of vehicle ordered

AceTrans

 1-866-823-8380

Luxury Transportation

 1-310-645-2001

 

Additional fees may apply, gratuity is usually included Approximate travel time: 5 hours

  

 

 Fresno (FYI): Website - Directions

     Price*  Company  Travel Info  Additional  Comments
 Train

 $13

 (one way, not  including taxi)

 AMTRAK

 Website

 1-800-872-7245

Will need to take a taxi  from the airport to the  AMTRAK station in Fresno

Some traveling on  AMTRAK will require  train-to- bus transfers.  Approximate travel time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
 Bus

 $15

 (one way, not  including taxi)

 Greyhound Bus

 Website

 1-800-231-2222

Will have to take a taxi  from the airport to the  Fresno Greyhound Station Approximate travel time: 1 hour, 13 minutes
 Taxi

 $125-$150

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 Bulldog Express Delivery

 1-559-485-6000

 American Yellow Cab

 1-559-222-2223

Additional fees may apply  for gas, traffic time, etc. Approximate travel time: 1 hour
 Car Rental

 $136

 Hertz

Additional fees may apply.

Will have to pick car up at  FYI and drop off at office  in Merced

Approximate travel time: 1 hour
 Limo/Town Car Cost depends  on type of vehicle ordered

Royal Coach Limousine

 1-559-221-8199

Luxury Limousine Service

 1-866-537-5566

 

Additional fees may apply, gratuity is usually included Approximate travel time: 1 hour

 

 

 Sacramento (SMF): Website - Directions

     Price*  Company  Travel Info  Additional  Comments
 Train

 $20

 (one way, not  including taxi)

 AMTRAK

 Website

 1-800-872-7245

Will need to take a taxi  from the airport to the AMTRAK station in  Sacramento

Some traveling on AMTRAK will require  train-to- bus transfers. Approximate travel time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
 Bus

 $30-$35

 (one way, not  including taxi)

 Greyhound Bus

 Website

 1-800-231-2222

Will have to take a taxi  from the airport to the Sacramento Greyhound  Station Approximate travel time: 3 hours
 Taxi

 $300-$350

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 ABC Taxicab

 1-916-308-7000

 Dave's Airport  Shuttle Taxi

 1-916-879-6000

Additional fees may apply  for gas, traffic time, etc. Approximate travel time: 2 hours
 Car Rental

 $63-$147

 Prices vary  depending on  company

 Hertz

 Avis

 Budget

Additional fees may apply. Will have to pick car up at  SMF and drop off at office  in Merced

Approximate travel time: 2 hours
 Limo/Town Car Cost depends on type of vehicle ordered

Universal Limousine

 1-916-361-5466

 Limousine Club

 1-800-757-6093

Additional fees may apply,  gratuity is usually included Approximate travel time: 2 hours

 

 

 * Prices at time of publication (2009-10) - prices are subject to change.