As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. And for the East Bay, the long-awaited Bus Rapid Transit line from downtown Oakland to San Leandro is a very good thing.
On November 18, the City of Oakland adopted a Business Sustainability Plan that gave AC Transit the final green light needed to break ground on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). As a part of the region that is quickly growing in population and status, the East Bay deserves this revolutionary transit service that will not only improve public transportation, but truly make International Boulevard a safer place to travel, shop, and work.
A long road to a better future
After more than eight years of working with city officials, local businesses, residents, transit riders and transit agencies, we are thrilled that the BRT project planned for Oakland and San Leandro has the clearance needed to get ready for riders by November 2017. Additionally, AC Transit received a sizeable federal grant that secured the final funding for BRT in November.
Over the years, TransForm worked tirelessly to support BRT. We heard concerns from city leaders, transit agencies, and community leaders and helped develop solutions as the project moved along. From winning funding for future BRT projects (Measure BB) to helping AC Transit’s outreach along International Blvd, our efforts impacted the affordability, safety, and efficiency of the final project.
One of our biggest achievements was helping the City and AC Transit create a cutting-edge Business Sustainability Plan that will help businesses prepare, survive, and thrive during all steps of BRT’s construction, and well into operation. Working with members from East Oakland Building Healthy Communities (from Allen Temple Baptist Church, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, East Bay Housing Organizations, and Causa Justa :: Just Cause), TransForm also helped the City of Oakland win $2.5 million from the State of California to fund new sidewalks and streetlights called for by residents and businesses. This frees up other funding to be made eligible for loans and grants that businesses may need to successfully weather the transformation of International Boulevard from an auto-centric corridor to a safer and more transit-oriented corridor.
Next up: actually building it!
The next steps in the process to build BRT in Oakland are utilities relocation (starting in January), followed by actual construction slated to start in summer or fall of 2015.
On the whole, BRT will help more people get to International Boulevard and the businesses along it, whether they use the faster, more frequent bus service or have safer conditions for walking, biking, or driving.
It’s been a long journey, but with city leaders, community members, and transit agencies on board, BRT promises to be just the thing the East Bay has been waiting for.