Commuting To and From Alameda

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Commuting to downtown San Francisco from Alameda(2 responses)
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Questions & Advice  

Commute Alameda to Oakland or San Rafael?

April 2014

My husband and I will be moving to the Bay in a few months and are planning to live in Alameda. He will be working in San Rafael (right near the Richmond bridge) and I will be in the Temescal part of Oakland. We have a toddler and will likely have her in preschool in South Berkeley, close to the 80. We are concerned about commutes. 1-my husband will be working 7:30-3:30- how bad will his alameda to san Rafael commute be? 2-how bad will Alameda to Temescal be? 3- will going one mile further into Berkeley and back to Temescal be terrible (ill be working 8-4) or would it be better to have her in a daycare near Mills Collge (off 580 and 13?). Thank you! fearing Bay traffic

1 - 45 minutes give or take each way.
2 - 20 minutes give or take each way.
3 - Would be an extra 15-20 minutes to go to Mills College and back.

If I were you I would look into getting her into a daycare/preschool closer to your work or home. There are a ton of options in Temescal and Rockridge. Drop offs, at least for my son, always take another 10-15 minutes.

Traffic sucks, but at least your husband works earlier hours so that will help.

Good luck! anon

Eastbound I-80 is usually okay in the morning at the hour your husband would be going; he's more likely to hit trouble between Alameda and 80 (and the MacArthur Maze, where 580 and 880 meet 80, is very unpredictable), which will affect both of your commutes. Some of that depends on which side of Alameda you live on, too--one way you hit tube traffic and the other you hit 880 traffic. The afternoon traffic is often bad even relatively early in the commute, and even in what should be the reverse commute direction--just depends on the day. Temescal to South Berkeley and back isn't terrible, but isn't fun either. You should be able to stay on surface streets for that one, though, which helps. Daycare near Mills is not going to solve any problems for you--580 is pretty awful eastbound in the late afternoons so then you have to double out there and back to Alameda, and you are at the whim of the traffic gods as far as being on time--much better to be close enough that you can use surface streets if you have to.

Is there some reason you have to live in Alameda? It's a lovely town, but it's definitely not the place I'd choose given your commutes. You'd spend much less time on the road if you lived in Berkeley or Albany. Then you'd be close to your daughter's preschool and both you and your husband would have short commutes. If you're already locked into a lease in Alameda, it's workable, but I'd definitely be looking to move when the opportunity arises. Also braving the I-80 commute

I would not move to Alameda unless you are going to work here or at least commute by ferry. Just driving across town can take 30 min. and be very frustrating! Once out of Alameda you still have to deal with 880 or downtown Oakland to get to Berkeley. There is a stop sign or stop light every blk or two and although I know why the speed limit is 25mph in most areas it can be extremely frustrating. None of the stop lights have sensors and none are synchronized. They turn red regardless of the fact there is no cross traffic. I sit at many lights everyday for several min. with no other cars around. The two bridges and one tunnel into and out of town get very congested and some of the streets are very narrow with parked cars on both sides. When you pull out to cross a street you have to pull out into the middle of the street in order to see any on coming traffic because people are allowed to park on the corners and rarely is anyone kind or considerate enough to stop so you can pull out safely. I've seen mothers with kids in the car trying to back out of a driveway into a street with no way of seeing because of parked cars and the oncoming traffic speeds up and sounds their horns instead of stopping to let them out. This is no exaggeration! If your work and child care are not in Alameda I would not recommend moving here. Why would you? Rents are sky high here like they are in the whole bay area even though there are empty places all around town. transplanted to Alameda

Commute to San Rafael from Alameda?

April 2014

My husband, toddler and I are moving to the Bay this summer and really have our hearts set on living in Alameda. The only issue is that he will be working in San Rafael and I will be working in South Berkeley and we have heard from helpful people on here that the commute may be pretty terrible. We currently live in a quaint little seaside town on the East Coast with lots of open space and friendly neighbors. We are drawn to Alameda as it seems to offer what we love about urban places-cultural and economic diversity as well as educated denizens- but also has many things not often found in more urban areas: relatively quiet, access to water and other natural beauty, safety, sense of community, great parks and jogging paths and good public schools. Can anyone think of a place with similar attributes that may make for a better commute for us? We will likely rent at first but hope to eventually buy a home for no more than $1 million. trying to set down some roots

Well, there is nothing too quiet about the Bay Area, even in Alameda...I think the commute will be quite challenging from Alameda to San Rafael on a daily basis, during rush hour, even in the reverse commute direction...though it's all about expectations. Some folks here travel crazy distances and are happy when the commute is only 50 minutes rather than 1.5 hours, but 50 minutes each way for me would be unbearable. I live in South-ish Berkeley, and travel to San Rafael in the 10am-ish range on a fairly regular basis and it's no problem, but going south anywhere in the afternoon rush hour vicinity is very busy on the I- 80. I think checking out San Rafael might be a good option...there was a year about two summers ago that day after depressing foggy day in Berkeley/Alameda I'd drive to San Rafael and as I crossed the bridge the sun would be shining and I swore every time 'I'm moving to San Rafael!' because it was warm and gorgeous rather than freezing and overcast in Berkeley. Right now we regularly take our son to Alameda from Berkeley in the afternoons for soccer and we can count on lots of traffic- -30-40 minutes door-to-door...However, Alameda is a great close-knit community, milder weather and good gardening soil, good schools, so understand your attraction! If money is no object, and you don't mind some foggy weather, then certain quiet wonderful neighborhoods in Berkeley might be your best bet--you avoid the worst part of I-80, which is the stretch from Gilman St to SF and Alameda. What about living near Tilden Park?

Editor: responses also received for Point Richmond

Commute from Alameda to Walnut Creek?

April 2014

Hello all, I am considering a move to Alameda island and wanted to know if anyone can give me an idea on what the commute would be like from Alameda to Walnut Creek. I would be driving during standard commute hours. My spouse works in SF and we are looking for something that will give us roughly equal commute times. Thanks! L

I live in Alameda and commute to Walnut Creek during the normal commute hours (as do 3 of my workmates). Now that the new bore has opened it has shortened the time considerably. Generally takes me about 35 minutes. My work mates who live closer to to an outlet (bridge or tube) manage the drive in about 25-30 minutes. It can take longer if the tube or bridge is really backed up.

My husband commutes to the City. He takes casual carpool or the ferry. Its about 45 minutes. Although for single drivers driving in its considerably longer.

Alameda is a wonderful community. Good luck.

Have you considered living right near SFGH? You could walk to work! Even though the Mission is one of the most competitive rental/purchase housing markets on the planet right now, why not try? Most of the area around SFGH is in the CTIP1 'golden ticket' zone for SF school enrollment. (Portrero is not, just enter any perspective adress into to make sure.) If you are in CTIP1, you will basically have your pick of any public school in the city. SFmom

Alameda to Fremont commute?

July 2012

Hi all, We are planning a move to the bay area from Seattle. My husband will be working in Fremont but I will be at home with our two little kiddos (2 & 4 mos) for a few months before looking for work myself. I think Alameda would be a great fit for us but we are somewhat concerned about the commute for my husband. He really wants to maximize his time at home so an hour drive each way would be out of the question. A friend in the area told us she thought this would actually be a pretty reasonable commute but I thought I would check in to see if anyone here makes that same commute or has any thoughts on the matter. We have investigated the BART which would work fantastically if not for the hour-long bus ride from the BART station in Fremont to his office. Any input is much appreciated! Jen

I've done the Alameda to Fremont commute... I'm sorry, but it can be gruesome at times. The only viable route is I-880, and it is a busy freeway, with many trucks (they can't use I-580) and gets a lot of wear and tear, resulting in potholes.

Southbound I-880 congests quickly in the morning, south of the I-238 split, and then it's tough slogging through Hayward, Union City, etc.

If you're going all the way down to South Fremont, bordering on Milpitas, you bump into another bad stretch of people heading deeper into the valley - San Jose, etc.

And there are few alternative options - for much of the the way, there are no frontage roads to escape on to. An accident that closes a couple of lanes can cause horrendous backups.

Spend some time over the course of a week or two tracking traffic on I-880 on KCBS:

You might also consider living in Fremont near BART - many of the same good attributes of Alameda, but a shorter driving commute, and you can easily get BART into S.F. or Oakland for visits, your own job, etc. Road Warrior

The Alameda to Fremont commute is a tough one. Would your husband be able to off-shift and avoid peak commute hours? That will be key to making it viable for your family. Also, there is a carpool lane -- if your husband can buddy up with someone.

The I-880 corridor is always congested: there are two major bridges that it feeds (San Mateo and Dunbarton), which create back-up -- when there is an accident on one of the bridges it is even worse. Plus, this is the main corridor for people going from the East Bay to jobs in Silicon Valley (San Jose, etc).

If you want to check traffic conditions yourself, go to and you can see current driving times, as well as calculate other driving times ( - 'Get Driving Times'). I was always given the advice that when figuring out a commute, try it yourself in rush hour-- this site lets you do this without sitting in traffic.

Good luck! I live in Alameda and it is a wonderful community. But the first few years here, my husband had a similar commute (I-880 to San Mateo Bridge) and there were many times he got stuck in traffic. Marie

I teach in Fremont, live in Alameda and can tell you from experience the commute on 880 is horrible. I have been rearended twice, and the few times I drive now, plan on it taking an hour due to the stop and go traffic. I am now taking BART and then biking to school. If he can find a carpool, it would be easier. rachel

Alameda to San Rafael commute

Nov 2010

We're considering a move to Alameda, but are wondering about the commute. It will be a great/easy commute for me, but my partner works in San Rafael. From Albany, Berkeley, or Richmond it's an easy commute to San Rafael, just over the bridge, as it's against traffic most of the way on the 580, so half hour or so even at 8am. But I'm wondering how much yuckiness is involved in getting from Alameda to the 580 west, through the maze I guess. Not sure if some areas of Alameda would be more advantageous on this front. glad he's doing the commuting, but still

I work in San Rafael, and live in Albany. Definitely not a bad commute, as driving commutes go.

But getting from Alameda to the 80/580 split is a slog. I had to do it from Rockridge for a while and it was really wearying. I think Alameda would be the same or worse, with potential jams and delays getting off the island as well as through the maze. No matter how I did it, it seemed to take forever, and traffic is almost always thick on 80 through Berkeley, at all hours.

Alameda's a nice town, so it may just be worth it...but you are right to be concerned about that commute. Holly

My husband had this commute for awhile. In the morning (because he left very early-- usually no later than 7am) it took 35 minutes to get to San Rafael, providing there were no accidents, and it was not raining. We live closer to the east end so he would use the Park St. Bridge. The ''tubes'' on the West end are OK to use that early in the morning too, but beware: they get *very* backed up after 8am most days, and also after 4:30pm coming back in to Alameda. The afternoon commute was a different matter. It usually took him 45 minutes to an hour to get home, but if there was inclement weather or an accident, it could take much, much longer. Once it took him nearly 2 hours! He now has a job he can get to by using BART, and he's a happier person for it. Kristen

Commuting between Alameda and Lafayette

Nov 2005

We are planning to move next summer to Alameda, and my son currently goes to a preschool (which he loves) in Lafayette. We are considering the possibility of keeping him there after we move. Can anyone give me an idea how long it would take to drive from Alameda to Lafayette - his program is 8:30am to 5pm? We may alternatively take Bart or change preschools altogether, but your input would definitely be helpful. Thanks in advance. Susan

I live in Alameda and both my children went to public preschool here given by the city Parks & Rec dept. You also have plenty of time to look around, ask neighbors, etc. for recommendations. If you're going to move all the way to Alameda, why commute your child? Any online map website will tell you how long it takes to drive there (at least 30 mins. door-to-door), but my question is why come to live in a new community if you're not going to be part of it, use what it offers? The question is not just going to a good preschool here or in Lafayette, but that you will meet families with children your child's age and begin to form friendships and networks among them, which will affect your whole famiy's life here in Alameda for the duration. What will you do when he/she is sick? The fact that your child will be gone from home for 9-11 hours each day is not conducive to taking advantage of your new community, making this a real home where you know people, know the schools, etc. There are so many good home daycare people here, and good preschools, public and private. The only reason I would continue in Lafayette is if you work in Lafayette so you need to be near the child care facility, and you're commuting there anyway. Even still, that's a terribly long day away from home for a child. In Alameda for 13 years

It's a long drive, not only to and from pre-school, but for playdates, birthday parties and other weekend and after-school events. If it were me, I'd really want to meet people in the new community through preschool before my child started kindergarten. Good luck! anonymous