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Guide to Transit Alternatives

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about commuting and transportation alternatives, but did not know who to ask.

With a little experimentation, Bay Area commuters like you can customize an inexpensive and enjoyable way to get to work. Try linking different methods of travel and varying the way you commute during the week. Commuting even a few days a week can save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

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Bicycling
For Bay Area commuters, bicycling to work can be a great alternative to driving. It is less expensive while providing added health-benefits. To get started:
Make sure that your employer has secure bike parking.
Choose a route and drive it first.
Check the mechanical safety of your bike.
Obtain the necessary repair tools and learn to use them.

Cyclists can take advantage of Caltrain's shuttle service over most Bay Area bridges, and many transit systems now let you take your bike on board.

More info:

Park & Ride Lots (park n ride)
The more than 150 free, convenient Park & Ride (Park and Ride) lots in the Bay Area make great places to meet your carpool or vanpool. To find out more about Park & Ride lots, request our free Bay Area Park & Ride Lots Guide.

Carpools
A carpool is two or more commuters sharing a ride to the same company or several companies located near one other. The advantages of carpooling include:
Savings on commuting costs
Use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, sometimes called "diamond" lanes, in many cases which saves both time and tolls
Increased peace of mind and lower stress
Reduced wear and tear on your vehicle
Possible reduced insurance premiums
Lower parking costs

More carpool info from 511.org
Incentives for carpoolers who commute between other counties and San Mateo County

Rideshare (ride sharing) Matchlist
A Ride share Matchlist provides names, phone numbers and commute schedules of your coworkers and neighbors who want to share a ride (ride share). There are many companies and organizations that will help you find carpool (carpooling) and vanpool partners, and most of these services are FREE! Get your whole office to register on the same Ride share service to find coworkers to carpool with.

Ridematch Tool for Bay Area Commuters
Ridematching throughout the United States
World-wide ride matching
A variety of additional ridematching services

Casual Carpooling
Casual carpooling is a flexible approach to commuting whereby drivers who wish to use the Diamond (HOV) lanes offer rides to potential passengers who line up at a common, convenient site to wait for rides into San Francisco. Like other carpools, casual carpools or carpooling can bypass the long delays and toll fare at the Bay Bridge in the morning and use the Bay Bridge carpool-only on-ramps and traffic lanes on the return trip in the evening.

List of Bay Area casual carpool pick up locations

Diamond (HOV) Lanes
Some of the most congested sections of Bay Area freeways have diamond lanes just for buses, carpools and vanpools.

Flexible Work Hours
Flexible work hours can help reduce traffic congestion and pollution by staggering the hours during which commuters are on the road. Flexible work hours come in several flavors:

Flextime: Schedules that permit employees to choose their starting and quitting times within limits determined by management. The flexible periods are at either end of a "core time" during which all employees must be present.

Compressed workweeks: A standard workweek compressed into fewer than five days. The most common are four ten-hour days, or a two-week pay period with five nine-hour days in the first week and four nine-hour days in the second week.

Flexplace or Telecommuting: Working at home or in a satellite office (see Telecommuting, below).

More information on Work Options (Transportation Alternatives)
Try this Flexible Work Hour Survey

Shuttles
You would like to use public transportation to get to and from work. But how can you get from your transit destination to your office without another fare and a long ride? It is easy! FREE shuttles currently bring San Mateo County commuters from the BART and Caltrain lines to their work sites each morning and back again each afternoon in a minimal amount of time. The San Mateo County Employer Sponsored Shuttle Program makes it happen.

Through an innovative coalition, Samtrans, Caltrain, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, local businesses, San Mateo County public agencies and the Air District all share shuttle costs with participating local employers. Employers enjoy greater productivity as well as enhanced hiring and retention of employees from all around the Bay Area. Riders receive an extremely valuable employee benefit and the community enjoys less traffic congestion and better air quality.

Find a Peninsula Shuttle
Learn about Joining an existing shuttle consortium, Starting a new shuttle route, or Improving an existing route for your jobsite

Telecommuting
Telecommuting is when an employee works from a location other than the actual office of their employerÖusually a home office. Telecommuting is well suited to positions where the employee has no direct contact with the public, and direct contact with co-workers is not required. Employees can be connected to the office via computer, fax or telephone.

Telecommuting benefits us all.

Telecommuting can reduce the number of automobile trips employees take into work each week

It reduces pollution as transportation represents over one-third of carbon dioxide emissions

Reducing the number of commuters during rush hour also reduces the need for new roads, creates a safer commuting environment, and reduces road rage

It can also reduce the amount of office and parking space needed by an employer allowing better use of facilities and land while reducing employer costs

Think you would like to start a telecommute program at your place of business? Please visit the link below to get information on how to start your program:

The International Telework Association & Council

Transit

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
BART is the centerpiece of the Bay Area transit network, serving Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Construction has begun to extend BART to South San Francisco, San Bruno, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Millbrae for a direct connection to Caltrain. All BART stations are served by buses, including express and shuttle service. Some stations offer preferential parking for carpoolers. Contact RIDES for Bay Area Commuters for a free BART POOL parking permit at 510-893-7665.

The Official BART website

 

San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)
is a public transportation agency in San Mateo County. It provides bus service throughout San Mateo County and into portions of San Francisco and Palo Alto.

The Official SamTrans website

Ferry
Commuting by ferry is a comfortable, relaxing alternative to driving on bridges. Enjoy great views while avoiding gridlock.

Bay Area Ferry Info and Schedules
Water Emergency Transity Authority

Light Rail
San Francisco's Muni light rail now connects the Fourth and King Caltrain station to the Embarcadero. Other MUNI light-rail lines serve many neighborhoods, with service into the Civic Center and Financial District. The Santa Clara VTA Light-Rail operates 21 miles of track, from the Santa Clara industrial area in the north, to downtown San Jose lines, to residential areas in south San Jose.

Muni Schedules and Information
VTA Schedules and Information

Train
Caltrain runs between San Francisco and Gilroy, with many stops in between. There are easy bus and shuttle connections to San Francisco and San Jose Int'l Airports.

The Capitol Corridor line provides daily commuter service to 14 Amtrak stations between San Jose and Colfax, with stops in Sacramento, Oakland and several Bay Area cities. Amtrak buses provide connections to many cities.

The Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) has morning train service from Stockton to San Jose, and evening service in reverse, with stops in Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton and other communities.

Caltrain schedules and Info
Amtrak schedules and Info

Do not forget you can save even more money by buying a monthly or multiple-ride transit pass.

Vanpooling
A vanpool is a group of 7 to 15 people-who live at least 10 miles from where they work-sharing their commute in a van. Here is how it works:

Vanpool riders pay a low monthly fare based on daily travel distance and number of riders.

Vanpool fares cover the cost of the lease and gas.

Once an interested group has been identified, a person from that group needs to sign a lease with a vanpool vendor.

The group must then find a main driver, a backup driver, and someone to collect the money and send it in to the vendor on a monthly basis.

Driver applicants must meet specific requirements as to driving history and medical status.

New to vanpooling? The ALLIANCE will pay for half of your first three months fare up to a maximum of $100 per month. If you should drive a new van you would be eligible for a $500 rebate after having been on the road for six months. Click here to apply for vanpooling subsidies.

There are several ways to get involved with a vanpool.

To join an existing van, click here and request a matchlist online.

To form a new van, employers can call us at 650/588-8170 and request that a vanpool meeting be held at your place of business.

More vanpool info:
VPSI
Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Additional incentives for commuters traveling between different counties

Walking
Walking is an ideal form of commuting to and from work if you live within five miles of your destination. Walking offers employees an opportunity to get in shape while commuting, greatly reduced commute costs, and improvement in overall attitude and morale. Employers benefit due to improved employee health and well-being, lowered stress in the work place and reduced need for parking. The community benefits from improved air quality, reduced fuel consumption, and less highway congestion.

Walking (and biking) in the Bay Area
All ABOUT walking

Bay Area Commute News