From the City of Oakland:
The city of Oakland’s popular Broadway Shuttle received a $723,000 Lifeline Transportation Program grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Alameda County Transportation Commission, ensuring that the iconic green vehicles will continue cruising along Broadway through calendar year 2014.
Beginning in 2013, the shuttle will add three hours of evening service Monday through Thursday. That means downtown commuters working late shifts can use transit to get home and folks enjoying downtown’s bustling nightlife and dining scenes will have this free transit option until 10 p.m.
In addition to the new hours, the grant offsets the loss of redevelopment funds for the shuttle’s existing Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. service. The shuttle also will continue operating to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The shuttle is a big reason why we love Oakland and why we’ve been able to grow our company and hire more employees,” said Susan Hollingshead, vice president of Sungevity People, which employs 260 people at Jack London Square. “The expanded hours will make it easy for employees working late to get home or explore the hundreds of restaurants and nightspots around downtown.”
“Promoting Downtown Oakland as a place to work, live and enjoy is central to the growth of Oakland and the extension of the Broadway Shuttle through 2014 shows we’re on the right track,” Mayor Jean Quan said. “This is fantastic news for the people who have come to depend on this route and the future riders who will discover the allure of Downtown Oakland.”
Launched in August 2010 as an economic development tool to attract major employers and provide a boost to local businesses, the shuttle provides “last-mile” connections to office buildings and local businesses from downtown transit systems, including AC Transit, BART, Capitol Corridor Amtrak and the San Francisco Bay Ferry. In less than two years, the “Free B” has served more than one million passengers.
“By linking transit stations to jobs, the ‘Free B’ is not only an excellent business attraction tool, but also good for the environment,” Zach Seal, the city’s Broadway Shuttle Project Manager said. “Our ridership surveys show that 36 percent of transit commuters using the shuttle would be driving their car to work if the shuttle were not available.”
In response to growing Friday and Saturday night ridership – the shuttle serves more than 1,000 passengers each weekend – service frequency was increased from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes in June 2012. Weekday frequencies will continue to be 10 minutes during peak times and 15 minutes during off-peak hours.
To build on the success of the shuttle, the city of Oakland later this year will begin studying the feasibility of converting the shuttle into an electric streetcar and extending the route north up Broadway. The study is funded by a $300,000 grant from Caltrans and will evaluate the potential of a streetcar to catalyze transit-oriented development and attract retail and other businesses along Broadway.
Operated under a contract with AC Transit, the Broadway Shuttle is funded through a robust public/private partnership including grants from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Alameda County Transportation Commission and Bay Area Air Quality Management District; sponsorships from Jack London Square, the Downtown & Lake Merritt-Uptown Community Benefit Districts and Uptown Apartments; and a marketing agreement with the San Francisco Bay Ferry.
Currently, the shuttle runs along Broadway, Downtown Oakland’s central thoroughfare, between Jack London Square and Grand Avenue/27th St. Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit Bshuttle.com.