Commuting from Alameda to San Francisco

Parent Q&A

  • Hello.  My husband and I moved to the Bay Area just under a year ago, and we are starting to look to buy.  We are initially focusing on Berkeley and Albany, but considering adding Alameda to the mix.  I'm concerned about the commute to San Francisco.  My husband works right near the Embarcadero station, and I work in Oakland.  I know the ferry itself is only 20 minutes, but how much time does getting to the ferry, presumably parking, and waiting in line add?  I know it will depend on where on Alameda we ended up, but roughly how much total time should we figure for that commute?  Is BART from Oakland faster or slower?  Anything else I should know good or bad about Alameda???

    Your husband has many potential options to get to work:  Bart from fruitvale, Bart from coliseum, ferry from main island, ferry from bay farm, ox express bus, casual car pool and even driving in isn't that bad if he goes in early.  Parking fills up at Bart and the ferry so if he can bike, that gives him more flexibility. 

    Alameda is a different place compared to Berkeley.  Less fabulous, more Mayberry so if you have kids there are many strengths but if you don't I'd stick to Berkeley.

    Just a few more options to add to the previous response...

    Transbay O, Transbay W, or 51A to either Fruitvale Bart or 12th Street Bart.

    We live in the middle of the island and commute out of the Main Street Ferry Terminal (the same boat as Oakland).  It takes me 20 minutes to get to the ferry by bike (but I'm slow).  There is free bike parking at the terminal and a security guard on-site during the weekdays.  My husband runs to the ferry (time depends on your speed).  

    If we drive to the ferry, it takes about 10 minutes to get there.  Then we park on the street and walk to the terminal (+5 minutes).

    If you work near Embarcadero it really is, hands down, the best way to commute to the City.   

    To commute to Oakland you can likely just hop on the 51A.  It is crowded but cheaper than paying for parking downtown.

Parent Reviews

Several have recommended Alameda on account of the ferry.  I will second those in favor.  I used to commute from Alameda to China Basin (essentially next to the CalTrain station/across from the ballpark but near Mission Bay).  I took the ferry, brought my bike on, and then rode down Embarcadero (where you are allowed to ride on the sidewalks but need to navigate pedestrians, dog walkers, etc.).  Oddly, my commute was the highlight of my day.  There were frustrations - navigating crowds on game days, I missed the boat sometimes, riding in the rain, cheap bike spokes rusted and broke from saltwater exposure - but you really cannot beat that commute if you need to get across the Bay.  I do also agree with those who suggest living in SF.  It is hard on parents to waste time commuting - it is time away from family.