AC Transit to recieve $15 million in federal funds for Bus Rapid Transit project

AC Transit will receive a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration program, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced Friday.

The funding will go toward the agency’s Bus Rapid Transit project that proposes improving the public transit system in Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro by constructing raised passenger platforms on sidewalks, providing real-time bus arrival updates and improving comfort and safety at the 47 bus stops in the 14-mile stretch from Downtown Berkeley to Downtown San Leandro.

“I am pleased that AC Transit has been selected to receive this important funding,” Lee said in a press release Friday. “With these funds, AC Transit will be able to provide more efficient service to the communities in my District and beyond.”

The Bus Rapid Transit project consists of the Rapid Bus Plus option proposed by a community group and the Reduced Impact Alternative developed by Mayor Tom Bates. The combination of the proposed plans — forwarded to AC Transit by the Berkeley City Council on April 29, 2010 — is said to improve efficiency and motivate more people to use public transit.

AC Transit will also integrate Locally Preferred Alternatives proposed by community members into its Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report and after its release will let each city make the final decision on their BRT project plans.

The Berkeley community has been struggling to pass a conclusive plan for the city. In April 2010, residents were upset over and shot down the plan to build bus-only lanes, claiming it would diminish foot traffic and therefore affect local businesses and create traffic spillover.

The grant was first cited in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget in February 2010. As soon as AC Transit receives clearance to build according to each city’s BTR project plans, they will begin construction, AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said.

Both of the proposed plans for the city of Berkeley can be found here: Mayor Tom Bates’ Reduced Impact Alternative and Rapid Bus Plus.