Commuting from Oakland to San Francisco

Parent Q&A

  • Hi, 

    Any parents out there that have moved back to San Francisco from the East Bay with kids? We have to move soon to get more space for our baby, and started realizing pricing in East Bay has kept pace with SF in some areas. We are debating the commute as prices continue to climb in Berkeley, and accessible / safe area in Oakland. Thanks!

    I can't answer moving back to SF, but have you checked out other less expensive communities in the EB?  It seems like prices have skyrocketed in Berkeley and Oakland more than anywhere else in the EB.  Alameda can still be affordable and is likely much more family friendly than SF.  We love it here.  San Leandro is also a great place to raise a young family.  Also, do you plan on sending your child to public school eventually?

    If both of you are commuting to SF for work and it would save you a ton of time to live in SF, then maybe this makes sense? - but I have a hard time believing that quality of life with kids in SF is going to better than in east bay. Also - SF public schools lottery is a mess - have you talked to SF parent friends going through this? Even if your premise is right, that cost of living in SF is the same as here (which seems hard to believe in desirable neighborhoods for families, like Noe), I'm not sure this is a good plan. We used to live in SF and loved it but SF has turned sort of - awful - in the last 10 years. Oakland and Berkeley are, for all their faults, still quirky. If one or more of your jobs are in the east bay, I would stay here. Curious of course for others' thoughts. Good luck. I know this housing market is miserable.
     

    I don't have a suggestion, but we have also considered this, so looking forward to others' responses. We lived on the east coast for about a year and a half, and then returned to Oakland. We're happy to be in California, but we miss our much more walkable and urban lifestyle in the previous city. From what I can tell, the school lottery system in SF is worse than in Oakland, but I lived in the city before our first child was old enough to be in school, so I don't know how accurate that is. 

Parent Reviews

I have to chime in because I used to work in Mission Bay and live in Oakland. I live in North Oakland, my closest BART station is MacAruthur station. I didn't use public transit because it would take me 1.5 hours each way for the commute. As another poster mentioned, the last part of the commute, getting from Embarcadero BART to Mission Bay is the most frustrating and slow part of the commute. I drove to work and picked up casual carpoolers in the morning, which gets me to work in 30-45 minutes. Getting home in the evening is another story, that's usually 40-50 minutes. The traffic is only getting worse with the new Warriors stadium. I finally had it with the commute and quit my job in Mission Bay. I highly recommend living in SF if possible. I grew up in the Richmond neighborhood in SF, it's quiet and family friendly, with good public schools. It's also close to the beach and  next-door to Golden Gate park.  

Hi! I live in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood (so just South of Rockridge and just East of Temescal) and it's infinitely walkable and lovely in SO many ways. BUT, I also just saw a few responses about your commute to Mission Bay and had to weigh in. I work at UCSF in Mission Bay and the commute is HARD. All the people advocating for BART or the Transbay bus must not actually do the commute. My commute consists of a 1-mile walk, ride, or Uber to BART, then into the city - either to Embarcadero where I get on the Muni "T" streetcar, or to 16th/Mission where I can wait for a UCSF shuttle, then another 20-minute leg to the hospital. Neither is ideal. Those neighborhood "Mission Bay" free shuttles are crowded and not very dependable. This "last mile" problem is significant. I'd be happy with my commute if I didn't have so much trouble getting from BART (or the Transbay bus terminal) to Mission Bay. My commute (even when perfect and streamlined) is at least 1 hr 15 min each way. I also occasionally get carpools straight to work via a matching app called "Scoop" but it's inconsistent. If living in SF is at all appealing to you, that is 100% the way to go. Before we moved to Oakland, we lived in SF for 12 years, and I'd move back in a heartbeat! But now we have kids, and schools, and my husband works in Berkeley so... you know how it goes. Best of luck! feel free to contact me if you want to hash it out! :)

The Temescal neighborhood is fabulous-- served by BART and multiple bus lines (both local and transbay), and is very walkable. You can easily walk to Rockridge and Piedmont Avenue, and Telegraph Avenue has a number of amenities (and more coming with a few new developments in the neighborhood). It is south of Rockridge/Elmwood (I'm noting this only because you mentioned you were looking north of RR/Elmwood). To get to Mission Bay, you can BART to Embarcadero and then catch the Mission Bay shuttle, or take a Transbay AC Transit bus to the new Salesforce Transbay Terminal and get a Mission Bay shuttle. Mission Bay shuttle is a free last-mile shuttle. If you are working at UCSF, there are additional shuttle options that they provide from various transit hubs in SF.

Oakland's lottery system is focused on August admissions. You should contact the school district to find out about mid-year admissions for your 6-year old.

Consider Park Day School in the Temescal neighborhood. It's a wonderful school. It's a private school, so separate from the public school system and lottery-- there is a school-specific application and process. They may also have mid-year openings. The school is Kindergarten through 8th grade. Park Day has small classes, terrific teachers and specialists, and a beautiful campus. The school follows a progressive education program with tons of hands-on learning, and a maker and social justice curriculum. There is also a very warm and inclusive community of families. It's also in walking distance of BART (I drop my kid and then walk to BART), which would make it convenient for your commute to San Francisco.

Here's a link to the school's website: ​https://www.parkdayschool.org/

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions. Best of luck with your move!

I commute to Mission Bay every day from the broader Rockridge area.  The commute is a nightmare.  Our company's attrition has spiked since our move to the area from SoMa, and the company shuttles from the Transbay/BART do not alleviate the struggle.  Between CalTrain running at grade blocking access in/out of the area regularly at commute hours, and minimal ways in/out (only 3 points out of the neighborhood at 16th street, 3rd street and 4th street), it's a congested mess.   It takes me 25+ minutes just to get back to our old office area in SoMa and then another 35 minutes to drive home.  Yes...I drive, because it was the only sane way to get to/from, but now I waste a half hour every day lining up my carpool to get in on Waze and picking up strangers and trying to find people closer to my home/work to get through in the carpool lane.  I haven't quit only because my manager allows me to work from home 2-3 days/week.

Long and short is that you should SERIOUSLY consider living in SF if there's any way you can afford it.  Your quality of life will be much better vs. spending 3+ hours per day commuting by public transit, or 1.5-2 hrs by car.  Many colleagues have happily bought condos in Mission Bay, or rent in Mission Bay and the nearby Portrero Hill which is an uber family-friendly and great neighborhood.  Bernal Heights and Glen Park further south are also both quite nice.  A few colleagues live in the Sunset which is great for families, but also a trek, just through the city, and definitely driving.  

I will flag that your timing is not ideal.  Most of the lotteries register this winter or in January, and you can't lock-in until you move in, so you may find yourself in a tough spot re: getting a spot in a neighborhood school in Oakland if you're in a popular area (some schools like Peralta don't have enough room for their neighborhood kids, let alone extra kids from the lottery).  In SF, it's a crapshoot what you'll get, as the other poster mentioned.  Many folks seriously consider private schools or charters.  In North Oakland many I know are happy with Yu Ming (Chinese Immersion) or North Oakland Community Charter which are both free, public charter schools.

If I were you, I'd call district offices at your preferred schools and have frank conversations if they have open seats in the elementary schools where you'd want your 6-year-old to attend.  That may determine where you choose to live!  In Oakland top choices that are commutable to SF would be Peralta, Chabot, Kaiser (near Rockridge), Glenview, Crocker Highlands (near Grand Lake up uphill). You may also want to consider Alameda.  The public schools are excellent on the island, and you can ride the ferry to SF (tideline runs a new ferry direct to mission bay! https://www.7x7.com/classy-ferry-oakland-to-san-francisco-2640585255.html )  Good luck!!

We live in Grand Lake/Lakeshore neighborhood in Oakland and commute to SF everyday.  First, I'd like to give a shout out to our neighborhood which has a landmark historic theater, little cafes, restaurants, shops, parks for kids, library, the oldest bookstore in Oakland, and one of the most vibrant farmers' markets around and of course, Lake Merritt. It's also quite a bit more affordable than Rockridge and I feel a bit safer than Temescal. 

Oakland does have an options process for schools but you get preference for your catchment (the neighborhood zone for your area school). Rockridge area has some of the more popular schools (Chabot/Peralta/Hilcrest) and the area middle school and high school are also well regarded. The neighborhood school for Temescal is Emerson which is not ranked high but is well regarded and beloved by families who attend the school. Chabot is a larger school and out of catchment kids do get into Chabot. We like our neighborhood school (Cleveland), which is a hidden gem. In addition to BART, there are transbay buses that get you to downtown SF as well as casual carpool. I have lived in different neighborhoods in Oakland and have commuted to different parts of SF. You don't have to limit yourself to being able to walk to BART to have a pretty easy commute. If being able to walk to BART is really important and you want to stay on the west side of the Caldecott Tunnel, the "safetest" family friendly neighborhoods with BART within walking distance and commercial amenities would be Rockridge BART, North Berkeley BART, El Cerrito BART areas (El Cerrito BART area feels more suburban than hip urban neighborhood). Parts of residential areas near downtown Berkeley BART can also be nice. Piedmont Ave. neighorhood is also very nice and it's one of my favorite places we have lived. Commute to SF is quite easy from Piedmont Ave. area. The neighborhood school is not highly ranked and many famlies in that area send their kids to Chabot or Cleveland which are close or private schools. Berkeley and SF both have blind lottery system, so you could end up in a school that is not close to your house. Oakland gives preference to neighbhood kids and siblings of current students and if there is any room left, they run a lottery for the rest. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Commuting from Montclair to the Financial District

March 2015

What is it like to commute to the financial district from Montclair? Is there a nearby BART station with parking that doesn't fill up really early in the morning? Do the transbay buses service this area? I really hate driving to work and don't want to live anywhere that public transportation isn't viable. Thanks


BART lots are full by 7:15 or 7:30. If you are can't find a space you are screwed. You could drive Lafayette station which is larger and fills much later and you can find street parking. You could also drive to West Oakland BART and pay the $5-$10 for parking place.

Don't know about the bus. Been told the express busses are nice and not bad as long as there are no accidents. But then BART has it's delays to/from the East Bay too. ANON


My husband commutes to the financial district from Montclair about once a week, and it's super easy. There's a bus that goes directly from the village to the city that arrives a few times (20 min apart, I think) in the mornings. Either he walks down to the bus stop, I drive him to the bus stop, or he drives and parks (free) on Moraga. It's the beginning of the line, so there's always a seat, and he does work during the commute. It also brings him home in the afternoon.

Otherwise, he'll take BART at Rockridge, which is a 10 min drive each way from home (I drop him off/pick him up). Once in a while, he'll drive to Ashby BART and leave the car there all day, then drive home. Back when, he used to bike from our house in Montclair to Rockridge BART and back, but generally he takes the bus. I think it's about an hour door to door on the bus, but he gets work done; BART is faster, but he can't do work bc it's crowded, and it requires a driver so there's two people's time to consider. When we do Rockridge pick up, we usually turn it into a walk with the toddler and/or TJ's trip. happy commuting


Commuting from Redwood Heights to the Financial District

Dec 2014

I recently moved to the Redwood Heights neighborhood, and am looking for good commuting options from Redwood Heights to the financial district in SF. I can leave home around 7:30 a.m., and need to get back to Redwood Heights by 6 p.m. to pick up my child from daycare. I've seen the older posts on BPN, but want to see if there are any updates to those suggestions! Thank you! Commuting Mom


There is a commuter bus stop called the NX3 on High St and MacArthur Blvd at different times that takes you right into SF to Transbay terminal. Look up the schedule on AC transit. The good thing about this stop is that it's the last stop before going to SF and first stop on the way back to Oakland in the evenings. Should take approx 20 mins. carolyn


Drive, bus or BART the commute is terrible expect to spend over an hour each way if not an hour and a half. You don't have many choices from Redwood Heights when it comes to freeways, and all of your options are terrible especially 580 and even 13 gets really bad.

Closest BART station for you is Fruitvale, expect the parking lot to be filled well before 7:30. If not familiar with BART expect delays for strange reasons. Last night the train I was on was stopped just before the tube so they could re-boot the train. This crated a 20+ minute delay for everyone. (Delays are a regular occurrence on BART. For AC transit take a look at the O, NX, NX1 and NX2 lines. I haven't taken the bus in years, but I have co-workers who do and they seem to like it. The buses are clean (compared to BART) and they have free-WiFi.

You might have to get creative to avoid a 2-3 hour commute. Can you shift your hours and go in an hour earlier? Take the ferry. (I've done this several times and it's not bad.) Car pool, but the only problem with this is where you are there aren't really any car pool lanes except at the toll plaza. Bus-pool? Take a look at the ride-shares, Uber and Lyft.

Hate to say it but you have two other factors working against you. The economy is doing incredibly well which is why there is so much traffic. Traffic hasn't been this bad in over 10 years. The other factor that's going to make traffic worse for all of us is the building that's going on. Once completed in a year or so expect to see another 2,000+ cars in your commute. (Ugggg) ANON


Commuting from Oakland to SF, must get home no later than 6pm

Feb 2014

I am thinking about leasing an electric car, but it would only work if I could commute to/from my home in Oakland and my job in downtown San Francisco. My AM drive from Oakland to SF can be flexible, but in the afternoon I must be able to leave SF and arrive in Oakland with certainty absolutely no later than 6:00 PM. No flexibility there. How long does it really take to get from SF to Oakland at around 5:00 and how much risk of delay? Does being able to get on the carpool on-ramp in SF save much time? I hope there are folks out there who make this drive often enough to clue me in on what it really takes. Thanks!


When I need to get from home in SF to be in Oakland or Berkeley at 5 or 6, I leave at 300. Yes, really. There is a terrible rush of people trying to all simultaneously get to the Bay Bridge, and the rush starts about 300. You should consider just leaving very, very early, and you will be in Oakland at 400. The electric car is not a factor in these traffic jams at all. Regular Bay Bridge Driver


My partner leaves work in SF at 4 most days and drives home. She may be home by 4:45... or by 7. And the 7pm days are not that rare. If you really MUST be home by 6, I don't think driving is going to work. Hate riding BART, but hate traffic accidents more


I did this commute for 3 months with my husband from mission bay to north oakland in the evening, it was a nightmare. If you want to get to oakland by 6, you'll need to leave SF by 4:30 at the latest. The traffic to get on the east bound bay bridge is so bad, I would not wish it on my worse enemy. Even the carpool lane is generally super backed up, so don't count on it. It took us a while to figure out the the 5th street on ramps on are slightly faster than the 2nd street on ramps. In summery, avoid this commute by car if all possible. been there


Your commute will probably depend on where exactly in Oakland you are trying to get by 6 pm. My commute is a bit different, because I'm going to Berkeley. But having done the SF-East Bay afternoon commute for several years in the carpool lane, I can tell you that, unfortunately, for the afternoon commute, the carpool lane does not shave that much time off of your commute (but it's extremely helpful in the morning). And certain days (baseball games, weird protests or parades downtown), it's actually worse than getting on at say the 8th street entrance, because you have to drive so far down on the city streets before you can get on. My experience has been that the afternoon commute is always worse than the morning commute. While an hour is usually enough time, it's just barely enough time, and if I cut it close, I will be having a panic attack by the time I get to school for pick up. And there will be days where an hour isn't enough time, leaving the city at 5 pm...An unpredictable wreck or road work will just screw you up completely. So, if you can never leave the office before 5 and you MUST pick up by 6, I think you might feel like it's too close for comfort, depending on your destination in Oakland. I would definitely try the drive a few times before committing to anything. Commuter mom


You don't say which part of Oakland you're going to, so that could make a 20 minute difference. When you say downtown SF, I assume you are getting on the bridge at 1st St. which tends to move really slowly. I'd say most days you could get home by 6pm, but I wouldn't rely on it. Former commuter


Commuting from Montclair to San Francisco

Sept 2013

I'm considering taking a job in downtown SF, and I live in Montclair. How difficult is it to park at the Rockridge or Orinda BART stations at 8 or 8:30 a.m.? From what I understand, the lots are full by 7:30. Is it hard to find spots on the street, and are there time limits that prevent commuters from parking in the surrounding neighborhoods? Would it be better to use MacArthur station instead? I've never commuted to the city before, but my impression is that the station parking lots get jammed up very early. What do late arrivers do? BART commuting newbie


Another option is the AC Transit Transbay service -- looks like the CB line runs from Montclair. I used to commute from Alameda to SF via AC Transit and it was a great option -- didn't worry about parking and always got a seat. I have noticed over the years that a lot of people don't think or know about this, so thought I would bring it up. Good luck in your decision! Former SF Commuter 


Commuting from Crocker Highlands to the Civic Center

Jan 2004

I am soon to change jobs and one of the downsides is I will no longer be able to easily commute by bus. I live in Crocker Highlands and will be commuting to Civic Center are in SF at the height of commute times (need to get there at 8:30-9, leave at 5). BART is over a 2-mile walk so the realistic options seem limited to driving and picking up carpoolers or driving to West Oakland BART, parking there, and Barting to/from office. The latter sounds more appealing but I am wondering how late I can get to West Oakland BART and still find a spot to park in one of the adjacent paid lots - anyone have any idea if I can get there at 8:15 and still park anywhere near the station? Anyone have any other ideas (shifting my work hours is not an option)? Thanks very much for your recommendations and advice.


My experiece with West Oakland Bart is that you can always find a spot in the paid parking lot ($5.00/day last year). If you get there early enough you may find a spot in the Bart parking lot. However ''early'' means really early (before 7 am) since spots are limited for the non-reserved parking area and they fill up very fast!

Often times, there are some street parking spots available but you have to be careful with the street signs for time limits and sweeping schedules. This is not the best of neighborhoods so be careful if you think you'll be getting out of work late. The streets are also not well lit if it gets dark, this is especially true for the latter part of fall and throughout winter. You also get the impression that if you screamed for help doors and windows would get shut. My husband does not like it when I run late and requests that I call him to come drive me the 3-4 blocks to my car if it's already dark. As for driving into the city: the parking lot at Civic Center can get expensive for the day. There are monthly plans available, but there is usually a LONG wait list for those spots. Another option, if you don't want to deal with the hassel of finding parking at either location, is to share a casual carpool ride or set up a regular carpool with people having a similar commute. Here are a few websites that might help:
http://rideshare.511.org/carpool/vanpool_seats.asp http://www.erideshare.com/carpool.php?city=San+Francisco http://www.sfride.com/locations.html http://www.ridenow.org/carpool/ 
Good Luck! EBay commuter


I work close to Civic Center and also live in Crocker Highlands. I normally drive to Rockridge BART station, arrive by 7am to get a parking spot (unless you want to pay for your spot in which case you don't have to get there by 7am) and take the train into the City. My neighbor previously used casual carpool but since most commuters work downtown/financial district, would have to then take MUNI/BART to Civic Center and with the commute home would take a bus from BART back home (too much for me with 2 kids!) Hope this is a good alternative for you or that you find one that works for you! Eileen


My partner commutes to SF every day via BART, and frequently drives to West Oakland and parks there. She generally gets there between 8 and 9 am and never parks in the lots, but has always been able to find street parking within several blocks of the station. The side of the street where the station is located is almost always parked up, but if you cross 7th and go into the surrounding neighborhoods, there is usually parking there. She's never had a problem parking in the year plus that she's been doing it. Hope that helps!

Another idea is casual carpool, at least for the way there. Alayna


The casual carpool system at Norht Berkeley BART has rides at the front of the car line for Civic Center. Sometimes drivers even have a sign saying that, as opposed to the rest of the cars that go to Fremont and Howard. Park your car in the neighborhood, walk a few blocks to BART, and have a nice (and free) ride. It's a great system. Casual carpool supporter


Commuting from Crocker Highlands to SF

Jan 2004

My husband works in SF and has been taking the express bus on Park Blvd. to work for almost the past year. Lately it has been very unreliable, sometimes causing him to be late to work by at least a half hour. He needs to find a more reliable way to get to and from SF and was wondering how others are commuting from the Crocker Highlands area. We only have one car so driving isn't an option. We live near the Trestle Glen, Grovesnor intersection. Thanks!
Wife of an Unhappy Crocker Commuter


we live in glenview, and for three years my husband has been riding into the city via the nifty carpool pick-up system at park and hampel. as a passenger, he simply stands in line, hops into one of the waiting cars along with one other passenger and the driver, and off they go. the system is reciprocal for both the driver, who can drive in the high- occupancy vehicle lane, and for the riders who get a free ride into the city. the drop-off point is harrison and first, but sometimes a familiar driver will offer to drop him off closer to his destination. over the years, my husband has enjoyed meeting new people, test-riding a wide spectrum of cars, and saving money. he's also never been late to work once in the three years he's done this. wife of carpool rider


Right across the street from the Park Avenue/Lakeshore bus stop is the ''informal'' carpool pickup. There are always cars waiting for riders, which eliminates the wait for a bus. Riders get dropped off at the SF bus terminal. I have occasionally picked up riders at this spot when I go into the City, and was a regular rider years ago when we lived in Berkeley without a car. It is a great system. Another option would be for your husband to take a bus to one of the BART stations. I live in your neighborhood, and there are several bus routes to MacArthur, 12th/14th Street or Lake Merritt BART stations. Charlotte


Commuting from Redwood Heights to the Financial District

March 2003

Am looking for suggestions for commuting from Redwood Heights neighborhood to financial district in SF. Can leave home at approx. 7:30 am earliest. Am told that parking at Rockridge BART station is full by that hour. Fruitvale BART station is not a viable option due to safety issues, primarily in the evenings. Any other ideas? Thanks in advance.


I've commuted for years to the financial district by using the casual carpool at Fruitvale and Montana (next to Longs) in the morning and taking the express NF bus home. You can drive to the free parking lots right under the freeway (580) at the Fruitvale exit (from Redwood Heights take Coolidge St. exit and continue on exit which goes straight to it). This is the least expensive way to commute, I think. The casual carpool is free and a ten ride bus pass is $26.00 for 10 rides. The NF bus goes directly from Transbay Terminal at First & Mission (one block from Market) to its first stop at the parking lots at the Fruitvale exit. It takes about 20 minutes max, unless there are accidents which doesn't happen all that often. Carol


Try the casual carpool! I live in Redwood Heights, too, and I usually pick it up near the Fruitvale Longs, where there's a park-and-ride lot (there's also a pick-up spot on High St. at MacArthur and two on Park Blvd., one near Hampel and one near Hollywood; you can get a list of others at http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?ContentID=1362 ge=2). The carpool will take you right to the Trans-Bay Terminal near 1st and Mission, though most drivers will take you farther than that if you're going in their direction. You then take the bus home from the terminal -- there are several that can drop you near where you parked, and they run every 20 minutes or so until about 7 p.m. You can pick up a schedule at the terminal. Good luck! (P.S. Any other Redwood Heights commuters interested in trying to establish a pick-up spot of our own?) Leah


If you can walk down the hill to High & MacArthur, you can take the ''N'' line into SF in less than half an hour. The link below shows a 7:38AM NF bus arriving at the Transbay Terminal at 8:03; a 7:45AM NH bus arriving at 8:07; a 7:46 NG bus arriving at 8:15; and a 7:53 NF bus arriving at 8:18AM.

http://www.transitinfo.org/Sched/AC/N/WD/WB.html

It'S $3 a trip, but you can buy a 10-ride booklet for $26 or a monthly pass for $85. Some folks do casual carpool into the city and take the bus back (personally, I'd have someone pick me up to drive me back up the hill!). You can also use the TransitInfo website to find buses closer to your exact location. Transbay buses *rock*--it's the easiest, fastest, cheapest way into the City for me.

Good luck! Jennie V


AC Transit runs a number of Transbay buses from the MacArthur Blvd. area into the city. Go to www.transitinfo.org, click on ''Plan my trip,'' and you can enter your origin and destination to get the best transit options. You can email me if you have any questions. Michael


I too commute from Redwood Heights to SF and can't leave the house until 7:30a.m. I usually park in the neighborhood around Rockridge Bart. If you look, there are several streets within a 3-7 minute walk that do not have restrictions on parking (other than street sweeping). Try one of the streets just off College Ave, which is well lit at night. Another option is to take the bus to the Fruitvale Bart station. There is a bus that goes down 35th that runs every 10 minutes or so in the morning. (I have to admit though, that when I used this option, I always made my husband pick me up at Rockrigde Bart in the evening as I did not like going to Fruitvale Bart at night.) OR, try driving to Park Blvd and take the casual carpool from the Park/Trestle Glen area, then take an AC Transit bus back in the evenings. Several of my neighbors rave about this option, although I've never tried it.... anon


I don't have a specific recommendation, but I do have a good resource -- the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's transit planning website. Go to www.transitinfo.org and then push the button that says ''plan your trip.'' It works like mapquest or yahoo maps -- you plug in your starting point and your ending point, the maximum you're willing to walk, and the time you need to arrive and it gives you various transit options. I use it a lot, and while the first option isn't always the best, if you cycle through the different choices by hitting ''next best alternative'' I often find that taking transit is easier and faster than I would have expected. It gives you exact schedule times, fares, etc. -- very user friendly. Dashka


For commuting to SF from Oakland hills nothing beats the casual carpool / AC Transit combo. Everybody wins! You get a free ride to the city, and the driver gets to take advantage of the carpool lane on the bridge.

In the morning you hook up with a driver who drops you off at Howard and Fremont. On the way back you catch a cushy super size bus at Transbay Terminal (perfect chance to read a little or take a nap). Bus tickets are $3 each or $26 for 10 rides.

The link below details all of the official stops. Most are on AC transit lines. The Lakeshore/Grand spot offers all day metered parking and street parking is available in some areas.
Casual Carpool Stops http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?ContentID=1362=2 AC Transit Trip Planner http://www.transitinfo.org/cgi-bin/taketransit


I recommend the casual carpool pickup by the Longs Drugs in the Dimond District. You park for free in one of two lots located under 580. There is almost always a line of cars waiting for riders and it takes 15 - 30 minutes depending on traffic. The closer to 7:30 you get down there the faster the trip in to SF. Traffic gets heavier around 8:00. You can easily take the AC Transit NF from the Transbay Terminal back to the carpool pickup at the end of the day. Have been doing this for 5 years and it's very easy. lmor


In response to the question about commuting to SF Financial District from Redwood Heights: I recommend driving to Park Blvd and Hollywood (block from the CC Catholic Church) and picking up the casual carpool into S.F. The carpool will drop you at the bus terminal a block from Market Street on Fremont. To get home, take the ''V'' AC Transit bus that goes directly from the bus terminal to Park Blvd and up Park to Montclair. There is a stop where you will have caught the bus. I've been doing it for years and it works beautifully if you are traveling during general commute hours. Lori


My husband and I use the casual carpool in Piedmont. You drive to Oakland Ave., 2 blocks south of Highland, to the carpool sign. You park along Oakland Ave. and stand in line. Cars line up and 2 people jump in each car. You will be dropped off at the corner of Howard/Fremont streets unless the driver is heading straight across Market and your office is that way. You pay nothing to the driver. You then take the A/C transit bus ''P'' from the main bus terminal on Mission St. back to Piedmont at a cost of $2.20 (you can buy a book of tickets). It stops every few blocks on Oakland Ave. Last bus leaves SF at 7:30pm. This is a great way to commute and it is half the price of BART. Kris


You can take the AC Transit ''V'' bus from many stops on Park Boulevard in Oakland. Parking is free all day - sometimes tough to find since MANY people do this. I think monthly bus passes run around $60-70. The bus goes straight to 1st and Mission - about 25-30 minutes each way. THE BEST. (Or, there are Casual Carpool pick up locations on Park Blvd as well.) Best of luck. East Bay Mom