Tag Archives: Broadway shuttle

A cheap, car-free New Year’s Eve in downtown Oakland

30 Dec Broadway Shuttle Map

New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite nights to go out. Clubs and events are absurdly overpriced. Everywhere is at least twice as crowded as usual. It’s close to impossible to catch a cab. So many years I stay home or do something low-key with some friends.

But this year my wife and I decided we wanted to go out and when I found out that the Free Broadway Shuttle would be running its usual Saturday night schedule of 6pm-1am, I realized we could bar hop around downtown Oakland. Getting around will be super easy (and free), and if any of the places we go to are too crowded, we can move on.

I researched free or cheap bars and clubs in downtown and put together this list, which I figured I’d share here. Continue reading

Another magical night in downtown Oakland

6 Jul Oaklandish Store Sign

Two and a half years ago, right after the Fox Theater had finally opened and on an Art Murmur night, I experienced a magical night in downtown Oakland. Here’s what I wrote about it in February, 2009:

…There was always something that bothered me about downtown Oakland – most people just didn’t seem to get how great the DTO is. I’d practically have to beg friends to meet me downtown for a drink after work. And forget dinner downtown – even many of my friends who work in the DTO never stuck around past dark.

Slowly, I’ve noticed a change in attitudes towards downtown, but on Friday night, the DTO finally felt like it was reaching its potential.

There were people everywhere! From 14th Street all the way down past the Art Murmur on 23rd, there were thousands of people on the street and inside art galleries, music venues, bars, and restaurants. People on foot, people on bike, and people in cars. At many points, I witnessed gridlock on the streets, something I’ve never seen downtown at night….

As the Art Murmur dwindled down, many headed to the Uptown to catch a free night of music. Though it wasn’t overly crowded, there was always a wait to get a drink, and the energy was high. I sat for a while near the front door and watched the rain fall, illuminated by a lamppost on the sidewalk outside. I sat back and smiled and I think a few tears welled up in my eyes. This was downtown as I always saw it – vibrant, fun, and sometimes unpredictable – but now this was the downtown so many others were experiencing, and I knew they would return.

Since then, I’ve seen downtown crowded and just as vibrant many times at night, particularly on special occasions, like Uptown Unveiled. But I’ve yet to have those same feelings again. I’ve yet to recreate that distinct realization that downtown has reached another night-time milestone or cleared another hurdle to reaching its full potential.

That changed on Friday night. Continue reading

January 18-24 Oakland Political & Community Events

17 Jan

Monday, January 18th – Candlelight Vigil for Haiti Earthquake Victims

Congresswoman Barbara Lee in collaboration with the Haiti Action Committee will hold a candlelight vigil for Haiti earthquake victims. The vigil will be held, rain or shine, from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building Courtyard, 1301 Clay Street. Please bring a candle.

Monday, January 18th – Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations

There are several MLK Day celebrations happening throughout the city, too many to possibly list here. From service projects to concerts, there’s something for everyone. See Jean Quan’s thorough listing of MLK day events.

Tuesday, January 19th – Oakland City Council Meeting

It looks like it’s going to be another long and contentious Council meeting this weekend. Even the consent calendar has a contentious item about free parking for city employees, which several advocates plan to speak out against.  Then, Mayor Dellums, for the first time, will break a Council tie and appoint Michael Lighty to the Port Commission. Another mayoral appointment, to the Paramount Theater Board, will also be debated, as one of the proposed appointees, Lorenzo Hoopes, was a big donor and supporter of Prop 8. If the Council can make it past all of that, they’ll also be discussing a hiring freeze, appointing a Vice Mayor, the 2010 federal legislative agenda, a Measure Y report, and more. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, January 20th – Keep Barack Rollin’ Inauguration Anniversary Party

Last year’s Barack n’ Roll inaugural ball was such a success that East Bay Young Democrats decided to celebrate, again. Come join EBYD and our friends at Organizing For America to enjoy the beats of DJ Sake1 as we celebrate the one year since change happened– and what is still to come. $5-25 sliding scale, suggested donation; no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The party will take place from 7-10pm at Paradiso Lounge, 2272 Telegraph Avenue. Visit the Facebook event page for more info, to RSVP, and for public transit directions.

Wednesday, January 20th – Central Estuary Plan at Planning Commission

After months and months of public planning meetings, the Central Estuary Plan is making its way to the planning commission this week. It first went to the planning commission in December, but the commission asked for more information on economic assumptions and analysis to be brought back. The planning commission meeting will be held at 6pm in Hearing Room One, Oakland City Hall, One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. For more information, read the staff report on this item.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda looks very exciting, including discussions of stops for the new downtown shuttle, Bike to Work Day, and the Alta Bates/Summit Hospital EIR. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Food Policy Council Meeting

The mission of the Oakland Food Policy Council (OFPC) is to establish an equitable and sustainable food system in Oakland, California. At OFPC’s first meeting of the year, they will set their course for the rest of the year. Each work gropu will give reports, there will be a discussion of the strategic planning process, and a guest presentation will be given on youth engagement. The meeting will be held from 5:00 – 7:30 pm at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor, Conference Room 1. Find out more about OFPC at their website and see the agenda here.

Thursday, January 21st – East Oakland Neighborhood BRT Meeting

Oakland is preparing its recommendation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system running through the heart of the East Bay from San Leandro through Oakland to Berkeley. Throughout the month of January the city will be seeking the input of Oakland residents on what they want to see from the Bus Rapid Transit program and how they want this new service to run through their communities. This process will culminate in the submittal of Oakland’s Locally Preferred Alternative to AC Transit to be included in the range of options they consider when they build the BRT system. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Oakland’s plan at December’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, and it’s pretty astounding, especially the significant pedestrian improvements. Tuesday’’s meeting is part of a series of seven meetings throughout Oakland, and I highly recommend attending at least one to see the plan for yourself and to ask questions.This meeting will be held from 6-8 PM at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, 8200 International Blvd. You can read more about the BRT proposal at dto510’s excellent post about this issue and at OaklandBRT.com.

Friday, January 22nd – State Controller John Chiang at Alameda County Budget Workgroup

State Controller John Chiang will be at the Alameda County Budget Workgroup meeting to discuss the state budget. The meeting will be held at 2:00 PM at the Alameda County Conference Center, 125 – 12th Street, 4th Floor. For more information, email caobudgetrsvp@acgov.org.

Sunday, January 24th – “Silence Please” at the Oakland Main Library

Via the library newsletter: “On Sunday, January 24, from 1 to 4 p.m., visitors to the Oakland History Room will be treated to an unusual art installation, called “Silence, Please.” And, no, it does not involve a shushing librarian. The Oakland History Room is on the 2nd floor of the Main Library, at 125 14th St. “Silence, Please” is a site-specific installation created by Chris Kubick for the Oakland Public Library. Drawing from time spent in locations around the city, Kubick has created a catalog of the names of “sounds which border on silence” – empty or unnoticed sounds which are often ignored or mistaken for silence. This catalog, written out on transparencies, attempts to represent peace, tranquility, and emptiness, but is inevitably a record of the disturbances and fantasies that interrupt the notion of silence. Visitors will be able to view and manipulate layers of these transparent silences on an array of light boxes in the Oakland History Room.”

Broadway shuttle offers environmental, economic & community benefits at no cost to the General Fund

14 Dec

Tomorrow’s committee meetings are going to be packed with some exciting, forward thinking transportation projects, including an update on BRT and another discussion of the citywide parking study at the Public Works Committee. But the transit item I’m most excited to will be heard before the Community & Economic Development Committee (CED) – a free shuttle on Broadway from Uptown to Jack London Square.

Sound too good to be true, considering the dire situation our city budget is in?

Well, it’s not, because the shuttle won’t use any money from the General Fund. In fact, most of the funds covering the project come from a grant and private funding sources. As the Oakbook explains:

A $1 million grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District combined with $200,000 from Jack London Square Partners and $160,000 from downtown area redevelopment funds will pay for most of the shuttle’s first two years of operation.

This is not the first time a free shuttle linked Jack London Square to other parts of downtown. Between 1996 and 2001, a free, lunchtime service between Embarcadero and Grand Avenue ferried 1,000 passengers a day before a lack of private funding forced it to shut down…

I didn’t live in Oakland when that shuttle was still running, but I’ve heard that people loved it, even though it was limited to lunchtime hours. The proposed shuttled has funding to run from 7am-7pm, Monday-Friday at 10-15 minute intervals. I know, I know – that’s not ideal and won’t help much with dinner and weekend dining and entertainment, but keep in mind that this is just the start of the project. There is great interest in ultimately expanding the hours to evenings and weekends if the shuttle is successful, and city staff will be reviewing the shuttle after three months, six months, and one year to see what changes should be made.

But even without evening and weekend service, the shuttle will hugely improve the connectivity of downtown Oakland’s various neighborhoods. A problem that I’ve written about before is that downtown Oakland has lots of vibrant neighborhoods, but they’re not entirely contiguous and they’re spread out so it’s difficult to get between them quickly. What this means is that downtown workers (and some residents) either spend most of their time in their particular downtown neighborhood, or they drive around downtown, which is not desirable, in terms of efficiency, environmental pollution, and community connectedness.

I worked on Webster and 14th for four and a half years, and in that time I rarely strayed from the City Center and Chinatown areas to get lunch, simply because I didn’t have enough time to get to the other downtown neighborhoods. Had this shuttle existed, I would have explored Old Oakland, Uptown, and even Jack London Square, and I probably wouldn’t be the only Oaklander who has never eaten at Ratto’s.

You might be wondering why I didn’t just take the bus to get around for lunch. The first reason is the cost. Two dollars is a reasonable fare to pay to get to work but to pay $2.25 round-trip to get to a lunch that costs $10 doesn’t usually make sense. Even when I had a monthly bus pass, I didn’t use the bus all that much to get around downtown because of reliability. The 72 would have gotten me to Jack London Square and I could make this work using NextBus, but when I finished lunch, I could have gotten lucky and caught a bus right away or could have waited for 20 minutes until the next bus arrived.

The free Broadway shuttle will break through both of these barriers and will be more reliable because its route is short and riders can board quickly from the front and rear doors. Beyond this, many people who don’t ride the bus because they’re uncomfortable with it will likely ride the shuttle, which will be advertised to businesses and employees and will be branded differently than AC Transit.

The staff report estimates that the daily ridership of the shuttle will be 2,045, and I think that’s doable between commutes from home or BART, lunch trips, rides to happy hours, and random errands.

Why am I so sure this can be successful? Because it worked in LA, and much like I feel about BRT, if LA drivers can be lured out of their cars to use particular public transit lines, than so can Oaklanders. LA’s downtown shuttle, the DASH, has been wildly successful. It started out in the late 80s with one line and has been expanded to six lines that criss-cross through downtown and run at 5-20 minute intervals. The fare is $.25 and in 2006, the daily ridership of the lines ranged from 351 riders (the most infrequent line) to 7,520 riders (the 5 minute headway line).

Downtown LA of course is denser and geographically larger than Oakland so we’ll never have that kind of ridership, but downtown LA and Oakland have a lot in common otherwise. Both areas were near-abandoned, except for government offices, until redevelopment efforts brought new businesses and residents to the area. Both have new, thriving arts and entertainment scenes. And both are served by multiple types of transit that connect to the DASH and will connect to the Broadway shuttle.

As businesses in downtown Oakland grow and Oakland attempts to attract new businesses to the area, the shuttle will be a huge benefit. If marketed correctly, the shuttle should be able to meet its ridership goals quickly. For a cost of zero to Oakland’s General Fund, the shuttle will help Oakland meet its environmental and economic goals, while also making downtown Oakland feel more connected. The CED Committee should approve this project and the City should move swiftly to implement it.

To see the committee discussion, tune into KTOP at 2pm or follow the meeting on Twitter #oakmtg.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 191 other followers