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Safe Berkeley BART stations

Aug 2011

My husband, his son, and I will be moving to Berkeley in September. My husband and I will both be commuting to San Francisco for work. Other than the North Berkeley BART station, is there any other safe BART station in the area? I ask because I have not seen that many rentals near the North Berkeley station that meet our needs. Thank you in advance for your advice. NewNeighbor

What is your definition of ''safe''? Do students and the occassional homeless person or drunk bar hopper at the Downtown Berkeley BART station register as unsafe to you? Is there some reason that Ashby BART would be intrinsically unsafe? There are some areas near the Ashby BART station that I would not want to be in late at night, but I do not consider the immediate area around the Ashby BART to be intrinsically unsafe. The area is certainly not as affluent as the area around the North Berkeley BART station, but I have walked to that station from North Oakland for over 5 years. I have never had a problem AT any of the Berkeley BART stations.

Central Berkeley (closest to the Downtown Berkeley BART) has a lot to recommend it, as does the neighborhoods around the Ashby BART. I would say that, in general, the safest areas near Ashby are to the east and north of the station, but I know families with small children (myself included) who feel perfectly safe living west and north of the station. It's not technically in Berkeley, but I also consider the Rockridge BART, which is the closest station to the Elmwood neighborhood, to be safe as well. regular bart rider

If you're moving from a large metro area i.e. NY or Chicago, then you'll find the Berkeley Bart stations adequate. The downtown Berkeley Bart seems to always be buzzing with people. But if you're moving from a suburban or rural area, and aren't used to public transportation, then you might be a little nerved. But with keeping an open mind that you're not in Kansas anymore, and you'll come to appreciate the diversity of the Berkeley community. commuter
El Cerrito Plaza, though not in Berkeley per se, is close enough to bike, safe, convenient to many shops (Trader Joe's, etc.), and tends to have more reasonably priced rental than Berkeley proper. I lived near El Cerrito Plaza very happily for 5 years while a graduate student at UCB. I loved the mellow vibe of the neighborhood, the convenience, and the safety. EC Plaza is less than 5 mins. by BART past North Berkeley BART station. El Cerrito fan
Sorry, I can't find your original post, but I would like to emphasize that whether you use the downtown Berkeley BART station or North Berkeley (or any BART station for that matter), you look out for your safety by staying alert. The series of robberies that happened late last year near the North Berkeley BART station targeted commuters who left BART and immediately got on their cell phones. If you must use your cell phone, do so in the station. When you walk home, stay aware of the people around you--and be clear that you are doing so--rather than becoming absorbed in your iPod or whatever. Keep a whistle on your keychain in case you need to attract attention.

Also, cell phone users in Berkeley can program 510-981-5911 into their phones for a direct connection to the Berkeley Police Department Communications Center. Melanie

In response to the question about how do I define safe: safe means that I can walk home from the BART station at 8 pm and not have to worry about being followed home and beaten within an inch of my life. I have lived in cities (New York and London) and know how to take care of myself, but I've read some troubling newspaper reports about incidents this past year involving commuters coming home from the Ashby BART station. NewNeighbor
You should consider the Rockridge BART in Oakland. I live in the Claremont/Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley and that is my closest BART - about a 20 minute walk. I feel very safe walking up College Ave. at night to get home.
If you want to live in Berkeley and feel safe walking to/from the BART, it's a no-brainer: do the Downtown stop. North Berkeley is in a more affluent area, and there are plenty of homeless people in/around the Downtown stop. But the main thing is that you emerge from the Downtown stop onto a busy (for Berkeley) commercial street with a good number of people around, and even once you get off of Shattuck the area is well-populated by UC students who travel by foot or bike. So you will likely be in good company both at the station and around it, even relatively late at night. At North Berkeley BART, you exit into a giant parking lot and a bunch of single-family homes; even though it's a lovely neighborhood, if anything did go wrong, you might be all alone on the street and in a lot of trouble. If safety and/or the appearance of safety is a big concern for you, Ashby is clearly not the right choice. Former DT Berkeley commuter
Sorry, I can't find your original post, but I would like to emphasize that whether you use the downtown Berkeley BART station or North Berkeley (or any BART station for that matter), you look out for your safety by staying alert. The series of robberies that happened late last year near the North Berkeley BART station targeted commuters who left BART and immediately got on their cell phones. If you must use your cell phone, do so in the station. When you walk home, stay aware of the people around you--and be clear that you are doing so--rather than becoming absorbed in your iPod or whatever. Keep a whistle on your keychain in case you need to attract attention.

Also, cell phone users in Berkeley can program 510-981-5911 into their phones for a direct connection to the Berkeley Police Department Communications Center. Melanie

Parking at N. Berkeley BART

Sept 2010

I am new to the Bay area and a little confused by the Bart parking options. My station would theoretically be N. Berkeley. I am on the waiting list for monthly parking. My question is, if I get there early enough (which I would), can I just park in any of the numbered spaces and then buy a daily parking pass? Or are these numbered spaces only for people who have a reserved monthly or daily pass? I don't want to reserve the daily pass ahead of time because it all depends on what time I get out the door, if I need Bart parking at all. Plus it seems reserving ahead of time costs $4 whereas buying it on the spot costs $1? Also a little confused on that. In order to make things quicker, do I get an EZ pass or a clipper card (I heard the system is transfering over to all Clipper). Thank you! Confused commuter

For parking at the N Berkeley lot you can generally pay $1 on a daily basis if you get to BART by about 8:00, without buying an advance permit. You park in the section of the lot that is NOT designated ''permit.'' You pay once you are inside the BART station, and either swipe your ez-pass or pay $1 at the add-fare machine (making sure to remember the slot number you parked in.) If you are riding BART on a regular basis it is much simpler to have an ez-pass, as it works for both your BART fare and your parking if you link the two bills together, which you do on the BART web site. It also refills automatically, so you really don't have to worry about it unless you have to change credit cards. It also avoids the ''de-magnetization'' of the paper BART tickets. I've only had two or three problems over several years with the ez-pass card - mostly with incorrect credit for paying for parking, while I had nearly monthly problems with the paper tickets, which demagnetize regularly. I used to save them up until I had a couple hundred dollars worth and then send them in for a refund.

I only buy the $4 advance parking permit if I'm going to get to the lot after 8:30 and before 10:00. This has to be done online, and you place the one-day permit on your dashboard. In that case you can park in the ''permit'' part of the lot. BART guarantees you a spot in that section of the lot until 10:00 am if they sell you a $4 parking permit. Between 8:00 and 8:30 is a bit of a crap shoot, but I seldom arrive during that time, and have always found a space in the lot or within a few blocks of the station. Just be careful not to block anyone's driveway, and to check the signs to make sure a local parking permit is not required.

With regard to ez-pass versus Clipper, my understanding is all Bay Area transit will convert to Clipper at some point, but right now, it is not possible to pay for BART parking with your Clipper card, so you would have to have two transactions, one for your BART fare, and a separate one to pay for parking. Consequently, I haven't made the switch, although I would like to because I sometimes use Muni in San Francisco and it would be nice to be able to use the same card.

Hope this helps. BART rider

Riding BART with side-by-side stroller

June 2010

I am considering buying a Combi side-by-side stroller for my toddler & infant. Does anyone know if this kind of stroller fits in BART elevators? Thank you. vmf

Mine worked really well and I'd never change it if I could go back. anon

Best SF station for transferring to Muni

April 2006

Has anyone figured out which is the most efficient downtown SF transfer point to go from the BART train to MUNI underground? I'm going to start a new commute and will need to transfer either at Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell or Civic Center to the J MUNI train, and hoping someone can share any thought they've put into figuring out if any one station works best. Thanks!

Civic Center. For two reasons. BART trains generally run faster than MUNI Metro. So, on the way to SF, if you stay on until Civic Center, you might overtake a J car that you would miss if you transferred at Embarcadero. In the other direction, if you stayed on until Embarcadero, you might get overtaken by a BART train that you could have taken had you transferred at Civic Center, so that is why you should transfer at Civic Center on the way home. As a bonus, you will almost always get a seat on BART on the way home by getting on at Civic Center. I don't think that there will be a difference as far as getting a seat on the J if you transfer at Embarcadero or Civic Center in the morning. Robert
My experience from back when I lived and commuted in the city is that you want to transfer at the earliest possible point. This will allow you to potentially get a seat on your second train. If you delay 2 or 3 stations whichever transportation you get on last has a chance to fill up. You shouldn't have too much trouble once you get to the J in the morning as it will be a reverse commute, however it could be a big factor in whether or not you get a BART seat on the way home. -- former muni rider
Depending on the time of day you are commuting, I would recommend the Embarcadero. The station can be very crowded, but you are at the beginning of the line for MUNI. You are more likely to get a seat, or more importantly get on a train. During busy commuting hours trains fill up and it can be hard to even get on one. On the way home you may want to transfer at the Civic Center station to get on the BART before it gets to the more crowded stops. Mary
My theory is that since BART is faster, take it as long as you can and then transfer to MUNI. I transfer at Civic Center all of the time and always get a train within minutes. I haven't transferred at the other stations, but I imagine they come quickly there as well. martha
When going westbound BART to Muni, transfer at Embarcadero. When going eastbound Muni to BART, transfer at Civic Center. You are more likely to get a seat in each direction if you transfer at the earliest possible station.
I would transfer at Civic Center. I think the transfer would be equivalent at any of the downtown stations, but the BART trains generally are faster than the MUNI trains so I think its best to stay on the BART train as long as possible. On the way back, switch as early as possible to BART because they go faster. Chris
I make this trip (BART-MUNI/MUNI-BART) in some form or another daily. In the morning make your transfer from BART to MUNI's J line at Embarcadero; in the evening make your transfer from MUNI to BART at Civic Center. This is the best way to ensure you get a seat. sara d

N. Berkeley BART vs central Berkeley BART

March 2005

My family is moving to a new place about half-way between the N.Berkeley BART and the downtown Berkeley BART, and I'm trying to figure out which one is going to be better to use. Is it safe to walk through Ohlone Park when it's dark? If I end up driving to the N.Berkeley BART station, what time does that parking fill up? Anyone have a preference for either of those two stations, for whatever reason? looking forward to my new neighborhood

The North Berkeley lot has a section of the parking lot at the northeast corner that is reserved for people who come after 10 a.m. (You line up in the lot at the south east corner, and they let you in at 9:55 a.m. to catch the 9:58 Fremont train). Davis
I'd say it's a toss-up. I've lived near both stations. The area around N. Berkeley is rather deserted at night, and I never felt too comfortable walking around by myself (though I've done it many times). There are always more people near downtown Berkeley, but not always the ones you want to run into. I would not walk through Ohlone park at night by myself. I don't know about parking, but I'd probably bike to downtown berkeley -- they have bike parking in the station. You should probably try both and see where you feel more comfortable. IC
I live west of North Berkeley BART. We do have intermittent problems with crime around the BART station. In the 18 years I have lived in this neighborhood there have been several muggings, ''jumpings,'' a few rapes, other random attacks and robberies. These usually seem to happen within a few days or a week of each other and then all is calm until another shady character decides to come to our neighborhood. I do not think walking through Ohlone park at night is a great idea. It's VERY dark, and there are lots of places for people to lurk. Okay, I sound paranoid, but when I was growing up in Berkeley I was never worried about crime. In the last 18 years, though, I'm a little nervous about walking anywhere at night. Crime has increased dramatically and I think there are a lot more Big, errant teenagers and wacky (desparate) adults out there with bad attitudes, a lot of bravado, and apparently nothing to lose.

If I had some form of transportation I'd probably go with North Berkeley because you can park there. If I had to take public transit from Bart to home, I'd go with the Downtown Berkeley Station, which has much more lighting, busy bus stops and a lot more traffic so it feels, and probably is, safer. That's not to say that things don't happen on Shattuck Avenue, but at least there are places to go into if you suspect you will be the target of malice, and it's closer to BPD.

If you are a woman, I strongly advise you not to risk walking from the N. Berk. Station at night alone. There's no point in making a target of yourself, and we have had a recent (and I think still at large) rapist on Delaware (at San Pablo), the main route to and from San Pablo Ave. and the BART station.

To tell you the truth, I almost never walk in this neighborhood at night anymore without a man with me, even with my 80 pound bulldog at my side, and I'm really not very timid. heather

Ohlone park is relatively calm at night, but isolated. Some find downtown Berkeley creepy at night, but it is busy and active. You'll really have to try both. If you can bicycle your choice is similarly split: there's free secure parking downtown ( ), but the streets are less crowded to North Berkeley. Bike theft is very high at North Berkeley BART. Bryce

When does the Lafayette BART lot fill up?

March 2003

I will be returning to work soon and will commute from the Lafayette station to the City. I am trying to plan dropoff time for my son's daycare. Can anyone tell me when the Lafayette BART parking lot fills in the morning? Thanks in advance!!
mom returning to work

I have found that you have to get to Lafayette Bart by 8:15am (sometimes earlier on Mondays) to get a place. The time has moved earlier I think because of the new plan to get people to pay for reserved spots, setting aside spots that are usually in the free-for-all area. There is on-street parking on Oak Hill Rd for $5 per day that I have used later in the morning and have had no trouble getting a spot. The only other option is the 10:00am parking area.

Safety of the North berkeley BART Station

Feb 2003

Hi, I am hoping that folks might have experience walking home from N.Berk BART late at night and have a general feel for the safety of the neighborhoods around Sacramento St. We're looking to buy a house there and would be walking (slowly) to/from with baby. thnx so much. jennifer

I live just east of the BART station on Delaware and I've never felt ill at ease walking home in the dark. Jill
I don't have any direct experience here, but you should go to the police department and look up their crime reporting stats. They are also on-line, back to last Summer at . Good luck. Dan
I used to live on Dwight at Sacramento, about 7.5 years ago. I loved the neighborhood and I felt very safe there. I walked to BART regularly, and, when I worked as a bar tender, I would walk home from downtown Berkeley (BART was closed, so I took the bus) and NEVER had any problems. The bad areas seem to be further south, around Ashby. North Berkeley around the BART station is very nice, or it was when I was living there. I would love to live there again! Fan of N. Berkeley

What time do I need to get there to get a parking space?

Feb 2000

BART parking: Apologies if this is not the right forum for this: my East Bay job is (sadly) becoming an SF job. Can anyone tell me what time one needs to arrive at the following BART stations to be able to get a parking space? MacArthur, Rockridge, West Oakland. Thank you. Jared

There are lots at the West Oakland BART where you can get in as late as 9 (cost approx. $5) or sometimes even later. The "Allright" lot is the biggest (but in rainy weather be sure to wear boots - it turns into a swamp) but there are also smaller lots directly across the station on 7th Street. Fran
My husband parks at West Oakland and had this to say: For West Oakland:
  • Bart parking lot - arrive by 6:15 AM
  • Street parking - arrive by 6:45 / 7:00 AM
  • Commuter parking lot ($2) - arrive before 7:30 AM
  • Private, parking lots ($4.50) - arrive by 7:45 / 8:00
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