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Take Light Rail to the Santa Clara Convention Center for ConnectivityWeek

It's possible to take rapid transit from the San Jose airport to the Santa Clara Convention Center, but it's not obvious how. Here's the run-down.

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If you'd like to avoid the hassles of parking, not to mention the roughly $50 round-trip taxi fare plus tip, step into the 21st century -- take the local light rail system from the San Jose airport to the Convention Center and Hyatt Santa Clara CA.

The ride is green, quick, convenient and only $2 per person each way. There are a few, shall we say, potential points of confusion that you should know before you go.

My flight arrived at Terminal B, but it doesn't make much difference if your flight lands you in Terminal A.

From baggage claim look for signs directing you to "Ground Transportation," specifically "Public Bus VTA 10." It's on an island across the driveway from terminal B.

Here's the first point of potential confusion: This free bus operates like an airport terminal shuttle, but it is not the same as the Terminal A-B Shuttle. "VTA 10" is your key.

When VTA bus number 10 arrives it will be clearly marked. However here's the second point of potential confusion: There are two buses numbered 10 and they connect to two different rail lines. You want the bus 10 that goes to "Metro/Airport." Don't get on the one that goes to "Santa Clara Caltrain" or you'll spend an extra half hour getting back to the airport to try again. The words "Metro Light Rail" are displayed in the front window of the bus, so it's easy to get on the right one.

It's about a six-minute bus ride to the light rail station and, as I mentioned, it's free. The bus is comfortable and has luggage racks like any rental-car shuttle.

The "Metro/Airport" bus stop is the end of the line, so you can't miss it. When you arrive, cross the street to the light rail station and buy a ticket.

The ticket vending kiosk on the train platform accepts dollar bills and credit cards for the $2 per person fare. The ticket purchase process is self explanatory. You're likely never to need to show your ticket to anyone, but hang onto it until your ride is over.

The third potential point of confusion: Two trains pass this platform, and you'll take the one labeled "Downtown Mountain View." Don't get on the Alum Rock train. If you're looking up the schedule at rta.org, the route number is 902.

I waited about 10 minutes for my train to arrive. The car is easy to board with rolling luggage, and there's a large open area near the doors where you can stand with your bags for the brief duration of the ride.

The Convention Center is at the "Great America" station, which is the ninth stop. When the onboard public address system announces the next stop is Great America, press the button to request a stop. Trains don't stop at every station during off-peak hours, they stop only if a stop is requested or passengers are waiting on the platform. The Convention Center is clearly visible across Tasman Street.

The train ride took about 16 minutes. The entire trip, from searching out the right station at terminal B to walking through the door of the Convention Center, took about 45 minutes. I saw more of Santa Clara than I would have from a taxi window on the freeway. And I arrived at this energy conference by one of the greenest means possible.