Finish 2018 On A High Note With Tips For Bay Area Events And Traffic

Bob Pryor
December 28, 2018 - 1:43 am

If you're making plans for the long weekend leading up to New Year's, then you have come to the right place. KCBS Radio traffic reporter Bob Pryor has got his watchful eyes fixed on the social calendar and the Bay Area's busy roads. The result is an end-of-the-year special edition of Major Timesaver's weekly traffic tips and events guide. Happy 2019, everyone!

It’s looking like this weekend – strictly defined – will be that rare thing, a relatively uneventful Bay Area weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, there are no giant footraces, big-name concerts, major sporting events, or day-long music/art/food festivals.

Oh, there are a few things to be aware of, at least if you’re a San Franciscan: The Critical Mass bike ride happens on Friday evening at 6 p.m., starting at Embarcadero Plaza. Muni’s West Portal and Forest Hill Stations will shut down (again!) for work in the Twin Peaks Tunnel, with shuttle buses subbing in for K, L, and M trains on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m.

But for the most part, the action is all on Monday and Tuesday, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. And I’m not just talking about the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium on New Year’s Day at noon or the 7-bridges toll hike that goes into effect with the new year. There’s a whole lot else to keep in the forefront of your travel-planning brain, including the following:

  • Be aware that the California Highway Patrol will have all available officers scouring the roadways for drunk drivers, speeders, and the like from Friday at 6 p.m. through New Year’s Eve and all of New Year’s Day.
  • The “Holiday Safe Ride Home Program” (aka “Tipsy Tow”) by AAA will be available from 6 pm.  on New Year’s Eve to 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Call 855-2-TOW-2-GO (855-286-9246) and tell the operator you need a safe ride home. You do not need to be a member of AAA to get a ride (No, they will not transport you from one bar to another).
  • Many Bay Area transit agencies will have special schedules in effect for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For example, on January 1, BART, AC Transit, Muni, and VTA will all be running on a Sunday schedule, while none of the ferry services will be running on any of their routes. A quick rundown of holiday service adjustments is available at 511.org, or you can simply visit your favorite travel agency’s homepage on the web.
  • I know that if I were heading into San Francisco for New Year’s Eve, I’d want to prepare ahead of time. It’s great that San Francisco has a big New Year’s Eve celebration on the waterfront, complete with a midnight fireworks show — but you never want to be the guy who misses that last special 2 a.m. CalTrain and has to Uber it back down to San Jose. Fortunately, CalTrain, Muni, SamTrans, and VTA will all be offering free service on New Year’s Eve, starting at 8 p.m. and continuing all night. Muni will be adding extra Metro and Owl service, and VTA will be extending its light rail service; full details at their websites.
  • BART will be running extended New Year’s Eve service as well, operating until 3 a.m.. BART is not free – full fare, sorry – but it’s a heck of a convenient way to get around on New Year’s Eve, provided you – again – visit their website, because they have a special arrangement in effect to handle the huge numbers of anticipated riders coming in to San Francisco to see in the New Year. In a nutshell, depending on where you’re coming from, your train may skip Embarcadero Station and stop at Montgomery instead, or vice versa. Given how crowded the platforms will be, this is good planning on the part of BART, but if you’re unaware of the plan and miss your stop, it could mean a bit of a hike.

The good news is, if you were sufficiently ambitious to drive into San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, you can leave your car parked in front of that parking meter the next day and you won’t be ticketed, as the meters will not be in operation on New Year’s Day, January 1st. On that happy note, Major Timesaver would like to wish you a happy new year and a safe trip wherever you go.