Sacramento Airport is one of my primary choices when flying out of Northern California. Even considering the long drive time, sometimes the cost savings and time savings is worth it if it saves us a connection. Lighter traffic and cheaper parking make it a better choice than SFO or Oakland. Normally, I park right at the airport. But recently I found myself needing to figure out the best way to get from Sacramento Airport to downtown.

Sacramento Airport Transit Options

Sacramento Airport is north of the city, easily accessible off of Interstate 5. This makes it very easy to access by car. In terms of other transit options, it doesn’t offer anything that runs on rails or instead of wheels. California’s capital has a decent mass transit system, but it’s not exactly a big city. You can choose between bus, taxi, or ride share as the primary ways to travel between Sacramento Airport and downtown.

Getting from SMF to Downtown by Taxi

Taxi is a convenient option for getting from Sacramento Airport to downtown. There are taxis located adjacent to (or at least not far from) the baggage claim area at both Terminal A and Terminal B. Flat rate cabs charge $30-40 one-way. There are both “on airport” taxis and “off airport” taxis. Rates don’t vary too much between the two types. The Sacramento Independent Taxi Owners Association (SITOA) is the current on-airport provider.

If booked as a round-trip, you can procure a ride from SITOA for $60, which seems a fine deal for a round-trip, given the distance from the city. They also offer a $25 one-way special, but I’m not sure what qualifies.

Using a taxi is still expensive, however, when compared to the cheapest option. However, hailing an on-airport taxi is likely the most convenient option to get from Sacramento Airport to downtown.

Sacramento Airport to Downtown Using Rideshare

Both Uber and Lyft provide rides at Sacramento International Airport. Prices fluctuate, but I’ve typically seen them in the $20-35 range for a one-way trip between Sacramento Airport and downtown. This is pretty comparable to the taxi rates. There are dedicated rideshare areas outside both terminals, close to the taxi areas. The Uber and Lyft app will direct you where to wait.

I’ve only taken Uber once from Sacramento, and the wait was under 10 minutes. The airport is located 15 minutes from the city and isn’t as large as many other metropolitan airports, but there still seemed to be plenty of cars available.

Cheapest and Best Way to Get from Sacramento Airport to Downtown

Delta plane parked at SMF.

Bus: The Cheapest Way to Get from Sacramento Airport to Downtown

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get from Sacramento Airport to downtown, though, you’ll have to use the bus. Yolobus (don’t laugh) operates circle routes that serve Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, and the airport. Route 42A runs clockwise, while Route 42B runs counter-clockwise. You want Route 42A, which will take you directly from the airport to the L at 13th stop in downtown. The bus runs hourly with first departure at from Terminal A at 7:23 AM and final at 10:23 PM, based on the current schedule. The inter-city adult fare is just $2.25 per person one-way. Kids ages 0-18 ride free.

SacRT also runs buses to and from the airport. Route 142 serves SMF hourly as well. Combined with the Yolobus routes, you’ll wait anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes for the bus. SacRT fare is $2.50 for a single ride.

During our last flight into Sacramento, we needed a one-way ride between Sacramento Airport and downtown. The timing worked out perfectly between getting our bags and catching the Route 42A Yolobus. We waited just over 10 minutes at the stop. It was about 10% of the cost, as we spent maybe 5-10 additional minutes over the taxi or rideshare options.

Final Thoughts

If time is of the essence, a taxi or rideshare is the way to go. Buses only run every 20-40 minutes. However, if you don’t mind waiting a bit, the bus is very economical and takes you from Sacramento Airport to downtown in about the same time as a ride-share once you’re moving. It’s efficient and cost-effective.