BART, Berkeley, East Bay, Oakland, Transit Fantasy

Subway Dream (East Bay)

If you haven’t gotten to it already, please check out the introductory post. Also, the San Francisco half of the map can be found in this post.

Unlike the San Francisco half of the map, which takes a stab at expanding both the BART and Muni Metro systems, the East Bay half of the map assumes a BART expansion by default, although some of it could also be incorporated into a new AC Transit light rail network. The map includes direct service to the new Transbay Transit Center (which would also be served by Caltrain, California High Speed Rail, and Muni Metro, per the other half of the map). Trains traveling between the East Bay and Transbay would use a second transbay tube, which is an infrastructure investment we will have to make eventually anyway, when the current tunnel reaches capacity.

The new lines in the East Bay essentially follow AC Transit’s most popular trunk lines, with the intent of maximizing the number of districts that are given their own comfortably walkable neighborhood train station. On the map, existing BART infrastructure is marked in red. New lines and stations (including infill stations on existing lines) are marked in blue. As you see, there is an awful lot of blue in this map, which indicates just how many neighborhoods BART misses (as usual, click on the image to see a full size version on Flickr):

dream_metro_oakland.jpg

Satellite view courtesy Google Maps.

Existing BART stations are often so far apart that current lines could already be thought of as express service in some stretches, and the new lines, which all have more stations, provide some of the local service necessary to complete the network.


A couple infill stations have been added to existing lines in this map. Way at the top of the map is an infill station on the Richmond line between North Berkeley and El Cerrito Plaza, which would serve Albany and Solano Avenue. An infill station has also been added to the Pittsburg/Bay Point line, between MacArthur and Rockridge, which provides direct service to the developing Temescal neighborhood. The distance between MacArthur and Ashby stations is quite long, so there is infill potential there as well, although I have not marked it on the map.

Here are stations along the new lines. Existing BART stations are marked in italics, so as to provide easy reference with how the new infrastructure would connect into the current system:

Broadway Line: Transbay Transit Center (SF), Jack London Square/Amtrak, 12th Street/Oakland City Center, 19th Street/Uptown, 27th Street, 38th Street, 51st Street, Rockridge, Elmwood, Telegraph Avenue/UC Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley, University & San Pablo, West Berkeley/Amtrak.

International Line: Transbay Transit Center (SF), Jack London Square/Amtrak, Lake Merritt, Eastlake, 14th Avenue, 23rd Avenue, 34th Avenue/Fruitvale, High Street, Seminary Avenue/Melrose, 73rd Avenue, 98th Avenue, San Leandro, Bayfair (and possibly continuing to Fremont, on the existing line).

MacArthur Line: Emeryville, San Pablo, MacArthur, 38th Street (connection to the new Broadway Line), Grand Lake, 14th Avenue/Glenview, Dimond, Laurel, Mills College, Eastmont, 73rd Avenue, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland Airport (not pictured on the map).

The City of Oakland is investigating the plausibility of a regionally important retail district (and hopefully, dense housing, as well) to replace the current Broadway Auto Row, so the 27th/Broadway station is placed to provide direct service to that potential future destination. The 38th Street station is within comfortable walking distance of the commercial district on Piedmont Avenue. The Broadway line also makes two Amtrak connections, fills in stations at neighborhoods along Broadway and College Avenue, and provides service to the southside of the UC Berkeley campus. In addition, a change has been made to rename the current 19th Street Oakland station “19th Street/Uptown.” This only amounts to a small switch in signage, but it helps to acknowledge and officially place this quickly developing neighborhood on the map.

Although existing BART service parallel to Interstate 880 is fine for express purposes, it is a poor way to serve East Oakland. With a mere two stations for this large southern portion of the city, trains manage to skip most neighborhoods altogether. For the International Line, a subway is located under International Boulevard, resurfacing to connect to existing stations in San Leandro.

The MacArthur line provides service to a whole series of neighborhoods that are completely neglected under BART’s current scheme. After traveling the length of MacArthur, trains would swing around to connect to the International Line at 73rd Avenue. At the end of that line, a new airport is constructed at Oakland Airport itself (not pictured in this map), so the existing station serving the airport is renamed simply “Oakland Coliseum.” Although the northern end of this line is in Emeryville, some trains on this line could switch at either 38th Street or MacArthur to provide service to San Francisco, which would more closely mirror the route of the existing AC Transit NL bus route.

Potentially, any of these three new lines that provide service to the Transbay Transit Center would then continue down the line to serve neighborhoods along Geary, as depicted in the San Francisco map.

Although downtown Oakland has a lot of bus service passing through it, these buses manage to not do a good a job of linking the various downtown districts. Often, it is much faster to just walk from one end to the other. To remedy this problem, this Oakland map (like its San Francisco counterpart) includes a loop of track serving the central city. Although it does not fit cleanly into any of the new three lines, a downtown loop could potentially be operated as a separate service, stopping at: Jack London Square, 12th Street, 19th Street, 27th Street, 38th Street, Grand Lake, Eastlake, and Lake Merritt, before looping back to Jack London Square.

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Discussion

11 thoughts on “Subway Dream (East Bay)

  1. Hmm, what about West Oakland and South Berkeley?
    Also this leaves out an isolated urban area with a similar density to Oakland (at one time in its history, much denser than Oakland), the island of Alameda. I do like the stretch through the East Oakland hills.

    Posted by Timosha | 20 December 2007, 3:00 pm
  2. Hi Timosha,

    There are certainly any number of places these lines could have gone — in some versions of this map, there was also a line covering West Oakland and San Pablo, or the current line ending in Emeryville could turn south to West Oakland. I’ve tried to temper this by realistic considerations of ridership patterns and development potential, so that’s why there aren’t lines everywhere. Not drawn in on this map are places in which bus rapid transit could effectively fill in the gaps, areas where transit could be improved, but where we might not necessarily want to build a tunnel. Alameda was one such location — although, in a different version of this map, Alameda was given BART service. Another compromise (keeping costs in mind) would be to set aside some of these lines as light rail.

    This map does add service to South Berkeley, with new stations for Elmwood and Telegraph Avenue. In the post, I also mentioned the possibility of another infill station between MacArthur and Ashby, for more service in the South Berkeley/North Oakland area.

    Posted by Eric | 20 December 2007, 3:18 pm
  3. OK: having just said in the other thread that I wouldn’t be too critical … that’s exactly what I’m about to do ;-)

    Let me first say that I think you’re going in the right direction with the corridors, although I’d double-check AC Transit ridership data, or at least the potential BRT corridors they’ve already identified. I believe Alameda has as much potential as any of the others here save InTel, and so might West Oakland if it’s redeveloped as some have envisioned (mind you, there’s a whole gentrification issue there that I’m not even going to touch for the moment).

    But then that’s the problem: Are any of these really subway-worthy corridors? Even long-term? I may have been conditioned by my experience in the U.S. to set the bar too high, but I suspect the wiser course might be surface LRT. Of course to make that work, you’d need to get serious about reallocation of rights-of-way–Berkeley NIMBYs be damned. I’ve always had a soft spot for streetcars in central Oakland as well.

    Now, one place in the East Bay that doesn’t have BART service, and really should: Emeryville. Of course Emeryville already has standard-gauge tracks and an existing station that could be put to much better use. Have you thought about conventional rail as an alternative to BART? The westernmost edge of West Oakland — which just so happens to be undergoing intense redevelopment already — would be well served by an infill station on the Caps corridor. The Regional Rail Plan also suggested a multimodal station at existing West Oakland BART.

    One last thing: If that line on your map from downtown Oak to a new tube really does run under Alameda, you probably should have a station or two at Point Alameda, as BART has proposed.

    But really, Eric: You’ve done a solid here. I’m impressed, and I’ll bet lots of other people are, too.

    Posted by Steve | 26 December 2007, 9:10 pm
  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Steve. Actually, a lot of what you’ve said has mirrored some of my own thoughts — so to flesh this out a bit more:

    In some sense, the East Bay half of this is more “fantastical” than the San Francisco half, perhaps because there has been much less official thought or guidance on the issue. The introductory comment on this whole subway dream — that this is what could have been done in the past, rather than what should be done now — is especially true of the East Bay map.

    As to your comment about putting surface LRT here in place of BART subway: I think you’re absolutely right, that would probably be enough. The 1/1R, at least the Oakland sections of it, appears to be quite popular, but ridership is still a lot less than the 38/38L on Geary, even though the 1/1R route is double the length of Geary. The demand is less, and so you’re right that really, even a robust BRT will be enough. Make it rail-ready and upgrade it to LRT to boost ridership and also to encourage more infill on Broadway, Telegraph, and East 14th.

    Good point on West Oakland and Alameda. They definitely did get the short shrift on this map, and on other versions of this map, both neighborhoods have received better service. On another version, the MacArthur line (which terminates at Emeryville on this map), continues southward to serve West Oakland, and I think other versions did something else altogether.
    One reason why Alameda got no service in this map is because it is a BART map, and, well, BART costs a lot. On the more realistic BRT map, there would definitely be improved service in that area.

    Of course Emeryville already has standard-gauge tracks and an existing station that could be put to much better use. Have you thought about conventional rail as an alternative to BART? The westernmost edge of West Oakland — which just so happens to be undergoing intense redevelopment already — would be well served by an infill station on the Caps corridor.
    This is a great point, which also raises an important general point about this map. Service should be improved on these identified corridors, and in West Oakland, dependent on what happens there. BRT? Build it now, and blindfold everyone in Berkeley until it’s built. Surface LRT? A worthwhile investment for at least some of this map. (Though for at least the latter of those, the College Ave segment could be problematic.) But BART? This map was basically an exercise in fun BART expansions, and as much as I’d love to ride the system in this map, I can’t responsibly condone that we spend the billions upon billions required to make it a reality. One way to avoid that is to redo existing infrastructure. I’d really like to see better use of the Caps corridor in general, and this move would hopefully change people’s perceptions about this corridor.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for streetcars in central Oakland as well.
    Now here’s something I’d really like to see– particularly if the streetcars circled the Lake.

    Posted by Eric | 26 December 2007, 10:55 pm
  5. Speaking of the 1 and 1R: Would you believe that their combined ridership is only about one-sixth, on a per-mile basis, of that on Geary? I know, it’s odd–the differences in density are not that great, certainly not over the lengths of the corridors. But East Bay transit ridership in general doesn’t come close to that in the city. Say what you will about Muni, but I suspect the difference has a lot to do with service levels: the 38 and 38L come every couple minutes at rush hour, while the Intel buses have a combined headway of something like seven minutes peak. Which suggests that while it might be less cost-effective, you could certainly improve InTel transit ridership simply by running more buses.

    Posted by Steve | 26 December 2007, 11:36 pm
  6. Speaking of the 1 and 1R: Would you believe that their combined ridership is only about one-sixth, on a per-mile basis, of that on Geary?
    My own quick estimates had pegged it about 20% (daily on the 1/1R is about 24-25K, I think), but Geary is a bit shorter than I usually think, so one-sixth sounds about right. As much as we gripe, service on Geary is actually pretty decent, at least in terms of having regular buses, and the chronic issues can’t really be seriously approached without new infrastructure.

    Definitely more buses on the 1/1R. Without dedicated lanes, that will only help so much, with the buses still fighting against traffic, but decreasing wait times will be a help. Just based on anecdotal evidence, there are still considerable gaps in service, even with running both 1 and 1R buses.

    Posted by Eric | 26 December 2007, 11:54 pm
  7. Emeryville should get a good connection with West Oakald BART set up. Either using rails (you can see the Amtrak yard from West Oakland BART) or busses (maybe down Mandela Parkway, maybe requiring a bus only ramp direct from the Shellmound/40th curve to Mandela. Emeryville is on the path to more vertical growth and is a good setting for it, but it could benefit itself and everyone else using the Bay Bridge if it had a better connection to BART. Taking the Emery-Go-Round to MacArthur takes a while and still required you to ride BART all through Oakland before you get to The City.

    Posted by MikeD | 1 February 2008, 3:09 pm
  8. MikeD, that particular connection was something I was planning on addressing with a BRT connection, though Caps is another good option. This map looks a little sparse (especially West Oakland and Alameda) because it’s a BART map, and so it really just addresses the biggest trunk corridors. This map is a fantasy in the truest sense — not something we should try to build at this point, more of a thought exercise, really. BRT is a different story, though.

    Posted by Eric | 1 February 2008, 3:13 pm
  9. I agree an Emeryville-West Oakland BART Connection shouldn’t be part of a dream map, because it would be so easy to start running.

    It would take 10 minutes according to google maps (avoiding the freeway, 9 minutes on the 80+880 but I don’t trust the Maze in traffic) and that would be going through that street that points to Best Buy. That’s the same amount of time it takes no to take the Emery-Go-Round to MacArthur, and you have BART stops to worry about.

    Posted by MikeD | 5 February 2008, 12:23 pm

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