Triangle Trip

Tag: 280 better than 101

Fastest way from the South Bay to San Francisco & SFO

by on Nov.23, 2009, under Business Travel, Vacation

Getting from south of San Mateo (or south of the 92) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, or Oakland International Airport (OAK) via the Bay Bridge fast is possible, and easy. Just memorize the following:

1. Never take 880 if you’re in a rush. It is always backed up regardless of the time and date.

2. 280 is generally clear both north and south bound. Take 280 instead of the 101 whenever you can. However, 280 can get backed up when you reach Daly City.

If you can get to the 92 (Belmont area), take the following route and I can personally guarantee you can be at SFO in less than 20 minutes and to San Francisco in less than 35 minutes, at any time during the day. I can’t guarantee the commute time to OAK, unfortunately, as the on-ramp to the Bay Bridge and beyond is too much of a wild card.

Here’s what you will need to do to avoid the dreaded 101 traffic to SFO and the city:

1. Take 280 northbound. If you’re already on the 101, you can catch the 280 by taking 92 east. It may seem out of the way but the 7 miles or so to go from the 101 to 280 via the 92 will save you 15 minutes.

2. Stay on 280 until you are on 380 west. Take 380 west towards SFO. This route also works if your heading to the city or Oakland. Going from 280 to 380 drops you back on the 101.

3. From 380, get back on the 101 north. By taking 280 to 380 and then back to the 101, you have avoided one of the worst bottlenecks in the Bay Area. The stretch on the 101 from Belmont to SFO can take 45 minutes due to heavy traffic merging from the 92 (folks coming from Foster City and the East Bay). The turn at Burlingame also causes congestion because of sun glare during rush hour.

Going back from 280 to the 101 once you’ve passed SFO is also a much shorter commute than taking 280 directly into San Francisco. You’ll rarely run into traffic from SFO to the city using this route unless there’s a 49ers game.

3a. After you’ve passed Candlestick Point on the 101, you’ll have the option to stay on 101 north or go back on the 280 north. You’ll have to make a gut decision here: 101 north could be backed up due to the Bay Bridge on-ramp traffic; but 280 north could also be backed up due to a Giants game on the Embarcadero.

Staying on 101 north is the most direct route. If you prefer to take 280 north and want to get back on the Bay Bridge, here’s a shortcut:

1.  Exit on King street
2.  Make a left on 3rd Street
3.  Make a right on Bryant
4.  You will see an on-ramp to the Bay Bridge once you’ve passed 2nd Street

Happy travels.

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