Advice about Casual Carpooling

Parent Q&A

Where to find carpooling people Apr 14, 2017 (7 responses below)
casual carpool etiquette Mar 26, 2017 (5 responses below)
Casual carpool from Berkeley to SF Aug 18, 2016 (4 responses below)
  • Where to find carpooling people

    (7 replies)

    I drive to SF often and have free (i.e. paid for by employer) parking at work so I like having my car in the city, but hate the traffic.  Having passengers in my car for carpooling works well since I get to use the carpool lane, but besides a few friends who I occasionally am able to give rides to or co-workers who choose not to drive some days, I don't know anyone to carpool with.  How do people find carpool partners?  I heard of a place that you can drive by and pick up passengers but I don't want to pick up complete strangers for safety reasons. We are also considering getting an electric car for commuting to be able to use the carpool lane this way, but finding carpool partners and keep using my existing car might be easier and cheaper. 

    You should absolutely try casual carpool. I have been a North Berkeley rider (rarely a driver) for nearly 11 years, and the system has been around for about 30, I believe. It's usually a few people trying to get to work on time and safely while they listen to NPR. There have been some more fun conversations or unwelcome interactions or something other than NPR playing and 3 horrible drivers, but these are rare and, aside from the 3 drivers, safe. I am wracking my brain to think of a time that a passenger (vs. the driver) made me feel uncomfortable. Nothing is coming to mind, aside from 1 unwelcome advance, where someone followed me to work (I ducked into another office building to lose him.) and was aggressive about trying to get my # once we got out of the car -- which I don't blame on casual carpool. If you pick-up from North Berkeley, it will cost you $2.50, since drivers generally do not ask for a toll contribution at North Berkeley. Other casual carpool spots are known for asking for a toll contribution.
    Good luck!

    Check out casual carpool, 

    There are designated pick up and drop off spots and also carpool etiquettes.  

    I've been both the driver and the passenger for many years, it's very safe and efficient, I highly recommend it!

  • casual carpool etiquette

    (5 replies)

    I live in Berkeley & recently started working in SF. The casual carpool from N Berkeley BART has greatly improved my morning commute. But one morning I happened to be in the front seat & witnessed the driver text several times as we crossed the bridge, glancing up & back at the phone every few seconds. I was very uncomfortable & my body language might have indicated so but I didn't know what to say. Would love to hear how other passengers handle & communicate driver behavior that is unsafe. Thanks!

    RE: casual carpool etiquette ()

    Hi there - Your experience is indeed an uncomfortable position to be in. I have been taking casual carpool for 10 years and fortunately have only come across this a handful of times. Sometimes I have just worried all the way to work. Once I said something like, "I'd like to get to work safely," and the driver didn't understand what I meant. I was more clear and said something like, "I am uncomfortable with you using your phone." She said, "Oh! Then say that!" And she put away her phone. She had a point. I wasn't totally clear the first time. So, if I come across this situation again, I'll probably say, "I am uncomfortable with you using your phone while you're driving." and hope for the best. Note, the time I said something, both my spouse and I were passengers in the same car, and I was worried about our kids losing both parents in one blow, because I was being polite about being in danger. Once I was in the back seat of a sports car, and the car didn't have a seatbelt. The driver thought it was funny. I made the driver stop and got out. (I was 8 months pregnant.) The front passenger got out and also returned to the line, saying he totally understood, which was kind and reassuring. My point is, if you say something, you're likely to have an ally. Be safe. :-)

    RE: casual carpool etiquette ()

    I'll be curious to read responses.  I've been a casual carpooler from Oakland for well over 20 years, and the only unsafe driver behavior I've experienced has been speeding.  Never texting!  Honestly, I don't know how I'd respond to that.  As riders, we're not in control.  If a driver were insulted about being called out for texting, who knows what he/she would do.  My biggest peeve about the carpool experience started when the bridge authority made charging carpool drivers pay tolls.  The whole issue of whether riders should hand the driver (I do) or not (apparently in north Berkeley and other places, they do not) has brought an uncomfortable aspect to what was for many years a completely amiable way to get to work.  I saw someone asked to leave a car one morning because she didn't have any cash!

    RE: casual carpool etiquette ()

    "Whoa I can't believe you're texting!!!" <= really genuine-sounding but over-the-top mock surprise
    "It must be really important. Here, hand me your phone and I'll do it for you." 

  • Casual carpool from Berkeley to SF

    (4 replies)

    I live in Berkeley but may soon be contemplating a job opportunity in downtown SF. I searched the archives but it looks like the most recent posts about casual carpooling are from 2009. I used it MANY years ago. I am looking for current information about how this works for you, specifically from the N Berkeley BART station. Thanks for any stories about your experience getting rides.

    In my experience (rider & driver), things haven't changed much over the last 20 years, although there are separate lines for SF Downtown & the Civic Center area. 

    Casual carpooling is still great from N Berkeley BART. Like another poster said there are separate lines for Downtown vs Civic Center. It starts pretty early (I think lines start to form shortly after 7am) and pieters out past 8:30ish I think. I think there may be an evening route back, but most people I know just BART it back.

    One note: I was actually surprised because in my casual carpooling days in Oakland we almost always provided a dollar to the driver, but no one seems to expect/ask for a dollar in Berkeley.

    Got a friend that's been doing this everyday for years.  He drives to N Berkeley BART and takes AC transit.  Or if he has to, BART.  On AC he tells me he get's a clean seat, and free WiFi.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Berkeley to SF Carpools
Other Bay Area Carpools

Casual carpool in San Leandro?

Dec 2009

We are buying our first home in San Leandro. My husband and I drive into SF to commute and always pick up a carpooler. Are there any casual carpool locations in San Leandro? new SL resident

I live in northern San Leandro, and as far as I know there aren't any casual carpools south of High Street in Oakland. I usually avoid the High Street location (it requires a left turn and is located at a bus stop so ''parking'' can get a bit dodgy). On my rare trips into the City these days, I prefer to use the Fruitvale location. It's easy to exit at Coolidge, drive alongside the freeway a few blocks, park in front of the market, and then hop right back onto the freeway at Fruitvale. There is usually a pretty good flow of passengers. Niki

Carpool from North Berkeley to SF - Where Do You Park?

Sept 2006

Hello there, A few months ago, I posted a question asking about carpooling from Berkeley to SF (specifically, from somewhere close to Black Pine Circle which is located on 7th street and University). I received advices that I could take a carpool at the North Berkeley Bart Station and park my car in the neighborhood (or even in the Bart's parking lot). I drove to North Berkeley Bart this weekend to check out where I can park my car. To my surprise, there are 2-hour only parking signs just about everywhere in the neighborhood around the Bart station. Yikes. Did I not drive far enough away from the Bart station to find unlimited parking space? If you carpool from North Berkeley Bart Station to SF, could you please share where you park your car these days? I checked out the possibility of paying for parking at the Bart parking lot as well, but the monthly permit is expensive and one cannot pay the daily $1 parking fee unless one buys the Bart ticket and gets through the gate (which defeats the purpose of carpooling). Any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated

You live at 7th and University? And you want to DRIVE to the N Berkeley BART? The #51 bus runs up University and stops at Sacramento, which is probably closer than where you would need to park from the BART. It runs about every 10 or 15 minutes during rush hour. You can check the schedule at Save gas and aggravating hunts for a parking space and take the bus! Dedicated bus rider

You need to go a bit further to park more than 2 hours without a permit. Try heading west from the station down Virginia or Francisco St. Before the $1 fee was instituted, I could find a space by the time I reached Chestnut. (This was around 8:30 a.m.) But be mindful of street cleaning days! Been there, done that

Carpool pickup spot in North Berkeley?

May 2006

Hello there, My daughter will start going to Black Pine Circle (7th street and University in Berkeley) this fall. I would like to drop her off in the morning around 8:00 and then park my car some place safe and then take a carpool to work (in San Francisco). It will be important for the parking place to be accessible either by BART or by AC Transit from San Francisco so I can get back to my car in the evening. Could anyone please educate me on the carpool pick-up places and near-by parking lots in that general location? I have been using the carpool pick-up location on Pierce which is around the Albany/Richmond border. I hope that I can find something a little closer to the school so that my commute won't be much longer. Thank you very much

There is a thriving carpool at the North Berkeley Bart, on the Sacramento side of the station. I don't know about car parking in the BART lot, but do know that lots of people park their cars on the unrestricted blocks below the lot which is troublesome for some of the BART neighbors. However, perhaps BART has a pay to park option. Worth checking out. Anon

Hi, My daughter is also starting at Black Pine Circle in the Fall, and my son has been attending for two years. I also commute to SF everyday. The North Berkeley BART station is a 3 min ride from BPC, and there is a carpool line there. There are several blocks that have unlimited parking space within walking distance (two or three blocks) from the station. I usually park my car around there at 8:30 or 8:45 and I ALWAYS find a place within three blocks of the station without having to look much. The earlier you arrive, the easier it is to find a place, at 8 you may even find a spot in the BART parking lot itself. I usually do not bother to look there. It is safe and easy (except first Thursday every month, where most of those above mentioned blocks have street sweeping, and then it is trickier). Maria

There's a casual carpool web page which you might want to check out: It lists all the casual carpool spots in the Bay Area. Lori

I think there is a casual carpool right there at University and 6th. Casual Carpool used to have a website outlining its program and indicating all pickup points. Surely AC transit returns past that busy intersection. If not, North Berkeley Bart BPC Mom

These days you can park in the North Berkeley Parking Lot and still take the car pool in to SF, or BART to SF. The carpool pick up is on Sacramento Street right in front of the BART station. There is one line for drop offs around Fremont and Howard (or closer to your work if that is where the driver is going), and another shorter line for drop offs around Civic Center. If you find that it is too crowded at 8 am (which I don't think it will be), you can pay for the reserved lot (monthly ? or annually?). I'm not sure how that works. The lot is rather safe. Just use typical good sense, be aware and don't leave interesting items in view in the car.

On the way home you can take BART or the H or J lines. Check the AC transit web site. The J stops at Univ. and Sac. The H may be faster. It comes up Gilman and stops at Hopkins and Sac Commuter Mom

Commuting between Kensington and Mills

March 2005

I am trying to find someone to be a passenger on my daily drive to Mills College and have no idea how to get started. For background my son and I commute to the Children's School from Kensington every day arriving between 8:30 and 9:00 and returning between 4:30 -5:15. We'd love to find someone living in North Berkeley / El Cerrito / Albany area who could help us take advantage of the carpool lane. Is there something besides Casual Carpool that helps link east bay drivers and riders? Or maybe a message board for Mills students / Faculty /Staff that I might be able to post on? Perhaps you know someone who might want to share the ride? Any tip is greatly appreciated Susannah

I work at Mills College and recently saw a posting on our campus email from a student looking to carpool from El Cerrito... She's given her permission to me to post her email address, so here it is. She'd love to hear from you ASAP! (The email address you posted didn't work, FYI.) Carolyn

I have used the rideshare registration at I received several responses for a difficult Berkeley - Palo Alto commute. This should be your first resource for finding a carpool. -Phil

Check out or 511 (or David

Want to casual carpool, not near a pick-up spot

March 2003

I'd like to start taking casual carpool into the city, but don't live a walkable distance to the nearby pickup spots (N. Berkeley BART or El Cerrito at Central St.) Have others found away around this? Are there non-permit parking spots near either of those pick-up areas? Another question, is casual carpool a pretty reliable way to commute if you must be in the city by a certain time (i.e. have to be in class at 9am). Thanks! Kathleen

Hi, I know there are untimed spots within walking distance of both N. Berk and the El Cerrito pick-ups. It may be three to four blocks, but they are safe. I always found the carpool to be very reliable for riders, and used it for about a year. Another alternative that I really liked is the trans-bay bus, if it is more convenient. Very good/new buses and a view crossing the bridge. Kean

The carpool pickup spot at Claremont and Hudson (near Rockridge Bart) has quite a bit of street parking and usually plenty of cars waiting. Only bad thing is that it's not on the Richmond line for coming back. Carolyn

How to find casual carpool pick-up spots from East Bay to the City


Is there a web site that tells where the carpool pick up places are to travel into the City? I have been picking up passengers across from Grand Lake Theater for eight years, but need to change my travel route because I am dropping off my daughter at school at 43rd and Shafter in Oakland.

Try . They will link you to the carpool site.

For updated info on casual carpool sites in the East Bay, see

It will give you all kinds of info not only the carpool pickup spots but also what highways have commuter lanes and how many persons per car are needed etc.

[Editor note: URL updated Aug 2003]

I am not quite sure where 43rd and Shafter is, but there is a pick-up spot on Fruitvale Ave. next to ALbertsons right off of 580.I had to change carpool spots as well since my son started Kindergarten and I just found this one.

The closest car pool pick up I'm aware of is at the corner of Claremont and Hudson (just a few minutes from 43rd and Shafter). Just continue straight up Shafter, cross 51st, go a few more blocks and make a left on Hudson. You'll see the cars lining up on Hudson but it usually moves pretty quickly. There is also an express SF bus stop across the street.