Advice about BART

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  • BART Alternatives for SF Commute

    (7 replies)

    I've been riding BART to SF for a long time and it has become very overcrowded and unpleasant.  I'm looking for alternatives.  How are folks hacking this commute right now?  UberX?  Casual carpool?  Are there ferry services on the horizon?

    I agree that BART is becoming unbearable. Thus far my only solution is to try to ride at off-peak hours.  

    I've been doing Casual Carpool in the mornings and taking the Transbay AC Transit bus back in the evenings. Working pretty well for me! I wish I could do Casual Carpool both ways but unfortunately it doesn't look like there's a return to Emeryville. Plenty of returns to other locations, though.

    Bonus: it's a LOT cheaper at $1/ride than any other option out there.

    It's hard to respond without knowing where you're commuting from. From your username, I'm guessing Berkeley? There is a ferry that runs to the Ferry Building in SF from Jack London Square and Alameda and it's very pleasant. I usually ride it home in the evening and commute on BART in the morning, but later than most so it's not super crowded. 

    Don't you miss the days wen no one rode on BART?    Try the bus, (free WiFi), bike, ferry or train. 

    You don't mention where you are commuting from, however the Transbay bus is usually a more comfortable ride.  Depending on your bus line and where you are in the order of stops you can usually get a seat.  The downside is the Transbay buses usually take longer than, say, casual carpool due to multiple stops.  Both buses and casual carpool obviously can take advantage of the carpool lane at the toll plaza but once you pass the metering lights you are at the mercy of the traffic gods.  

    I would advise against uber or Lyft only because I feel like these ride share services are contributing to morning traffic and making everyone worse off.  However of you use a ride service to get to a transportation point and you otherwise would have driven, there is value to that. 

    I would fully support and use a ferry to SF out of Berkeley Marina.  The ferry feom Alameda/Jack London is also a great way to go but again takes a while for Oakland travelers.  

    BART really has gotten awful these past few years.  I avoid it whenever possible.  

    Transbay bus works well if you live near the beginning to middle of a route.  Supposedly there is a "not-yet-public" ferry service starting from Berkeley to Pier 2 very soon.  I think you need to reserve a seat on the ferry.  Don't know the hours.

    It would be helpful if you posted your commute starting point.  I could tell you about the casual commute from my neighborhood in Oakland (which works great for the morning commute), but if you're in Albany, for example, it might not be the same.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice


 BART - Dealing with women on packed trains?

March 2016

This is really awkward question so here goes. For the past month I've been riding BART to/frm SF. The trains are packed people aw squeezed together. (I you commute on BART you know what I mean.) Several times I have had women (I hope unintentionally) position themselves so their chest is rubbing up against my back, side or the side of my chest. I'm usually on the train and then they try to squeeze in and have reach around me to hold on. This happens just as the doors close so there's really no opportunity for me to exchange positions or move as the doors close and the train starts moving. My last BART ride was very uncomfortable for me. The train was full people couldn't fit and were turning away and this women at the last second squeezed her way in reaching around me of the railing. The entire trip she had her chest pressed into my side. And as the train bounces around here chest would press into mine. Believe me if I could have moved I would have. This no an isolated incident either. I'm wondering if others have had been in similar situation? I'd like to ask women what should one do in this situation? Or do you think there are some women who are doing this on purpose. (I could tell the last women had implements.) Just wondering what one should do when placed in this position? ANON

As a woman equipped with a moderately sized set of breasts, I have to say that I find your question annoying. What is the woman supposed to do, just because you are uncomfortable with strange-woman-breast-contact? As far as I could tell from your post, they are not intentionally rubbing up against you (which, unfortunately, some men have done to me and other women on public transport). They are just trying to get from point A to point B with breasts in tow. Keep Calm and Carry On! BART rider

The woman is the one who put herself in this position, so I wouldn't worry about her being offended by the contact, I imagine it was awkward for you though! Having been packed into BART like a sardine numerous times, I really doubt that these women are doing it on purpose, but who knows. I think you meant to say implants, not implements and wow.. that must have been some serious contact (yikes)! Kitty

It's a packed train and people need to hold on to something so as not to fall. Our bodies are not sexual objects. Breasts are part of our bodies. I am sorry to hear this makes you so uncomfortable, but I doubt any woman (or man) is purposely sandwiched next to someone for an entire BART trip. This is just how it is in a packed train. I hope you can find some peace knowing it's just the reality and has nothing to do with anyone trying to invade your space. L

I read your question to my husband, who commutes on BART (as do I). His advice was ''Don't think about it.'' My advice is to wait until you can get on a train that isn't crowded. It may take several trains but it sounds as though you will be more comfortable. Or you could write to BART and suggest they implement sex-segregated trains. I personally would be happy to ride in a women-only BART car as the women smell better and are less likely to have huge backpacks, nor do they manspread. But, I doubt it will happen. I wish I could take off my breasts and put them in my briefcase, but I can't.

Your question was ''What should one do?'' Short answer: nothing. Long Answer: It's kind of interesting that one can't tell from your post what gender you are. I truly, sincerely don't want to bash you - but I also truly, sincerely believe that the women (and men, though you didn't mention them) on Bart trains have no alternative when it's that crowded. They don't like it any more than you do. When you board a full train, you have to press in and just hope that your neighbors won't fart or belch or otherwise stink, or have a loud cellphone conversation, or pick your pocket, or - much worse - grope you. You have to reach up or across to hang on, or else you'll stagger when the train lurches, making some of your neighbors glare at you. I suppose it's not impossible that maybe one in 20 of your fellow Bart riders kinda likes rubbing her chest against you. But when *that* happens, you'll probably be able to tell the difference between her active, unnecessary closeness and most people's silent, stoical submission to the daily indignities of being crammed together, which violates not only your personal space but theirs as well. I know riding the Bart every day can undermine a person's faith in humankind. One jerk sprawled across two seats can ruin a whole week's commute, and make you less likely to trust, and admire, and love your fellow man. But misanthropy (or misogyny, dare I wonder?) is a lonely, angry place. It's just that the train is crowded, that's all

Commuting via Downtown Berkeley BART

March 2015

Hello! I am looking for some advice about riding the BART. I may be commuting from Berkeley to San Francisco on weekdays. My job starts early in the morning, which means that I would need to walk to the downtown Berkeley BART before sunrise. I am concerned about whether it is safe for me to walk the 15 minutes alone to the downtown BART station in the dark (30 to 60 minutes before sunrise, depending on the season). I'm not sure how many people are out and about downtown that early and whether that specific BART station is busy at that early time. I wonder if anyone can give me some advice about whether I am overly concerned, or if this is a legitimate concern? I'm new to the area. Many thanks in advance! thank you for your advice

 BART commute is great and safe and I encourage you to take BART! I've been commuting by BART for the better part of 15 years. For the past 3 months or so, I commute from 19th Oakland to Downtown Berkeley. I routinely GET to BART between 4:30 and 5:00 am. I walk 15 minutes in downtown Oakland and only 4 blocks in Downtown Berkeley. I am a mid-thirties white woman. So far, I have never encountered any problems in either City or on BART. In downtown Berkeley, there are lots of homeless people - most are asleep in doorways. Just keep an eye on the sidewalk to avoid stepping in feces and urine. BART does have pretty regular delays (like twice a month, maybe?) due to various things within and without their control. If your start time is rigid, you may want to build in extra time for inevitable problems. I don't ride in the same direction you might, but I think the trains are filling up by the time I'm at the Berkeley BART station. Perhaps you could do a 'test ride' one morning to see if it's the best transit option for you. BART and you're there.

You might want to look into taking the bus instead, if it runs early enough for your needs: I LOVED commuting to SF with AC Transit's Transbay buses when I worked in SF. Maybe there is a bus stop nearer your home than the downtown BART? I wouldn't want to go to the downtown BART area before dawn.

This is going to sound anti-homeless, so I apologize in advance. I don't recommend this, there are a lot of very strange encounters one can have on the streets of Berkeley in broad daylight, let alone in the dark of night. If possible I would use the North Berkeley Bart. Former Berk Bart regular

My advice is to get a parking spot at No. Berkeley Bart, drive there and park. Yes you have to pay for it and you may even have to wait for the spot to open, but it is much safer. Bart Commuter

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


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

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