You Tell Us: Time to get on board with BRT for Oakland
on July 17, 2012
On Tuesday, Oakland is poised to make history with AC Transit. Specifically, International Boulevard is in a position to gain over $150 million of investment, bring in over 300 new, full-time jobs, improve safety from traffic and crime, receive attractive new streetscape (including street re-paving from curb to curb) and become a healthier corridor overall. AC Transit’s proposed “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) project will go before the Oakland City Council this Tuesday, and we urge them to vote in support.
AC Transit has been working on improving transit along the heavily used corridor for more than 10 years. The final proposal before the council is a light-rail system on wheels–stopping at platform stations with level, all-door boarding, and running in dedicated lanes that will keep transit running out of traffic and arriving reliably every 5 minutes. New stations will be spaced closer together than the distance between “rapid” bus stops today, but will be spaced a bit further apart from where the slower local route stops. If other cities’ Bus Rapid Transit projects are any indication of what will happen, Oakland will see more transit service for less cost, a growth in ridership, and new infrastructure that will improve current conditions for everyone. Just the potential for BRT has already helped win over $1.25 million for the City of Oakland to facilitate and implement better planning and policies along the corridor.
Of course BRT will have its share of trade-offs. Some parking in certain places along the corridor will be removed to accommodate BRT stations and turning lanes for cars, and traffic will be slowed a bit for cars during the peak hours. However, what may add a few minutes or so to a car trip along the entire corridor will save bus riders 20 minutes. International Boulevard will become a safer place to do business, walk, ride a bike, and even drive a car. Currently, speeding, biking, and pedestrian conditions along International Boulevard are dangerous and deplorable, making the corridor somewhere to pass through as opposed to being a place to go to. Finally, regarding concerns for small businesses, AC Transit has expressed a commitment to work with them as the project unfolds. Unlike a more intense rail project, however, construction impacts for BRT are not going to be much greater than the sorely needed re-paving of the street.
Upon analysis, it’s clear that the benefits outweigh the costs of BRT. The project would be a game-changer for International Boulevard bringing world-class transit to Oakland, and would enable AC Transit and the City to “do more with less.” Looking ahead towards reduced tax revenues despite certain growth, Oakland would be wise not to miss this bus.
Olis Simmons, Executive Director and CEO, Youth Uprising
Jonathan Bair, President, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland
Andy Kelley, President, East Bay Young Democrats
Joel Ramos, Community Planner, TransForm
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