Commuting between the East Bay and Davis or Sacramento
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Commuting between the East Bay and Davis or Sacramento
Re: Oakland/Piedmont to Santa Clara Commute?
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.
My family lives in Oakland. My partner has been accepted at
into a PhD program at UC Davis. We own a house, I work in
Berkeley, and we are planning to send our child to the local
public school for K in the fall so relocating the whole
family is not really an option.
I am looking for advice from other parents about experience
of parenting and/or commuting while in grad school. I am
older than my partner and I was single/childless when I was
in school and I lived near campus. Has anyone else done
something like this?
It is a long commute from our home to Davis but if she takes
public transit she expects to work on the train. Our child
is used to me being around the most as she often works late
and has been a student and/or teacher with evening classes
Should she plan to commute every day and get a hotel room
when needed? see if she can rent a room 2-3 nights a week?
have an apartment there? Other ideas?
supportive partner trying to problem solve
That commute will be tough. I am in Davis now, where I
followed my husband for his five-year PhD program at UCD. He
is in chemistry and is expected to put in a 60-hour work
week in his lab (it is a research degree). Commuting was not
I know another PhD chemistry student who tried to commute
from Berkeley daily, and I believe he gave up and took a
cheap room for the weekdays, going home on weekends. The
train is $44 round trip, so the math and the exhaustion
factor pushed him into staying up here weeknights.
Maybe your partner's program will not be as demanding. Maybe
it will work for her to use her train time. Maybe she
doesn't need to come to Davis 5-7 days/week like my husband
It is too bad you can't move up here--the schools are some
of the best in the state, and the cost of living is much lower.
Overall, it has been difficult during my husband's program.
It's very demanding and there are many days he doesn't see
our son at all. We are 1.5 years into it. For us, it's worth
it. I have enjoyed living in Davis, and my husband's degree
will help him earn a lot more when he graduates than he was
in his previous profession. But make no mistake, this is an
The commute is entirely do-able, but it requires a great deal of organization,
planning, and on-the-ground support back in Berkeley. I am a UCD faculty
member who lives in Berkeley, owns a home here, and commutes to Davis
several times a week. I am also a parent of a 3.5 year old, so I think my
experience may be a good match for your partner's situation. The first thing is
that it depends a lot on what field your partner is in. If s/he is in the social
sciences or the humanities, then it can work fine. If s/he is in the sciences, I
don't think it would work because the scientists are in their labs all the time.
There are many faculty members who live in the East Bay and commute to Davis
(of my own department, between 1/4 and 1/3 of a faculty of about 35 live in
East Bay), and a goodly number of grad students who do it too, but it tends to
be those of us who do our work in libraries or home offices. I don't know any
lab-type scientists at UCD who don't live in Davis. For the nuts and bolts of
commuting as a parent with a small child, there's too much to say to write it all
out. Fee free to contact me by email and we can arrange to talk.
Congrats on your partner getting accepted at UCD! Commuting to Davis is
definitely do-able. I commute there from the Walnut Creek area. The first
couple of years involved a lot more commuting (up to 4 days a week at one
point) due to coursework and TAships. Once I finished coursework, I only had to
commute twice a week to T.A. and I would schedule meetings with my advisors
on the days I planned to be in Davis. I'm also lucky because people are willing
to do lab meetings, etc. by Skype.
Things to keep in mind are that your partner may miss out on the social aspect
of a Ph.D. program. I do sometimes feel like I'm in my own little bubble while it
seems like everyone in Davis sees one another on a regular basis, checking in,
supporting one another with their writing, etc. I definitely have to be proactive
in reaching out by phone and email to give and get that support.
Also, there are MANY times when there is something happening on campus that
I would love to attend (workshops, talks, etc.) and I just can't do it because of
the long commute and because I only have childcare for certain days of the
week. This may not be as big a problem for your partner if s/he is not the
primary source of childcare.
At first, I considered getting a hotel room in Davis like you mentioned, but to be
honest, I always felt like I'd rather be at home, despite the long drive. Plus,
there aren't really cheap options for hotels in Davis. (I never found rates for less
than $100/night when I wanted to stay overnight.)
It's not impossible to commute to Davis, although it's a very different
experience from living near campus.
I wish there was a way to give you my email address without making it public
because I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have. If you're allowed
to get it from the moderator, feel free to contact me!
PhD Candidate Mom
I commuted an hour each way throughout grad school. It is
much more manageable than commuting for work. Probably your
partner can arrange classes for just 2-3 days/week, and
after a couple years, even less. I never rented a room, but
for one semester when I was pregnant and took an evening
class, my friends let me sleep at their place once/week.
My only regret is that I didn't go to more ''optional''
things, like dept colloquia, etc. If it wasn't a day that I
was scheduled to be on campus, it was always--wow, is it
worth two hours of driving to go to that? But those events
are very important for forming ties with faculty,
establishing oneself, and hearing about what is going on in
the field. So I suggest your partner find out when those
events are usually scheduled and plan to take classes on the
same day. Or, decide to take classes twice/week and go
once/week for events/office hrs/coffee with fellow students,
I was in a very similar circumstance. I myself commuted to Sacramento
from Alameda for 3 yrs while I was in a grad school like program
(fellowship). The good thing was that it was a reverse commute. I came
back every evening--got home by 7:30 pm usually, left home at 6 am or
6:30 to get to work by 8am. Some nights I had a late class and would be
home at 10pm, but even on those days, I wanted to come home, to sleep in
my own bed. It is definitely doable, ESP if it's for a finite period of time. I
listened to lots of books on tape (now it can be iPod stuff) and caught up on
the phone with lots of people. Be prepared though for your partner not to
be able to do much in the way of chores around the house if they do this
commute. From Davis it was even shorter than into Sac so their commute
might not be as bad in the am. In the pm, rush hour in 2 places-- 80
interchange near Berkeley and across the causeway from sac to Davis.
680 is much better for the commute, in my opinion if that works at all.
Good luck and congrats to your partner!
Used to be Long distance commuter
My partner has commuted two days a week to Davis for years
now. It makes for long days, but it's manageable. We know
the days that I'll be solo with the kids till 6 or 7 and
just plan for it. I've known people to commute from Oakland
to UCD on the train - it's good focused work time and
classes are often two days/week at most, so you can probably
get away with two long days/week, perhaps three at the peak,
with some useful time (and a nice ride) getting there and back.
work that commute
I am frustrated with the schools in Oakland, and really want to
consider a move to Davis to have better schools for my
children. I can transfer my employment to Sacramento. My
partner has a great job at UC Berkeley, and understandably does
not want to give it up. Can anyone give us feedback about
having lived in Davis and commuted to the East bay? How long
did it take each day? Was it worth it? Any recommendations
about whether to consider such an arrangement?
Considering a move
I'm sure others will have more real experience. I just took
the Amtrack (Capitol Corridor) to Sacramento, train stops in
Davis. It was great. Very leisurely, not too slow, and I got
a lot of work done. Think if you buy tickets in advance you
can get a discount.
One word - Amtrak. Take the train to the Berkeley station,
then take the 51 up University to campus. Not fast, but oh so
Hi. My husband commuted from Davis to Berkeley (very close to campus)
years. It is doable, either by Amtrak plus BART or by car (and there is
a shuttle that
runs between UCD and UCB). It is nice if it works out to not commute at
days each week. The days are long, it takes over an hour to commute
each way and
traffic can be bad. Amtrak can be great but it can also be unreliable.
We loved life
in Davis but the commute took a steady toll in the end. It became
my husband to commute such a long distance and try to make it home for
family time. We would have been happy to stay in Davis but not with the
fan of Davis
My husband does this commute and it's terrible for us. He works
in W. Berkeley (exit University) and spends at least 4 hours a
day in his car. Sometimes more. It's so bad that we have our
house for sale and are planning to move closer to the bay area
(where we will rent a much smaller house). From Berkeley to the
bridge is stop-and-go, and traffic through Fairfield is also very
bad - usually many accidents because people drive crazy through
the 680-12-80 merges.
About Davis: Davis is a very nice town with excellent schools.
It has a lot of great activities for kids and a wonderful
farmer's market Saturday in Central Park. I would recommend
attending this to get a feel for the town. It is very hot here
in the summer. We have been running our AC since April, no joke.
Last summer we had two weeks where it never went below 110
degrees. My PGE bill was over $500. Davis has a similar (much
smaller) group like this called mom's circle Davis - a yahoo
group. It is very liberal here, they call it Berkeley East. You
would probably be in the minority if you are not a super-AP type.
There is also an Amtrak station here and a stop in Berkeley.
Even with all the perks of Davis, we will move ASAP. The commute
is taking a toll on our family life. You might want to check out
the Green Valley area in Fairfield - very good schools, not as
liberal as Davis, though.
Davis lover, traffic hater
My husband was in Davis and I lived in Berkeley when we were engaged.
the commute so we finally settled in a nicer part of Solano County. It
is a little rural
but close enough to the freeway. We have nice walks and friendly
neighbors, but we
still have to drive out of town for entertainment. Our commutes are now
cut about 30
minutes to Davis and 35 to Berkeley and that is not bad!
My sister is going to be working in Davis next fall and is
thinking of living in the east bay. where would good places
to live be that are easy to commute on train or by car at least
three times a week? does anyone make this commute that
can tell me about your experience.
If your sister is a UC affiliate, there is a bus that runs between
the two campuses. I think there is one in the morning and one in
the afternoon. See http://www-fleet.ucdavis.edu/buses/shuttles/berkeley/schedule.php
Hi, I grew up in Davis, and my husband's mom and my parents
still live there. We live in West Berkeley, and grandparents
from both sides take the train up to see their grandson
weekly. They get off at the Berkeley station (which is not
much of a station although improvements are underway) and just
walk 10 minutes to our house in West Berkeley. Since it's
always daylight when they do it it's fine, I probably wouldn't
make that walk at dark. If I had to get off at night by myself
I would probably go to the Emeryville station and have my car
there. Overall the train is quite reliable and on-time,
although if I absolutely had to be at work at a particular time
(for example, if I were a teacher and had a classroom waiting
for me) I might be hesitant, or might take an early train to
make sure. For example, several times in the last 2 years
since the grandparents have been doing this, someone has thrown
themselves on the tracks (so sad) and the train gets really
delayed (like 2+ hours). Ick. The big plus is that they can
read, watch the beautiful scenery, work, or even socialize (my
mother-in-law knits with a group of commuters regularly).
There are lots of bike commuters, which would be perfect for
Davis. I suppose one could even chain a beater bike up at the
Davis station if you didn't want to have to deal with a bike
when you got to the East Bay.
I commuted to Davis every day for 2 years. I live in Crockett, and worked on
campus. I carpooled, so some of the time I would drive, some of the time drive to
someone else's house and then ride with them. . A surprisingly large number of
people communte from the East Bay to Davis! so, tell your sister to contact Bay Area
Rideshare - they will hook her up.
I did try Amtrak, but it was quite expensive and the times did not really work with
my job. There is a bus that runs from Davis to UCBerkeley, but I believe you have to
be a student or faculty member to ride it (I was neither), so I never really looked into
it. But really, I found carpooling to be fun, fast, and friendly - I met great people,
and it really was just as convenient as driving alone.
Any recommendations on an alternative route to Sacramento, that's not all
scenic would be nice, but not too long. Any advice on short stopover
activities for 2
young boys between here and there?
Re the request for a scenic route: that's an easy one! First take highway
80 to highway 4 out to Antioch. Cross the bridge to sherman island and the
scenery begins. After the bridge, make the very first right. You'll be on
a levee road with the river on one side and rich reclaimed farmland on the
other. Pear trees and so on. You'll see that the road, Highway 160,
mainly goes on one side and then the other of the Sacramento River all the
way to Sacramento. Lots of boathouses and interesting drawbridges and
small towns. Walnut Grove, Locke, Isleton, Hood. This is the old river
road from before highway 80 existed. Console yourself by speeding home
on I-80 at a fast clip. I first saw this route published in Bill Mandel's
column in the Examiner about 15 years ago. Have driven it at least a dozen
or more times. In fact, I just drove the route again last month.
Beautiful! Peek at a state of California map first. Can't get lost if you
follow the river though. For stopovers for your two boys, there's not a
lot except near the bridges where they can see what fisherman have been
catching. Later in the season there are folks selling roadside fruit,
pears and such. Or bring some binoculars for bird watching along the
river. Have fun!
...p.s. the Amtrak train service is also very good and relaxing and quite
From I80 - to Suisun City/Fairfield
Take Highway 12 to Rio Vista/Stockton. The trip between Fairfield to
Rio Vista is about 30 minutes (approx. 20 miles) & this time of year
the green rolling hills are beautiful. Also, as you leave Fairfield, if you
look off to the left you can see the HUGE airplanes at Travis AFB &
(if you're lucky) they'll be running touch & go drills & the big planes fly
over you so you get a good look at them.
At Rio Vista, as you enter town, veer off Highway 12 to the right
to downtown Rio Vista. There is a park & an old Chinese
cemetery right next to the big community cemetery on your
right where you can have a picnic or you can go to the end
of Main Street where there is a plaque about Humphrey the
Whale -- right on the river with grass for running & playing & a
few picnic tables. Also on Main Street, if the boys are old enough
& you are not totally grossed out see Foster's BigHorn (one of the
world's largest collections of taxidermy animals from Africa, etc.)
Bakery across the street from Foster's is pretty good. Rio Vista
Museum is only open on Sat. & Sun. & it is right off of Main St.
on Front Street. Everything is within walking distance.
Go across Rio Vista Bridge to Highway 160 -- at end of bridge make
left towards Sacramento.
Follow Hwy 160 to Isleton, approx. 5 miles (you'll be on right side
of Sacramento River). In Isleton you can also veer right (just before
you go out of town) & that will take you to a small Chinese part of
town -- nothing too interesting but Rogelio's restaurant can be pretty
good. The better China town is in Locke & you'll get to that on this route.
After Isleton, get back on the river road (Hwy 160), go left over bridge
approx. 1/2 mile outside of Isleton. You can continue straight on the right
side of the river but you'll miss the Ryde Hotel which used to be an old
speakeasy. I haven't been there in years but I understand the restaurant
is now pretty good & they've fixed up the hotel.
Continuing on to Sacramento (on left side of river) until you get to Walnut
Grove then you can go back over a bridge to the right side of the river
again. Right past Walnut Grove is Locke. Very old historical buildings.
This is only about a half an hour from Rio Vista but if you didn't stop in
Rio everyone may be ready to get out & stretch their legs.
After Locke you have some choices as to how you want to continue the
trip to Sacramento. You can continue on the right side of the river to
Twin Cities Road (about 2 miles out of Locke) & that will take you to
I5 into Sacramento. Or you can continue up the River Road (Highway 160)
on either side -- beautiful scenery on both sides. If you want to continue on
the left side of the river, you'll need to backtrack to the Walnut Grove
Bridge but make sure you cross over @ Freeport or you'll end up in
West Sacramento. All of the different types of bridges are wonders
I grew up in Rio Vista & still live there (yes, I commute to Oakland
EVERY WEEKDAY!). The trip from Rio Vista to Sacramento (non-stop)
is about 50 minutes. I love the drive & this time of year the colors
are beautiful & the river is usually like glass. After Rio Vista
there are no junk food places (i.e., Taco Bell or McDonald's) until
you get to Sacramento. Rio Vista's Taco Bell/KFC franchise is
(unfortunately) opening this week (our first fast food
except for Subway). There are a few restaurants (most of which I
haven't been to in years) & delis along the way & plenty of places
to pull over for a picnic.
I think it is an incredibly scenic drive with a wide variety but, of
course, I'm prejudice. Happy to provide more info if needed.
Highway 99 through Stockton is scenic. There is a place between Stockton
and Lodi called The Chicken Kitchen (melt in your mouth chicken) that has a
little mock western town that's open, usually during the Summer. I hope
the place is still open. It is very old. I enjoyed it as a child and my
children enjoyed it as they grew up.
this page was last updated: Mar 25, 2013
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