College Avenue Safeway rebuild
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    Oakland BRT website

    • Let your voice be heard:

      • Call or write District 1 Council Member Jane Brunner: (510)238-7001
      • Mail your views to RCPC, 5245 College Avenue, PMB 311, Oakland, 94618, or e-mail to chair @rockridge.org

AC Transit Proposed Telegraph Ave. Bus Rapid Transit

News in reverse chronological order

May 8, 2010: AC Transit Looks Back to Build the Future

It is often said that “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” With its plan to install bus-only lanes and mid-street boarding pads along the 1 and 1R bus lines from San Leandro through downtown Oakland to Berkeley, AC Transit seeks to recreate the fixed track format of the Key System rail network displaced in the 1950s and 1960s by “more flexible” buses. It is also said, “You can’t go home again.” That may be the epitaph for AC Transit’s “bus rapid transit” (BRT) proposal.

From downtown Oakland, the line will travel along Telegraph Avenue to Berkeley. Nowadays, growth along that corridor and at UC Berkeley, and with more traffic along Highway 24 and through the Caldecott Tunnel funneling more cars daily in and out of Oakland, Telegraph is choked with traffic the fixed rail systems never faced.

Oakland has created a BRT Web site that describes the project as:“…an East Bay Bus Rapid Transit Project that would extend through San Leandro, Oakland, and Berkeley.... a set of improvements to bus service, which makes the bus run like a light rail or street car without the need to install rails.” Benefits cited include a “dedicated lane in most locations: The bus gets its own lane so no more waiting in traffic on the bus.”

The “dedicated lane in most locations” is the most controversial element to the communities. Buses would travel down International Boulevard and Telegraph Avenue in routes dedicated for buses. The channels would cut off most intersecting side streets, causing cars to search for unobstructed crossings. Oakland’s plans also call for adding bicycle lanes along Telegraph, eliminating many on-street parking spaces. Many merchants in the three cities believe the loss of parking will lead to a loss of business and potential financial ruin.

Oakland staff and consultants reworked AC Transit’s initial plans, attempting to remove the most onerous features. Still, the staff-generated “Local Preferred Alterna-tive” created fireworks when presented by AC Transit and city agencies in public meetings.

In April, the council’s Public Works Committee directed staff to study the project without the dedicated lanes, and the effect upon fares and current bus stops. Without the dedicated lanes, the project is known as the Rapid Bus Plus alternative.

At an April council meeting, staff recommended its BRT proposal, not Rapid Bus Plus, arguing that AC Transit would then provide a “worst case” projection, and the city could then choose how much of the BRT project to accept.

In the audience, East Oakland seniors complained that BRT would destroy their transit mobility. Temescal Merchants fumed that the loss of parking would decimate their commercial area. Residents, as well as RCPC, warned that BRT would create “cut-through” traffic on residential streets with disruptive consequences. RCPC chair Flashman urged the Council to ask AC Transit to consider Rapid Bus Plus, as well as staff’s BRT proposal.

A sizeable delegation from the pro-transit group TRANSFORM called for the Council to move forward with the full BRT proposal.