One of the most highly anticipated community benefits of “The Emery” Development went online recently. “The Emery Express” is a free shuttle that takes riders from southern Emeryville directly to the West Oakland BART station.
The daily, roundtrip service runs every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., is free to everyone in the city and residency at The Emery is not required.
2013: Desire for “Last Mile” connection for SF Commuters Identified
The inception of the free shuttle came through this news platform after polling Emery Go-Round riders in 2013 on their commute patterns. The survey noted the benefits of a West Oakland stop versus the current MacArthur station for the majority of SF workers.
Because of the closer proximity and frequency of trains traveling through the Transbay tube (roughly every 7-8 minutes), a connection to the West Oakland station could shave upwards of 25 minutes of round-trip commute time from Emeryville riders.
Better Transit = Fewer Car Trips?
The data provided by the poll validated the desire by riders for the more direct line to SF with 77% of riders identifying SF as their final destination. Probably the most compelling data point was that 72% of those that took the survey said they’d take transit more and drive less if this service existed.
The E’ville Eye (with our “classic” logo above 😉 ) presented this data to both the city and the ETMA (Emeryville Transportation Management Association) who manage the Emery Go-Round (EGR). Despite this, the idea failed to gain any traction by them or any of Emeryville’s elected officials. The EGR was experiencing its own turmoil at the time requiring voters to pass a measure to keep the service funded through 2030.
2016: Sherwin Development Presents Another Opportunity for Shuttle
While the city and ETMA failed to acknowledge the benefit and support by residents, concerns over parking and traffic generated from the pending Sherwin Development presented another opportunity to push for the service.
Lennar Multifamily Communities (LMC now “Quarterra”) was working to garner approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Report and support from residents.
Residents used their leverage to negotiate the shuttle into the developer agreement with LMC as part of a laundry list of Community Benefits that a resident group known as PARC (Park Avenue Residents Committee) helped finalize. Additional benefits that were negotiated include an art gallery, the in-progress “pass through” at 45th street and under-grounding of utilities among many others.
2022: The Emery Express “It’s brilliant!”
Terms of the agreement had the service kicking in “within 60 days after occupancy of 50% of the total residential units for the project.” The Emery began leasing available units in July with the Emery Express service going into effect in mid-October.
“It’s brilliant! I’m a huge fan of free transit,” noted new Emery resident Brooks Jessup who works in SF and is a regular user of the service. “From the West Oakland BART station, you can jump on any train.” Jessup observed that the currently ridership was fairly sparse with what he estimated was “probably less than 10 riders per day.” Jessup was optimistic that the shuttle would fill out as the project neared completion and awareness of the line increased.
In addition to a stop along Hubbard St. at Sherwin Ave, there are stops on either side of Hollis near Michael’s (Southbound) and GameStop (Northbound). The shuttle also has a dedicated curbside spot with signage in front of the West Oakland BART entrance.
LMC contracts with the ETMA to provide administrative and operational support for the shuttle similar to their arrangement with The West Berkeley Shuttle. LMC maintains responsibility for marketing and financial oversight of the service.
The hope is that when the five-year agreement with LMC to fund the Emery Express ends, it could be rolled into the Emery Go-Round, AC Transit or an alternative funding mechanism could be determined.
More information and up to date scheduling can be found at liveattheemery.com/transportation.