downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — transit

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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Lessons from Librarians

May 27, 2011

Some of downtown’s oldest institutions and newest ventures made the news this week.

The Swig Company’s approval to build the tallest building in Oakland less than a block from Lake Merritt, replacing a fifty-year-old, publicly-accessible garden, was approved and the deadline for appeal has passed. When the job market improves, Oakland will see serious investment in the Lakeside area.

Hundreds of Oaklanders rallied to save the Oakland Library, which runs two downtown branches as well as the Main Library. Although Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who represents most of downtown, didn’t seem to care about decimating the library system, the majority of Councilmembers appeared to get the message and library supporters are hopeful the service will be spared the budget axe – especially since Oaklanders already pay a dedicated parcel tax for library services.

Speaking of the library, the Main branch is offering a Japanese calligraphy class tomorrow.

Today is the deadline to submit a vegan cupcake recipe to the Rock Paper Scissors annual bake-off.

DTO-headquarted Pandora announced strong revenue growth before its IPO.

Rock Block Oakland reviews Hawker Fare on Tumblr.

The Chronicle reviews sweet and pretty West DTO spot Hibiscus.

After meeting fierce resistance from business interests and cities including Oakland and Alameda, the appointed Bay Area Conversation and Development Commission is revising proposed rules that would reduce elected officials’ ability to plan for waterfront development in places like Jack London Square. Meanwhile, tea partiers crashed a downtown regional planning meeting.

The California Assembly passed a bill to give Oakland (and San Jose) a greater voice in regional transportation planning and funding decisions.

With the aforementioned regional transportation body scheduling severely reduced service on both the Bay Bridge and BART this weekend, it’s a great time to explore Oakland! See you at the library.

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