Bay Bridge Bus-only Lane Gaining Momentum After Support from Transit Agencies & Local Leaders

2 mins read

The idea of a Bay Bridge Bus-only lane is gaining momentum after an unanimous vote by AC Transit. The idea is still in its infancy though and would require cooperation from a multitude of agencies and jurisdictions.

Emeryville’s Powell Street onramp would require significant changes to its geometry to push buses past its typical automotive gridlock onto I-80. The addition of this lane would allow for more frequent, reliable and faster transbay service.

Resolutions supporting a bus-only lane in both directions of the Bay Bridge have been put forth by two Bay Area transit agencies. The AC Transit board unanimously passed a resolution supporting the idea at yesterday’s board meeting.

A similar resolution by Bay Area Rapid Transit Director Rebecca Saltzman will be heard when the BART board meets today as is expected to pass.

“I’ve been working on this for years with AC Transit, and we’ve never been able to get traction,” Saltzman tweeted on Friday. “Caltrans has opposed and MTC hasn’t prioritized this. It’s super exciting to see so much support for this now! It feels like this is the time to make a bus-only lane happen!”

A staff report on the resolution by AC Transit board Vice President Elsa Ortiz concludes that “A bus-only lane on the Bay Bridge could greatly increase the reliability of AC Transit transbay service. It will allow more frequent, reliable and faster service, contributing substantially to the quality of transbay service.”

The idea has been floated repeatedly since AC Transit was formed 60 years ago, but “Concern about the effect of bus-only lanes on auto traffic have made it impossible to go forward to date,” according to the staff report.

The report notes that the political climate around such an idea has recently created “a new wave of support” for a bus-only lane on bridge as motor traffic congestion increases and agencies such as BART operate over capacity.

The decade-old study commissioned by the TJPA and AC Transit embedded below concluded a similar recommendation.

The staff report credits Assemblyman Rob Bonta for resurrecting the idea after it was recently proposed by one of his constituents.

Elected officials supporting the lane include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, the Berkeley City Council, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Emeryville council members Ally Medina and John Bauters, East Bay Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, and State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco.

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The resolution to be considered by the BART board notes that “the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) consistently ranks the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (Bay Bridge) corridor as the most congested corridor in the region.”

It states that congestion is projected to worsen during peak conditions “even with all planned improvements in the corridor,” reaching 152 percent of capacity by 2040.

Peak BART transbay service is already at approximately 110 percent of capacity, according to the resolution, and “capacity improvements for riders will not be realized until at least 2027.”

The AC Transit staff report cautions that “in the absence of a design for the lane, its effects cannot be completely projected and, therefore, staff cannot identify any disadvantages at this time.”

Feature Image: MTC.CA.GOV

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