Video: Lines at 19th Street Oakland reached over two hours with Transbay Tube closure 

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.”

 

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Yosun Chang

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