The station consists of a mezzanine level and an underground island platform beneath it. The escalators leading to the entrance at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street are topped by a unique "mini" rotunda that covers passengers entering and leaving the station from inclement weather.
Downtown Berkeley is the second-busiest BART station outside of San Francisco, with 11,175 weekday average exits in Fiscal Year 2007. The only station outside of San Francisco with more traffic is 12th Street/Oakland City Center.
The station is popular both with students of UC Berkeley who use it to commute to the university and with non-student residents of Berkeley, many of whom commute to job centers in San Francisco and other Bay Area destinations. Additionally, it is used by patrons of events taking place at the University, such as concerts or lectures, and especially football games and other athletic events, including those sponsored by the MyBART service.
This has been the site of many BART Alert protests in response to occurrences on the political scene.
There is also a valet bike parking facility inside the station, operated by the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition. It is placed at the top of an unused stairway from the mezzanine level to the platform below. The stairs were built so that an additional entrance could be opened if needed in the future, and had never been used by passengers.