This weekend’s planned closure of BART’s Transbay Tube has thrown a monkey wrench into many E’villian’s plans. The E’ville Eye breaks down what’s going on and details what’s closed, detoured, and other alternatives.
What’s going on?
BART’s Transbay Tube will be shutdown this weekend and over Labor Day weekend as well, to allow BART maintenance workers to repair critical areas of the track between the Tube and the West Oakland BART station. Due to difficulties turning around trains in the area, BART will not operate trains to the West Oakland BART station. Effectively, the system will be divided into two halves, the East Bay and San Francisco portions.
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BART encourages Bay Area residents to stay on their respective side of the Bay, unless their travel is critical. It is not known how busy roadways and alternative transit modes will be during the shutdown weekend. However, trains carried about 100,000 riders each weekend day through the tube in June.
For E’villians, this means that the nearest operating BART station will be at Macarthur. Riders will be able to reach all points north, south, and east, but cannot go westward.
What are my alternatives by transit?
To cross the bay, BART will be providing lifeline bus service from Oakland’s 19th Street BART station to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco (two block walk from the Embarcadero Station), via the Bay Bridge. There will be no charge for the bus service, which will not run on a schedule. However, the agency says buses will depart as soon as their full, with a fleet of 80+ buses contracted for the weekend. If you find yourself near the West Oakland BART station, there will be a shuttle available from that station to the 19th Street BART station. You will be able to connect onward from there.
BART Customer Service says they will most likely not be allowing bikes on the lifeline bus service due to the probability of full buses, but instead encourages bike riders to leave their bikes at their departing station to make things easier for all travelers. Riders with bikes would probably be better off riding the ferry, detailed later in this guide.
BART also points out that this service should only be used by those who have no other means for crossing the bay, as taking this bus service will add one to two hours to a rider’s total trip time.
AC Transit will be detour its F Line Transbay service. The F Line will not run along Shellmound Street this weekend. It will instead make its last stop at 40th Street and Harlan Street on the way to San Francisco. On the return trip to the East Bay, the first stop will be 40th Street and Hollis Street. All riders needing to get to the Shellmound retail corridor or to the Public Market will need to transfer to a regularly scheduled Emery Go-Round bus.
The F Line will run on its normal schedule at the same fare price.
All buses to San Francisco will benefit from the West Grand Avenue on-ramp to the I-880/Bay Bridge toll plaza approach being converted into a bus-only ramp. No vehicles will be allowed via this approach. However, there’s no word yet if buses will be allowed to use the shoulder of the approach to bypass the anticipated stopped traffic between the on-ramp and the HOV/bus-only toll plaza ramp 1/5 of a mile ahead.
Buses headed to the East Bay will utilize the Essex Street on-ramp onto the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. The ramp will be converted into a bus-only on-ramp as well.
Riders should anticipate long delays in both directions due to heavy traffic.
One of the best, and most scenic, ways to cross the bay will be via the San Francisco Bay Ferry from either the Oakland or Alameda terminals. The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) has announced added ferry service between San Francisco and its East Bay terminals on both Saturday and Sunday. Fares are $4.80 each way with the Clipper Card discount, higher for cash payers ($6.40 each way). Parking is free at both the the Alameda terminal and at the 7-story garage at 101 Washington St., near the Oakland terminal. However, no overnight parking is allowed and is subject to time restrictions.
Blue & Gold Ferry, who runs the boats on behalf of WETA, says they anticipate the parking garages and lots filling up, but caution that this is not certain as this is the first time they have run extra weekend service during such a closure.
Bike parking is not available at the Oakland terminal, however bike lockers are available at the Alameda terminal. Bikes are allowed on-board all ferries.
Alternate Car Routes:
All Bay Area bridges will be open. But the Bay Bridge will feel the brunt of the BART closure. Expect long delays. As noted previously, the West Grand Avenue and Essex Street on-ramps to the Bay Bridge will be open only to buses.
Alternate routes include crossing the bay via the San Mateo Bridge, or taking the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the Golden Gate bridge. But those bridges will also feel a knock-on effect from traffic detouring around the probable Bay Bridge backup.
Normal traffic patterns will be interrupted. Expect delays through the Macarthur Maze and on city streets.
You can check traffic conditions by calling 511, visiting 511.org, or by checking Google Maps Traffic. Riders can also stay on top of the traffic and transit conditions by following BART on Twitter @SFBART or 511 on Twitter @511SFBay.
Monitors will be on-hand to direct riders and the BART customer service hotline will be open on both days.