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AC Transit to Cannibalize BRT Program to Keep the Lights On

In an AC Transit News Brief received today, the agency announced consideration of a plan to shift roughly $80 million of BRT funding to prevent laying-off more than 100 bus drivers and mechanics and avoid half of the planned service cuts. The action would reduce funding for the BRT project from $235 million to roughly $140 million.

The project in question is of course the Oakland to Berkeley E.14th Street/International Boulevard/Telegraph Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which has proven very controversial and began with an estimated budget of over $400 million – the newly proposed budget of $140 million represents a 65% decline from that original figure. What does this have to do with Alameda? First, the proposed service cuts affect Line 51, which serves Alameda, and may be discontinued.

Secondly, SunCal keeps talking vaguely about Bus Rapid Transit as a way to ease traffic congestion in Alameda’s west end resulting from the roughly 5,000 homes they propose for Alameda Point. When we spoke with AC Transit in March of this year, just before SunCal filed their Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, they told us that talks with SunCal were only “conceptual” and that BRT would likely increase automobile congestion in Alameda by taking lanes away from cars.

All-in-all, it doesn’t sound like BRT is a good bet for Alameda Point, as it appears to be the first pot of money that AC Transit looks to when budgets are tight.

An excerpt of the item from AC Transit’s news brief follows below.

3.  Proposal to Shift BRT Program Funding to Operations

At a special meeting on Friday the 25th the AC Transit Board will consider a recommendation from management that approximately $80 million in funding for the BRT Project be reprogrammed for operations thereby eliminating at least half of the currently planned service cuts.  If this recommendation is adopted, it would result in  scaling back the funding plan for the BRT Project from $235 million to approximately $140 million.  Staff has determined that this move would keep the District solvent for the foreseeable future and will prevent laying off more than 100 bus drivers and mechanics.

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