Tag Archives: CED

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.

April 27-29 Oakland Political & Community Events

26 Apr

This week’s listing is a bit sparser than usual, since I was busy all weekend at the California Democratic Party convention. If you’re curious about how the convention went, I highly recommend checking out the fairly thorough coverage at Calitics. (For my perspective, check out my post at Calitics.) Tomorrow I’ll finally post a write up of last week’s BART Board meeting, and later this week I’ll share some thoughts on Gavin Newsom’s meeting with bloggers at the convention (I got him to answer Joel Young’s question on transit funding). But for now, here are the events, all of which I’ll be attending. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

Monday, April 27th – Budget Town Hall

This will be the third and final of the budget town halls the City is hosting throughout Oakland to get feedback from residents on the budget and budget cuts. V Smoothe wrote some background info on the budget, and I couldn’t agree more with her take on these town halls: “Go to the town halls and go to the budget meetings and tell them what your priorities are. If you don’t, I guarantee, somebody else will, and you can take a wild guess who’s more likely to get what they want.” This town hall will be held from 6:30-8pm at Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue (off of Grand).

Tuesday, April 28th – CED Committee Hearing on the Uptown Surface Parking Lot

I know a lot of you have gotten fired up about the proposed surface parking lot in Uptown, and thanks to those who have written letters. If you can, come to the Community and Economic Development committee meeting on Tuesday, to speak about this item. The item is the first on their agenda so it should come up relatively quickly. If you’ve never spoken at a Council meeting, I recommend reading V Smoothe’s guide. Committee meetings are a bit different than the full Council though in that you do not have to turn in your speaker card before the meeting starts – you just need to turn it in before your item comes up. The meeting will be held at 2pm in Hearing Room 1 of City Hall.

Wednesday, April 29th – College Safeway Community Meeting

As V Smoothe mentioned earlier this month, Safeway is planning another community meeting this week. After some community members shot down earlier proposals, Safeway hired a new architect and will be unveiling the new drawings and renderings this Wednesday. This is likely the last community meeting that will be held before they head to the Planning Commission, so if you’d like to weigh in, this is your chance. The meeting will be held from 7-9pm at the Claremont Hotel, which is inconveniently located on Ashby just east of College. You can take the 7 or the 9 AC Transit lines there, if for some strange reason you live near one of those lines. Otherwise, Safeway encourages you to park, though they will provide free parking if you must drive.

If you’d like more background before the meeting, check out my previous posts on Safeway:

Loose ends, the CDP convention, and a couple requests

24 Apr

I had hoped to post someting about yesterday’s BART Board meeting this morning, but I’ve been a bit frantic getting ready to go to Sacramento for the California Democratic Party convention and the California Young Democrats convention. Don’t worry though, I’ll write the post on the train ride up and will hopefully publish it this afternoon or evening.

In the meantime, I have a couple requests of you, which should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

1. Take the Living in the O reader survey. More than 80 of you have already done this – thanks! For those who haven’t yet, please do so right away, as I’ll be analyzing and posting some of the data next week. I would really appreciate it and it only takes two minutes.

2. Write to the CED committee, and ask them not to approve the surface parking lot in Uptown. (Details and more info can be found here.) I know we’ve already generating several emails, but every message counts. And if you write an email, or have written one already, it would be great if you could send me a copy at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com.

And if you’re interested in following the convention happenings, I recommend reading Calitics this weekend. Not sure if I’ll have time to post there, but other Caliticians will. Enjoy the weekend!