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Commuting with Kids
Hello! We will begin commuting to SF from Oakland for my 20 month old toddler's daycare (at my place of work). Up until now I've been taking a combination of casual carpool/Transbay Bus/BART to-and-from work, but clearly casual carpool will no longer be an option. I'm a huge fan of the Transbay Bus but I wonder if other parents have taken their children on the bus? I'm nervous mainly about safety. Secondly, if you have any advice taking a stroller on BART during rush hour (both directions!). We can do a combination on any given day, but I think I'd prefer the bus if the general consensus is, ''yes, we've done it, and it's safe''. Thanks! Commuting Momma
My experience with Transbay is that the buses are often delayed by rush hour traffic more than BART is. That said, I prefer the bus because my toddler could look out the window and we talked about the cars, trucks, construction vehicles on the new bridge, boats on the Bay, and everything else there is to be seen.
BART is not only crowded, but loud. Too loud to read books or sing songs and not much to see once you are in the tunnel. My son would often cover his ears through the tunnel. Unless your BART or bus stops on both sides of the Bay are still relatively empty when you get on, I would not recommend a stroller for either unless it is a light umbrella stroller that folds easily while in transit.
I wore a backpack and had my little guy in an Ergo or carried him, but always thought a rolling backpack would be nice. AC Transit riders seem to move or give up a seat more readily for a parent and child than BART passengers. I often had to specifically ask people to allow my child to sit down on a crowded BART, then either sat with my child on my lap or stood up with all of our stuff.
I have never felt unsafe on either BART or AC Transit with my child. I took Transbay from North Oakland/Emeryville and BART from Ashby or MacArthur. Commuter mama and toddler
I live in East Oakland and work in Berkeley and normally commute by BART. My 8 mo. old is in daycare near my home, but because the daycare hours are short, I'm considering trying to find daycare in Berkeley (or close to a BART station in between) instead. But I don't want to drive to work if I can help it. But the train I normally take at 8am is pretty crowded. I'm not sure how people would respond to a stroller on the train at that hour. I could possibly use a carrier. Another thought was (when she's over a year old) taking my bike on the train with her seat if we need it on the other end, but that seems like it would be even more annoying to people. Does anyone have experience with this? Thanks. anon
If your commute is short and your back can handle it, I would suggest using the carrier if the train is going to be packed in the morning and the evening commutes. It might literally be impossible to get the stroller on the train if there are too many people. If you have to use a stroller, get an umbrella one. People are less annoyed with the smaller stroller versus something like a BOB. I've found the front of the train or the back of the train to be less crowded. Be prepared with distractions and snacks for the baby. Also, don't be shy about singing if your baby likes that (reminder that I have to learn more songs besides Old McDonald and the Wheels on the Bus). Also, keep baby wipes and hand sanitizer ready as well as tissues and plastic bags. Not sure about the bike since I don't really ride one; be aware of restrictions for bikes on BART during busy commute hours though. Good luck! Commuting Mom
So, yes. Use a carrier. And minimize the amount of additional stuff you need to carry back and forth by leaving a stock of diapers, food, etc. at the daycare, if at all possible. (Ask if they can wash your bottles, too, so that you can leave each day's milk with them at pick-up for feeding the next day, and pick up clean empties in the morning at drop-off for the day's pumping.)
If you don't already have a carrier you love, I would suggest a sturdy mei tai (like Kozy or Bamberoo) or a buckle carrier that works well for a front carry (like Pikkolo or Dream Carrier), because that will be safer in a crowd than a back carry. With either type, once you find one that fits you well, you won't have any problem continuing to wear her for your commute until she is in preschool.
The other thing you might think about is whether you can adjust your work hours (and her daycare hours) so that you are riding the train before or after the peak rush times. That may or may not be possible or practical, of course, but it's worth doing if you can arrange it. Good luck! Holly
I have a newborn son's daycare is in SF. I need help looking for an individual who would be willing to take a ride across the bridge M-F 8am. I am uncomfortable picking up people who are total strangers or just don't like kids, and bothered by an occasional cry. I would be willing to pick up and drop off. I live in lake merritt, and my sons daycare is close to civic center, would be willing to take whomever all the way to work! Anyway does anyone know a forum? Or any other resources to help find a carpooler!? Or interested in a free ride to and from work depending on location. Alexandra
As for crying, my kid has wailed on occasion, or wanted me to get something from the backseat that I obviously can't get while driving. But he usually settles down or passengers help out.
Only once was he squalling so badly that I pulled up before the carpool line and waited for him to stop. Eventually I just drove up, hoping the distraction of a passenger would stop the tears (it did -- but only sort of) and when the first passenger poked his head in the door I said he should feel free to get in the car behind if a crying child bothered him. Turned out he had kids the same age. In fact, you may well find many carpoolers have their own kids and fully understand that they cry sometimes.
If you're concerned about stinky diapers, why not just be sure to change the baby before you leave? It's only a 20 minute drive from Lake Merritt so chances of a stinkbomb can't be that high... Kid carpooler
I commute to SF with my almost-3-year-old four days a week and am thinking of ditching the carpool lane for BART. With the new carpool fee coming in, the cost of BART v. driving carpool and paying for parking is no longer a wash.
So... can anyone weigh in on what it's like to BART in with a toddler?! When we lived in SF I took my older kid (then 2) in on Muni, so I'm not new to commute hour + kid. We were usually offered a seat for the 15-30 minute rides we took.
Also, we'd have to drive to BART -- either MacArthur or Rockridge. Is it possible to get BART lot parking around 8:30/9 and if not, is all-day street parking available and safe (i.e. little risk of car break-ins). Thanks! Anon
If you can get a permit, for either lot, there are open spaces until around 9:30/10am. I don't know how much permits cost or if there's a waiting list, but you can find that info on the BART website. alexis
As far as the journey itself, I usually tried to take just one seat and have my child sit on my lap, and we would read books (I would always carry three or four different choices). Since we had been doing this for so long, there were very rarely issues with wiggliness or patience, because it just was what we did. Another tip is to always get in the same car. Eventually, people who don't want to be bothered by a child on their commute will realize that you are going to appear in a particular car each day, and they can then choose to start using another car if they want to. This way you end up with relatively tolerant fellow passengers. Over the years we came to have what we called our ''BART Friends''--people who we recognized and who were watching my child grow up! I believe it was a nice experience for everyone!
Seating: Often someone will offer a mother and child a seat, or we got good at asking people to give up their seat if we needed a seat for our child. Sometimes my son would sit on the floor. We don't usually get 2 seats (one for parent, one for child) but we sometimes share a seat with our child or just stand and let him sit. For my 2.5 yr old, and until about 3 yrs old with the older child, we usually have a stroller with us and the kid just sits in the stroller if there are no free seats.
Parking: We walk to BART so this isn't really an issue for us, but for parking at Rockridge you'd need to get a monthly parking pass or pay $4.50 for a daily parking pass for each day that you need it. You have to reserve ahead of time, but I've always been able to get one for the next day at Rockridge when I've needed it. At MacArthur you can do the same or may be able to find street parking still at 8:30. I recommend parking north of 40th (41st and up) as the neighborhood is better. (I live on 41st) There are many streets with all day parking west of MLK. Spots do fill up but I still see spots at 8:30 if you're willing to walk a few blocks.
Entertainment: We entertain the kids on BART with books, coloring and other activities like that, food, an iphone and patience. Its not bad. Sometimes they take the rest of their breakfast to eat on the train. When my son was 4 we did a lot of activity books. We bought a clipboard that has a storage compartment to hold papers & pencils in and kept it stocked with activity sheets we printed off the internet. Brain Quest was another fun activity for a while. Played lots of thumb war too. Its not bad and it entertains the other passengers too.
Good luck and we'll probably see you on BART. Chris
Hi, I will be commuting to SF from Castro Valley starting September 1, with a 7 mo. old. We're just moving to Castro Valley in a couple weeks, so I'm unfamiliar with the options for commuting, other than BART (but it looks like there's a waiting list for the all-day parking) or the NX4 Transbay bus. So far it's looking like the NX4 might be the easiest way to go, since it's just a couple blocks from our house to the stop. I'm hoping someone might have advice as to other options, as well as if there's a monthly pass or something like that that I could buy? Just to make one step of the commute process easier? And from the Transbay Terminal in SF, I'll have to get on another bus, the 9, which I imagine will be pretty crowded. Does anyone else do this with a baby? If so, I would really love to hear how it can be done!!! I want to bring him with me so I can have a couple extra hours with him everyday, as opposed to leaving him at daycare for 11 hours a day. This commute seems really daunting to me. I'm not sure I can do it.
I suggest trying all of your options out and just figuring out the balance between expense, time and simplicity. For me the bus just did not work at all, even though the Transbay bus stop was half a block from my house--there was one day when there was so much traffic on the bridge it took almost 2 hours to get home, and waiting in the Transbay terminal with a baby is much more unpleasant than waiting in a BART station during a similar delay.
I would suggest getting on the waiting list to get a monthly parking permit at a BART station. I believe you can get on several lists at once, and some of them move pretty quickly. In the meantime, you can just do the single day reserved parking option--it is more expensive than the monthly fee, but this will allow you to figure out if it works for you logistically.
There is not going to be a single way to commute that works perfectly, but I really enjoyed commuting on BART with my child. Transit lover
Hi, My husband, 3 month old son and I have outgrown our home in SF mission district and are seriously considering purchasing a home in Berkeley. We both work in SSF so our current commute is only 15 minutes. When I return to work, our LO will stay home with a nanny. If we move to Berkeley, we will take BART and then a shuttle to work which would increase our commute to an hour and 15 minutes. We aren't sure if LO will commute in with us and go to a daycare near work or stay home with a nanny or daycare near home. I guess I'm wondering if the commute and time away from our family is worth the lifestyle and community feeling we lack in the mission district but may find in Berkeley. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Katrina
You can rent a larger place in a nicer neighborhood in San Francisco, close to work. When your baby is old enough to want a back yard with a swing set (and after house prices have stopped plunging), you might have changed jobs and would need a house closer to your new job.
A nice thing about renting is that you can try out a new neighborhood for awhile before you buy a place there. Neighborhoods near elementary schools have more of a community feeling, because all of the parents get to know one another through their kids' activities. Walk to work
In June, I may have to start commuting with my 3 yr old daughter to San Francisco and would like to hear from any parents who have found themselves in a similar position. What strategies have worked best to ease the discomfort of long and daily car trip? (Occasional ferry trips from Alameda may be an option, but would require two bus transfers on the other side to reach the Presidio) Deirdre
I would be very interested in hearing any tips about the Bay Bridge commute from parents who live in the East Bay, work in San Francisco and have children who attend school in the East Bay. My husband and I currently live and work in SF and have been trying to find a house to buy in Berkeley. We've found a school we like in the Berkeley area for our 4- year-old daughter, but I often need to be in SF until 4:30 or so and am worried I'll be stuck on the bridge and won't make it on time to pick her up from school.
How early does one need to leave SF to be in Berkeley by 6:00? What's it like being on the other side of the bridge from your child during the day? Are there any strategies you've found useful to lessen the stress of commuting? Thanks for any hints you can give.
If not, 4:30 to 6 seems like adequate time for even the worst bridge traffic days, although a lot depends on how far off the Bridge you need to be at either end. For peace of mind, you'll want a ''Plan B,'' someone you can call if you are stuck in traffic, but as long as you have a trusted Plan B, you should be fine. commuter
I go in by N Berkeley BART casual carpool (love it) and come
back by AC Transit or BART. If you commute by car on your way home, you would have to leave more time for getting fromyour parking lot and on to the bridge. Have a cell phone on you, and if you leave work at a time when you will cut the pick up time close, you should call as you leave, and let them know you might be late, so they won't hear last minute. Most care givers appreciate the advanced notice.
Other hints..... Make sure you absolutely leave work on time to get your coworkers used to the idea. Don't cut it close everyday or you'll add too much stress to your daily routine. Work at home at least one day a week if possible. Make sure your child's care giver is able to reach you if your child is ill, as it may take you an hour mid-day to get there to pick your sick child up. Have your partner drop your child off in the a.m. so you can get in early enough to leave on time at the end of the day. Designate East Bay working friends and family on your regular and emergency pick up card. Get cell phone numbers of families you! get close to at your child's school, who pick their kid up around the same time, and help each other to pick up the other's kid on the few times you are running late. In summary - it actually works out fine, and lots of families do it.
Does any one have suggestions how to maximize the quality of time spent in the car with a toddler? My son Ricky is fifteen months old now, and we spend more than an hour in the car each day commuting together. That makes it a large chunk of his day, and our time together. I sing lots of songs for him, but I was wondering if any one has any other suggestions. Lisa
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