Between the pain of driving in Berkeley and the wonderful, free Clipper card bestowed to every student, riding buses is my main form of transportation. But even now, in my last year on campus, I’m still learning about new routes. I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the most helpful buses to get around Berkeley so that you can avoid the confusion that has cost me so many occasions of running late or getting lost.
Living on Southside, I have less experience with the routes that go around North Berkeley, but I’ve tried my best to get a solid list that covers the majority of the city. Even so, I’ve only scratched the surface of what public transit has to offer – with BART and Bear Transit, for example, you can reach even more places without having to shell out for an Uber or Zipcar.
For the sake of this article, I’ll only talk about AC transit, but I highly recommend checking out all of what Berkeley’s public transit services have to offer.
Starting with the bus that I objectively use the most, the 51B is a great way for anyone who lives near College Avenue, from Southside to Oakland, to get downtown. It runs back and forth from Rockridge to the Berkeley Marina at pretty frequent intervals – usually once every fifteen minutes – so it’s super accessible and easy. This is my go-to if I’m heading to the BART station, taking a trip to Trader Joe’s (it passes by both Oakland and Downtown Berkeley locations) or just traveling down University Avenue.
Another classic bus route, the 6, will get you anywhere you need to go along the entire span of Telegraph Avenue. Starting at the Downtown Berkeley Bart station and ending in Downtown Oakland, the 6 can take you from campus to CVS just as easily as it can take you to the Oakland waterfront.
So here’s the thing. I don’t take the F too often because I’m rarely going to South Berkeley or Emeryville over the bus, but I felt like it needed to be included because this bus can pick you up nearly anywhere on the perimeter of campus and take you across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. How cool is that? So if you don’t want to pay a little extra or deal with the hassle of BART, the F is the best way to get to the city.
One con, however, is that it isn’t running as often as other buses. Maybe it’s because it’s such a long route? Maybe it’s because it’s not worth it to go back and forth on the Bay Bridge all day? Who knows? Anyways, that means that if you’re meaning to take this bus somewhere, you should try to plan your day around its schedule.
My obligatory Northside bus route – the 65 will pick you up at the downtown BART station and take you all the way up Euclid Avenue, ending in a winding route around the hills. Even though I don’t take this bus often, it’s a lifesaver when I’m visiting a friend on Northside and don’t want to battle those steep hills. Like the F, however, this bus doesn’t come around too often.
This last bus took a bit of debate, but I decided to go with the lesser-known 79. It hits the Claremont area, which not a ton of buses do, skims the bottom perimeter of campus, then shoots up to El Cerrito BART station. This bus is a good way for North Berkeley students to reach Southside and vice versa.
There are so many more bus lines that I wanted to include but restrained myself, knowing this list would basically just turn into a long jumble of routes. Check out the AC transit website for a more accurate description of bus lines, and find which one suits your top destinations. Also, I highly recommend downloading the app to get minute-by-minute updates on where any bus is right now.