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Old 06-17-2014, 10:38 PM
rhz rhz started this thread
 
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Hi Everyone.

I have a variant on a question which has been asked on this forum many times. Here's the situation. I'm a single guy in my 40's who works in Santa Clara, near Great America. I'm interested in moving to a place with better cultural and social opportunities for someone like me. Since SF is too expensive, I've been thinking about Oakland or Berkeley. I'm worried about the commute, which during rush hour could exceed 1.5 hours each way. Now here comes the variant. I have flexible hours and only need to be in the office three days per week. Would it be true that Monday and Friday are the worst days for commuting? Also, I'm wondering by what times in the morning and in the evening would the roads be clear. With no traffic, google predicts around 50 minutes travel time each way. What would the commute time be if I left the East Bay at say 10:30AM and left Santa Clara at say 7:45PM? Does anyone have experience doing this sort of thing?

Thanks,

rhz


PS: I thought about Amtrak, which goes from Oakland (Jack London) to Great America, but I'd have to get to the station in Oakland, park somewhere, and walk a good half hour from the Great America train station. Not too practical. I guess the other option would be carpooling. What would be the best resource to find a potential car pool partner?

Thanks again.
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:06 AM
 
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It's pretty doable at those hours (though still very long). I'd look in Oakland rather than Berkeley--Berkeley adds I-80 and the MacArthur Maze to the commute, which is unpredictable and not all that fun even in the best of traffic circumstances.

Do you bike? I know people who've commuted by Amtrak and biked to the stations at either end. A half hour walk is a pretty quick bike ride. There is monthly parking at the Berkeley, Emeryville, and Jack London stations, but it adds to the cost quite a bit. It's still a long trip, but at least you can work and have wifi/food/etc.
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Old 06-18-2014, 12:09 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
26,776 posts, read 27,857,199 times
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Actually Monday is one of the quieter days. Tuesday sucks. And increasingly Wednesday. Friday sucks too. I'd pick Monday, Wednesday, Thursday for office days. Also depending on where you live in Oakland, Emeryville could be closer for the train. It is for me.....
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Old 06-18-2014, 10:48 AM
rhz rhz started this thread
 
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Thanks for the responses. I had simply assumed that the demand for parking would be so great at the East Bay Amtrak stations that the only way to use Amtrak would be to live within walking distance of the station. In Oakland, that means living near Jack London Square, which does not sound particularly safe. Of course, one could take a bus to the station, but that would add to an already very long commute. I will check into parking availability--presumably by calling the Amtrak stations.

I hadn't realized that Tuesday was so bad.

What I've seen on google maps, is that one needs to wait until about 7:45PM to leave the South Bay to avoid significant traffic. In the morning, I'm guessing that 10:30AM would be the absolute earliest to leave the East Bay. Under these conditions, depending on where one lives in Oakland, the drive can be done is less than one hour. Does that sound right?

Thanks again!
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
26,776 posts, read 27,857,199 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhz View Post
Thanks for the responses. I had simply assumed that the demand for parking would be so great at the East Bay Amtrak stations that the only way to use Amtrak would be to live within walking distance of the station. In Oakland, that means living near Jack London Square, which does not sound particularly safe. Of course, one could take a bus to the station, but that would add to an already very long commute. I will check into parking availability--presumably by calling the Amtrak stations.

I hadn't realized that Tuesday was so bad.

What I've seen on google maps, is that one needs to wait until about 7:45PM to leave the South Bay to avoid significant traffic. In the morning, I'm guessing that 10:30AM would be the absolute earliest to leave the East Bay. Under these conditions, depending on where one lives in Oakland, the drive can be done is less than one hour. Does that sound right?

Thanks again!
You might be able to leave a little earlier.

Jack London Square is safe (besides the occasional car break-in). Some blocks are a little quiet from a pedestrian standpoint, and you do need to go about 2-3 miles for groceries and drugstore, but all in all a decent place to live if you want someone urban with new apartments. Safety isn't a concern with basic urban common sense, you know don't leave your iPad on your front seat.

Jack London Square isn't my neighborhood because it is too close to the train for me. But you if you like hip condos and lofts it is the place to be, and you can deal with having a short trek to get to more 7 day a week amenities. There isn't much commercial outside of bars and restaurants.

The Jack London Amtrak has loads of parking in the official lot, it is a multi-story garage. If that one is not officially parking, well then it is a 3rd party lot across the street. But honestly there are hundreds and hundreds of spots in that neighborhood, someone is bound to have openings.
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Old 06-19-2014, 07:50 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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Monday is one of the lightest days for traffic. Tuesday-Friday is usually the worst. I work in Santa Clara County, but only am in the office 2 days a week (rest of the week is all over the Bay Area to visit customers).
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Richmond, CA
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I have two friends who live a block from the Jack London Square station. Although the area is a little quiet in comparison to some other parts of town, there are still a lot of people around and it's pretty safe. The only issue in that area is car break-ins, so I recommend a garage space if you have a car.

I recommend focusing on Oakland, as Berkeley would add a significant amount of variability and some amount of time to your commute. Rather than looking into Emeryville too, unless you are dedicated to the train, also look into Alameda. You can take the back way past the airport and get onto 880 at 98th Avenue or later, avoiding a chunk of the backup. Alameda actually has quite a bit of culture and nightlife, and Park Street is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the East Bay.

If you don't want to take Amtrak and then walk, but you prefer not to bike, keep in mind that there is an extensive shuttle system operating to/from the Great America station. Most of the shuttles are timed to connect with ACE trains rather than Amtrak, but they may come in handy anyway.

As an alternative to Amtrak, you could opt to take BART to Fremont and then transfer to VTA. There is an express bus (Route 140) that runs down Tasman Drive all the way past Great America. The bus schedule is limited and the overall trip definitely takes longer than Amtrak or driving, but it's still a good "next-best" option.

I drive to/from San Jose a few times a year during commute and fringe commute hours--just often enough to have a sense of what goes on on a regular basis. My general rule of thumb when driving solo is to leave Berkeley no earlier than 9:00 and to come back from San Jose no earlier than 7:00. Morning traffic is light enough that it takes only about an hour to get down there. Coming back, I have had the misfortune of leaving earlier than 7:00 and it can be a huge headache, even with a carpool buddy.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:39 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
1,290 posts, read 951,673 times
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Good luck all of the above is great info but the anti-anxiety prescrption meds may also help in the long term.
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Old 06-20-2014, 01:19 PM
rhz rhz started this thread
 
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Thanks for the info davdaven. I appreciate it. I have read quite a number of bad reports about safety at JLS, mostly related to car break-ins. I was considering Alameda as well. Certainly safe, relatively low rents, and reasonable access to 880 (however I've heard about backups at the bridges, tunnels). Your suggested detour by the airport sounds good. My concern about Alameda was culture/nightlife. It's the reason I'm interested in leaving the South Bay for easier access to urban life. I did check out Park St. It seemed OK, but it did give me the impression that I'd probably be going to Oakland for fun, which could be a good 15 minute drive or so. These are admittedly only initial impressions though.

I didn't know about the shuttle system from Great America or the 140 VTA line I'll look into it.

Jade408: Wow, I'm surprised so much parking seems to be available at JLS.
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Old 06-20-2014, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhz View Post
Thanks for the info davdaven. I appreciate it. I have read quite a number of bad reports about safety at JLS, mostly related to car break-ins.
JLS has lots of blocks that are isolated and have little foot traffic. Car break-ins are pretty prevalent on the streets near the freeway overpasses. And other blocks have businesses that close after dark.

I have parked there tons of times without incident, but got my car broken into on an edge block a few months ago. The street was a break-in hotspot with broken glass on the street and someone was watching, because on the night in question, we returned to the car to put a backpack in the trunk. And the back windshield on my hatch was broken and the backpack was stolen. They were definitely watching from the shadows, as my hatch has a cover hiding the trunk contents.

Parking overnight on the street isn't ideal. But most blocks are fine. Except near Nido. Might want to walk from further away, closer to the action. That block is like car break-in central. My incident happened the first time I parked over there, but I have parked on the street for years (think late 90s) on various other blocks all around without incident. (not near Oak)
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