Bus Service at Watergate CancelledWatergate residents have been flooding Emeryville City Council members with angry calls and e-mails after the Emery-Go-Round bus service has been terminated along Powell Street adjacent to the resident condominiums recently. The popular free bus service, paid for primarily by commercial businesses in town, is used by many Watergate residents and service has been disrupted ever since the Emeryville Public Works Department started a sidewalk restoration project there a few weeks ago. Emery-Go-Round officials informed residents that the City didn't confer with them before they began the sidewalk project and now as a result, there's no room to turn the buses around, a requirement because the street dead-ends.
The charge of non-cooperation with the City is being denied by Public Works.
Meanwhile, the President of the Board of Directors at Emery-Go-Round announced at a meeting that the problem is not the new sidewalk but instead that Watergate residents aren't payers into the bus system and that is why service has been curtailed there.
Watergate residents are incorrectly assigning blame with the City says Maurice Kaufman, the City Engineer and head of Public Works. He flatly denies the charges made against the Department, "Emery-Go-Round has known of the sidewalk work proposed there for years, We've been discussing it with them for a long time" he told the Tattler. "They've changed their minds about their acceptable method of turn around" he added, indicating that EGR officials now don't want to make 'K' turns at Watergate condos since the street in the area isn't wide enough for a U-turn for buses both before and after the sidewalk work. Mr Kaufman conjectured that perhaps prior EGR managers didn't communicate with new managers as to the source of the miscommunication.
If there is a miscommunication.
Geoff Sears, President of the EGR Board of Directors, hinted to Board meeting attendees that sidewalk
|EGR President Geoff Sears|
We have a fiduciary responsibility to accommodate
the payers into the bus service, not the non-payers.
Board member and Emeryville commercial property owner Francis Collins agreed, "The turn around controversy isn't a big deal as far as I'm concerned. The real deal is this bus system is dead unless we can figure a way to legally fund it" he said, in a nod to the payers/non-payers calculation. Mr Collins indicated that the way the service is being paid for now is illegal and unfair to the payers into the system, the commercial property owners.
Former Council member Ken Bukowski, a long time supporter of the Emery-Go-Round said the service should be paid for by an Emeryville sales tax. He noted "Alameda County is going to have an additional 1/2 cent sales tax before voters in 2014. Emeryville should get enough to fund the EGR. Perhaps we should have a 1/2 cent sales tax of our own to help pay."
Council members have indicated they are going to work to resolve the issue, "Elderly Watergate residents [and others] need the Emery-Go-Round" Jac Asher told the Tattler, "Some have gotten rid of their cars and use the service for all their transportation needs". "EGR is extremely popular" the Councilwoman said.