While the great Silicon Valley technology startups are typically on the other side of the bay, the fire in the transbay tube has left a temporary boom in local businesses around the transbay bus transfer stations in Oakland.
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At the transbay bus stop near the Oakland 19th Street station, at about 1 PM, the ETA to the front of the line was nearly a two-hour wait. The line curved from the bus station on 20th all the way past the Paramount Theatre. Passerbys described it “as if there was a sold-out show, but for the bus.”
According to Maia, a longtime resident of Oakland, “No, there’s never been a line like this here for the bus.” A pop-up merchant near the front of the line observed that there was a bus every twenty minutes, maxing out at forty.
Alex, a passenger awaiting the bus transfer from BART, stood in line for a half hour, then left when the previous bus filled up around the corner, “I’m just deciding it’s not worth my trip out. I don’t have to be in San Francisco.”
A brigade of taxi cars lined up parallel to the long line down Broadway. One driver offered to take four passengers across the bay to 3rd and Market for $80 a full car, or $20 cash per passenger. Within minutes, one passenger was able to gather a group of four others to split the cab markup. A second cab filled up right after, when more passengers wandered away from the line.
Others took time off for coffee and meals at local businesses. Luce, a barista who took the morning shift at the Starbucks a block from the transbay bus stop at 20th and Broadway said, “We’ve been busy. There was a lot more customers [than usual].”
Local pop-up entrepreneurs May and family sold bottled water down the line in wheel-barrow ice coolers for $1 a bottle, “[There’s need] and it’s a lot of business here.”
Even after 3:30 PM, backup AC transit transit buses at 19th St Station filled up to standing-room only within 5 minutes. This time, they were letting passengers stand. Margarita, an AC Transit Supervisor, escorted passengers onto the bus, calling out the public transit special of the day: “No fares needed, San Francisco.”