Fun fact: The city of Oakland has 806 miles of city-maintained streets, 150 of which are used by buses and 244 of which are designated bikeways. There are also 225 pedestrian paths. With so many streets, what are the best ways to get around?
AC Transit is the primary bus system in Oakland. There are 34 local lines in Oakland, most of which converge in downtown. You can pay for a single ride with cash ($2.10—exact change only) or a Clipper card loaded with cash. Clipper card users also get discounted single ride and monthly pass fares. You can follow them on Twitter (@rideact) to get updates on detours, stop changes, and other news.
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a heavy rail subway system that connects San Francisco to the East Bay and northern San Mateo County through five lines (and often hosts cool impromptu musicians). You can buy a paper ticket at a ticket machine within any BART station, or use a Clipper card. Because BART fares are based on trip mileage rather than time, there are no daily or monthly passes available. Follow them on Twitter (@sfbart) to get updates on delays, service closures, and other news.
Biking—With the Bay Area’s awesome weather, it’d be a shame not to bike in Oakland! Even when we do get the occasional rain, AC Transit buses are equipped with bike racks, and you can bring your bike onto BART. These are some resources for bikers.
The Oakland Bikeways Map (East | West), also available at Oakland bike shops, illustrates color-coded bikeways to facilitate better bike travel.
REFER TO BIKE GUIDE HERE
A list of local bike shops and co-ops can be found here. Some highlights include:
– 421 40th Street. With a great reputation for friendly, helpful service, Manifesto specializes in the sale of steel frame city bikes, but repairs all types of bikes.
– 4800A Telegraph Ave. Bicycle sales, tune-ups and repairs by passionate staff.
– 11 Rio Vista Ave. Come here for bike repairs and overhauls
– 1246 23rd Ave. A nonprofit community collective that sells affordable used bikes and offers repairs, classes, and events. Its adult bicycle commuter program UpCycle offers a free 4-hour safety course and free basic mechanics classes every month.
– 3301 E. 12th Street, Ste 141. One of two BART Bike Stations in Oakland (the other is at 19th St./Oakland) where you can park your bike for free. It’s open 6 AM – 8 PM on weekdays, and also offers repairs.
If investing in a bike is not a huge priority, look forward to Bay Area Bike Share, which will be moving to Oakland by mid-2016.
Driving—Driving is convenient and quick, but finding parking in Oakland can be difficult. Street meters are $2 an hour, Monday through Saturday from 8 AM-6 PM. Residential parking is generally extremely restricted without a permit. Although various parking lots and garages can be found in the city, with most of them centered around downtown, the accompanying fees can add up: the average hourly and daily rates are $5 and $20, respectively.
Going to/from Berkeley—AC Transit routes 1/1R (UC Berkeley) and 18 (downtown Berkeley) are your best bets. The 1 runs from Berkeley BART to downtown Oakland along Telegraph Ave. and all the way to Bay Fair BART along International Blvd. and E. 14th St. The 1R is the rapid bus and stops much less frequently, so if you time your bus well, you can get to your destination very quickly. Meanwhile, the 18 runs from University Village in Albany to Montclair via Solano Ave., Shattuck Ave., MLK Jr. Way, downtown Oakland and Park Blvd.
Going to/from San Francisco—A BART ride from SFO to downtown Oakland is going to cost nearly $8.95, but if you’re closer to the edge of SF it’ll be much cheaper. For example, a trip from Embarcadero BART to 12th St. Oakland City Center is $3.30 and only seven minutes long.
A one-way ferry ticket from San Francisco Ferry Building or Pier 41 to Jack London Square $6.40 (or $4.80 with a Clipper card). The ferry takes 35 minutes.
Alternatively, you can ride a Transbay AC Transit bus for $4.20 or purchase a monthly pass for $151.20. Depending on where in San Francisco and Oakland you are starting and ending your journey, the bus may take much longer than BART or the ferry.
Because finding parking can be difficult and rates are expensive, it’s best to use public transportation or bike in Oakland. Luckily, there are many options which can combined for maximum efficiency!
AC Transit—If you know you’re going to be traveling a lot, purchase an AC Transit local day pass for $5 ($2.50 for youth, elderly, and disabled). A monthly pass is available for $75 on Clipper card only.
To plan a trip, use transit.511.org or Google maps. These will give you the stops, arrival times, and maps of your journey. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, the free app NextBus is useful for checking when your bus will arrive.
BART—If you’re traveling longer distances across the city or need faster service, BART may be the better option. There are 8 stations in Oakland—12th Street/Oakland City Center, 19th Street/Oakland, Coliseum/Oakland Airport, Fruitvale, Lake Merritt, MacArthur, Rockridge, and West Oakland.
Free B Shuttle—Clever, huh? The Broadway Shuttle is a free shuttle that provides regular service along Broadway, from Jack London Square to Lake Merritt. Its day route runs Monday through Friday from 7 AM-7 PM, every 10-15 minutes, but some users report it’s not too reliable. Still, its perks are that it stops near the 12th and 19th Street BART stations, its night route (which goes all the way to 27th Street) runs until 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and it’s completely free!
What form(s) of transportation you take ultimately depend on your time constraints and willingness to spend money. As the song goes, the best things in life are free—when you can, take advantage of walking, shuttles, and biking (after the initial investment of buying or renting, of course).