downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — June 2011

New options for a transit hub

June 24, 2011

Downtown Oakland is the center of the East Bay because of transportation connections. In the early days of the DTO, 14th and San Pablo brought together suburban steam trains with West Oakland’s SF-bound ferries and the ships of Jack London Square. Today, BART, AC Transit, Amtrak and the Bay Area’s freeway system form a hub around the DTO that makes it a prime location for employers, residents, and fun-seekers. But downtown is never content to rest on its laurels, and exciting new transportation options are on the horizon!

The much-loved Broadway Shuttle started with a grant from the Air District intending to connect the Ferry to BART. But it soon became a popular way for pedestrians to traverse downtown’s sprawling districts – replacing a twenty-minute or longer hike from the Jack London District to Uptown with a quick, free ride. Originally intended to help commuters, the Broadway Shuttle is popular with residents and those out enjoying a good time, and so the hours are being extended to better serve downtown’s growing nightlife population. As announced previously, the Broadway Shuttle will run until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights, and extend all the way to 27th St to best serve all of Uptown and the Art Murmur. The lengthened route and later hours take effect in early July. Watch for a new map and information on the shuttle’s homepage at MeetDowntownOak.com/shuttle.php

To better help cyclists get across the Estuary without using the cramped Posey Tube, the City of Alameda is launching a shuttle from the DTO to West Alameda on August 15th. The shuttle will hold 12 bicycles, 24 passengers, and will run from the Lake Merritt BART station to the College of Alameda, skipping the Tube and the frontage roads that are difficult to navigate. You can find more information on Alameda’s website.

Two longer-term downtown-serving transit investments are being planned. One is AC Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit project, which is in final planning stages and expected to be approved at the end of this year. The BRT line would connect downtown to Temescal to the North and East Oakland and San Leandro to the East with a fast, traffic-free dedicated bus lane. You can find more information at ACTforme.org. The other project is a Downtown Transit Investment Study that the City Council approved earlier this year – it will look at a permanent replacement for the Broadway Shuttle and opportunities to connect Broadway Auto Row and the Oak-to-Ninth area with downtown proper. There is no date for completion of this study.

Two more transportation ideas that would serve downtown are a bit less far along but worthy of mention. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan hope to install a bike station near one of the downtown BART stations to provide additional, secure bicycle parking as well as services like bike route information and perhaps bike sharing. Meanwhile, the BART Board of Directors has postponed a vote on experimenting with late-night train service on Friday and Saturday nights, an idea sparked by anyone who has been out after midnight and frustrated by a narrowing of transit options. While BART figures out how to provide service at night, there’s always AC Transit’s all-night lines to get yourself home at odd hours – and soon, the late-night Shuttle!

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Town Business

June 17, 2011

This week’s big business news was the Intial Public (stock) Offering of Pandora, an internet music service headquartered in Uptown. Now valued at over a billion dollars, Pandora has the potential to become a very large employer and help drive the continuing revitalization of downtown. Civic boosters and Mayor Quan believe that Pandora will help attract more Internet-based companies to Oakland, a possibility explored in today’s Trib (“Shining Star”) and San Francisco Business Times (“Pandora Effect”).

Pandora may be a “shining star” right now, but it’s certainly not the only business downtown. This month the East Bay Express gives you the opportunity to vote for your favorite downtown business for their annual Best Of issue. Vote online and help highlight the DTO’s thriving economy! Some examples of DTO-based businesses and appropriate categories are below.

Fill out the survey at EastBayExpress.com. You need to vote in at least 25 categories for it to count. You can save and come back later by registering a username. The deadline for submission is June 30.

  • Best Annual Event – Art & Soul Festival
  • Best Band – Damon & The Heathens
  • Best Music Venue – The New Parish
  • Best Bike Shop – Bay Area Bikes
  • Best Farmers’ Market – Old Oakland
  • Best Flea Market – Laney College
  • Best Games – Endgame
  • Best Sex Shop – Feelmore510
  • Best Tattoo Shop – Diving Swallow
  • Best T-Shirts – Oaklandish (who are opening a DTO store soon)
  • Best Women’s Clothing – A Diva’s Closet
  • Best Appropriated Public Space – the empty lot at 19th and Telegraph that will soon become a sculpture garden instead of parking, thanks to local activists.
  • Best Completely Reimagined Neighborhood – Uptown
  • Best grassroots political movement: Walk Oakland Bike Oakland
  • Best Mixed-Use Building – Fox Theater
  • Best Neighborhood – THE DTO!
  • Best Place to do Two Things At Once – Disco Volante (eat a gourmet meal and listen to a concert)
  • Best bar – Bar 355 (355 19th St)
  • Best Breakfast – Plum
  • Best Mobile Food Cart – El Taco Bike
  • Best Mexican Restaurant – Tamarindo
  • Best New Bar – Bar 355
  • Best New Restaurant – Disco Volante
  • Best Take Out Food – La Borinquena
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant – Encuentro
  • Best Bike Tour – East Bay Bike Party

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