E’ville to SF sans BART: Know your options!
William He, The E’ville Eye’s latest contributor, tackles getting to SF without BART:
Whether you were for or against the BART unions, everyone was affected by their strike two weeks ago. From July 1st to 5th, BART’s 2,400 union workers went on strike and walked off their jobs. They represented train operators, ticket booth agents, and maintenance workers that serviced our bay area system. Many news stations estimated that an average of 400,000 riders take BART everyday and had to find alternate modes of transportation. To put that in perspective, it’s like the entire population of Oakland traveling in trains.
Naturally, commuters from Emeryville were not spared. While some had the luxury of working from home, most folks had to get to the city by bus, carpool, or ferry. BART arranged for shuttles to pick riders up at certain BART stations and drop them off at West Oakland, where they would enter a bus to cross the bridge. A.C. Transit added buses to accommodate the thousands of people going into the city. From Emeryville we had the C, F, and J-lines that all meet at 40th and Horton, across the street from the new Panera Bread. Riders will arrive at the Transbay Temporary Bus Terminal. You could also catch trans-bay buses in Oakland stop near the Sears on 20th and Broadway. The 72-Bus and 26-Bus were still options to get you from Emeryville to downtown Oakland.
The San Francisco Bay Ferry also added boats and extended their hours for people traveling from Jack London Square to the Ferry Building. While the lines seemed long, be assured that you would probably get on the ferry. Most boats hold up to 300 passengers, and some bigger ones hold up to 450 people. Fares are $6.00 dollars a ticket, but if you use your Clipper Card, it reduces to $4.75 when you exit the boat. Jack London and many of BART’s parking lots also reduced their parking lots’ prices during the strike period. Bicyclists beware though, there are limited spaces to park your bike and you have to off-board after everyone else.
Emeryville also has a casual carpool spot near 6363 Christie Avenue if you don’t mind sharing a ride with your neighbors. Spaces are limited, but from what I hear, people are usually friendly. Be prepared for some traffic until you hit the carpool lanes though.
By Train (the other train)
Lastly, there was an Amtrak shuttle that goes from Emeryville to Pier 39, but it was only meant for passengers that have train tickets for elsewhere. Personally, I ended up being dropped off at Jack London Square and waited in line for the ferry (it really wasn’t that bad, and I now plan to take it a couple times a month for the views).
And Getting Around Locally
Also of note were the Emery-Go-Round and the Broadway “Free B”. These lines were not affected by the strike and you could use them so your advantage. You could still get to MacArthur by EGR and then catch a shuttle from there to West Oakland, where the Transbay buses were. The B’ loops from Grand Avenue and Broadway down to Jack London Square (or from Luka’s Taproom to the Ellington Condos). Best of all, both of these lines are free to the public.
While these methods mitigated the problem, the idea of Emeryville being cut off from San Francisco is still a major issue. After all, living close to the City’s urban core is a strong incentive to living in Emeryville. Could there be an alternate route to San Francisco via Ferry? Historically, the Key System’s trains ran across the lower deck of the Bay Bridge and into Oakland and Emeryville. I tried to find some evidence about a ferry from San Francisco to Emeryville, but to no avail. If there was a connection between the Emeryville Marina to the Ferry Building, I believe a sensible amount of riders would use it.
Although BART is back in service now, commuters to SF should consider contingency plans if an agreement is not reached before the extended contract expires on August 4. How did you cope with the BART strike? What’s your story on this man-made transportation debacle?