Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Antioch missionaries share their experiences of Niger trip during military coup

Friday, August 18th, 2023
Mission team member Bobbi Jennings shares about her experience during the trip to Niger, as photos of her and fellow team member, Elidia Bird, with the pilots in the cockpit of their flight home, and with people in Niamey showed on the screen behind her during the Welcome Home Service at Cornerstone Christian Center on Sunday, August 13, 2023. Photos by Allen D. Payton unless noted

“what do we do? I’ve never been in a coup before…So, our team got together and prayed and worshiped the Lord… Let’s skip the panic part and say ‘the Lord will rescue us’. And you guys came together here and prayed. Then we said, let’s get to work,” – Pastor Steve Miner

“somebody from the embassy said the airport has refused fuel. But make no mistake we are leaving on this plane, today.” – Maria Miner

“The Lord is faithful, and I knew he was going to get us home” – college student Madison Heyer

By Allen D. Payton

During a Welcome Home service Sunday morning, August 13, 2023, 10 of the 11 missionaries from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and School shared their experiences while stranded for a week in Niger, following a military coup that shut down the West African nation’s borders. The only one who wasn’t there for the reunion was the youngest team member, Madison Heyer, the daughter of Principal Logan Heyer, as she had already returned to college preparing for the fall semester. (See related articles here and here)

Pastor Steve Miner speaks during the Welcome Home Service on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. Video screenshot

Pastor Steve Miner Shares About Trip

“We went to put on a camp for 250 children in the Niamey region. Our theme for this camp was the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of darkness. We felt attacks from the kingdom of darkness from the minute we got to SFO,” Pastor Steve Miner shared Sunday morning about the challenges they experienced on the trip.

“That’s Thursday night,” he continued. “We get to Niger on Saturday and all 22 bags don’t make it. We called Turkish Airlines. Sunday night we get a call from the airport and all 22 bags were there. We get there and they won’t release the bags to us. It was a shakedown. They wanted some money from us. They shake us down for $200. It’s all we had.”

“Then we faced an African rainstorm. By this time, it was well into Monday morning,” Miner said. “But we put on a camp. It was wonderful. The second to last day we were told it was a coup de tat. I think we learned of it from people back here. I thought ‘what do we do? I’ve never been in a coup before’.”

“It was the last day, we were supposed to go on an excursion to see the hippos. We were to go to the Radison Hotel the nicest one in Niger,” he continued. “We learned that day we weren’t going anywhere, and we couldn’t go on the hippo ride.”

“For Americans being told not to go where we wanted to go” was difficult the pastor explained.

But they had the help of “a Christian General from the American Air Force, we had the head of security from Samaritan’s Purse who started to text me. It was such a blessing.”

“Our airline tickets meant nothing, now,” he stated. “The Holy Spirit put a verse in my heart. Psalm 31. It was David who wrote, ‘Praise be to God for he showed me his love while I was in a city under siege,” reading from Psalm 31:21-22. “David was in fear.”

“We forget the thing the Lord brought us through last week, last month,” Miner continued.

“Yet, you heard my cry for mercy,” he finished reading the Bible passage. “So, our team got together and prayed and worshiped the Lord.”

“Let’s skip the panic part and say the Lord will rescue us,” Miner stated.  “And you guys came together here and prayed. Then we said, let’s get to work.”

“We got to put desks together. Fix desks. Sanded, primered. We washed walls,” he explained. “We were getting ready for a new school year.”

“We came back last Sunday. Praise the Lord,” Miner exclaimed.

The Cornerstone Christian Center and School mission team to Niger (L-R) Pastor Steve Miner, Maria Miner, Bobbi Jennings, Elidia Bird, Jennifer Bartoni, Jill Lawrence, Margret Rickli, Holly Heyer, Scott Wells and Nutce Castelluccio share during the Welcome Home Service on Sunday, August 13, 2023.

“Fox News who did the initial interview with us. They asked, ‘Would you do it, again?’ Everybody on the team said, ‘yeah, we’d do it again’. Because they understand what it means to be a disciple.”

“We are on mission here in Antioch. We have been sent,” he continued and saying “As the Father has sent me I am sending you,” quoting John 20:21.

“You feel the weight of people’s prayers lifting you up. You experience the presence of the Lord,” Miner stated.

“I wouldn’t trade living in the middle of a coup for anything. We get interviewed. It gives you a story to tell about God’s faithfulness,” the pastor continued.

“They said ‘yes, we’d go back’. And I said, “yes. We’re making disciples’,” he concluded.

Elidia Bird shares about her experience on the mission trip while photos of her and some of those in Niamey they went to serve showed on the big screen behind the team Sunday morning, Aug. 13, 2023.

Team Members Share of Their Experiences

Elidia Bird was the first to share saying “My biggest take away from this trip is the power of prayer…the partnership with God. The enemy was trying to stop us at the gate. But God had a plan.”

She then shared about a girl named Zarah (in photo) and that she wrote a letter to one of the girls.

“There’s no language barrier that can stop the Word of God,” Bird stated.

Nutce Castelluccio shares of his experience with the congregation as the team members look on and laugh.

“I wouldn’t want to be led by anyone else,” Nutce Castelluccio said of Pastor Steve and Maria Miner, when sharing of his experiences on the trip. “The kids. They were so joyful. When we worshiped, they’d be dancing and dancing.”

Pastor Steve’s wife, Maria Miner was next to share saying, “This is a faithfulness of God celebration.”

“I do know the reason this team was so amazing was we were supported by your prayers,” she continued.

She chose the Armor of God as the theme for the week. Maria read from Ephesians 6:10-18 which describes the parts of the armor and then said, “You will be proud to know that all of the children left that camp with that entire passage memorized.”

“I have never felt the schemes of the devil like I did in Niger, Africa,” she stated. “The final day we taught during the storm…all the power went out. There is a battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Our weapons are invisible. I felt harassed by the enemy. When I felt weak…I reached out to people to pray with me. We would worship and pray and go do what the Lord had for us to do. We were not battling against flesh and blood.”

Maria Miner, Pastor Steve’s wife, shares about the theme of the Armor of God for the Vacation Bible School the team held while in Niger.

“We got to the airport. The airport was closed. There was one plane there, our plane,” Maria stated. “About four hours in somebody from the embassy said the airport has refused fuel. But make no mistake we are leaving on this plane, today. We may have to go to another country to get fueled. It was at that point I felt the Lord saying start praying.”

“Nine hours later we were on the plane and told to unbuckle…when we were refueling,” she continued. “Then they announced we have enough fuel to get to France.”

Jennifer Bartoni shared next saying, “We’re going back. I want to thank all of you guys for your prayers and support. My plan was to go to Mexico on a mission trip. But my passport didn’t come in on time. God had a plan for me to go to Niger.”

“I was scared. I reached out to God for strength,” she stated. “Before the trip I was afraid to fly, afraid to speak in front of people.”

Bartoni then quoted Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

“I asked God to help me face my fears. So, He did,” she stated.

When it was her turn to share Jill Lawrence said, “He knew this coup was coming. We didn’t.”

She spoke of facing health issues before they went.

“I sing on the worship team. Worship really speaks to my soul,” she stated.

“After the coup happened, I was asked to go share my testimony at a church there,” Lawrence continued. “We felt like the early church. We felt like we were in the Old Testament. We were tramping through the sand. The whole church, everyone was one accord. It was after the coup had happened. Had we left we would not have experienced it.”

 “We were able to tune into our local church service and worship with you” while at a home in Niger, she shared with the congregation. “It’s that one accord. God’s got you in the palm of his hand. That was what was so life changing about this trip.”

Team member Margret Rickli shares as a photo of her and two of the students and of her cleaning one of the classrooms in Niamey, Niger shows on the screen behind the team.

Margret Rickli shared next, saying, “This is my second year to go on the trip. I know on mission trips I hear God a little bit clearer. This one morning I heard very clear ‘wait’.”

“I’m a planner. I make my plans. My plan was to be home that week and set up my classroom. I was thinking ‘wait’? The plan was to be home. God spoke to me and said my plans are what’s best. This weight came off my back.”

She spoke of cleaning and organizing the classrooms in Naimey.

“I would have never had that experience had I not been there,” Rickli stated.

“A group of girls came running up to me and I said those are my girls,” she continued. “My family was back here…sometimes at 3 and 4 in the morning I was on the phone with them.”

They set up her classroom back here.

“That’s one of the ways God showed me the waiting,” Rickli shared. “God was not just working in us, there he was working in you. I just needed to see, let go, let God. Be patient. I just thank Him for that opportunity, this year.”

Antioch missionaries Scott Wells with his daughter, Holly (left) and granddaughter Madison Heyer at the airport in Niger preparing to fly to France on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of Logan Heyer.

Scott Wells, Holly Heyer’s father and Madison’s grandfather shared next saying, “What I learned is God can use you no matter how old you are.”

“We’re missing someone up here. Maddy’s back at college,” he continued. “My wife stayed home. Sheila (his other daughter who lives in southern California) came up and stayed with her.”

“We worked. We couldn’t go home. We prayed. We worshiped every morning,” Wells said. “We said, ‘OK, God. We’re here, what do you want us to do?’”

“I was a teacher, a principal for 41 years and that’s what we did,” he stated. “It was familiar to me to go to the school every day…and fix desks. We worked for the Lord.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…for it is the Lord Christ you are serving,” Wells said quoting Colossians 3:23-24.

“It was a blessing to me just to help that school. We got to do a little part to help them for that school year coming up,” he added.

Holly Heyer, whose husband, Logan, is the principal of Cornerstone Christian School, and was on the trip with their daughter and Holly’s father shares about her experience as photos of her in Niger show on the screen.

Holly Heyer, Wells’ daughter and Madison’s mother shared last saying, “We were a trio. Dad, me and Madison. But this team is my family. We lived that way for a while.”

“Our bonus time we were there, as we called it…some of us were scared. I never felt more peaceful in my life,” she continued. “We’re here. We’re working together and we felt the peace of God. I know that was from your prayers, here.”

“We were just praying. People were in random, different rooms. If a song came up to somebody, we were just singing. Praying for the preschool kids because this is where they’re going to meet Jesus,” Heyer said. “It was a blessing for us just to be praying for the kids. They’re just the same people. They have a school, it’s just in Niger. I got to pray for them. I got to see some of the kids. They’re so precious. I wanted to bring them home with us.”

“Scraping gum for Jesus,” she said with a chuckle.

Bobbi Jennings shared about their trip home.

“We land in Washington DC. We’re all still together. Then the separation starts,” she stated. “We came as a team. We wanted to leave us a team. But that was not to be. It was hard. Steve and Maria were frantically trying to get flights for us. So, we went in four groups. I wanted to be with our team, with our family. It was on the last flight, that last plane in Texas we were able to be together.”

She and Elidia were together on the flight. They were able to get into the cockpit and take a photo with the pilots after sharing about their trip and photos.

“I said, ‘you know, you’re our final flight home. Can I pray over you?’ So, I prayed over our pilots,” Jennings said. “I said, ‘when I get home, I’m going to get down on the ground and kiss it’ and I did.”

“I give all the thanks and glory to God,” she added.

Pastor Steve closed out the sharing time and service saying, “I have to say thank you to you and to Hannah (Foster) and Logan (Heyer). I think they lost more sleep than we did.”

“We all had a part in this. My mom in Texas went to her Senator’s office,” he continued. “There’s nothing better than to be a part of the family of God. We had people back home working their tails off. I just want to thank you.”

“We are on a mission and Antioch needs us. And the Lord has placed us here for a reason,” Miner stated. “We’re going to be strong abroad. But we’re going to be really strong, here…where we live. We’re going to get after it.”

Madison Heyer (back row left in lavender shirt) and team in Niger. Madison (right) with her mother, Holly on the plane to France on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Photos courtesy of Logan Heyer

College Student Madison Heyer Shares About Her First International Trip

When reached for comment about her experience, Madison Heyer, a 2022 graduate of Cornerstone Christian High School said, “When everything went haywire with the coup, I was thinking, this is a bummer, I have to get home and get back to school. But I had to rethink and change my heart and determine what the Lord wanted me to do. I thought, ‘you have to go where the Lord wants you to go and do’.”

She’s a sophomore at California Baptist University and a Resident Assistant in one of the apartment complexes on campus which required her to return before school starts September 5th. Madison is studying elementary education, following in her grandfather’s, grandmother’s, dad’s, mom’s and older sisters’ footsteps who have all been or are currently educators. She’s also minoring in Christian Studies.

About her trip experience Madison said, “the whole time, I was really excited to go, it was VBS (Vacation Bible School) and something I wanted to do for my career. I was doing the most as possible since I was the kid. No one required me to. But I wanted to be as helpful as I could.”

“This was my first international trip and what a story,” she exclaimed.

“My first thought was disbelief. Especially with the missionaries (Pastor Neil and Dannette Childs) who are there,” Madison shared. “With the news, there, it isn’t always accurate. It was initial fear. Then lots of questions came to mind. How was I going to get back to school? Are we able to fly home? Can we finish Vacation Bible School?”

“I was thinking, I’m going to finish that VBS program, then decide what else to do,” she continued. “We rallied around with the team and prayed. Pastor Steve was really great. We didn’t let the kids know about the coup.”

They did finish the VBS and “we ended up deciding to help even more to get the school ready for when the school year starts in October,” Madison shared.

“I was helping out the same way (as the others on the team), cleaning the classrooms. What I did, specifically was scrape the gum off the floor,” she said with a laugh. “I did a lot of sweeping. I was happy to do it.”

“I was communicating with my boyfriend (who is a student at CBU) through Whatsapp, and he was kind of freaking out. So, he called the White House,” Madison shared with another laugh.

About the trip home she said, “That was one of the scariest points. We were in the airport, and we could see the plane. They said, ‘we don’t have any gas for this plane’. So, I was praying a lot about that. Then we got on the plane, and they said we have enough gas to get to France. That was such a relief.”

Asked about her future plans and what she wants to do with her degree Madison responded, “I’ll go on mission trips in the future. That’s what the Lord has called me to do. I have a strong call for missions. I want to teach overseas, probably teach missionaries’ kids. Teach children in different countries, especially about Jesus.”

“With my mom being there, that was a blessing. It was such a comfort. So was my grandpa. It was so exciting being there with her. It’s something my siblings didn’t get to do. She’s truly amazing,” Madison stated.

“The Lord is faithful, and I knew he was going to get us home,” she added.

Pastor Steve Thanks Senator, Congressman

Pastor Steve gets a hug from Principal Logan Heyer during the first church service after the trip on Sunday, August 6, 2023.

During the previous week’s service, Pastor Steve offered thanks to those who helped the team leave Niger and return home.

“First of all, I am so grateful to be part of such an incredible family. The support and efforts from people back home have been incredible. We would not be home today if it were not for their prayer and actions,” he said. “Hannah and Logan galvanized so many people into action including our government. If it wasn’t for our people making them aware there is no way they would know we were even there.”

“And I am grateful that Senator Feinstein’s and Rep. Garamendi’s offices listened and went into action,” the pastor continued. “When the State Department called me in Niger to tell me they were going to take our team, I thanked him and he said, ‘You can thank your congressmen and senator for this’. So, I am grateful that they truly did represent their constituents.”

“I hope everyone can experience the power of Jesus through a healthy church as we during this crisis. If everyone did we would have less coups in the world!” he added.

For more information about Cornerstone Christian Center and School visit their websites at and

Antioch missionaries stranded in Niger on flight to France Friday morning

Friday, August 4th, 2023
Antioch missionaries serving in Niamey, Niger and at the airport Friday morning, August, 4, 2023. Photos courtesy of Cornerstone Christian School.

Niger had refused to refuel plane, State Department negotiated

“Just pulled up from the runway. Super emotional.” – Pastor Steve Miner of Cornerstone Christian Center

“They have passed the borders and are three-and-a-half hours out of Paris.” – Logan Heyer, Principal, Cornerstone Christian School

Holly and Madison Heyer on the plane to France Friday, August 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of Logan Heyer

By Allen D. Payton

A team of 11 missionaries from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and School were stranded in the West African country of Niger, following a military coup, last week. They were supposed to fly back last Friday, July 28 and be home by Saturday. But they were not permitted as the borders had all been closed. (See related article)

According to Ron Eckstein, spokesman for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Office in Washington, D.C. in a phone call at 11:45 AM Friday, August 4, 2023, “the 11 individuals are on a flight to France. We were told by the State Department. It departed about 11 AM Pacific Time. Our office has been working on it since Tuesday, August 1.”

“I was not expecting such a positive resolution. But good news,” he added.

A post on Corrnerstone Christian School’s Facebook page at  11 a.m. Friday reads, “On behalf of Cornerstone Christian Center and Cornerstone Christian School we are so incredibly grateful to be able to announce that our Niger Mission team is safely on their way home. We would like to thank the offices of Senator Feinstein and Congressman Garamendi for their consistent support and vital information over these trying days. We are so thankful for the help of the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Niger. We would also like to recognize the effort of KTVU FOX 2, KRON 4 and the Antioch Herald for their assistance in spreading awareness of this serious situation and their care and attention for our family members back home. The professionalism and concern that was demonstrated for this situation by our local media was truly amazing. Last, and most importantly, we would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his continuous protection and care for our team while they were serving in Niger.

Our focus now turns solely to the people of Niger and our thoughts and prayers will be directed for peace in that nation and that democracy will continue to be pursued so that the nation of Niger can be free. Thank you for all your prayers and support during this challenging time. The people of Cornerstone are what make this place one of a kind and I am personally grateful to be a part of such a special place. Our team landed in Niger 16 days ago with the goal of making much of the name of Jesus and we return knowing that His name was high and lifted up.”

School Principal Says Niger Was Not Going to Refuel the Plane

When reached for details at 12:15 p.m., school principal Logan Heyer, whose wife, Holly and daughter, Madison are among the 11, exclaimed, “They have passed the borders and are three-and-a-half hours out of Paris.”

“They got to the airport about 2 AM our time, which was 10 AM their time and sat there for about an hour but Niger was refusing to refuel the plane,” he shared. “So, I got a hold of Senator Feinstein’s office and they said they had been in contact with the State Department who were already negotiating with whoever is in charge of Niger, at this point.”

“I got a Whatsapp from Holly saying, ‘we’re on the plane. We don’t know where we’re going,’” Heyer stated. “Then a few minutes later she shared ‘it looks like we have enough fuel to get to France.’”

“Then we got the photos from them in the airport and one of Holly and Madison in the plane,” he continued. “Then I got a Whatsapp message from Pastor Steve that read, ‘just pulled up from the runway. Super emotional.’”

Asked if they expect to be back in Antioch tomorrow Heyer said, “She didn’t even have time to tell me the rest of it. She just knew they were going to Paris. They’re expected to arrive in about three hours.“

“Senator Feinstein’s and Congressman Garamendi’s office have been very helpful. They’re everything you could hope for in a representative. I was proud to be an American, today,” he added.

Antioch missionaries stranded in Niger following military coup

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023
Instagram post on July 28, 2023 of Cornerstone Christian Center & School missionaries in Niger. Source: Hannah Gabrielle

Team of 11 from Cornerstone Christian Center and School

“We sent our team to Niger to make much of the name of Jesus in that country and believe they are still doing that, and we are trusting in Him to bring them home, safely,” Principal Logan Heyer

By Allen D. Payton

A missionary team from Antioch’s Cornerstone Christian Center and School, led by Pastor and Superintendent Steve Miner has been stranded in Niger, Africa following a military coup.

In a post on her Facebook page on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, Hannah Gabrielle wrote, “My family is stranded in Niger Africa. The US government has evacuated part of its embassy staff but has been unhelpful in helping us get our family out! Help me spread the word. Share and pray. Whatever you can do. Email a congressman or senator. Call the local news. Anything helps. They are in a group of 15 US citizens ages ranging from 11 to 73.

On Friday, the team posted a photo from capital city Niamey, Niger, on the church’s Instagram page that reads, “Our Cornerstone Team has had an amazing week serving at Vie Abondante kids camp in Niger!”

Photos courtesy of Logan Heyer, Cornerstone Christian Center & School.

A Sunday report by the Marine Corps Times confirmed her information about the U.S. Embassy that reads, “The Marine security guards stationed at the American embassy in Niger will remain there as the United States evacuates all but essential staff because of a coup in the country.”

A Wednesday, Aug. 2 post on X (formerly Twitter) by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reads, “Today, we ordered the temporary departure of non-emergency personnel and eligible family members from Niger. The U.S. is committed to our relationship with the people of Niger. The embassy remains open, and our leaders are diplomatically engaged at the highest levels.”

Logan Heyer, Principal of Cornerstone Christian School, said about the missionaries, “They were supposed to be back on July 29.”

He learned of the coup, early last week.

“I looked at an article in the news that there was a coup in Niger, and I heard about it on the 25th,” he stated. “The coup closed all the borders in Niger.”

The team left for their trip on July 20th.

“They were supposed to leave on Friday, July 28th to return,” Heyer shared.

Asked if any students are on the trip, Heyer said, “No. One former student, my daughter, Madison. My wife, Holly is also there and my father-in-law, Scott Wells. School starts again on Aug. 21st. No teachers. But our head pastor and school superintendent is over there, Steve Miner, with his wife, Maria.”

“There are 11 from our church and school, about 15 total,” he added.

“We have partnered with a missionary that lives there in the country,” Heyer explained. “They went to do a Vacation Bible School and get their school ready for the fall, too.”

This is the second time the team has gone to Niger.

“Pastor Steve has led two teams,” he added.

“It sounds like, from what I understand, the Royal Guard kicked out the president. It’s not targeted at Christians.

According to a July 27 report by NPR, “Soldiers in Niger have announced a coup, imposing a curfew and closing borders in a country that is a key U.S. ally in West Africa. The president of…Niger was removed in a coup late last night, local time, despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save his government.”

Asked about efforts to get the team out of the country Heyer said, “We saw online that Senator Ted Cruz got missionaries out from Niger – teenagers on a mission trip not from our group. But they met up with them. Their parents were very frightened, like we are. Senator Cruz was able to get them out of the country on an Italian plane. We saw that the Italians and French got people out.So, we contacted Senator Feinstein and Congressman Garamendi on Tuesday, and they have been pushing whomever at the State Department to get our people out.”

A KRON4 News report about the stranded missionaries, quotes Garamendi saying, “My team is working closely with the state department and the constituents to get them home safely. However, I cannot share additional details at this time due to operational security issues.”

According to a report by Reuters early Wednesday, Niger has reopened it’s borders with several neighboring countries “a week after a coup that has sent shockwaves across West Africa’s Sahel region, one of the poorest and most unstable in the world.”

‘The land and air borders with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya and Chad are re-opened from today, August 1, 2023,’ junta spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane said in a televised address.”

“We sent our team to Niger to make much of the name of Jesus in that country and believe they are still doing that, and we are trusting in Him to bring them home, safely,” Heyer stated.

Private prayer vigils are being held for the team, he shared.

Amtrak San Joaquins to allow bus-only travel from Martinez to Arcata

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

To all bus stop pairs along Route 7

Riders traveling on Amtrak’s San Joaquins Route 7, the Thruway Bus route extending from the Martinez Amtrak Station to Arcata (Cal Poly Humboldt) and encompassing a total of 18 stops, can now purchase bus-only tickets for all city pairs along the route. This recent expansion of service significantly broadens the scope and connectivity of the bus top pairs previously available on Route 7.

This expansion along Route 7, which was approved by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) Board of Directors at the July 21 meeting, represents the latest step in Amtrak San Joaquins’ efforts to provide a comprehensive transportation alternative to travelers in communities throughout the state, beyond where the train can service.

Historically, travelers on all Thruway Bus routes were required to have a segment of train travel as part of their overall trip to travel on the Thruway Bus. However, state legislation, SB 742 authored by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), was passed in 2019 to remove the requirement for intercity passenger rail/thruway bus services to sell companion rail tickets as a condition of the sale. As such, following extensive planning coordination, in 2021 after the impacts of the pandemic had eased, SJJPA opened parts of the Amtrak San Joaquins Route 7 as well as Routes 1c, 10, 18, and 19 for bus-only sales.

“We are pleased to now be at the point where we can expand connectivity along Route 7 to its fullest extent,” said Pat Hume, Chair for the SJJPA. “Fully opening Route 7 is a result of extensive collaboration with local stakeholders and regional transit providers and is a part of our ongoing effort to make Amtrak San Joaquins a comprehensive transportation solution for communities statewide.”

Snapshot of Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway Bus Route 7. Source: Amtrak

Making Amtrak’s Thruway bus routes available to non-rail riders brings several benefits including:

  • Improved access to transit for priority and underserved communities.
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions by diverting trips that would have previously been taken by an automobile.
  • Reduced car trips on some of the state’s most congested freeways.
  • Better utilization of current transit infrastructure.
    Increased revenues for the state at virtually no additional cost.

The bus-only ticketing options and fares are now available in the following locations:

Route 7: Martinez – Napa – Santa Rosa – Humboldt State University – Arcata
Route 1C: Bakersfield – Van Nuys – West Los Angeles/UCLA – Santa Monica
Route 10: Santa Barbara – Bakersfield – Barstow – Las Vegas
Route 15: Merced – Yosemite & Fresno – Yosemite (seasonal)
Route 18: Hanford – Lemoore – San Luis Obispo – Santa Maria
Route 19: Bakersfield – Pasadena – Riverside – San Bernadino

Santa Rosa Bus Stop Relocation

Effective August 1, the Santa Rosa, CA, Thruway Bus stop currently located at 917 Edwards Avenue next to Dick’s Sporting Goods will move to:

Coddington Transit-Across from JC Penney – Santa Rosa, CA, 95401

Amtrak Santa Rosa Thruway Stop relocation map. Source: Amtrak

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)

Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with about 1 million annual riders and 18 stations providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Prior to service modifications due to the COVID-19 crisis, Amtrak San Joaquins operated 7 daily train roundtrips and its Thruway buses provided connecting service to over 100 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno. To book your next trip, visit or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Amtrak San Joaquins to run special trains to Allensworth State Historic Park for 2023 Juneteenth Festival, June 10

Wednesday, May 24th, 2023

Trains will bring visitors to celebrate at a site unique to California’s African American history

50% discount

By David Lipari, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is holding its annual celebratory Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. In partnership, Amtrak San Joaquins has scheduled a special stop at the park for multiple trains, bookable at a 50 percent discount rate to bring travelers to the historically significant Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.  

The town of Allensworth was established in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth and at one point was home to more than 300 families. The park is a California state treasure because it was the first town in California to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park became a historical landmark in 1974.

The Juneteenth Festival is a key annual event hosted by Friends of Allensworth (FOA), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to support, promote, and advance the educational and interpretive activities at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the June 19th, 1865, arrival of Union Army troops in Galveston, Texas, bearing news that the institution of slavery had been terminated, officially spreading news of the freedom of all enslaved people.

“Amtrak San Joaquins has been a long-time partner to the FOA in connecting the people of California and visitors with the historic town of Allensworth” said FOA President, Sasha Biscoe. “We encourage any individual that is interested in immersing themselves in the rich, ethnically diverse history of our state to consider taking advantage of the affordable, convenient, and fun transportation option provided by Amtrak San Joaquins and join us on June 10th to celebrate this important holiday.”

Event activities will include square dancing, self-guided tours of historic buildings, historic games with prizes, storytelling, and arts and crafts. Food and refreshment vendors will also be present. Travelers can also bring their bikes and chairs aboard Amtrak trains and Thruway buses.

The southbound trains that will be running for the event include trains 702, 710, 712, 714.

Antioch Station departure and arrival times at the park: 710 – 7:50 a.m. and 11:56 a.m.; 712 – 10:50 a.m. and 2:56 p.m.

When purchasing train tickets, a 50 percent discount will automatically be applied to the ticket purchase. Additional discount programs regularly available to riders includes: 

  • Infants under 2 years of age ride for free 
  • Children 2-12 years old ride half-price every day
  • Seniors (62+ years of age) receive 15% off 
  • Veterans & active military members receive 15% off 
  • Disabled riders save 15% off 

Visitors attending the Juneteenth Festival will be able to take Amtrak San Joaquins trains to the Allensworth station. From there, riders will be met by a free shuttle for the short ride to the main property. The Allensworth station is normally a whistle stop on the San Joaquins available to be booked by groups desiring to visit the park. 

Train tickets to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park can be booked online at For more information on how to book a group trip to Allensworth, please contact Carmen Setness, community outreach coordinator for San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), at

About Allensworth State Historic Park

The town of Allensworth is located in the heart of the Central Valley, about 30 miles north of Bakersfield, and has a rich history that is of interest to students, families, history buffs, minority community organizations, and anyone else looking to spend a fun day exploring the historic community and its restored buildings. In 1908, Allensworth was established as a town founded, financed and governed by African Americans. There were a series of challenges impeding the town’s long-term survival, but it is celebrated as a key historic icon, and in 1974 California State Parks purchased the land in order to maintain it as a site for visitors to learn and explore the Colonel’s house, historic schoolhouse, Baptist church, and library. 

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)

Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see

Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with 18 train stations throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area, providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Amtrak San Joaquins is currently running six daily round-trips. In addition to the train service, Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway buses provide connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno. 

Bus Bridge Alert: Major BART track work between Rockridge & Orinda weekends April 1-June 11

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Source: BART

On five non-consecutive weekends

BART’s next major track improvement project will focus on a portion of the Yellow Line. On five non-consecutive weekends in April, May, and June workers will replace an interlocking between Rockridge and Orinda stations. Interlockings allow BART to safely move trains from line to line and are an essential part of the system. Free buses will replace train service between Rockridge and Orinda stations on all five weekends.

The weekend dates for this project are April 1-2, April 15-16, May 13-14, May 27-29 (Memorial Day weekend), and June 10-11. Riders can expect delays of 30 minutes in the work area on shutdown weekends.

Yellow Line trains will run every 30 minutes on shutdown weekends. On each night of the weekend shutdowns the last scheduled departure from Antioch to Orinda that normally leaves at 11:44pm will be cancelled. Riders traveling westbound from Antioch must catch the earlier train at 11:14pm each night.

The equipment being replaced is decades old and has outlived its design life. Riders will enjoy a smoother, safer, more reliable, and quieter ride once the projects are complete. The Yellow Line is the busiest in the BART system.

This upcoming work is part of BART’s overall effort to improve the safety and reliability of the 131-mile, 50 station system. There are now more rebuilding projects happening across BART than at any point in its 50-year history. You can learn more about the progress of this work by reading the 2022 Measure RR Annual Report published by the independent Measure RR Bond Oversight Committee.

You can keep up with the latest updates for trackway repair projects that impact service by going to our Alerts and Advisories page. BART’s Trip Planner has been improved to show the full customer journey including bus bridges.

Learn more about the work happening between Rockridge and Orinda stations on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page and Fact Sheet for the project.

Amtrak riders in Antioch can comment on Draft San Joaquins Business Plan Update until March 15

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) operates the Amtrak San Joaquins passenger rail line and through bus service which serves Antioch, Martinez and Richmond in Contra Costa County. Each year, SJJPA must develop and approve an updated Business Plan as required by SJJPA’s Interagency Transfer Agreement (ITA) with the State. The annual Business Plan is required to be submitted to the Secretary of CalSTA in draft form by April 1 of each year, and in final form by June 15 of each year to allow Amtrak time to finalize operating cost estimates.

As specified in AB 1779, the Business Plan shall include a report on the historical performance of the San Joaquins Service, an operating plan including proposed service enhancements to increase ridership, short-term and long-term capital improvement programs, funding requirements for the upcoming fiscal year, and an action plan with specific performance goals and objectives. The Business Plan shall document service improvements (rail and thruway/connecting bus) to provide the planned level of service, inclusion of operating plans to serve peak period work trips, and consideration of other service expansions and enhancements.

2023 SJJPA Business Plan

The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority has released its 2023 Draft SJJPA Business Plan Update. Public comments must be submitted to Dan Leavitt at no later than Wednesday, March 15, 2023. DRAFT-2023-SJJPA-Business-Plan-Update_Public-Review-Draft.pdf


Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.


All kids ages 2-12 can now travel at 50% of the Adult Fare on Amtrak San Joaquins

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Stockton, CA – The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) is pleased to announce that Amtrak San Joaquins has expanded its discount for kids aged 2-12. A travelling adult (18+) can now add up to 7 kids at 50% off. This updated policy revises the old Kids Discount policy, which most recently allowed the discount to apply to only one kid per adult.

The expanded discount will make it possible for more families to explore any of the over 100 destinations accessible via the San Joaquins train and Thruway Bus service. These destinations include, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Yosemite, Sacramento, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (seasonally), and many more. Parents can explore potential destinations by visiting

“We are pleased to be able to extend the Kids Discount across our service,” said David Lipari, Marketing Manager for the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. “The expansion of the Kids Discount will make family travel easier and more affordable for our riders. Eliminating barriers for travelers is central to our mission of providing a safe, affordable, and reliable service.”

Discount Restrictions

Learn more at

  • Kids and infants must be accompanied by at least one adult (18+) in the same reservation.
  • Kids 2-12 years of age may not travel unaccompanied.*
  • All persons 13 years of age or older, and all unaccompanied minors, pay adult fares.
  • Kids under 2 years occupying a separate coach seat will be charged the fare for Kids aged 2-12 years.
  • Kids’ ages are determined by actual date of birth.
  • The age of the kid at the start of the trip determines the fare that applies for the entire itinerary.
  • Amtrak reserves the right to require proof of age at any time.
  • Additional restrictions may apply.

In addition to the expanded Kids Discount, Amtrak San Joaquins offers discounts to a variety of travelers, including students, veterans, active duty military, and their spouses, seniors, rider with disabilities, and others. More information on the other discounts available can be found at

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)

Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with 1 million annual riders and 18 stations providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Prior to service modifications due to the COVID-19 crisis, Amtrak San Joaquins operated 7 daily train round-trips and its Thruway buses provided connecting service to over 100 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno. To book your next trip, visit or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.