OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Transit officials have been long been looking for a way to keep buses on schedule despite the notorious Bay Area traffic. On Sunday, AC Transit debuted a new express line through Oakland -- a project decades in the making.
The Tempo system will serve 46 new platform stations, offering service from uptown Oakland to the San Leandro Transit Center, according to AC Transit officials. The system cost $232 million and driver Dave Brown couldn't have been more excited to pull his shiny new bus up to the Fruitvale Station.
"I feel like I'm docking the Space Shuttle!" Brown exclaimed. "I feel like I'm a pilot!"
The new bus system will be replacing Bus Line 1 and will operate 27 new, 60-foot coaches powered by technology designed to reduce emissions, officials said. The coaches will offer seating capacity for 58 riders and standing capacity for 38 riders.
There has been talk for decades about running bus-only lanes down International Boulevard, where traffic snarls are all-too-common. Now, with dedicated lanes, buses arrive every 10 minutes and, while some merchants have complained about the loss of traffic flow.
"I wanted to try it out and see how long it takes," said one transit rider named Abel Guillen. "It took me 11 minutes to get from downtown to Fruitvale. That's super-quick so I'm excited about that and I think I'm going to be coming down here more often."
There are those who aren't excited, though. International Boulevard used to be four lanes and now car traffic is jammed into one lane each way. Drivers' frustration is obvious and a lot of them gave in to the temptation to use the bus-only lane to get past other cars.
Tempo is running fare-free for the first 90 days but, if you're tempted to drive in the bus-only lane, be warned. The buses are equipped with cameras and citations will be issued to cars holding up their progress.
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