Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"B" Shuttle May Grow Up to Be a Big Street Car

By Rachel Swan
Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Two thousand commuters take the free Broadway "B" shuttle each day, according to Oakland Local. That means it's a necessary transport service. Or it means that in Oakland, we really can't resist a free ride. Probably both. Whatever the case, the interim "B" might be a prokaryote version of the proposed Oakland Streetcar Project, which would run all the way from Jack London Square to Piedmont Avenue, near Kaiser Hospital. It's the brainchild of a Stanford University Student, but it might eventually come to fruition, particularly if CalTrans approves a $300,000 study to see if the thing has legs. According to a June 11 column by Chron reporter Chip Johnson, the 2.5 mile line would generate 24,000 new jobs, and help revitalize the local economy. The issue is up for discussion at tonight's Oakland City Council meeting, and so far, it's drawn a lot of support — particularly from councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who helped set the B in motion last year.

Update, March 16: According to Zach Seal of the City of Oakland Economic Development Division, the idea for Oakland's Streetcar project should not be attributed to a Stanford student, but to the city's 2004 Jack London Feasibility Study, which was revived in 2010 staff report six months before the student released his plan. Also, it should be noted that last night the city council unanimously approved a resolution to apply for a $300,000 Caltrans grant to study several transit alternatives, including bus and streetcar options.

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