Commuting from Berkeley & Oakland to the South Bay/Peninsula

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi there. My partner, 2 kids and I are moving to the Bay Area in 2025. We are moving back (after decades away) from Australia. I used to live in Berkeley, and it's time to come home.

    Schooling. The kids will probably be in 6th and 8th grade. Culturally, they're Australian and so accustomed to education that emphasizes wellbeing, fairness, and group focus. I'd love your advice on middle and high schools that are high-ranking, but not too high-pressure/competitive.

    Housing. Everything is expensive, but can you recommend areas that are less expensive but still have good schools and are safe? We'll probably need to rent at first, so if anyone has recommendations on that front, we'd be grateful. Ideally, we need to keep open the possibility of living somewhere equidistant-ish from Berkeley and Mountain View. 


    I think you have to decide what's going to drive the train, the schools or the housing site. You have to narrow it down a bit since the area between Berkeley and MV is large. 

    You would probably be looking at the younger child entering middle school as the youngest class (most US middle schools are now 6th-8th) and the older child would be in a bit of a pickle since most schools wouldn't necessarily have space for an 8th grader where there is space for a 6th grader. ie., it could be difficult to keep them at the same school.

    While this is a Berkeley/East Bay specific forum, I would probably place my bet on finding good public schools more likely in Sunnyvale/Mountain View/San Carlos and spend that money on rent there. I feel like you might get better quality rental housing on the peninsula but it won't be cheap. Fremont used to have a stellar school reputation and maybe it still does, and I just haven't heard about it lately; that might be another place to look. I would not be inclined to Milpitas myself as it really feels like a bedroom community. Good luck!

    "Equidistant-ish" between Berkeley and Mountain View caught my attention. This is a looooooong commute with traffic and all. I would try to move closer to the job with less flexibility and the parent with more flexibility does longer commute. 

    If you are set on equidistant-ish, Castro Valley and Fremont come to my mind. Both have good school districts and not astronomical in housing prices compared to the astronomical parts of the bay area. 

    On the peninsula side, San Carlos is lovely and has good schools, but prices are high. 

    If your children will go to school near your house, it's nice to have one parent who can get to the school in less than 30 min. for emergencies, pick-up/drop-off, school events/activities, etc. If you are in the mid-point from Berkeley and MV and your child is sick and needs to be picked up from school at the mid-point, neither of you will likely make it to school in less than 30 min. 

    Agreed with above that commuting is brutal (feels like getting worse by the year, especially after the pandemic), if one or more of you have a commute without flexible hours to dodge traffic, try to minimise it and don’t discount the impact of lost time with your family. When I was moving to the bay area 10 years ago I read articles about the high self-harm/suicide rates in some silicon valley high schools (google around if you wish, but warning it’s really sad to read about), and then I had two relatives transfer to Palo Alto and alarmingly they both did self-harm. Maybe coincidence, but something to look into. 

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  • Hi all: My family will be moving from New York (Westchester County) to the Bay Area this summer. My husband will be working in Santa Clara, while I will mostly work from home with a couple of work jaunts into the city each week. 

    After touring SV, the Peninsula and Berkeley we fell in love with Berkeley. Everything from the diversity in seemingly every facet to the vibrancy to the proximity of the city is exactly what we desire for us and our children. 

    But that commute...wowser. If we live within decent biking distance of the Amtrak and my husband telecommutes 1-2 days a week, is this manageable? Anyone else do this commute without crying every night?

    Also, any insights into reliability of the Amtrak in terms of timeliness and quality of the wi-fi?


    There are many people doing this commute, and apparently they've all found a way to make it work, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.  Please save your family the stress and consider moving to the South Bay instead.  Berkeley isn't worth 3 hours of day commuting. 

    Amtrak is great, the wifi works fine, but it gets expensive. Much nicer than driving.  From Berkeley to Santa Clara it's $17 or $18 each way. 

    Hi there, 

    I've been commuting from Oakland to San Jose for the past three years, working one day from home and frequently using the Amtrak and a bicycle to get to the office. The first two years I carpooled, but eventually felt the drive was unmanageable (even in the carpool lane), so I started taking Amtrak. The train is great because they have big desks where you can work, but I frequently have to rely on my hotspot because their internet often fails. In all honesty, the commute is horrendous. No matter what you do, your husband should expect a two hour one way trip door to door (unless he works and lives extremely close to both Amtrak stations). It may often take longer because few Berkeley residences are right near the freeway. Another challenge with the trains is that they only come every hour and a half. 

    Anyways - I would highly advise against moving to Berkeley. If your husband isn't already used to commuting, it will likely be maddening and not worth it. 

    Only you can know what your family can tolerate, bit it sounds like a horrible commute. 

    Expect the commute to be over 1.5 hours one way.... I commuted by car to redwood city from oakland for almost 4 years, which is a shorter distance but same direction, and it was brutal.if I took public trans. It would have been 2 hours plus one way.

    Dear Melissa -- traffic in the Bay Area is terrible.  If you are not now dealing with a major commute, I can't recommend taking this one on.  My family has only a minor commute; it would be more helpful for you to hear from people here who have ones similar to what you are considering, but I would have to go with insanity.  The time you have to spend together as a family will be greatly reduced, and your stress levels will rise.  A long commute creates a lot of uncertainties -- it's impossible to promise to be somewhere at a particular time, since over a long distance you can't predict heavier-than-usual traffic, accidents, etc.  Sorry.

    Our family dealt with a similar commute for almost five years, when my husband went from Berkeley to San Jose. It was not fun. He took BART to Fremont, then a bus, and then biked the rest of the way. He'd leave at 5:30am and get home at 8:00pm (on a good day). Driving didn't save much time, because if he left any later in the morning, he'd be stuck in traffic for two hours (though he'd have more office time). He tried Amtrak but it was too expensive for us and too far from our house. The main problems with the commute were (1) he didn't feel like he had enough time at work or at home, (2) his kids didn't see him all week, (3) he almost never got to participate in community/school events during the week, so I often felt like a single parent, (4) I had a difficult time having any flexibility with my work or schedule because I had to be in Berkeley in case of kid emergencies (he was too far away), (5) both of us had a hard time squeezing in exercise. I almost didn't make it through the first year. Then he started telecommuting two days a week, and that helped for a few years (but it took a while to get those days set, and if they weren't set, it was hard for me to plan). The third year I took a pretty intense job, and his ability to do his job well suffered because his flexibility and availability were so limited (we also paid for a lot for childcare). In the forth year we decided my job wasn't worth it, but by then my husband was so burned out by the commute, even with two days telecommuting. In total we suffered through the commute for almost five years, but that was all we could take. We stuck with it so long because he loved his job and we all loved Berkeley. Our kids had community in Berkeley, and it was much more our sort of place than the Peninsula or SV (we'd live in Palo Alto before Berkeley, so we knew). The problem with "seeing if it will work" is that then you are sort of stuck, because you and your kids will love Berkeley and build community, and won't want to move, but your husband probably won't be able to work closer to home. One possibility on the horizon is that BART is working on extending their line from Fremont all the way to San Jose and that may be finished in the next few years. Another possibility are the (controversial) shuttles that some companies run from SF or Berkeley to SV. You might see if his company offers shuttle service. Anyway, it is doable, but very hard on your family life and your husband may not feel as plugged in at work as he wants to be. In the end, we moved out of the Bay Area in order to escape that commute, and are happier than we've been in almost five years. If I had to do it over again... I don't know. Everyone always said "I don't know how you do it!" and I really don't know how we did. I hope this helps. 

    I am writing this on Amtrak right now, while I commute from Berkeley to Santa Clara! So I know from which I speak. I love my commute; I have time every morning to think and plan my day, and every evening to catch up on email that I didn't get to. I arrive home at a predictable time and definitely try not to work in the evenings.  I have been doing this for about 9 months. However, I leave the house at 6:45 to catch the 7:03 train and walk back in the door around 6:10 each evening. That means I am working 11 1/2 hour days and yet I am "only" in the office from 8:30-4:15. I slink out early while my team still works -- and I don't know if they resent that. They know I'm working on the train, but .... Amtrak has a very limited schedule, so if you miss a train you lose 1 to 1 1/2 hours (it happens).  Wifi is mostly fine but occasionally bad, though you can tether your phone or get a service if that's important to you. If you can work at home a couple of days, that might make it all fine. I would also ask yourself how close you are to the train in Santa Clara. My office is right near the train, so no trouble. Those in other areas of the Valley have to bike from the train -- doable but you may have heard about our rain this year.  I'm of two minds: This commute is doable and can be good but it comes at a cost. You might look around Willow Glen in San Jose, Mountain View, Campbell, Los Gatos. None of them are Berkeley, but if i wasn't already living there when I took this job, and I didn't have kids in school, no way I would do this commute.

    That is an insane commute! I do that commute from just south of Walnut Creek 2x a week and it is horrible. I used to do it 3x a week and I just couldn't handle it.  The issue is not only is it a long time in the car and/or train, but it means that he will have to leave early in the morning and won't get home until late. This can make things very difficult on you.  It is also stressful to know that if there was any emergency he is so far away. That said, if he truly can limit his time in the office to only 3 days, and the train is workable (I can't comment on this), then perhaps it is feasible depending on how you guys work together for house stuff.  However, I would assume at least 1 1/2 hours there (if he leaves by 6:30 am) or more and a minimum of 2 hours coming home.  I drive and it takes me 1 hour 15 min if I'm lucky to get there and up to 2 hours or more to get home and I'm probably 20 minutes at least south of you.  

    Have you considered Alamo/Danville/Walnut Creek/San Ramon? These are great communities with good schools at least a bit closer.  Granted, they are not as hip and culturally diverse (and don't have the great restaurants), but they have amazing schools, great community feeling, and are wonderful places to raise children - think big backyards, the Iron Horse trail (for riding bikes, jogging, etc).

    Good luck! 

    I can't comment on this commute, but I used to take Amtrak in the other direction (the capital corridor towards Sac) and found it to be mostly reliable in terms of timing - there were occasional delays, but probably less than the traffic delays I would have encountered driving. And the ride is nice and comfortable, WAY better than being in the car! The wifi was not very fast though - I could usually do email but downloading files was tough. I always tried to plan ahead with offline work I could do on the train and was able to get a good amount of work done during my commute. Hope that helps!


    My husband commutes from San Leandro to Santa Clara and San Leandro is probably 8-10 miles closer to SC than Berkeley and yes its a tough! Most days 1 1/2 hours morning and evening rush hours. He works from home once a week and once a week he comes after lunch, but its still a slog.

    That being in Berkeley might be worth it. Love Berkeley (we had to choose San Leandro for lower housing prices, but spend a lot of time Berkeley) 

    I don't know a lot about Cal Train/bike option...maybe others do and will answer. Good luck.  

    Thanks so much for the replies. Really appreciate all the honesty and we're definitely rethinking our impulse to settle in Berkeley...though may do it anyhow! 

    Look at the Willow Glen area of San Jose.

  • Hello fellow parents. My new job has resulted in a dreaded commute from Oakland to San Jose, and I'm trying to find my best options to maximize my sanity and my mornings/evenings at home with the family. I do know that I have an Amtrak option so that is good. But my question is this. I'm thinking about leasing an electric vehicle so that I can get an HOV pass. Does anyone commute from Oakland to San Jose in the morning (and back in the evening) in the HOV lane? Can you tell me roughly how much time you save during commute hours (vs. Non HOV lane)? I'm trying to gauge if the saved time is sufficient to override the limited Amtrak schedule.  Thanks for all your advice!

    My husband does this commute daily, and we recently purchased an EV for HOV access. He saves about 15 minutes in the afternoon (NB 880) during commute hours (not sure about the morning since he goes in early before morning rush hours). As far as I'm concerned, Amtrak is way too expensive one-way to make it a long term solution. Hope that helps!

    I commuted Oakland to San Jose for four years. BART to Fremont then bus was my first mode. Then Amtrak. Then carpooling with two others. Of the three, Amtrak was by far the best (great environment, reliable but limited schedule) and carpooling was probably second since I only drove every three days. The HOV lanes help but honestly not that much. Traffic jams up in San Jose and Oakland and at peak times in many other places. Stress levels on the 880 are extremely high. When I solo drove, I used 580 to 680 and it moved along better but took a long time. I really recommend Amtrak. It's guaranteed to take a long time but you can work, kick back, nap, and even have a beer while making your way home. BART offers more schedule flexibility but conditions are far less pleasant-- I still managed to nap or read. After four years, we moved to Santa Rosa where our house is one mile from work. Commuting is hard no matter which way you go.

Alameda is GREAT. Walkable, good schools, easy commute to the city on the ferry. Less expensive than Stanford area but not cheap. We love it. 

Note that the commute (not during pandemic times) from the East Bay to Stanford is soul crushing. There is no good way to get there on public transit, and the traffic is horrible. I am reluctant to make predictions about the future, but if things return to normal like before, you would not want to make this drive more than once a week. You'd have to plan a 2 hour commute (one way) to arrive on time - so leaving by 7 am to make a 9 am meeting. But everywhere near Stanford is incredibly expensive, so the traffic is a tradeoff. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Oakland/Berkeley to Menlo Park commute

Dec 2015

Hello! I am applying for jobs in Menlo Park and need some advice regarding the commute. My husband works in Berkeley, so we are considering moving further south to split the commute (possibly Hayward). I would love to take public transit, but am worried that the Dunbarton bus will just get stuck in traffic like a car. Does anyone have advice on where to move? Experience with the commute? Public transit options? Dreading the commute

I did this for awhile (oakland to Palo Alto) and it was really hard. What made it work was working 12-9 or other off hours. When I had to go in the morning I would leave my house at 5:30 and it would sometimes take over two hours to get there on a bad day, other times 90 minutes, but the problem was that it was never predictable so I always had to leave super early. It got to be too stressful. Trips home also could take up to 2 hours or more.

The Dumbarton bridge wasn't really bad at that hour. The issue was mainly 880, so if you could live somewhere to bypass that, I think that would help. 580 was a good option, but 238 to 880 get really backed up especially around the San Mateo Bridge. commuter

so here is our story on commuting to the other side of the bay: my husband was working for 5 years in Redwood City. We live in Oakland right on hwy 24 and 13. Waze was his best friend. he had to leave no later than 6:30 (otherwise the traffic was unbearable) and came home after 8 pm.

After work he went to the gym or for a bike ride in the South Bay, or ran errands over there to avoid the stop and go traffic at all costs. Fridays were the worst. Even with a 2nd person in the car the commute back home on Fridays took 1.5-2 hours. He was never home for dinner or tucking the kids into bed. It is bad and it is getting worse. It costs you too - lots of gas and bridge toll plus maintaining a 2nd car. He now has a job in downtown OAK, we sold our 2nd car, he is so happy and the kids have a dad present again.

It is manageable but do not expect your spouse to be home. You are it at home and close to being a single parent during the week. sorry for being direct - but it ''ain't pretty'' no matter how you try to look at it.

never commuting again to the South Bay

Let's start with my initial reaction: don't do it! But if you must, let me tell you about experience doing the Oak-MP commute for 3 years. Carpools is best!

So, from the EB to Menlo Park, there are generally two generally acknowledged ways to go by car (and try to ''beat'' traffic):

a) leave before some ungodly hour (my carpool's choice). this time has changed. when i started going Oak-to-MP, it was around a 6:30 departure and took less than or about an hour. these days, it's at 6 am (at the latest) to make it into MP within the hour.

b) leave at or after 9. no carpool advantage, but more manageable traffic. possibly under an hour. there are folks like Ann House, and Naomi Tyler who do this, due to either early mtgs or school drop off.

Departure from Oakland between 6:30-9 is insane (sorry), and leads to at least 1.5 hrs of driving to go in.

Return times are another decision point. As far as I can tell, carpool or not, unless one leaves Menlo at 2pm, it's ugly. But it's uglier if you leave Menlo between 4:30pm and 7pm. [This is the Willow problem - all cars leaving the peninsula via ridiculously narrow streets - and that means about 40 minutes from downtown Menlo to University & 84].

The public transit route. It takes her about 2 hours. BART to Embarcadero, walk to Caltrain, Caltrain to Menlo, walk to SRI. I've done a mod of this method, with casual carpool across the Bay Bridge, and that worked out to 1 hr 45 mins. with everything going exactly according to plan. The public transit option is great, you get in your steps, and could be less expensive financially (if your company compensates for taking public transit), but it's the longest solution. And, if one of the connections fails - phew - you're out a long distance commute.

Good luck.
fratchy carpooler

When I tell people that I commute from Berkeley to Palo Alto, everyone gives me the most withering/pitiful looks and either scoffs or gasps - as if it is too horrible to imagine. This really annoys me - so I am writing to tell you that it is not horrible! I happened to land my dream job in PA, and my family is very happy in Berkeley, so this is what I do: I work later hours (this way I get to spend the morning with my kids), about 10:30-6:30. We hired a babysitter to pick the kids up from school and get dinner on the table (interestingly, the lack of dinner battles takes away a lot of my stress). My husband gets home and does bath time and clean up; I get home between 7:30 and 8 and we have a wonderful hour of quality time/book-reading/bedtime snuggles. I have to be very on point during the weekends - all shopping taken care of, meals for the week prepped, etc. I would like to be able to use transit, but you are right - the Dumbarton bus does NOT MOVE, just like all the other cars on 84. I also found a carpool once a week and am signed up on various car pool sites so that I can potentially pool more often. When traffic is bad, it is bad. There's no way around it. But sliding your schedule will help a lot, as will telecommuting once in a while, just for the break. Feel free to contact me off list if you'd like to talk more specifically about commuting options. it's not so bad.

Commuting to Menlo Park from the East Bay is rough. Plan on spending anywhere from 15-18 hours a week in your car. It's basically a part time job. If the job is worth a move it could be worth considering! I've been commuting to the south bay for 2.5 years and I won't sugar coat it - it really takes a toll. Good luck to you! supercommuter

Hi! I read your post and wanted to share that I commute from Oakland to Mountain View. My company provides a van for a number of us to drive to work and we have a wireless connection in teh van. The commute is long (90 min door to door) and tiring but the vanpool makes it somewhat bearable. Stopping in Menlo would be a lot better. Doing it from Hayward would be easier as you said but the commute North is hard if you don't take public transit. You could target companies that provide bus service since it allows you to relax which is priceless.....

hope that helps
often tired but love having a good job

I work in Palo Alto and my husband works in Berkeley, and we've continued to live close to Berkeley (in El Cerrito). The key is that I've negotiated very flexible hours with my employer: I can work from home and, when I commute, log some of my work hours on the trains using my phone as a hotspot. I definitely see others doing the same. This won't work with every job, but if you have a coding/writing/design-type position where you do a lot of solitary work, it's possible with employer support. Also, this part is critical: I can walk from my house to BART *and* from Caltrain to the office in under ten minutes. Folding bikes are nice, but can insidiously add to your stress, and managing the door-to-door parts of the commute is always the worst. So if you want to be near transit, be NEAR transit. (You probably know that the DB leaves from Union City, not Hayward, and may or may not go where you need to go in Menlo Park. Time *all* of those legs of the trip before you commit to letting it make you crazy. Seriously.)

One option we considered before the job flexibility was clear was South San Francisco. There is both a BART station and a Caltrain station there, reasonably near one another, and SF isn't far by train. Millbrae and San Bruno are similarly situated. The problem for us is that we didn't actually want to live in those places, we wanted to live in Berkeley (or, given infinite funds, San Francisco), and my particular job, nice as it is, wasn't worth uprooting ourselves to settle in Compromise City. Do you want to live in Hayward or do you want to live in Glen Park? Or Alameda, or Millbrae? That's the important question. Everything else is negotiable, within financial constraints and time constraints, but you have to consider it holistically. I'm sure you know this, but don't let obsession over logistics drown out the voice of reason... Abelian grape

I am a longtime commuter to Palo Alto from Berkeley. There is no simple solution to a cross-bay commute of this distance. On my commute, driving in a carpool/vanpool the traffic flows fairly smoothly from Berkeley to San Leandro, then is very slow at multiple spots between San Leandro and Menlo Park. This will be an investment of time no matter where you live in the East Bay. The Dumbarton Express bus is ok, but yes the bus will be stuck in the same traffic as cars. The trip planner at gives an accurate idea of public transit trip times, and the WAZE app gives a pretty accurate idea of driving times during your planned commute hours. I spend 3 to 3.5 hours per day in transit. I am only able to do this because my husband takes care of all child care morning drop-off and evening pick-ups. I have the same bedtime as my child and I get up at 5am to get out of the house by 6am. If I need to attend a parent-teacher conference or doctor appointment, I take use a vacation day. I'm ok with this, but you need to know it takes some serious commitment and partnership/household help. Your commute from Hayward or Fremont will be a little better, but you may be faced with some of the same difficulties due to SV traffic and the reality of transfers between multiple transit systems, i.e. BART, AC Transit, VTA, Samtrans & Caltrain. You will definitely need someone you can call to pick up kids from childcare if you get stuck in traffic, and those of us who work across the bay from our families need a solid family earthquake emergency that does not require our presence.

Oakland to San Bruno commute

Feb 2014

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. Sally

Hi 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 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. Julie

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 !

Commute to South Bay from East Bay?

Jan 2014

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? Thanks, James

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.

Also consider:
- Some employers have busses/vanpools that can make things a little more bearable
- 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 traffic. Go A's

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. Maria

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. Anon

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. anon

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! Good luck!

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 these cities:

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

Hi James, 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! Kendra

My husband used to commute from Albany to Mountain View and then to Sunnyvale. 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 Victoria

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 minutes. no more commutes!

Hello ! 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. L.

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! James

Commuting by boat from East Bay to Peninsula

Oct 2013

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. Thanks! 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: Good luck

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 onerous. Get in touch if this is something that you might be interested in and maybe we can get a plan together.. want to be watery

Oakland/Piedmont to Santa Clara Commute?

Dec 2012

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 driving. 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 appreciated. Sara

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 easier.

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. Love Amtrak!

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 traveling. 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: or or
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! Commuter

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. former commuter

Commute from N. Berkeley to Cupertino

June 2011

Hello, 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 miserable? Are there ''casual carpooler'' type programs to at least get a carpool going down 880? Thanks, Dave

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 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. fellow commuter

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 tape. DrivingCharlie

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. Shawn

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 similar) Mountain View, both exorbitant to buy a house in, and expensive for rent. Peninsula offers somewhat better rental deals in San Carlos and San Mateo, and your commute will be 30-40 min instead of 1.5 hours each way. The only East Bay 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 along the airport and get on the 880 in San Leandro, resulting in a 45-min commute. Finally, if you must go from Berkeley to Cupertino, see if you can arrange some days of working from home (I assume you have a tech job so this might be an option). Going back and forth 5 days a week will be utter misery. 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 occasional phone catch up with his family (although he's not big on talking while driving). some companies have van pools, and i believe there's a carpool board on good luck

Commute from N. Berkeley to San Mateo

Nov 2008

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. anon

Commute from N. Berkeley to Milpitas

Sept 2008

Hi, 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. Alex

My husband commutes down 80 then 880 to 237 each day and would like to talk to you about a possible carpool.

Commute from Berkeley to Cupertino

July 2007

How long does it take to commute from north Berkeley to Cupertino? I need to be in Cupertino from 9am-5pm for a few weeks. Thanks. judy

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? Good Luck

Commuting to the Peninsula from Oakland Hills

June 2006

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! Stu

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!
former commuter

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

Commute to Palo Alto from Rockridge

Jan 2006

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. Kevin Smathers

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. ed

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. Wendy

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. fellow commuter

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! commuter

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. Julie

Public transportation between Oakland and Palo Alto?

Aug 2005

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. Thanks!
Uggg....commuting again

The only way I can think of is BART/Casual Carpool into SF, and Caltrain down to PA. is the best resourse I know of for commuting. Kean

Check 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. Michael

No specific suggestions, but you should check out the ''trip planner'' page at R.K.

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! Cindy

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 (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.) --Good luck! --another commuter

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.

Commuting to Stanford University from Berkeley

March 2005

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 the day? Thanks, 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. Stanford commuter

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 for you. JM

I would suggest taking BART to CalTrain, and then taking the shuttle from the Stanford station. This is time-consuming but workable. Lori

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 it. Cynthia

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 Happy trails! anne

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

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! David

May 2004

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? isabel

The rideshare page on 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! Jennie

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 Barbara

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. barbara

Commuting to San Jose State University from Oakland

Oct 2004

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? Thanks!
- 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. sjsu alum

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 traffic. 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! Another commuter

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's Trip Planner. Jennie

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 can't we?

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 point. --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! Kristin

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 (Bay Area transit information) for more info. transit planner

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 I know she also found other students doing the same thing, so wasn't always pooling with me. Give it a try! Merrilee

Commuting from Temescal to downtown San Jose

Jan 2003

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 appreciated. Thanks Anna

For carpool information, go to, 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! Michael

Contact RIDES for Bay Area Commuters at They will set you up with a non-casual carpool. Most casual carpools go into SF, not down 880. valerie

Why don't you use Rides for Bay Area Commuters? They are on the web at, and can be reached by phone at 510) 893-7665. Christine