EBOT Study Session reveals Ambitious Streetcar Plan for East Bay

3 mins read

Streetcars could be rolling through E’ville in the future, if transit planners get their way. The 61 page draft report of the much-anticipated Emeryville Berkeley Oakland Transit Study (or “EBOTS”) prepared by consultants CMS Smith has been released and the Emeryville City Council has unanimously rallied behind its most ambitious recommendation during the Council’s October 21 Study Session.

Streetcar service would connect the MacArthur BART station to Jack London Square, by way of 40th Street, Mandela Parkway, and West Oakland BART. A second route would replicate much of the existing Emery Go-Round, servicing Emeryville in a circular route beginning and ending at MacArthur BART, by way of Hollis Street, the Berkeley city border, Christie, and Shellmound Streets.

The goal of EBOTS was to “explore future visions for the study area…Planned population and job growth and increased investment in the area will spur the need for additional transportation investments,” the study’s preparers said.

While the study is not a binding document, it lays out potential and suggested improvements within all three cities that would provide for better transit service.

During the meeting, various council members cited the need to better connect Emeryville to its adjacent neighborhoods. Especially in West Oakland with its anticipated economic and population growth.

Current AC Transit and Shuttle Routes:

If all of the study’s proposals were to be implemented, a number of local AC Transit bus routes would be redirected to improve service frequency and transit connections in the area within the next five years. It would also improve east-west connections within the study area.

The route changes would also compliment the creation of a “trunkline connector route,” a major transit thruway, which would better connect Emeryville to West Oakland and West Berkeley within five to 10 years.

The proposed north-south route would connect Gillman Street in Berkeley to Jack London Square in Oakland via an 8.1 mile, 41 minute journey via 3rd Street, Mandela Parkway, 40th, Hollis, 7th, 6th, and Gilman Streets. Buses would run as frequently as every 10-15 minutes.

Proposed Streetcar Routes:

Within Emeryville, the study anticipated the continuation of the Emery Go-Round shuttle, whose future is currently up for debate. Recommendations for the shuttle included the creation of a “Powell Bridge” line, originating from MacArthur BART and run on Hollis Street to both Powell and 65th Streets. It would replace the Powell portion of the existing Shellmound/Powell line, whose service would stop at Shellmound Way.

In addition, many of the changes would put a primary focus on the proposed Emeryville Bus Hub, slated to be installed near the Public Market, adjacent to the pedestrian bridge. Both the Emery Go-Round and AC Transit buses would use the hub as a connection point.

Potential Location for the new Emeryville Bus Hub

A more unusual aspect of the study focused on the idea of an on-demand transit service, much like a dial-a-ride or rideshare/cab service. The study says it “may become a more viable means of bridging the gap between major transit hubs and local destinations,” conceivably in lower density areas like West Oakland.  The idea elicited a lukewarm reaction from the Council.

One large question that remains is what the City of Oakland will do with it’s Free “B” shuttle and transit along the Broadway corridor. The study looked at replacing the “B” shuttle with a third streetcar line, as well as improvements in the Jack London Square area of Oakland.

As for Emeryville’s streetcar service, the study does project it would take 10 to 20 years before the service would start. However, a few city council members were adamant about the economic boost it would provide. “I believe streetcars in the East Bay, especially this inner East Bay, is absolutely the future and we’ve got to start now if we’re going to crank this in. We’ve seen the successes of the streetcar lines in Seattle and in Portland. We know they work.” added Councilmember Nora Davis.

The final EBOTS report will be unveiled to the Emeryville Planning Commission during its December 11 meeting at 6:30pm in the City Council chambers.

If you wish learn more about the EBOT Study, there are two remaining meetings:

Oakland City Council Chambers (Tentative)
November 18 at 6:30pm
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA

BART Board of Directors
November 20 at 9:00am (toward end of agenda)
Kaiser Center (20th St. Mall, 3rd Floor)
344 20th St, Oakland, CA

The Final Report is slated to be presented to The Emeryville Planning Commission on December 11th and to City Council on January 20th. Further information on the study’s recommendations in Berkeley and Oakland, as well as its impact on low-income and minority residents, can be found in the EBOTS final draft report.

The 10/21 Emeryville City Council Study Session can be viewed on YouTube:
[youtube id=”qvCx2m8Hjt4″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

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Bobby Lee

is a Bay Area native who’s lived in the Christie Core Neighborhood since 2010, Bobby enjoys exploring the far corners of our region, trying the newest restaurants in the area, or relaxing to 80's era television sitcoms and game shows. For the past six years, he's hosted a web video series called 2 Minute Finance teaching basic money management and consumer education.

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