Statement by TransForm Executive Director Stuart Cohen at Bus Rapid Transit groundbreaking ceremony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2016

CONTACT:
Edie Irons, Communications Director: 510-334-1344 (cell), eirons@transformca.org
Stuart Cohen, Executive Director: 510-543-7419 (cell), scohen@transformca.org

“I can hardly believe this day has come. Fourteen years ago, TransForm studied transit projects around the region, and concluded that Bus Rapid Transit had tremendous potential.  That year we released a report Revolutionizing Bay Area Transit….on a Budget.  It prioritized this corridor, stretching from San Leandro to Downtown Oakland, because of the enormous existing ridership -- 25,000 riders per day.  BRT emulates what we love about rail -- speed, reliability, safety -- but at a fraction of the cost. I’m thrilled today to say that the Bay Area is finally going to revolutionize transit, but on a budget.

“For the past 14 years TransForm has made this BRT project a top priority, engaging the community to shape and ultimately support the project. BRT moves forward every part of TransForm’s mission - to create excellent transportation choices that connect people of all incomes to opportunity, keep California affordable and help solve our climate crisis.  Basically, ‘You can’t get ahead if you can’t get around!’
 
BRT serves those who need it most
“AC Transit has never had a service upgrade like this, and the main beneficiaries will be existing riders -- it’s going to totally transform working people’s commutes. Seventy-two percent of AC Transit’s ridership is low-income, and International Blvd. is AC Transit’s heaviest trafficked line. 25,000 people take the bus along this corridor per day, versus 13,000 to 21,000 cars. 

“Oakland is an incredibly competitive place to live, especially for low-income people. BRT will mean less time on the bus and more time with your family, at school, and at work. BRT turns a 45-minute ride into a 30-minute ride, and the bus will come more often.

A Key Part of an Affordability Strategy 
“BRT is not just about excellent public transit for people who need it, it’s a keystone project that enables other community benefits and improvements. For example, Oakland was awarded more than $3 million in Cap-and-Trade funding because of BRT for Satellite Housing’s the Camino 23 project. That money went to fund affordable homes, repair and improve nearby sidewalks and intersections, purchase free AC Transit pases for residents, and support Oakland’s Pedestrian and Bike program. Finally, AC Transit’s youth pass program is about to begin, with many schools along this corridor.

“Creating affordable, reliable transit near affordable homes keeps Oakland affordable for current residents, and gives them more opportunities to thrive.

Environmental Benefits
“The earth just experienced the hottest month on record (July 2016). This BRT project will attract new riders, eliminating 610,000 car trips per year.  That is why BRT is a key part of Oakland’s Climate Action Plan.

“An amazing 20x more people walk to the bus than drive (or get driven) -- (80% walk to the bus stop, 4% drive). By attracting even more riders, BRT can build community, promote safety, and do it in a way that helps existing residents and reduces car trips. 

Breaking the cycle of traffic congestion
“BRT can break the vicious cycle of traffic congestion. As jobs and populations grow, more drivers slow busses down and make them less reliable, leading more people to drive, and so on. BRT has broken this cycle in cities across the world, attracting riders out of their cars. Right now the bus service on International Blvd is unacceptably slow, but BRT will be a viable, attractive alternative to sitting in traffic, for both existing bus riders and for some car commuters.”
 
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Statistics on East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

  • 72% of AC Transit’s ridership is low-income, and International Blvd is AC Transit’s heaviest trafficked line. (Source: AC Transit
  • 25,000 people take transit along the International Boulevard corridor per day (Source: AC Transit), versus 13,000-21,000 cars that pass through per day (Source: Kittelson & Associates).
  • In July, the earth experienced the hottest month on record (Source: NOAA); BRT is projected to eliminate 900,000 car trips a year. (Source: AC Transit)
  • 80% of AC Transit riders walk to the bus stop, while only 4% drive. (Source: AC Transit)
  • BRT is not just about excellent public transit for people who need it - it’s a keystone project that enables other community benefits and improvements:
    • Affordable homes:
      • $3,062,730 was awarded to Oakland from cap-and-trade funding because of BRT for Satellite Housing’s development, Camino 23. (Source: www.ClimateBenefitsCA.org)
    • Safe streets:
      • City of Oakland received a $726,050 infrastructure award for International Blvd improvements including repaired sidewalks, lighting, and special intersection paving at the Camino 23 development. (Source: MTC)
      • City of Oakland also won $2.5M for additional sidewalk and streetlight improvements from Caltrans’ Active Transportation Planning Grants. (Source: Oakland Public Works)
    • Affordable transit:
      • Oakland received $46,975 for bulk purchase of free AC Transit for Camino 23 residents. (Source: MTC)
      • Measure BB will also provide youth with free transit passes for students at the many schools along the BRT corridor. (Source: Alameda CTC)
    • Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure:
      • $50,000 for City of Oakland staff management of Ped and Bike Program. (Source: MTC)