At nearly 11PM on Tuesday night, July 17th, the Oakland City Council joined the City Council of San Leandro in unanimous support of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with dedicated lanes. The route will improve reliability and frequency, and will reduce overall transit time for most of the 1/1R routes by an estimated 30%. BRT will also reduce operations costs, resulting in more service for less funding. The Oakland City Council motion to adopt was made by Councilmember Pat Kernighan and seconded by Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente.
With over 30 organizations in support of the project (see a list below), and dozens of residents showing up to speak, some of the last minute concerns were ensuring that businesses along the corridor would receive appropriate support during construction and mitigations for loss of parking in certain spots along the corridor, and that the estimated 300 construction jobs would go to as many Oakland residents as possible, given limitations to the application of Oakland's Local Hire policy on Federally funded projects. Some minor amendments were made by the City Council to the staff recommendation that emphasized AC Transit addressing these issues as the project moves forward.
Some of the most vocal supporters of BRT at the council meeting were the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Oakland Community Organizations, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Causa Justa Just Cause, Youth Uprising, the Sierra Club, the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, ACCE / Riders for Transit Justice, The First UU Church of Oakland's Earth Justice Associates, the National Association of Minority Contractors, Urban Habitat, and the League of Women Voters. Supporters outnumbered opponents by more than 3 to 1. The project would not have passed without the residents and organizations that showed up or spoke out in support last night, and the ongoing, demonstrated support of the additional groups listed below.
Reasons for supporting BRT included sorely needed improvements to the frequency and reliability of the transit service along International Blvd. (routes 1 and 1R), the jobs that the construction of BRT would create, bringing over $150M of investment in public infrastructure, and helping to attract TOD to the corridor. Another popular reason for support was because of the increased lighting and security features that will help reduce crime along the corridor, as well as the improved pedestrian and bicycling facilities that will come with BRT, including improved cross-walks, bike lanes and bike parking. A small business owner and leader, Aristeo Zambrano of Bay City Alternators also came out in support and in representation of small businesses in the Elmhurst neighborhood district, emphasizing that the corridor is in sore need of investment.
Human Impact Partners did a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the proposed BRT project, and reported that the project would result in an improvement to public health along the corridor for a number of reasons, including improved access, more safety from crime and traffic. Download the report from their website.
Oakland's vote came on the heels of the San Leandro City Council adopting the BRT project running in center lanes for buses only along a small portion of the route and "curbside BRT" for a majority of the route along E.14th St. (from the Oakland border) to the San Leandro BART station.
The project is unique in the Bay Area as being the first BRT system to be implemented in a dense, relatively narrow corridor. It will be a game-changer for International Blvd., and will serve as a model to the country on how to "do more with less".
BRT has been supported by the following groups:
East Bay BRT is officially / formally supported by over 30 community groups and organizations:
Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Riders for Transit Justice
Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local 192
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Causa Justa / Just Cause
Communities for a Better Environment
East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy
East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
East Bay Housing Organizations
East Bay Young Democrats
Ella Baker Center
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Oakland's Earth Justice Associates
Genesis (a Gamaliel affiliate)
The League of Women Voters
National Association of Minority Contractors
Oakland Community Organizations
RAMP (Regional Asthma Management and Prevention)
Sierra Club (Northern Alameda County Chapter)
Street Level Health Project
The Rose Foundation / New Voices Are Rising
Walk Oakland / Bike Oakland (WOBO)