TransMETRO Bus Service

As part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) commitment to increasing access to visiting for incarcerated people and their loved ones, the department has partnered with transMETRO to provide free bus transportation to all 34 adult institutions in California.

The bus trip is being hosted by transMETRO under a contract with CDCR. You’re allowed to pack meals and snacks for the ride, water will be provided by transMETRO. Buses will stop along the route for dinner, so if you want to buy food, bring cash. Both alcohol and drugs are prohibited. The bus will depart identified locations punctually.

Buses depart Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday from four California regions: Central, Southern, Northern, and the Bay Area. Each region schedules service to all institutions on a rotating basis. All trips are subject to change and based on demand and health and safety factors.

Please see Frequently Asked Questions below for everything you need to know about riding transMETRO.

Review the Visiting Information page on CDCR’s website for important visiting details before you plan to travel to an institution for a visit.

Anyone who has been approved as a visitor by CDCR is able to ride transMETRO. Registering for a bus service does not mean you are an approved visitor – you can only become an approved visitor through CDCR.

Please see Identification Required for Visiting for details on documentation needed in order to ride transMETRO and/or enter a CDCR institution. Additionally, the page has information on documents required for minors and those who accompany them.

TransMETRO shares all rider information with CDCR a week prior to a scheduled trip. CDCR notifies transMETRO if the incarcerated person a rider is attempting to visit is unable to visit for any reason. In this case, the visitor will not be permitted to ride transMETRO and should try again in the future.

Visitors traveling to institutions using transMETRO will be processed in the same manner as visitors using other methods of transportation. There will be no priority given to a visitor due to their use of the bus service.

Submit an email to cdcr@transmetro.org up to three weeks before your visit.

Please include the following information in your email:

  • Your first and last name
  • First and last name of any visitor(s) accompanying you on the trip
  • First and last name of incarcerated person you are visiting. Please include CDCR number if known
  • Name of institution you are visiting. Use CDCR’s Inmate Locator to verify the location in which your loved one resides.
  • Date of visit
  • Region you would like to be picked up from:
    • Central: Riverside, Pasadena, Lancaster
    • Southern: San Diego, Long Beach, Bakersfield
    • Northern: Redding, Chico, Sacramento, Stockton
    • Bay Area: Richmond, Oakland, San Leandro, San Jose

Seats are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A week prior to a scheduled trip, confirmed riders will receive an email with important details including pickup and drop-off locations and times.

Potential visitors must also separately make a visiting appointment via the Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA). Directions for utilizing VSA to make a visiting reservation can be found here.

Buses depart Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday from Central, Southern, Northern, and Bay Area regions. Each region schedules service to all institutions on a rotating basis. All trips are subject to change based on demand and health and safety factors.

Buses will stop at multiple locations within each region to pick up passengers before traveling to an institution.

Pickup cities within regions:

  • Central: Riverside, Pasadena, Lancaster
  • Southern: San Diego, Long Beach, Bakersfield
  • Northern: Redding, Chico, Sacramento, Stockton
  • Bay Area: Richmond, Oakland, San Leandro, San Jose

Once a seat is confirmed, riders will receive information on pick-up and drop-off times and locations a week prior to their trip.

No. Please log onto CDCR’s Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA) up to eight days prior to your scheduled bus trip to secure a visiting reservation. Instructions for scheduling a visit using VSA can be found here.

You may still ride transMETRO and try for a walk-in visit. However, you must notify transMETRO five days before your scheduled trip that you were unable to secure a visit through VSA and are trying for a walk-in.

Those traveling by bus for a walk-in visit will be processed in the same manner as other walk-in visitors. There will be no priority given to a visitor due to their use of the bus service.

Important: At this time only incarcerated people who have been fully vaccinated may participate in a walk-in visit. Incarcerated persons with a medical or religious exemption may only participate in visits scheduled through VSA due to pre-visit testing protocols.  Please see CDCR’s COVID-19 page for important information on testing, vaccination requirements and more.

Trips with travel times expected to exceed 24 hours will  require lodging. Riders are responsible for the cost of overnight lodging. TransMETRO will designate a hotel for overnight lodging and attempt to get riders a discounted rate.

To ensure safety, multiple drivers will be designated and work in shifts for trips that are extensive in duration but do not exceed 24 hours.

Up to five approved visitors per incarcerated person are permitted to ride the bus at one time.

Space permitting, you may ride transMETRO as often as you would like.

Minors (persons under the age of 18 years old) must be accompanied by an adult who is an approved visitor of the same person the minor is visiting. Those who are not an approved CDCR visitor will not be permitted to ride the bus.

Please see Identification Required for Visiting for details on documentation required for minors and those who accompany them if riding transMETRO and/or entering a CDCR institution.

A clean, safe, and sanitary environment will be provided by implementing cleaning protocols required/recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or CDCR.

Masks are strongly recommended when riding transMETRO.

All visitors must adhere by CDCR’s COVID-19 protocols upon arrival to the institution. Rides are subject to cancellation based on health and safety factors.

TransMETRO will provide free water during the trip. Riders are permitted to bring their own non-alcoholic beverages and food on the bus.

The bus will stop at a restaurant (usually fast food) for a dinner break for those who wish to purchase food. Riders must pay for their own meals..

Please note that visitors are only allowed to bring up to $70 per adult and $40 per minor into an institution. Excess funds brought on the trip can be stored in the secure storage lockers available for use on the bus. See the CDCR website for information on items permitted into institutions:

TransMETRO and CDCR are not liable for lost or stolen items.

Rides may be canceled at any time due to health, safety and/or availability. TransMETRO trips with less than 10 registered participants are subject to cancellation. If a trip is canceled, riders will be notified by transMETRO as soon as possible. CDCR and transMETRO are not responsible for any costs associated with canceled trips.

All visitors are encouraged to check the Facility Visiting Status page often for the most current visiting status of the institution you wish to visit.

Buses will be in a variety of sizes, and will comfortably accommodate the number of registered and confirmed participants on each trip. All vehicles are clean and in good working order and are equipped with climate control systems.

Depending on the size of the vehicle, it could come equipped with a restroom.  Otherwise, restroom breaks will be included in the schedule provided to confirmed riders.

Bus trips will take place on any holiday that falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Buses will not offer services for holidays that take place Monday through Thursday.

No. This service is not intended for overnight Family Visiting. People planning overnight visits with their incarcerated loved one must make their own travel plans.

Yes. The bus will have small, secure storage lockers with the ability to safely store personal items such as phones, wallets and keys.

TransMETRO and CDCR are not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Riders are not required to take the bus round-trip. The bus travels to and departs from the institution at the time detailed in the itinerary. Those using transMETRO are responsible for boarding the bus on time and securing their own transportation if they miss the bus.

Buses from each region are scheduled for each institution on a rotating basis. Once every institution has been visited, the bus schedule will re-cycle through the list.