Golden Gate Transit Route 580 began it’s scenic commuter run Monday morning on December 14, 2015, tailored for employees of certain San Rafael companies such as BioMarin who come from Emeryville, Berkeley or Albany during the week. Emeryville is a growing mixed-use community with new vertical housing and little room for cars, a flat and bike friendly city of two square miles between Berkeley and Oakland with a stunning shoreline and two marinas on the bay. Marin likewise enjoys a thriving bike community although no BART service, just buses and San Rafael maintains several marinas on it’s canal. It’s not just for commuters, there is lots to do in San Rafael and Marin County. Just near the terminal downtown, try Theresa & Johnny’s cafe on Fourth Street for French Toast and a funky retro family environment.
Golden Gate Transit conducted a survey about the needs of businesses and came up with this more direct route which goes over the Richmond Bridge westbound in the morning and back to the East Bay, eastbound, in the evening. The bus runs on the half hour starting at 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. near the Amtrak Station in Emeryville, a block from it at Hollis & 59th near Summer Cafe. The bus starts the return route in San Rafael about 3:30 to 5:30, running on the half hour. Monday marked the beginning of a nine month trial period.
The Golden Gate Transit bus trip costs $4.20 each way with a Clipper card ($5.20 cash); or $2.55 with a disabled Clipper card or discount. $2.50 youth. Students, seniors, the disabled and those on MediCare and/or with corresponding Clipper cards get fifty percent discounts from the adult cash fare. Children under five travel free with an adult, limit two children under five. The bus takes two bicycles at a time, safely tucked into the compartment below. Transfers are free.
Whomever rides, passengers get highback upholstered seats that feel comfortable. It’s clean and quiet with big picture windows from which to take in the sunset over San Pablo Bay with the silhouette of San Francisco in the distance. Red Rock under the bridge and the ships add to the scenic trip. The driver of the 4:05 bus out of the terminal said he usually drives locally and Golden Gate Transit assigned him to this commute route. It was his first time and he joked about not getting lost although the route showed on his big GPS monitor.
The traffic on the Richmond Bridge seemed to surprise him but the route remained uneventful, cruising through the loop near the industrial park of San Rafael with the San Rafael Yacht Harbor on Francisco Boulevard, a working boat yard. The bus soon went past San Quentin Village, the prison, heading up the ramp from 580 to the Richmond Bridge. The bus exited on the other side at the horse race track off Gilman Street, passing the Gilman Street community farm. The bus turned onto San Pablo Avenue on which it remained, stopping at REI with Chipotle and Walgreens. The bus crossed University Avenue in Berkeley and continued into Emeryville along San Pablo, turning toward the water and Ninth Street near West Berkeley Bowl the organic produce store. Route 580 continued along Hollis through a mixed use neighborhood and stopped near a Starbucks and Subway at 65th before ending it’s route a few blocks further at 59th, near Summer Cafe. The sun had set during the one hour trip and car lights shined in the dusk. It’s door to door service.
The other way to get from Emeryville to San Rafael is to jump on the Emery Go Round free shuttle to MacArthur BART, a twenty minute ride or ten if on the Watergate Express during commute hours. Take a train to El Cerrito Del Norte BART, about a twenty minute ride. Catch the 40 Golden Gate Transit bus at the BART station and ride to the terminal in San Rafael. Alternatively take BART to Embarcadero Center in San Francisco and jump on a Larkspur Ferry.