East Bay Bus Rapid Transit advancing to key decision
Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro to specify local alternatives
Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro are about to submit route plans to AC Transit (AC) for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line along Telegraph Avenue and International Boulevard from Berkeley to San Leandro.
These plans will specify each city's preferred streets for BRT operation, along with layouts for dedicated lanes and station locations. Parking and traffic concerns will also be included. The City Councils are expected to vote on the plans in April and submit them to AC for evaluation in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).. AC Transit will hold requisite public hearings over the summer to assist in the development of the FEIR, which will be released in September.
When the FEIR is released, it will be reviewed and voted on by the AC Board in September, setting the stage for further City Council votes on other details, such as rights-of-way and BRT stops. The FEIR will include a study of a No-Build option, i.e. keeping the current 1R service on the route as it is, with a few minor improvements. Choices made this spring will not constitute a commitment to approve those options later: the FEIR will provide more information to support better-informed decision-making in the fall. Once the total number of stations and the dedicated lanes have been identified and agreed upon, an accurate price tag can be determined for the project. It is expected that final construction costs will be lower than previous estimates due to the economic downturn.
AC has not yet decided whether to terminate BRT at the San Leandro or the Bayfair BART station. If San Leandro BART is chosen, costs may be still lower.
The Sierra Club's Northern Alameda County Group has consistently supported the concept of this project since its inception.
On Feb. 1 the U.S. Department of Transportation released its fiscal year 2011 budget, which allocates $15 million to the East Bay BRT Project. East Bay BRT was the only BRT project in the nation to be given an "overall project rating" of "high".
BerkeleyOn Feb. 10 the Berkeley Planning Commission recommended that the City Council submit a route plan for study by AC that would operate BRT in both directions on Telegraph between the Oakland border and campus, on Bancroft Way between Telegraph and Shattuck Avenue, and on Shattuck from Bancroft Way to the Downtown Berkeley BART at Center Street. On Telegraph between the Oakland border and Dwight Way, dedicated lanes would be used; between Dwight and Bancroft on Telegraph, BRT would run with regular traffic; on Bancroft BRT will operate in one direction in a dedicated lane and in the other in regular traffic. On Shattuck the study of dedicated lanes is recommended.
In response to a request from a group of Berkeley residents opposed to dedicated lanes for BRT in Berkeley, AC Transit will also study an alternative called Rapid Bus Plus. Rapid Bus Plus would eliminate the predictable travel times of dedicated lanes since the buses would be tied up in congestion along with regular traffic. The study would also analyze a variant route involving Dana Street and Durant Avenue.
To learn more about BRT in Berkeley, go to www.ci.berkeley.ca.us and click on "Transportation Division" at bottom left.
OaklandOn Feb. 17 the Oakland Planning Commission advised city staff to move forward with the study of a BRT route through Oakland. This comes on the heels of seven community meetings in January. Oakland is also pushing for livability improvements, including widened sidewalks and better bicycle routes, making the BRT route a "complete street" designed for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles. These would be separate projects requiring their own funding. Most of the concerns raised came from merchants worried how loss of parking might affect their businesses.
Information about BRT in Oakland can be found at:
San LeandroSan Leandro has presented a BRT route plan at public meetings and to the Planning Commission, which is likely to vote on the plan in March. The current proposal would extend BRT to the Bayfair Center and Bayfair BART in southern San Leandro and include dedicated bus lanes in most of the city. The city is also looking at a BRT option that would terminate at the San Leandro BART station and the proposed downtown Transit Oriented Development.
For information about BRT in San Leandro, contact senior planner Kathleen Livermore at (510) 577-3350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In all three cities, contact your mayor and councilmembers and attend Council meetings to express your support for the full-build LPA. An easy way to do this is through TransForm's BRT web site.
More information about the East Bay BRT project can be found on the AC Transit web site
and the Friends of BRT web site
BerkeleyContact Mayor Tom Bates at:
2180 Milvia St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
For Council agendas and meeting dates see www.cityofberkeley.info/communitycalendar or call the city clerk's office at (510)981-6900.
OaklandContact Mayor Ron Dellums
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
San LeandroContact Mayor Anthony "Tony" Santos at:
835 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA 94577