Is 511 Rideshare a useful transit option in the SF Bay Area?
July 28, 2015 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I've got a job offer in San Rafael. Great! I live in San Francisco without a car. Boo! Since public transit outside of SF proper is a nightmare and buying a car is a deal-breaker for me, is 511 Rideshare a reliable option?

Other maybe-useful information and questions - I'm flexible with regard to exact arrival time and pick-up locations, but I might need to stay later on some nights - can you have a different morning and evening carpool? How much does it generally cost per week, or is that up to the carpool driver?

I'm also open to other options. I've looked at the ferry schedule and figure it wouldn't be too hard to get a ride from a coworker from the ferry station to the office, but the schedule is very infrequent. Bus trips also start at a minimum of 90 minutes and two transfers, and I'd rather not spend over 3 hours on a bus every day. And of course I don't have money to take Uber every day.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
How about the ferry plus a bike? There's a tunnel now so you don't have to go over the mountain.
posted by akgerber at 9:32 AM on July 28, 2015

Don't the... 74 and 84 (?) and/or some other Golden Gate transit lines go into San Rafael? I can't speak to rideshare, sorry.
posted by salvia at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2015

Another option is CityCarShare and ZipCar. See if there's a compatible car lot at your destination.
posted by kschang at 9:37 AM on July 28, 2015

I've looked at the ferry schedule and figure it wouldn't be too hard to get a ride from a coworker from the ferry station to the office, but the schedule is very infrequent.

I wouldn't rely on coworker rides every day.
posted by radioamy at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

kschang, that's not how CityCarShare and ZipCar work in the Bay Area. You need to return a ZipCar to the lot you rented it from; for the purposes of this commute, that's likely to result in a 10+ hour rental each day.

511 Rideshare isn't designed to be a dynamic driving service like Uber - it's a matchmaking service for people who share the same employer/route and may have a compatible schedule and who may want to work out an arrangement.

The reliability depends entirely on the reliability of the people who share your general schedule and route - that is, as long as people are going that same route and want to carpool. If you're expecting your schedule to be unpredictable - ie, you don't know when you can head out from work - it's almost definitely not going to be a reliable option for you. You will just need to sign up and see if you happen to find a good match and if you can work things out. Think of it as OKCupid for car rides - it could find you a life-long partner, or just provide endless frustration.

This is a long reverse commute. I'm going to second radioamy, and say that unless you have a friend who is also a neighbor and a co-worker at the same company, you probably will not be able to rely on rides from others on this route. It's one thing to pick up a casual carpool across the Bay Bridge, but the SF to San Rafael reverse commute is another thing entirely.

The Golden Gate 101 goes from 7th and Mission to San Rafael Transit Center direct in less than an hour, and runs regularly early and late. It is likely your best option.

I'm going to be blunt, even with a car this commute would be a real drag.
posted by eschatfische at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]

Which ferry are you looking at? The Larkspur ferry actually has pretty decent service frequency in the reverse commute direction during rush hour. Then depending on where exactly your office's located you could either bike or take one of the ferry shuttles there.
posted by un petit cadeau at 10:27 AM on July 28, 2015

As an SF resident who travels out of the city for work, I second everything eschatfische says. I also dispute that "public transit outside of SF proper is a nightmare"; there are several nice bus options both from the east bay and from Marin to downtown SF (I don't know where in particular you live; the GG transit buses also stop in like the Presidio, Marina, and Russian Hill, but not so much the Mission or Bernal, for instance). If none of the GG transit options work for you and buying a car is a dealbreaker, you shouldn't take a job in San Rafael.

Oh, or you could move up there and "commute" to the city for fun events instead of living in the city and commuting for work.

Finally, I get the sense that always being the spare in a ride sharing situation and never driving would be perceived as mooching, even if you were chipping in sufficiently for gas. Happy to be corrected on this point, though.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

As a CityCarshare member, it would not work for commuting. You can only park in one of their spaces in the lot you originally got the car from, not a space elsewhere. And the cost would be prohibitive to have it out all day and leave it parked.

I carpooled to San Rafael from San Francisco for several years and it was a beautiful, enjoyable commute, but at this point I might be more likely to want to live in Marin.
posted by larrybob at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2015

If you'd consider moving, I would do it! (Depending on your rent situation now, you might even find a nicer/bigger place in San Rafael). Here's another carpooling site you might try. I do know some people who commute from the Richmond District to the North Bay, and think it can take ~30 minutes, but traffic (anecdotally) seems to be getting worse. I guess ferry + bike might be the most pleasant option, but it wouldn't give you much flexibility for working late/unusual times.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:35 PM on July 28, 2015

Oops, I was wrong about which Golden Gate Transit bus routes I mentioned. Look at Route 70/71, in addition to Route 101 mentioned above.
posted by salvia at 8:55 AM on July 29, 2015

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