Need advice on rush hour travel between OAK and downtown San Francisco
November 10, 2009 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I need to get from Oakland airport to downtown San Francisco on a Thursday at around 4:30 PM as quickly as possible. BART or cab?

Spouse and I are hoping to make dinner reservations in downtown San Francisco after landing at 4:10 at OAK. Is traffic a big enough issue that BART makes more sense? I have no concept of whether we are traveling with or against traffic flow and would appreciate insider advice. Any specific BART info appreciated also.
posted by docpops to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (18 answers total)
You have to be in downtown SF 20min after landing? I'm not sure that's gonna happen, but if anything I'd probably take a cab to BART.
posted by rhizome at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2009

A cab is probably going to be faster in this case. It's at least a 10 minute shuttle ride to the BART station, time to get a train, time on train and any walking (BART stops are limited in the city and may not be that close to your destination). You'd have to hit an ideal timetable in this case to make it within 45 minutes via BART.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:46 AM on November 10, 2009

Also you will hit traffic but I think the door to door service will make up for the time spent waiting in traffic.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:47 AM on November 10, 2009

Sorry - do NOT need to be in the city by 4:30 - was just using that as an estimate of our departure (physically) from the airport confines.
posted by docpops at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2009

I'd take BART - maybe a cab to BART, although the shuttle is pretty freqeunt. What's the cross street of your dinner destination? 880 on a Thursday at 4:30 is bound to be awful.
posted by serazin at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2009

Yeah I'd do a cab to the BART station and take it from there... it just takes most of the worry out of it, and the trains are really often at that time -- assuming your destination is in close walking distance to one of the downtown stations.
posted by brainmouse at 10:54 AM on November 10, 2009

Staying at Hotel Nikko - looks like Powell St. BART is closest.
posted by docpops at 10:58 AM on November 10, 2009

I'd go with BART. Westbound Bay Bridge is pretty horrible these days, at any time in the day.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2009

Yeah you'll be super close to you hotel via BART so I'm going to revise to using BART ;-)
posted by bitdamaged at 11:04 AM on November 10, 2009

You will not make a 4:30 in SF with an OAK landing at 4:10. The landing time is the estimated time to the gate (or maybe just touchdown time), and does not include the time to get off the plane.

At 4:30 you're not talking about speed so much as a predictable amount of time. I think the fastest reliable way is: OAK -> cab -> Colliseum/Oakland Airport BART station -> Embarcadero BART in SF.

The taxi eliminates the wait for a shuttle from OAK to BART (unless the taxi stand queue is long, then go with the shuttle). And BART runs frequently to SF, like every 7.5 or 15 minutes.

My estimate would be: 4:10 touchdown, if you're lucky. 20 minutes after that you're off the plane unless you're in a front row, and then let's say 10 minutes. 5 minutes to the curb. 7 minutes to BART by taxi or shuttle. 20 - 35 minutes to downtown, depending on how long you have to wait for a train, and 5 - 7 minutes to haul out of the station to the street level to the nearest restaurant.

Min time: 47 minutes
Max time: 74 minutes

Add 3 - 6 minutes for each additional downtown stop in SF (Montgomery, Powell).
posted by zippy at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2009

You won't have to wait for a BART train into the city, the 3 or 4 closest stations to the airport have every single BART line going through them.
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2009

(zippy: we know, he clarified that he meant leaving at 4:30, not getting to SF then)
posted by brainmouse at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2009

On review, add 12 minutes for Powell instead of Embarcadeo BART, and maybe another 5 minutes for walking from street level to the hotel.
posted by zippy at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2009

You won't have to wait for a BART train into the city, the 3 or 4 closest stations to the airport have every single BART line going through them.
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on November 10 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

Are you saying I can get the BART at the airport? The cab idea seems like a good one if it will make things smoother. Every detail helps. Thanks.
posted by docpops at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2009

No, there isn't BART at the airport, but once arriving at the BART station the wait for a train into the city should be quick because 2 of the 4 East Bay lines stop there (actually 3 of 4 but one doesn't go into the city)
posted by bitdamaged at 12:04 PM on November 10, 2009

According to BART's QuickPlanner Results going from Coliseum/Oakland Airport Station to Montgomery Street Station in downtown San Francisco takes about 20 minutes. You can find the closest station to the restaurant you're going to. If you look at a map of downtown, the BART stations run along Market Street. Most of the nicer restaurants aren't all that close to Market Street, though. You can use to plan a trip on public transit (Muni is San Francisco's bus/trolley system), or you could walk or take a taxi.

You could also get off at Embarcadero Station (the first San Francisco stop, one stop before Montgomery) and either take a cable car up California Street or get a taxi from the taxi line in front of the Hyatt-Regency at California and Drumm. (The BART station pages have links to Yelp reviews of nearby restaurants.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bart would be MUCH faster than a cab at 4:30 pm.
posted by gt2 at 9:28 PM on November 10, 2009

BART, BART, BART. There's a temporary rerouting of westbound Bay Bridge traffic in place at the moment that's contributed to a number of accidents, including a fatality early Monday morning when a big rig actually drove off the bridge. In response Caltrans are putting in barriers and signage to slow down traffic through this section, which will make an already-bad rush hour even worse.

If you're really in a hurry, taking a cab instead of AirBART from OAK to the Coliseum BART station may save a few minutes depending on how the shuttles are running. In my experience they usually come every ten or fifteen minutes or so though.

BART will probably be running longer trains into the city by 4:30, so the trip shouldn't be too crowded.

Get off BART at Powell. The Nikko's like three minutes walk away.

Have fun!
posted by Lazlo at 1:28 AM on November 11, 2009

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