Free BART-to-work bus for downtown county workers

on October 16, 2009

A shuttle was launched in Alameda County Thursday, but not one that lands on the moon.

With the East Bay rainy season and darker winter hours imminent, county officials unveiled a new employee shuttle bus service at a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon.  Superior Court and Alameda County employees now can travel for free by shuttle bus among the County Administration building and the 12th Street and Lake Merritt BART stations in Oakland during morning and evening commute hours.

“Some might say its only six blocks,” said Alameda County Board of Supervisors member Keith Carson,  as he stood beside one of the buses on show before posing with colleagues behind an oversized scissor. “It’s not about six blocks. It’s about a mindset. You don’t need to pollute the environment. It also suggests once you get here you have options.”

Part of the county’s Clean Commute Program, a facet of its Sustainability program, the shuttle service goal is to reduce the county’s carbon emissions, as well as increase commuter safety. Transportation accounts for more than half of the county’s emissions, said County Transportation Services Manager Doug Bond. County officials hope the travel alternative to walking to and from local BART stations will encourage employees to use public transportation more often.

The shuttle bus, which will run every 15 minutes from 7 and 10 AM and 3:45 and 6:45 PM, is also intended to address employee safety concerns about walking around the Oak Street office area after a few employee muggings were reported last year, Bond said.

“I think it’s a good thing with the winter and safety,” said Rissa Bowman, County Benefit Analyst.

The biggest obstacle the program faces is employee participation, said Sarah Rea, County Sustainable Transportation Specialist. Her job has been to find answers to the “yes buts,” such as “Yes I would but I have to take my kids to daycare,” she said.

The solution? The Clean Commute Club. Members who commit to taking public transportation at least once a week become part of a community that meets once a month at a local shop, and receive discount coupons to local stores. The discounts serve as both employee incentives and a means of boosting local business, which has suffered from the economic downturn, Rea said.

The program is currently funded mostly by Bay Area Air Quality Management District grants, Bond said, although the county has kicked in toward residual costs. Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority donated the two 13-plus person buses currently available.  The pilot has no end date. If successful, the County will look at expanding the program to its 200 buildings throughout the East Bay, Bond said.

Additional Clean Commute Program projects include seeking federal stimulus funds to incorporate electric cars into the county’s “fleet” of 1100 vehicles and partnering with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition to hold a bike safety workshop for county employees on November 18th.

The shuttle program is not just about providing more benefits to county workers. Minimizing pollution, said Carson, is one way the county aims to better the quality of life for all county residents.

Carson said it’s about making Alameda County “a better place to live.”

7 Comments

  1. das88 on October 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    This is absolutely crazy. How is a shuttle that replaces walking 6 blocks (actually only 3 to Lake Merritt Bart) be “It’s about a mindset. You don’t need to pollute the environment.”

    People need more exercise and walking is a great way to get it.

    If safety is the concern, the money would better be spent toward improved lighting. Having less pedestrian increases crime risks to those who remain.



  2. dto510 on October 16, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Yeah, das88 is right, running a shuttle a few blocks does not help the environment. If Keith Carson wants to reduce County employees’ carbon footprint, he should buy them bus passes.



  3. Andy K on October 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Could not agree more with the above comments. 3 blocks is too far to walk? Fairly flat area too.



  4. Ken on October 22, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I note that all three of you (and I) are MEN.

    Ask a few women about walking alone in places like that at night or dusk.

    Agree with your sentiments though. The area needs more, not fewer people. And that’s Oakland’s problem. Has a lot of “gem” areas but not enough density or connectivity.

    Here are some of my old ideas on connectivity, which the BAAQMD Jack London-to-Uptown shuttle grant will partly address.

    http://newoaktown.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/connecting-oaklands-neighborhoods/



  5. Karen S on October 22, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    At first, I thought, how cool! Then I read the comment by county worker Rissa Bowman, who said, “Personally, I live in Oakland, where it’s not safe”. Give me a break! If you work for the county, live and work in Oakland, and aren’t part of the solution, you ARE the problem! I am female, over 60, and have walked this area often, with no more particular safety concerns than anywhere else. I live in East Oakland and walk everywhere. I am seeking a grant for one of these buses so I can take senior citizens out of the deep East hood to walk in scenic areas. That’s a health benefit that would save the county money, right? And for those county workers, buddy system for safety; if there’s enough of you to fill a bus, no mugger will accost you as a group. And when it rains, have you checked out how cute boots are, and the fashionable umbrellas?



  6. Rissa B on December 11, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    First of all, let me be perfectly clear. I NEVER SAID “I LIVE IN OAKLAND WHERE IT IS NOT SAFE.” What I said was “I Live in Oakland and walking at night is not safe”. I am sure if you walked in any major city at night, it would not be safe. These people have miss-quoted me and I want it removed immediately. Here we have a classic miss representation by the “MEDIA”……. Oakland is very safe and the media lies and portrays this area as being a bad area, because that is all they want to report on.



  7. John Grennan on December 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

    From the Oakland North Staff: Ms. Bowman’s quote in the story has been corrected.



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