Commuting to the South Bay/Silicon Valley
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Commuting to the South Bay/Silicon Valley
Commuting from Oakland-Berkeley Area to the South Bay
Could anyone that drives to San Bruno from Oakland for work tell me how long it
typically takes in the morning vs. the evening, and whether you use the Bay Bridge or
end up taking 92? (Berkeley or Alameda commuters are welcome to chime in too!) Is it
soul-sucking or tolerable?
prospective SB commuter
My husband commutes between our home in Berkeley and his office in San
Bruno by BART. BART takes just under an hour from Downtown Berkeley
and then depending on the weather and if he feels like exercise or
not, he either catches a shuttle bus to his office or walks.
I'm not sure what the drive would be like but I can't imagine it would
be much faster and I imagine it would be more stressful than sitting
on a train where you could read or use a laptop.
If you're close to BART at both ends I'd consider going by train
instead of driving if possible.
I commuted from the Laurel District (Mills College) to San Bruno
(Bayhill) for a year (2005-6).
About half the time I drove the 10 extra miles to take the 92 ... it
depended on how early I could get out of the house and what the
511.org showed for traffic each morning. If out before 6am, I would go
through SF, if after I would take 580 to 92 and back up 101. Either
route took 45m-1hr
unless there was an accident or major jam. If you can pick up
carpoolers, that would help
some for going through SF. Check out the casual carpool.
Best of luck.
I've done the commute from San Francisco to Berkeley, with occasional
driving to Berkeley in the mid-afternoon. Based on my constant
checking traffic radio while on the road, I'd say that no matter how
you do this, it will be a challenge. Second, the giant mass of
commuters apparently all jumps into their cars at 3pm sharp to cross
the Bay Bridge. After 530 or so, SF to Oakland Bay Bridge traffic is
much thinner. If you could leave at 9 or even 10 to get to San Bruno,
then leave work at 700, I'd say this would be an okay commute. At peak
hours, you would have a terrible time of it, on a regular basis. (Is
BART an option ?).
Good Luck !
We're about to move to the bay area and from reading about the various neighborhoods it
seems that our family is most compatible with the east bay (Albany, Richmond, Piedmont,
Lamorinda) in terms of public schooling, what we could afford to buy, and lifestyle (prefer
urban areas). The issue is that I work as an electrical engineer will most likely be
working in the south bay (Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, etc.)
I understand it's a pretty bad commute to the south bay so it seems we have a tradeoff to
make: better quality of life but less time with the family (due to the long commute) or
lower quality of life (don't really like suburbs) but more time with the family.
I'm curious to hear which way other families on this list have decided? Shorter commute? Or
urban life? Do you regret your decision?
I grew up in the South Bay (my family is still there) and I live in the East
Bay. There is no way in hell that I would voluntarily commute from the East
Bay to the South Bay. It's a horrible commute and can easily take 3 hours if
one small thing goes wrong and there are no good public transportation options
(thanks San Mateo County for stopping BART from going all the way around the
bay). You will regret it. But there are lots of cool places to live in the
South Bay. Palo Alto is great if you can afford it. Mtn. View around Castro
Street is great. The Willow Glen area of San Jose is also really nice. I
wouldn't be so quick to diss the South Bay without doing some more research.
Don't do it
Avoid this soul-crushing commute.
- Some employers have busses/vanpools that can make things a little more
- If you live in a place north of the ''Macarthur Maze'' (e.g. Albany) or east
of the Caldecott Tunnel (e.g. Lamorinda) you'll hit one more major traffic
obstacle than if you live in Piedmont/Alameda.
- If you can commute before 7:30am and after 7pm, you might bypass a lot of
My husband has been making the commute from Oakland to Santa Clara for almost
5 years now. We have a 2.5 year old and one on the way and we have finally
decided the impact on our family is just not worth it anymore. As the economy
has improved, the commute has gotten longer and longer (and he carpools). It
averages 1.5 hours each way, and on a bad day it can take him 2+ hours to get
home. We are reluctantly starting our search for a home down in San
Jose/Santa Clara. We hate to leave the East Bay. We love it up here, but it
is just not doable anymore.
Having said that, some people make it work by doing off commute hours (leave
really early in the morning and leave work by 3pm, etc) but that is not
feasible with my husband's job or personality. Think about the 3+ hour time
suck that will be your commute before you commit to living up here in the East
Bay. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I wanted to share our
experience with you.
Do NOT buy so far from your family!!!
Because we already owned a wonderful home - ''The Home of Our Dreams'' - in
the ''Near East Bay,'' when my husband began working in SanJose, he commuted.
As the economy came back, his commute went from typically-45min-one-way to
typically-more-than-an-hour-one-way to typically-2hours-one-way.
By the time he got home, the kids and I were asleep.
To get to mornings meetings, he left at sunrise.
When there was an accident, he'd phone to ask me to send e'mail to others that
he'd be late.
DON'T - DON'T - DON'T!!!
Please do not opt for the commute. The commute here is horrible. I am
writing this from making the same mistake you are about to make. We live in
the Eastbay and my husband works in Palo Alto. We own our house in the East
bay that we bought for the very reason you listed. We could not picture
ourselves live in South bay. What we did not realize is the gem called the
''Peninsula''. But next year we will move to the Penisula. Foster City is
amazing, you should check it out. We will rent our house and move into a
rental. There I have said it -the commute makes nothing else worth it,
including trading our house for a rental. We have decided that time with
family trumps all other priorities. Schools are awesome too in the peninsula.
You FOR SURE do NOT want to commute from Richmond or Albany or Lamorinda or
anything like that down to the South Bay. The traffic is horrific and you will
be in the car for hours each day, seriously easily 3-4 hours. Also, none of
the areas you mentioned are truly ''urban'' ... they are all suburbs. I'd
pick something on the Peninsula or South Bay if I were you. I work from home
three days a week and my husband is a mile from home and although we feel
lucky we still aren't really picking our kids up from school until maybe
530p/6p so we are home by 6/630p trying to get dinner on the table. It
doesn't leave a lot of time to hang out with them and we feel rushed and
stressed a lot. I could not imagine adding hours of driving in traffic on top
of that. In each area you'll find cute neighborhoods that you like, some like
Palo Alto or Burlingame have great downtowns in walking distance. San Jose is
obviously super urban, it's a major city. I don't know the area but there are
sure to be a ton of neighborhoods around there you might like. Really, most
of the Bay Area ''suburbs'' do not feel like a traditional Mid-West suburb.
It's fairly urban all around. My personal pick is shortest commute possible,
find a neighborhood that suits you and you'll be happy. Good luck!
Don't Waste Your Life Sitting In a Car
My husband commutes Oakland to Redwood shores. It sucks, but we are happy to
be living here! Heres the compromises - he managed to swing it so he can WAH
2 days a week - this is a huge deal. And then on the days he's at the office,
I really don't expect him home before 8, at the earliest. The rush hour
commute is crazy, but at 7, or 7.30 he can be home in 35 or 40 minutes.
this is the reality for us.
I moved about year ago from Piedmont to the Peninsula. I had been in SF for 10
years and then Piedmont for 6 before this move. I understand your desire for
more urban living. My husband was commuting to Sunnyvale from the east bay and
it was pretty brutal. For us, more family time was a big part of our decision
to move. Would you consider the mid-peninsula area (Milbrae, Burlingame, San
Mateo)? It would ease the commute to the south bay but you are still close to
the city. Caltrain is a good commute option as well. The communities here
are diverse, not as urban and Oakland and Berkeley but far from the
traditional burb. I don't regret the move at all. I miss the great
restaurants in the east bay but overall its been a good move for our family.
Congrats on your pending move to the Bay Area. I am assuming from your post
that you have not spent much time here, as there are some vast differences
between the cities you think you might like, and perhaps some
misunderstandings about them. I cannot comment on the east bay to south bay
commute, but wanted to weigh in on the one thing I do know about, to help you
narrow and refine your choices: Lamorinda is not urban, by most definitions of
urban. You will drive everywhere. It is not very diverse, either
socio-economically or racially (it is diverse politically, meaning there are
some registered Republicans). Lafayette and Orinda have Bart stations, but
that's it; you will likely drive to the Bart station if you use it. In fact,
Lafayette bills itself as ''semi-rural.'' Don't get me wrong, I love
Lafayette, and don't regret moving there for a minute. But if, after careful
consideration, you decide it is ''urban enough'' for you, I would seriously
consider looking in the South Bay, which will have about as much ''urbanness''
as Lafayette, but without the commute (which I hear is horrid but will leave
that for others to opine on).
happy in the 'burbs
The commute from the east bay to the south bay is not just a ''pretty bad
commute,'' it is a soul-crushing one. Trust me, my family has been going
through this for the last 4 years and it's been awful. (I say ''family''
because this commute effects everyone in the family). On a good day, my
husband spends an average of 3 hours in the car - sometimes 3 hours just to
get home on a Friday night - and there is NO good time to travel. He is
stressed out, has no time for himself, and is rarely home to see our youngest
off to bed. On the weekends, he doesn't want to go anywhere!
Unless, you can carpool or find a way to get there by public transportation, I
STRONGLY suggest living closer to your job or getting another one. We would
have moved, but we were already settled in Berkeley. The bay area is a
wonderful place to live, but please try to limit your commute!
I know you've said you looked other places, but what you can find in Albany,
Piedmont, or the Lamorinda area is almost just as easy to find on the
Peninsula. You can find good schools, a quick trip to urban-enough areas, and
have a much, much easier commute.
Your list is a little all over the map in terms of socio-economic/safety/size
of community factors (If you really want to stay in the East Bay and want good
public schools, I'd add Alameda to your last and take Richmond off). You might
think about adding San Leandro, too. See archives for more info about all of
If you decide to go South Bay, look around Redwood City, Menlo Park,
Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Palo Alto. Those are very different in terms of
what housing costs/quality of schools, but they each have their own
advantages, too. And why not San Jose? You'd only be an hour away from SF,
which is about how long it takes people to get to SF from Walnut Creek on
public transportation, too.
- Been there, hated the commute
My family is dealing with the same issue right now. I live in Point Richmond
and work in El Cerrito, and my boyfriend just moved from LA and works in Palo
Alto. He is currently staying with me in Point Richmond, but the commute is
2.5 hours each direction by public transportation and 1.5 hours by car. It's
hard... We are looking for something a little further South, or finding him a
commute buddy. If you are intertested in car-pooling (he doesn't have a car
so you would have to drive) please let me know. Thanks and good luck!
My husband used to commute from Albany to Mountain View and then to
There is a direct Amtrak service called Capitol Corridor.
Here is a link to their service:
It goes all the way from Sacramento to Santa Clara.
If I remember correctly, it only 5 stops from Berkeley to Santa Clara.
Afterwards to can connect to VTA (local buses and trams).
Inside the train they have a snack bar, and a quiet car for sleeping.
Also they have tables and power plug in so you can work on the train.
I think there are 2 trains in the morning going South and 3 trains in the
evening going North.
Best of luck
No, no, no! I commuted from Oakland to RWC/Menlo Pk for 6 years because I had a
fantastic job and we had a house in Oakland. No way was I going to live on the
Peninsula-lived down to my sterotypes of culturally dead, car oriented, etc.
Pre-kids, it seemed worth it, but after? No way was I going to spend those 3 extra
hours-if any traffic or holdup at all-away from our daughter. Now we live in
Minneapolis, where we don't have to compromise on anything-my ''commute''is 10
no more commutes!
My doctor once said : ''#1 health - drive less.''
It affects the body (exercise) mind (less stress) and safety : you may be a good
driver, but there are a lot of bad ones out there.
Good luck !
I wanted to offer a different perspective - I commute from Berkeley to Santa Clara 3
days/week and don't mind it at all, but there are some key factors that make it work
First, I love our house/town/location, and I love my work. I would be hard pressed
to choose between them. Second, I only do it 3 days/wk, and work from home 2 days.
Also, my commute time is 'on the clock' AND I have arranged my work schedule to keep
the commute, generally, to 1.5 hours each way. So I leave at 6 am, get to work by
7:30. Leave work at 3:30 in order to be sure to make daycare pick up at 5:30
(usually I'm ahead of this by 20 minutes or so). Since I'm paid for my commute
time, that works out to an 11.5 hour day - which means I fit 40 hours into four days
and have a day off a week, which is great. Finally, and I think this is critical,
traffic, in and of itself, doesn't get to me. Many folks feel super frustrated,
unhappy, etc in traffic. I just accept it as part of life, and spend a lot of time
on the phone catching up with friends/family, or listening to audiobooks.
Trade offs include not seeing my kids at all those mornings, and needing a nanny,
since my husband also has to leave for work at a reasonable (7:30) time, and there's
just no way to do two daycare dropoffs (we have a preschooler and baby) and allow
him to also get to work on time.
Wow! It seems that there really isn't any debate about this issue and I'll have to
refocus my house/ housing search to the south bay Granted, Berkeley isn't 'urban'
compared to NY/ Chicago, but I considered it more 'urban' than the south bay. Oh
well, I'll just have to prepare myself for strip-mall life!
Thank you all for the advice!
Does anyone commute by personal boat from the Oakland, Alameda, or Richmond marinas to
the Redwood City marina? I could then bike to Caltrain and take the train to Mountain
View. Or by Ferry into SF and then train to Mountain View? I am trying to come up with
creative / interesting ways to commute from Berkeley / Oakland to Mountain View.
Happier on the water ...
There's a new, very cool ferry service, with brand new boats from Oakland & Alameda to South San
Francisco. Hope this helps: http://sanfranciscobayferry.com/route/oakland/ssf
I'd be very interested to hearing the response to this. I will be commuting to Stanford from
Alameda in the future and would love to have an efficient and pleasant way to do this, so the
water seems the obvious approach! We have a power boat that we could use but it all very much
depends on interest and people's schedules as to whether this becomes a viable option as a
'carpool'. The boat can accommodate a few bikes too, so the onward journey shouldn't be too
Get in touch if this is something that you might be interested in and maybe we can get a plan
want to be watery
My husband is considering a full-time job offer at Intel. We
live in Oakland, near the Piedmont border and would like to
keep living where we are. He is currently working as a
contractor at Intel and so is familiar with the commute,
hates it, but doesn't do it every day. We could really use
more financial stability and this is the only full-time
offer he's has right now. I would love to hear from anyone
else who might be in a similar commute situation and how you
manage. Amtrack seems do-able time-wise, but it looks really
expensive ($640/mo! Is that right?). It also occurred to us
that maybe carpooling would cut down on time but he's
hesitant to carpool with a total stranger. We could get an
HOV car but not sure how much time that would really cut
down on. There is a shuttle from Caltran to the Intel
headquarters but taking bart to Caltran takes as long as
Right now he is driving about 20 hours a week to get to and
from Intel. It's like a part-time job Any advise would be
I commute on Amtrak between Davis and Berkeley. It is true
that a single ride ticket is expensive, but I get 10-ride
tickets that are much less ($13.40 vs. $22) and there are
monthly passes that are even less if you go in every day.
(I don't, so the 10-ride is best for me.)
Look on the Amtrak website for ''multi-ride tickets'' and it
will quote you the prices for 10-ride tickets and monthly
passes. Not sure which stations exactly your husband will
be using, but Oakland Coliseum to Santa Clara is $98 for a
10-ride ticket and $256 for a monthly pass.
I have to say, I love commuting on the train. They have
wireless so I can work or I can just read and relax. And I
bring my bike on the train to make commuting on either end
One more thing: you can get two transfers for every train
ride (just ask when the conductor takes your ticket), so
if he needs to take a bus on either end, he can use those.
Or sometimes I just save them and take my 4-year old to
ride the bus.
I don't do the Amtrak commute, but looked into it for a
potential job, and my neighbor does it from Piedmont. He
parks at Jack London Square and takes Amtrak to Santa Clara.
He loves it as Amtrak has power and room to work while
Amtrak offers monthly tickets here:
The monthly cost is $272 according to the site. I think
parking at the station is about $100 a month.
Also, it is likely that Intel has a commuter benefit. My
company allows commuting costs to be paid pre-tax, which
saves a bit of money (roughly 15-35% depending on your
marginal tax rate).
Fellow long distance commuter
I highly recommend carpool/vanpool. If you find a regular carpool partner,
they won't be a 'total stranger' for long. I have a similarly lengthy commute
and have joined a vanpool. It is the only way I am still doing this commute --
without it, I'm pretty sure I would have quit my job a long time ago. The
other key factors are starting work in the early a.m. and departing from work
by or before 4pm. For many with this kind of commute, it means negotiating
your work schedule with your employer as part of the hiring process. If you
are carpooling or vanpooling and you don't get carsick, you can potentially
work during your commute when it's not your turn to drive (you may need a
smartphone with tethering plan). You can also take work home, but that is
harder since you're probably getting up at 5am or earlier for your commute.
Here are 3 places you can go for ridematch services:
fellow road warrior
I commute to Mt View from Oakland and it is long. I get the feeling that it is
longer to Santa Clara. We tried to move closer but it didn't work out and I
adjusted my attitude and am much more calm and accepting of the
commute. I would recommend carpooling though--remember the person
will only be a stranger for a couple days. : )
Also it's a job and you get to live in a great place. Pandora, podcasts and
audiobooks are options to stay busy or educated!
Sharing my experience commuting from Oakland to San Jose
for almost five years:
First, I commuted via BART from Oakland to Fremont then
took the VTA 'express' bus to San Jose. BART was
convenient based on where we lived and while the bus was
not that pleasant/efficient, it worked. Being on the
BART/bus was not particularly relaxing since there are
sometimes sketchy behaviors/people to deal with, but it was
bearable until it wasn't.
Then I switched to Amtrak, parking at Jack London Square
and taking the train to SJ. Definitely the nicest
situation; the trains are clean and well maintained, I
could work or sleep or buy a snack or just vegetate, and
the clientele is mellow. The 10-ride Amtrak pass reduces
the cost pretty significantly. Amtrak doesn't offer tons of
trains so if you miss the one you want, it can be quite a
wait unlike BART where trains are quite frequent.
After Amtrak, there was an opportunity to join two of my co-
workers in their daily carpool from Oakland to San Jose.
This had some advantages. One, I only drove once or twice
per week, since we took turns driving our cars, saving gas
money and vehicle wear. Two, no more paying for any kind of
train or bus. Three, I liked the guys I carpooled with and
we had pleasant conversations. Disadvantages: we didn't
always leave San Jose at the agreed-upon time due to one of
the carpoolers' intense workload and reluctance to depart
on time, sometimes I didn't feel like chatting, and there
was no schedule flexibility in the morning unlike when you
ride a train and can choose to take a later one when the
situation warrants it.
Overall, I got worn out from commuting between Oakland and
San Jose. It takes a tremendous toll on a person to work
full-time and spend 2.5 to 3 hours commuting per day,
mostly emotional/physical/mental effects. Don't
underestimate the time/fatigue! I left my house at 6:30
a.m. and most days felt extremely luck to get back home at
6:15 pm. I found commuting to be untenable once we had our
first child and I realized I only saw her awake for one
hour per day. Based on the above experiences, I've
concluded that commuting is a lifestyle choice that
requires tremendous sacrifice of family time... and I
changed jobs and cities so that I can live one mile from
work and get there on foot, bike, or via a short drive.
I am going to accept a job in Cupertino and live in N.
Berkeley. I know the commute down 880 is nothing nice, and
have read some threads on the BPN that were several years
old (pretty much horror stories about it). Does anyone have
any recent experiences or suggestions on how to make it less
Are there ''casual carpooler'' type programs to at least get a
carpool going down 880?
I did a few consulting gigs in Cupertino and that commute
stinks without carpooling (though the carpooling was fun).
Think hard about it, think about what kind of life you want.
Some folks enjoy the ''solitude'' of being in their auto.
If you have a family you want to spend time with, that's 10
to 12 hours you will be commuting... per week.
*former* corporate geek
Go to 511.org and find a carpool or vanpool so that you're not behind the wheel
every day. If you have a typical 8am-5pm sort of job, try to arrange your
schedule so that you start work no later than 7:30 a.m. and leave work no later
than 4:00. Or try to avoid rush hour altogether. I've been commuting from
Berkeley to Palo Alto area daily for 10 years, and my vanpool is the only reason
I'm still sane.
I hope that you can find someone to carpool with, but if
you can't, how about learning a new language while you
drive? You can get those French/Italian/Spanish whatever
tapes or CDs and learn while you drive. Or, get books on
I suggest you to move in the area. I used to commute to
Mountain View from Berkeley by North Berkeley Bart. It is
50 miles each way. It takes at lease one hour driving
with no traffic. Morning commute is very stressful.
There was not single day driving without heavy traffic.
It also was very dangerous driving home every single
days. I got sleepy when I was driving home every time
because I was tired from working. I was lucky I did not
involve any accidents. Please think about high risks of
involving accident driving so much every day. It will
cost you for gas, too.
I did not know Silicon Valley Area even though I worked in
the Are. I did not have a time to discover there because
I worked full time and commuted long time. I visited
Caputino few weeks ago. I found out that Silicon Valley
is a good are. East Bay could be a depressing area
because there are more crimes and weather is cold. People
might live happier if they live places warm.
Long commuting is waste of money and time. I believe you
will have better life moving in there.
If there's anything you can do to avoid this commute, do it. If you
must live in
Berkeley, can you find a job in SF instead of Cupertino? If
Cupertino is the
best (or only) choice for work, then see if you can find a way to
move to South
Bay or at least the peninsula. If you're looking for quality of
life similar to
Berkeley, your South Bay choices will be Palo Alto or (less
View, both exorbitant to buy a house in, and expensive for rent.
offers somewhat better rental deals in San Carlos and San Mateo,
commute will be 30-40 min instead of 1.5 hours each way. The only
place that's similar to Berkeley but offers a better commute down
south (that I
know of) is Alameda, particularly Bayfarm, since you can drive
airport and get on the 880 in San Leandro, resulting in a 45-min
Finally, if you must go from Berkeley to Cupertino, see if you can
some days of working from home (I assume you have a tech job so
be an option). Going back and forth 5 days a week will be utter
A commuter's wife.
my husband commutes from albany to sunnyvale. you're right, it's
not pretty, but
he makes it work by getting up at 5/5:30, beating traffic, and
getting a good
workout in at his gym in sunnyvale before work. he can make it
there in 50 min
at that hour. the trip home at the end of the day is a different
story, but we
figure in this economy the time away from home is worth it for a
great job he
enjoys. the evening commute includes books on tape, podcasts and
phone catch up with his family (although he's not big on talking
some companies have van pools, and i believe there's a carpool
I am considering taking a job in San Mateo and I live in North
Berkeley. Does anyone have experience with the commute from
Berkeley-San Mateo-Berkeley? I would only carpool or do the
public transportation route. I have two children and am the
primary breadwinner of the family --- the job would be
fascinating. Any thoughts specific to the commute appreciated.
Afraid of hairy commutes
We live near Berkeley and my husband commutes to Redwood shores.
Its a long drive and the traffic can be a challenge (public
transport doesn't go anywhere near where he needs to be). We
have a 2 year old and its tough for my husband to be home in time
to say hi before the toddler is in bed, unless he leaves work
super early, or sits in traffic for an hour or more.
Our compromise is that he works from home 1, if not 2 days a week
- so that on those days I know they get to hang out a little on
and off throughout the day and that Daddy is DEFINATELY available
for bath/bed time.
Its not impossible, but its tough at times, though for us its
worth it to live where we do........
SAHM of commuting partner
I've been doing the El Cerrito to Foster City commute for 3
years now. Whether pursuing public transportation or
carpooling, I recommend leaving early and coming home early. I
find that getting through the maze either Bay Bridge or San
Mateo Bridge bound is best if I go through it before 6:15 a.m.
If you take BART, parking fills up fast, so you have to get
there early as well.
I commute from North Berkeley to Milpitas (CIsco Campus). The commute
is terrible. I'm searching for commute partners or for information on
casual carpooling down to Milpitas. I could only find casual carpool
info for going into the city.
Thanks in advance.
My husband commutes down 80 then 880 to 237 each day and would
like to talk to you about a possible carpool.
How long does it take to commute from north Berkeley to
Cupertino? I need to be in Cupertino from 9am-5pm for a few
Dare I say, a long, long time? I did this drive 4-5 times a year
from Oakland for my previous job, and it is a challenging
commute. I used to give myself and hour and a half....From N.
Berkeley, at least 2 hours?
We are a family of four -- two daughters ages 5 and 3 --
relocating from the LA area to the Bay Area. My wife works in SF
and I work in Redwood Shores, and we've been scouting
neighborhoods from a temporary setup in SF. We love the East Bay
and especially the Oakland Hills neighborhoods, but I'm concerned
about the commute to Redwood Shores. I'm especially concerned
because the company could move even further south at some point.
I'd love to hear from anyone who's doing the commute and whether
it's tolerable. People in the office seem to think I'm nuts.
Thanks for the advice!
I commute from the Oakland Hills (right off Hwy 13) to Redwood
Shores now. It is long and its not my ideal commute but on a
good day it is 35 minutes and a bad day it is 55 to where we
live/I work. I have also learned which city streets to take
instead of freeways when the traffic is bad (which I highly
recommend). You can get phone calls out of the way too,
especially on the way to work. I also recommend Sirius satellite
radio or an iPod, that helps me. People always make comments
about how crazy I must be but I like where I work and we love
where we live too. Some people commute the same time to SF for
jobs but the only difference is they are not doing the driving
Hwy 92 commuter
While I am not currently doing the commute, I have clients all over the peninsula
and south bay and know the drives well. The commute is really a personal
preference. Are you OK with spending an hour+ in the car each way? It was too
much for me. I drove from SF to Mtn. View for 2 years and was done with
commuting. With neither of you working in the east bay, I would suggest trying to
avoid the drive. If you are in high tech (I am making an assumption here), the jobs in
the east bay are slim (but there are some) and you will most likely be signing up to
commute for the long term. Another option would be living on the Peninsula
(depending on your budget). Take a look at San Mateo (Baywood off of 92 is a good
area) or Burlingame. There would be more job flexibility for you on the Peninsula
and your wife could take the train to SF. Good Luck!
People are right, you are nuts! I did a similar commute (but
slightly shorter) for 9 months and it took a lot of time out of
my life. My husband does the same commute now and is going crazy.
My former boss has been doing this commute since September and
just left a job she loved because she couldn't take it anymore.
And if you regret it and want to take public transportation,
forget it. Three data points, anyway
Not doing that again
This is somewhat of a follow-up question to the move closer to
husband's job question from last time. I already commute from
Rockridge to Hayward/Union City on 880 which takes at best 30
min in the morning and 45 min at night during peak commute
times, but often longer. I am considering taking a fabulous job
in Palo Alto and moving isn't an option for us. I also don't
have a ton of flexibility due to our childcare arrangements
(i.e, can't regularly leave the house at 6am or stay at work
until 7pm) and will have to continue to typically be driving
during peak commute times. How much worse will the commute
really be compared to what I'm already doing?
How bad is bad?
Under optimum conditions commuting from Hayward to Palo-Alto takes about 35 minutes. Driving at around 7:30 without access to the commuter lanes takes close to an hour.
Also without commuting the bridge toll will be $3 a day which can be a factor but the quick-pass lanes do move almost as quickly as the commuter lane.
My evening return commute at 4pm has recently averaged about 50 minutes if I leave at 4pm, and about an hour if leaving significantly after 4 and before 7.
Adjust up or down depending on where you need to go. My times are probably about equivalent to driving all the way to the 580 interchange, so add another 30m or so depending on where you live in Berkeley.
You might look into some kind of public transit/driving combo. I recently had a job interview on the peninsula (Mountain View) and took the caltrain from San Francisco. It was way faster than I had anticipated and I got there a whole hour ahead of time. The baby bullet is really fast (30-40 minutes) and runs during peak hours and they have a stop in Palo Alto.
I commuted, not to the Penisula, but to San Jose for about 2.5 years. I CANNOT imagine doing that commute now, with kids and a daycare pickup. The commute routinely took me 1.5-2 hours, and it did not involve a bridge. I think you should be prepared for at least 3 hours a day in the car, if you work in Palo Alto and live in Berkeley/Oakland. That might be OK 2 days a week, but would be very hard to do every day, and would probably wreak havoc with any kind of childcare pickup.
I have been commuting from Berkeley/Oakland/Piedmont area to Redwoods Shores for the past 11+ years. I also generally commute during normal traffic times. It helps that I can work at home one day a week. If there is any possibility of tele-commuting part time, I highly recommend it.
The commute has gotten better since they widened the San Mateo bridge. Also, there has been less traffic after the dot com bust, but I've noticed it has been creeping up again (so our economy must be improving).
Primarily, it depends on your attitude. For me, the commute was worth it for the right job.
I live in N.Oakland and have been commuting to Menlo Park for almost 2yrs. On average, it takes an hour each way leaving home at 7am and leaving work at 4pm. There are pockets of slow traffic, but they're brief and the rest of the time it's mostly clear.
It's bad.. it's a waste of time, expensive and tiring. However, I'm finding it tolerable for several reasons - I LOVE the job, my hours are reasonable, I work at home 1-2 days a week, and I carpool with a friend 1-2 days (which doesn't reduce the drive time much, but helps with the monotony). I don't think I'd do it 5 days a week. Good luck with your decision!
Yes, it's bad. I commuted from Oakland to the same job on the Peninsula for 6 years. My office was in Menlo Park for the first
5 years, and then Redwood City for one. It was terrible when I had to work regular hours; 1 1/2 hours each way was not uncommon. After the dot com bust, changing hours to non-commute, and having my office move to RWC, I got it down to 45 minutes.
Still, if there was any kind of accident or bridge trouble, it was a nightmare. Before I had a child I put up with it because the job was ideal, with a great salary and benefits. Once I had a child, however, there was NO WAY that commute (even 45 minutes) was worth it. I didn't want my child to have to suffer through long car trips every day and so did not consider childcare on the Peninsula, although I suppose that would be an option for some. I'm ok with working, but I'm not ok with spending time in the car instead of with my kids-what a waste of time! There ARE good jobs up here, too. I sacrificed a fair amount of money, but now work 5 minutes from home and preschool and couldn't be happier.
Good luck on your decision.
Does anyone know of reliable public transportation from the East
Bay (Oakland) to Palo Alto (near Stanford)? I am beginning a
regular commute and don't know what the public transportation
options and path might be. Also, is there a casual carpool to
this destination? Any other commute tips would be helpful.
The only way I can think of is BART/Casual Carpool into SF, and
Caltrain down to PA. http://www.transitinfo.org/ is the best
resourse I know of for commuting.
Check www.511.org. It will help you plan a transit trip and can
also give carpool information. If you use the trip planner, play
with the parameters some to see different options.
No specific suggestions, but you should check out the ''trip
planner'' page at www.511.org.
I used public transportation to Palo Alto VA when I was doing
my residency. I live in El Cerrito. It was long but great for
naps. I took Bart from del norte and got off at Union City.
From there I took the Dumbarton Express bus to Palo Alto.
There's 2 DB buses, the DB will get you to downtown Palo Alto
and closer to Stanford. DB1 is better for getting to the Page
Mill area and the VA. It took about 1.5-2 hours usually. I
always thought going this way was cheaper than going through
the city via Caltrain. But it could've been offset by getting
Commuter checks through work and using them to get BartPlus tix
which gives you a free ride on all buses(samtrans/AC
transit/muni), and a discount on dumbarton express.
Occasionaly I'd take Samtrans KX to downtown SF then walk a
block to BART but I don't remember if this was faster. It all
depends what time you get off of work too. Good luck!
There is a bus called the Dumbarton express from/to the Fremont Bart
station and goes to Palo Alto. AC Transit also has a bus called the U
LIne from/to the Fremont Bart station that is an express bus to Stanford.
There are many vanpools/carpools (only need 2 passengers). If you
time it right, in a carpool, the commute is under an hour.
Berkeley-Palo Alto commuter
My husband commutes to Stanford from Alameda, so here is what I know about
your options: You can take BART to downtown SF (Montgomery or Powell) and walk
to CalTrain, and take CalTrain to Palo Alto. There are also vanpools to Stanford
from the East Bay, so if Stanford is reasonably close to where you are going you
could investigate those (call Stanford). You could also check out car pool forming
resources at http://www.511.org. (One could also take BART to Fremont, and then
take the Dumbarton Express across the bay. I don't know where you are going in
Palo Alto, but from Alameda to Stanford would take about 2 hours by that method,
so I don't recommend it.)
AC Transit has a bus from Fremont Bart to the Stanford Campus.
There used to be something called the ''Dumbarton Express'' from I
thought Union City BART, but I don't know if it is still in
existance, or maybe replaced by the bus from Fremont. Call AC
Transit, or maybe even someone at the Metropolitan
Transportation Commission (MTC) in Oakland might know.
Would be a whole lot easier if you went to Cal.
My husband will be teaching at San Jose State University in the
coming school year. We live in El Cerrito. If he took Amtrack or
Caltrans (combined with BART) it would take at least 2 hours each
Is there an alternative that folks are using for quicker
transportation to SJSU and back? Such as a local carpool that
goes to SJSU?
The road commute is a brute, even with carpool. I did it some years ago,
and it can be very tiring. I know the train is no picnic either. I'm
afraid to say that a lot of people get a room down there - I understand
this is not an attractive option, but the strain of the two way commute
is too much after a while. Yes, wouldn't it be grand if the geniuses
that plan things in this area had thought to put a loop rail system
round the bay 40 years ago.
Hi, I live in Downtown Berkeley and need to go to Stanford
(University) for work reasons a couple of times this year. I
don't have a car and don't drive. Is there a good way to get
there (and back) with public transportation? Are there shuttles
between UCB and Stanford? Or maybe I can join other commuters for
Carless in Berkeley
What are the best ways to commute to
Stanford from Berkely? I have to do it for one year. I know
others do this and I know it is not easy.
What are the pros and cons of car vs. public transportation?
When do things lighten up -- i.e., could I leave early/late to
save a substantial amount of time?
Are there carpooling or vanpooling options out there?
Thanks for your help!
I have commuted from Berkeley to Stanford for almost 10 years now.
Although I drive (we are a carpool) there are options. There are many
carpools/vanpools you can join. Also there is a new bus (the U bus)
that goes directly from the Fremont Bart to the Stanford campus that
runs numerous times every morning/evening.
Just to throw it in the pot, there's a Caltrain that has a shuttle from
the station to Stanford. You'd have to call to see if the schedule works
I would suggest taking BART to CalTrain, and then taking the shuttle
from the Stanford station. This is time-consuming but workable.
Currently I am driving to Stanford daily for work. I find driving there
works best if you leave before 6:45am and if it is possible, leave for
home by 4pm. You will still hit some traffic (some of which can be
avoided if you can carpool). The fastest way at those time is 880 south
to the dunbarton bridge. If you can't head home so early, head east on
the 92 and drive through downtown Hayward to the 580. Sounds time-
consuming, but allows you to skip the ever-present accidents on 880.
Also, be sure to become friends with 511. Feel free to ask me more about
Hi! I work at Stanford, primarily online, so I can't, unfortunately,
offer you a ride. My visits to campus are unpredicatble. The university
did just send me an announcement;however, that AC Transit has begun
service from Fremont to Stanford. You can get the bus at the Fremont
BART, the Centreville Amtrack/ACE station or Ardenwood Park and ride.
It's free if you have a Stanford ID. It's called Line U Stanford
Express and you can get more info at www.actransit.org.
There is a transbay bus that goes from Fremont BART to Stanford, but it
will take a long time to get there. See:
For carpool info, call 511 or go to 511.org.
Driving during rush hour will be congested, but it may take as little as
45 minutes if you drive during off-peak times (if such times exist on
weekdays anymore). Good luck!
Is there a way to commute from the Oakland/Berkeley area to the
Stanford Medical Center without having to drive? I am looking
for either a vanpool or, bus service for my father who will be
living here one year from now to do a sabbatical at Stanford. We
really want him to live here in the East Bay to be near our
family, but he is not willing to drive so far to work every day
and is considering living in South San Francisco so he can be
closer to Palo Alto. Does anyone have any suggestions?
The rideshare page on 511.org has a link to check available rideshare seats:
Click ''Check our list of vanpool routes with available seats.''
There is an entry for a commute from Berkeley to ''Standford'' (sic). Good luck!
He could take Bart to SFO, then switch to CalTrain to get to
Stanford. (Stanford has free buses from the train station to
the university and medical school). The length of his commute
would then be determined by how far he was from a Bart Station,
and how far from SFO the Bart station was located. Stanford
also has van pools, etc. They are required by the county to
control the number of vehicles coming onto campus, so they are
very helpful and generous about incentives not to take a car -
for example, my husband and I carpool, and they give us a free
parking permit, plus $10 each per year (rather than us paying
$180 per year for the permit). They also provide free transit
passes for full-time employees. Your father should check with
Parking and Transportation Services at Stanford; it is on their
website at www.stanford.edu.
Your father could take BART to the Union City station. There is
a bus that goes from there across the Dumbarton bridge (it's
called the Dumbarton Express) that drops you off at the CalTrain
Station in Palo Alto, where there are Stanford shuttles to take
you to the campus and the hospital. It will make for a very
long day of commuting for your father. When I did the trip
almost 10 years ago, it sometimes took close to an hour just to
get from Union City to Palo Alto.
I live in Oakland and might be going to graduate school
at San Jose State University. Does anybody know of public
tranportation options for this commute? I've been looking on
the different transit web sites and they suggest everything from a
$26 6-hour round trip via Amtrak to a $15 5 hour round trip via Caltrain
(though San Francisco). There's got to be something easier.
I thought if I took BART to the end of the Fremont line
there should be a bus or shuttle to the SJSU campus.
Are there any BART parking lots along the Fremont BART line
that don't fill up completely by 8 a.m.?
Anybody have any advice on any aspects of this commute?
- don't want to drive to San Jose
I have done the commute, not everyday, but I would BART to
Fremont and then I believe it's the Great America bus that stops
in Downtown San Jose (1st or 2nd street) and then you walk to
campus from there (7th-10th streets). It takes about an 1 1/2.
I've commuted to SJ for years, and did so by train until
recently (kids...). I found that the closer you can get by rail,
the better. Yes, BART to Fremont is nice and goes often, but
shuttles and bus transit get caught in horrid, maddeningly slow
My best suggestion: from East Bay, take Amtrak, and get their
monthly pass or 10-ride discount tickets. It's very civilized
and calm, the views are beautiful, and they get you into SJ if
you need to go that far.
Also look into telecommuting options if at all possible!
Best of luck!
You're in luck! There is a Santa Clara VTA Bus #180/Express San
Jose01 that you can take from Fremont BART. It goes to 2nd and E
St. John St and leaves every 15 mins during commute hours, and
every 1/2 hour otherwise. As for parking, I have no idea. You may
want to leave before 8AM and study in the morning...
btw, I got the commute info from 511.org's Trip Planner.
I have been commuting from Berkeley to the South Bay for more
years than I care to count. I am a devoted fan of public
transportation. But I almost always drive. Why? Because the
connections are so lousy, that it would take me 5-8 hours per
day just to get there. Every time a new connection is made
(BART to SFO and Caltrain, for example), I eagerly get all the
schedules and pore over them. Then I try the best route out.
It's always a disappointment. The day it took me 4 hours just
to get to work was probably the low point for me.
The Bay Area desperately needs to have more public
transportation, and even more, an authority over all the
warring transit companies and municipalities, to get them all
to cooperate. Europe has great public transportation; why
It makes me mad every time I hear some wag pontificating
about ''getting people out of their cars.'' As though we LIKED
driving! Instead of making it harder to park and harder to
drive, how about improving the public transportation system???
Sorry, off my soapbox now. You just hit a decades-long sore
--would rather take the train
I didn't see the orginal post but I was wondering if you have
looked into CSU Hayward. I teach there and it is a great school
with many excellent graduate programs. Good luck!
There are two reasonable ways to commute from Oakland to San
Jose. The most flexible is by taking BART to Fremont and the
VTA 180 bus to Downtown San Jose. BART from Downtown Oakland to
Fremont takes about 40 minutes, the 180 takes about 50 (it runs
as a freeway express part of the way). The 180 runs every 1/2
hour during off peak hours, more frequently during peak hours.
You can get off along First St. in San Jose and walk over to
San Jose State.
The other way is the Capitol Corridor trains from the train
station at Jack London Square to Diridon Station. This is quite
comfortable. I believe the train ride is faster than using BART
plus the 180, but the Capitols are often subject to delay. Also
they bring you into Diridon Station which is on the western
edge of Downtown San Jose, across the Guadulupe River. There
are shuttle buses at least during peak hour, I don't know what
the schedule is. In terms of fare, if you have travel regularly
you can buy a multi-ride ticket that cuts the cost per trip
down. But BART to the 180 will be cheaper.
I would not use Caltrain from San Francisco. It takes longer.
Making the connection from BART (or AC Transit Transbay buses)
to Caltrain is also tricky. In Downtown San Francisco, Caltrain
is about a mile from BART and Transbay Terminal. You can ride
BART through to Millbrae and transfer there, but that's about a
50 minute trip from Oakland. You're then looking at over an
hour on Caltrain, unless you can catch one of the very
few ''baby bullet'' trains, which only run in peak hours.
This may sound daunting, but I know people who do it. Look at
511.org (Bay Area transit information) for more info.
I didn't respond the first time around because I wss sure someone else would... Try
carpooling. You'd be surprised how many people (like me) commute from Oakland/
Berkeley down the pennisula. Even if you can find someone to share the ride to one
of the light rail stations, you'll be ahead of the game. My very favorite carpool
partner was a student at SJ State. She had an internship at a company near me, but
would share the ride to Mountain View on the days she was going all the way down
just for the benefits of the carpool lane (including going across the bridge for free).
Check it out at 511.org. I know she also found other students doing the same
thing, so wasn't always pooling with me. Give it a try!
My husband will need to find a way to carpool to his work in
Downtown San Jose in mid-January. We live in the Temescal, and
he needs to travel there twice a week, approximately. I have
heard that there are informal carpool systems out there, but I
don't know how to hook up with them. Any recommendation
For carpool information, go to www.511.org, click on the
Rideshare link, and then click on ''Visit the current website.''
This will take you to RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, which has an
on-line ride matching tool that you can use to register for
carpools. Good luck!
Contact RIDES for Bay Area Commuters at RIDES.org. They will
set you up with a non-casual carpool. Most casual carpools go
into SF, not down 880.
Why don't you use Rides for Bay Area Commuters? They are on the
web at www.rides.org, and can be reached by phone at 510)
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