El Cerrito del Norte (North Hillock in Spanish), frequently shorterned to del Norte, is one of two BART stations in El Cerrito, California, just east of the Cutting Boulevard interchange of Interstate 80 parallel to San Pablo Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway straddling the Richmond border. The station serves the northern portion of El Cerrito and the central areas of Richmond in addition to the west county area and points beyond BARTs coverage area. El Cerrito del Norte is Spanish for "north hillock" or "North El Cerrito". The station serves as a regional transit hub for local AC Transit bus services including a BRT stop, and for commuter feeder services from Solano, Napa, and Marin Counties in the North Bay and other regions of Contra Costa County as well.
Del Norte opened to revenue service on January 29, 1973 with the line from Oakland to Richmond.
A 2014 study recommending expanding the station paid area, platforms, and vertical logistics (more stairs and elevators within the paid area) to allow more passengers to use the station and decrease dwelling times during congested alighting times. By 2017 the station was serving 18,000 people per day, exceeding its design capacity. BART approved contracts to begin station expansion that year, with an expected completion in 2019.
This station has a Library-a-go-go machine, a library book vending machine that was added in June 2009 for the Contra Costa County Library system. In 2005 "Ak's Food Corner" opened at the station selling newspapers, flowers, hot dogs, drinks, snacks, fruit, high-value BART blue tickets.
There are 29 bus bays that serve six bus agencies for fixed route service and various paratransit and dial-a-ride shuttles. The bus bays are predominantly located on the west side of the station.
AC Transit provides service in western Alameda and Contra Costa counties in addition to commuter service to San Francisco. The station has connecting and feeder service by AC Transit from Albany, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, UC Village, Hilltop Mall Shopping Center, Contra Costa College, El Portal Shopping Center, El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond, Richmond Parkway Transit Center, El Sobrante, and San Pablo. AC Transit provides comprehensive circulatory service in the immediate surroundings in addition to competing commuter service across the Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge, and Dumbarton Bridge.
WestCAT provides service in the western Contra Costa County communities of Hercules, Tara Hills, Bayview-Montalvin Manor, Pinole, northern Richmond, Hilltop Mall, Rodeo and Hercules Transit Center. Buses serving the station primarily connect the Hilltop Area, San Pablo Avenue corridor, and Hercules areas with the station.
FAST (Solano County – Fairfield, Suisun City)
Golden Gate Transit (Contra Costa County – Point Richmond; Marin County – San Rafael)
Napa VINE (Solano County – Vallejo; Napa County: American Canyon, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga)
SolTrans (Solano County – Vallejo)
An AC Transit/BART consortium operates East Bay Paratransit which serves this station. The Department of Human Services operates a shuttle connecting the station to its facilities in Richmond and Hercules. The city of Richmond also operates a commuter shuttle here from the Marina Bay neighborhood.
This station features large parking areas throughout, including surface parking and a four-story parking garage on the east side. There are also reserved bicycle lockers and open air racks available. There is a kiss and ride and taxi zone on the east side of the station. This plan determined that parking should be placed closer to the freeway to reduce traffic and that the impact of the large amount of buses and area needed for them had to be mitigated in some manner.
The station area is surrounded by local businesses, some of which are run down, with others underutilized parcels and big-box retailers. The station is surrounded by many businesses, including the Del Norte Marketplace shopping center with Walgreens, IHOP, Dollar Tree, and Staples. For years a Target lay adjacent but was closed when the Great Recession economy was found not to support this old location, and was relocated to the nearby Macdonald 80 Shopping Center. It has now been remodeled into a large Safeway supermarket with a small shopping strip and room reserved for high density dwellings. Del Norte Plaza lies catty-corner from the station and has small offices providing legal and dental services. On the north side of the station there is a motel, the Del Norte Place apartments, a Honda dealership, Starbucks, Macdonald's, Louisiana Fried Chicken, Home Depot and local restaurants. To the south of the station lies a Playland-Not-At-The-Beach amusement park museum, a post office and the El Cerrito DMV. To the east lie single family homes up a sloping hill.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit District developed a station improvement plan in 2004 to create a transit village surrounding the station. The city of El Cerrito is planning and searching for funds to develop the area around the station as a transit oriented development (TOD) similar to other transit villages, with the reservation that the development must be appropriately scaled.