Expensive city, expensive commute

Not all students at SF State have the luxury of living on campus or even in San Francisco. Students travel from all over the Bay Area, including Alameda, Marin and Sonoma County. Only about 4,000 students live on campus, according to SF State’s Strategic Marketing and Communications. Students who commute don’t have to face the expensive rate of rent in San Francisco but have to deal with costs of commuting: bridge tolls, parking, ferry tolls, and bus fares.

Rawand Hasan is a third-year civil engineering student at SF State and commutes from Vallejo to San Francisco, which is a total of 31 miles each way.

“It depends on the time, so when I leave at 9 a.m., it usually takes one-and-half hours,” Hasan said. “When I leave at 10, it takes around one hour and 10 minutes.”

Gabe Shalaby, American history major student at SF State, sits down on the side walk of 19th and Holloway and the university while waiting for the outbound 29 Muni on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Bryan Ramirez/Golden Gate Xpress)

Hasan takes two bridges from Solano County to Alameda and then to San Francisco, just to get to campus. She takes the Carquinez, the Bay Bridge, and pays for parking at the SF State parking lot. In total, it costs Hasan up to $76 a week just in commuting, not including gas and maintenance with the heavy mileage added to her car. At  the end of the semester, Hasan ends up paying $1,000 in commuting expenses.

Hasan moved from San Francisco to Vallejo last year in August to move in with her sister in order to save money on rent.

“It’s not worth [it]. I waste so much time commuting stuck in traffic, there’s nothing to do in Vallejo. Everything was around me in San Francisco. I lived in the Mission too. In a sense I would rather work more and pay more in rent to not have road rage,” said Hasan.

Another way students get around campus is traveling by ferry. Prices of ferry fares around the Bay Area ranges. From Jack London Square in Oakland to San Francisco, it costs either $5.10 with a Clipper card and $6.80 with cash for a one way trip.

From Larkspur, which is in Marin County, the cost is nearly double the price of the Oakland Ferry cost which costs $11.50 for a one-way trip to San Francisco and both Tiburon and Sausalito costs $12 for a one-way trip. Students who don’t have cars that take the bus can consider the ferry as an alternative mode of transportation since it takes 30 minutes to get from Larkspur to San Francisco via ferry.

“It takes a total of an hour and a half to get to campus,” said Maci Martell, an SF State student who travels 40 miles a day from Petaluma.

“It costs me $20 to get to campus and back round trip.” She doesn’t drive and “can’t afford a car,” so she relies heavily on public transportation like the Golden Gate Transit and Muni. She walks 15 minutes from her house in Petaluma to the bus stop that takes her all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge which costs $10.

Alexis Velasco, biology major student at SF State, sits in the M Muni train line off19th Ave and Holloway on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Bryan Ramirez/Golden Gate Xpress)

After she gets to the bridge, she gets off and gets on Muni for free with the help of the Gator Pass. Martell only commutes twice a week but takes a solid three hours out of her day to travel to and from campus to her house.

“Going through the San Mateo Bridge is easier than going through the Bay Bridge. I would rather travel farther go at a steady pace than sitting in traffic not moving,” said Amalia Menjivar an international relations student in her second year at SF State. She lives in San Leandro which is the city right next to Oakland.

“Last year my first class was at 8 a.m., so I had to be out of the door by 6 a.m.. I hated it,” said Menjivar.

A tactic she uses to try to beat traffic is Fastrak to skip paying a toll in the morning. Menjivar enjoys driving otherwise, just not in traffic to get to campus.

“I know it’s only temporary I’m only here for two years. It didn’t even cross my mind to move out to San Francisco and pay a lot for rent,”said Menjivar. “If I knew that I was going to be living in the city for ten years then yeah, I would move out there but for me it just doesn’t make any sense .”

Latest comments
  • Unfortunately students fly in and fly out, and dont realize the impacts over time……

    See sfsu – Xpress ads “student living redefined” ads that showcase housing nearby, but not the cost impacts.

    soon mid-feb. parkmerced will start their project, and sfsu-csu will start theirs…

    than students will feel the heat of the real estate market even more as the new units will be pass-through cost wise after 1 year… so for 2-years they can expect a rent-hike and losing out on any semblance of affordability…

  • Get out OF the bay area. I will, as soon as I can! 🙂