Following our recent arrival to OAK airport, we had a horrible experience getting transportation from OAK airport to Marin with a service called "Town Car Dave's Car Service." His price was exorbitant, and he would not provide us with a receipt for our payment, even when we followed up several times with him. We have recommended to the OAK airport that they remove his name and phone number (415-9710421) from their website. We don't want anyone else out there to get burned by him!
Beware and safe travels!
Bay Area Rapid Transit is fast and easy. It runs between the cities of Richmond, Pittsburg/Bay point, Oakland, San Francisco, Millbrae, Fremont, and Dublin/Pleasanton. Trains run on appx 20 minute intervals but you can use alternate trains to get to destinations and transfer from there for free. The fares are substantially lower than taking a taxi between $1.75 and $11.00 (depending on destination) and the ride is more pleasant.
I love the bay area for having many choices for public transportation. One of the nicest ways to travel between San Francisco and Oakland is on the Alamedo/Oakland Ferry to Jack London Square. The Ferry's leave from the Ferry Building/Pier41 in San Francisco and take you to Alameda and Oakland (Jack London Square). The Ferry's are large, can hold a couple hundred people easily, are fast, safe, and have an onboard bar serving snacks. The view you get of the San Francisco skyline at Sunset is specatular.
Built from 1933 to 1936, the bridge has an eastern and a western span connected at Yerba Buena Island. Tolls are charged for west-bound traffic only (Oakland to San Francisco) and the cost is $3, expected to rise to $4 to help finance the new eastern span that is still under construction.
On 29 April a tanker truck hauling fuel crashed just after the Oakland side of the bridge damaging a major section of the highway and creating major traffic problems for the future. The overpass to eastbound I-580 collapsed onto southbound I-880 meaning getting to San Francisco might be OK, but getting back to Oakland will be difficult. The bridge is open, but traffic to the east and south are severely impacted.
For me, this is one of the things I had to do in San Francisco...take the ferry across the bay. From Oakland to downtown the ride costs about $5.50 ($4.25 with student or military discount) and unveils some beautiful scenery. Leaving Oakland, you will see the industrialized area along the dock including huge ships, giant cranes, and piles of crushed cars. As you get into the open bay, the city of San Francisco appears in front of you along with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Under the Bay Bridge you will catch a glimpse of Alcatraz, while the other side of the ferry offers a view of AT&T Park. Near the end of the journey you pass under the Bay Bridge and dock of the city pier at the bottom of Market Street (during the day the ferry goes to Pier 39). The entire trip takes just 25-30 minutes, and is beautiful. If you can get on the ferry that leaves at sunset, you will see a unique scene as the sun sets behind San Francisco.
The ferry terminal is in Jack London Square at the foot of Clay Street.
The Bay Area Regional Transportation Service actually has more stops in East Bay in the vicinity of Oakland than it does on the west side of the bay in San Francisco. The stops serve downtown and the Oakland Coliseum well, but unfortunately there is a long (2/3 mile) walk to Jack London Square and you have to take a BART bus to the Oakland Airport.
My last visit to Oakland I parked at Fremont, the last station south on the East Bay side, and rode BART to the Coliseum. At Fremont, parking is free, round trip tickets to the Coliseum are $6.40, and the trip to the Coliseum takes 25 minutes. From Fremont to central Oakland is 36 minutes and Fremont to Embarcadero along the water in San Francisco takes 45 minutes.
Part of the bay area network, BART hauls up North on the east side past Concord, and all the way across the Bay to SFO.
Since you're dead in LA and most other places without a car, I think it is amazing that I can fly into the Bay area, have meetings anywhere from the San Francisco financial district to Oakland to Dublin (places I have to go all the time for business),
and NEVER have to rent a car.
We have nothing like this in Colorado.
(Mongo impressed!! )
The BART system is wonderful. Has its down sides of course. It doesnt run 24hours. It is limited in routes But it is easy to use. They do expand it. Now goes to SFO. And a much better way to get into the city than driving.
With the AC Transit System and BART, you don't need a car to get around in Oakland. You can get transfers from inside BART stations for discounts on AC Bus lines. Coming from LA, I was suprised how well utilized bay area public transportation is. The down side is that every year BART just kept getting more and more expensive.
We came to Oakland by car. WE thought it was best to stay the nights in a motel there and drive to the city every morning and evening back to Oakland. I still think this is a great thing to do. It didn't take long to get to town and it was easy to find parking space.
Oakland can be reached in several ways depending on which direction you are coming from. If you are landing at the Oakland Airport you can drive North on 80 and exit Broadway. Make a right and you will be in Chinatown and downtown Oakland. Alternatively you can can ANY BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and get off at Lake Merritt Station (DO NOT get off at Oakland West Station). If you are arriving at SFO, Oakland is accessible via the Bay Bridge by car or by BART. I would advise BART if you are traveling at commute hour as the traffic between 430 and 630 pm is horrendous.
BART and car. Don't even think about A/C Transit!
The best way to get to Oakland is across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. Once there, you want to have a car to travel around so you can visit Oakland and also nearby Berkeley. You can also get off the train (BART) and then travel by bus or taxi.
(Photo: a cool car at the Jack London Square)
Air: The Oakland Airport is probably the most convenient airport in the Bay Area, both in terms of location and ease of use. Just don't eat the food.
Rail: There are two almost-new Amtrak stations, one at the east end of Jack London Square, and one in the tiny ''city'' of Emeryville, at the northwest corner of Oakland. The Jack London Square one is closer to BART and downtown, other than that there's not much of a difference. California Zephyr trains from Chicago no longer stop at the Jack London Square station.
Bus: The greyhound station is in a pretty ***ty corner of downtown.
Ferry: Ferries from San Francisco and Alameda arrive at the foot of Clay Street in Jack London Square.
BART, the regional subway/metro/whatever system is fast, comfortable, and aside from the occasional complete meltdown, extremely reliable. Unfortunately, it bypasses most of Oakland. If you're lucky enough to be going somewhere that actually has a station though (ie:Downtown, Rockridge, Fruitvale), it's great!
Oakland has probably one of the worst bus systems of any large urban city in the US (AC Transit). Sure, it's better than say, Phoenix or Las Vegas, but these cities weren't built around a large rail system (torn up in the 1950s) like Oakland. The 51 is the only line that seems to come frequently enough to be reliable. If you're not going somewhere along one of the 'trunk lines' (51, 40/43, 72/73, 57/58, 82) you're probably better off driving or (for shorter distances) walking. The buses are a good way to see some of the areas that you wouldn't dream of walking in, though.
Go to transitinfo.org for transit schedules, maps, etc...
Oakland airport is an international airport, much less crowded than SFO, parking is cheaper. Check your flights to see if you can go to Oakland instead of SFO.
BART is one of the best ways to get around. Traffic is extremely heavy on I-80 and I-880, I-580 north of the Bay Bridge.
Auto is usually the best way between districts. Walking is a great way to get around inside each district (e.g., Montclair, Piedmont Ave., Fruitvale, Rockridge, downtown)
Even if you're going to San Francisco, the Oakland Airport is great. It's small, but managable, and even has a couple ok restaurants in it if you get stuck. It gets fogged in less frequently than SFO, too.