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California's vast terrain is connected by an extensive system of freeways, expressways, and highways, all maintained by Caltrans and patrolled by the California Highway Patrol, except for the numbered expressways in Santa Clara County which were built and maintained by the county itself. Californians typically take to the roads for their commutes, errands, and vacations, giving California's cities a reputation for severe traffic congestion. Almost all California highways are non-toll roads. Notable exceptions are any major bridges.

As for air travel, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are major hubs for trans-Pacific and transcontinental traffic. There are about a dozen important commercial airports and many more general aviation airports throughout the state's 58 counties.

California also has several important seaports. The giant seaport complex formed by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach in Southern California is the largest in the country and responsible for handling about a fourth of all container cargo traffic in the United States. The Port of Oakland handles most of the ocean containers passing through Northern California.

Stack interchange in Los AngelesIntercity rail travel is provided by Amtrak. Los Angeles and San Francisco both have subway networks, in addition to light rail. In San Francisco the two systems are not separated, all subway lines eventually surface and along the street. San Jose and Sacramento have only light rail, though portions of San Jose light rail serve as EL Trains. Metrolink commuter rail serves much of Southern California, and Caltrain commuter rail connects San Jose and Gilroy (commute hour only) to San Francisco. Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) connects Tracy, Livermore and other edge cities with San Jose. BART, an express rail service, connects San Francisco and Oakland to Millbrae in the southwest, Fremont in the southeast, Dublin and Pleasanton in the east, Richmond in the north, and Pittsburg in the northeast. Despite its name, it does not encompass the entire Bay Area. San Diego has Trolley light rail and Coaster commuter rail services. Nearly all counties operate bus lines, and many cities operate their own bus and light rail lines as well.

Both Greyhound and Amtrak provide intercity bus service.

The rapidly growing population of the state is straining all of its transportation networks. A regularly recurring issue in California politics is whether the state should continue to aggressively expand its freeway network or concentrate on improving mass transit networks in urban areas.


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