AC Transit awards $108 million for bus rapid transit

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District board of directors has awarded a $108 million contract to construction and engineering firm O.C. Jones & Sons for the construction of the East Bay’s first Bus Rapid Transit line.

Construction of the 150-block, 9.5-mile route between the intersection of 20th street and Broadway in Oakland and the San Leandro BART station is scheduled to begin in May.

Five BART stations and 46 bus lines will connect to the BRT, AC Transit officials said The BRT will also connect to the Oakland International Airport through transfers onto line 73.

BRT buses will stop every five minutes during peak hours and every 10 minutes during off-peak hours. Stops will be made about every one-third of a mile, according to AC Transit officials.

Bike racks will be on the interior of the bus and new wheelchair tie-downs will reduce the time buses stop to secure people with disabilities.

BRT buses will have priority at stoplights, AC Transit officials said.

Completion of the project is expected in November 2017.

The board made the award March 23 and announced the decision Monday, according to transit district officials.

O.C. Jones & Sons will build the system’s station platforms and infrastructure in the third phase of the project.

The first phase is complete and involved prep work, including relocating sewer lines and water lines adjacent to the planned stops, AC Transit officials said.

The second phase is 50 percent complete and has involved the construction of two off-street parking lots along International Boulevard near 35th and near Auseon avenues to mitigate the loss of street parking.

It’s also involved a street improvement project near Derby Avenue, East 10th Street and San Leandro Street to make room for increased traffic in the area, according to AC Transit officials.

AC Transit Board President H.E. Christian Peeples said in a statement that travel times have shrunk by 15 to 50 percent and transit reliability has improved by up to 50 percent in cities that have adopted BRT.

BRT has been successful in 35 other U.S. cities.

AC Transit’s General Manager Michael Hursh said in a statement that BRT has prompted urban redevelopment. Also, businesses usually attract more customers and see more sales.

One city saw 59 new developments within 1,500 feet of its BRT stations.

Each bus will be a new 60-foot diesel-electric hybrid with five doors. Boarding will be allowed from all doors, AC Transit officials said.

BRT systems are significantly less expensive than light-rail systems, which typically cost on average $70 million per mile. BRT costs about $25 million per mile.

The total cost of the BRT is $178 million, according to AC Transit officials.

Money is coming from nine different sources including the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Alameda County Measures B and BB, the State of California and AC Transit capital funds, AC Transit spokesman Robert Lyles said.