A Bay Bridge closure can quickly cause havoc in the San Francisco transportation system. You may be able to minimize your personal havoc if you know your other transportation options.
Bay Bridge Closure Alternatives
The Bay Bridge carries an average of 280,000 vehicles a day with a large percentage of those vehicles crossing during morning and evening commute hours. When the Bay Bridge is closed for any reason, it can be expected that all Bay Area transportation will be affected by these Bay Bridge travelers trying to find alternative transportation options.
Here are a few free tools to help you plan your trip when there is a Bay Bridge closure or any traffic emergency:
- For up-to-the-minute traffic updates - Local radio stations such as KCBS provide traffic flow information throughout the day to help you determine your route and to estimate your travel time. The stations will also be able to announce any updates from Cal Trans on when the Bay Bridge is estimated to reopen. Traffic.com provides a map of current traffic conditions. If you register as a user and enter your start point and destination, you can receive a custom route with an estimate of your drive time, a rating of the "Jam Factor" and reports of any reported incidents along your route.
- For Bay Area transportation options - The website 511, the San Francisco Bay Area transportation website, provides breaking news about traffic conditions for all major Bay Area roadways and a transportation trip planner.
- For current transportation conditions - Call 511. To hear real time traffic conditions, including accident and congestion information, just say "Traffic Conditions." To hear the next departures for BART or MUNI just say "Departure Times."
- Smart phone traffic updates - If you have a smart phone, you can check traffic conditions on the fly. Blackberry and Android users can download specialty programs that will give you traffic information, while iPhone users can simply use their default Maps program to see where there are backups. If you're on an iPhone, all you have to do is tap in the lower right-hand corner of the Maps windows and select "Show Traffic."
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
A closure on the Bay Bridge typically brings increased ridership to BART. BART typically responds with increased services including longer trains. The BART website has train schedules, a trip planner, service advisories and station locations, as well as fare and parking information.
There are two East Bay ferries providing transportation between the East Bay and San Francisco:
- Alameda/Oakland Ferry - This ferry provides daily service between Pier 41 in Oakland and the San Francisco Ferry Building. Their website provides the schedule during the bridge closure as well as rate and parking information.
- Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry - This ferry runs weekdays only between Bay Farm Island in Alameda and the San Francisco Ferry Building. Check their page for departure schedules as well as rate and parking information.
Golden Gate Transit also operates a ferry in Marin County from Larkspur to the San Francisco Ferry Building. East Bay travelers might want to consider taking the San Rafael Bridge, park in Larkspur at the ferry terminal and then take the Golden Gate Transit ferry into San Francisco.
In addition to the Bay Bridge, three other bridges cross San Francisco Bay. These bridges can quickly become traffic gridlock, so be sure to check your local radio stations or call 511 for up-to-the-minute information on the traffic conditions on the bridges and bridge approaches.
- San Mateo Bridge - Connects Hayward and Foster City
- San Rafael Bridge - Connects Richmond and Marin County
- Dumbarton Bridge - Connects Fremont and San Mateo
With the large numbers of vehicles on the road in the San Francisco Bay Area, transportation can quickly be affected if any of the transportation elements are unavailable such as during a Bay Bridge closure, a BART strike or a bridge accident. You do have options. It is a good idea to know your transportation options and preplan what you would do in the event that your usual transportation option is no longer available.