Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rapid Transit to Oakland: Pipe Dream since 1985

Joe Grata (always a great read) of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes about County Executive Dan Onorato's plan to link Oakland to Downtown via rapid transit. The Transit Action Team (which consists of local business leaders, government officals, and 3 of the Planeteers) drafted a plan that connects Oakland, Downtown, and the Airport. (pdf of plan)

The plan is very short on details, and of course the naysayers at the Trib are wondering why we don't forget the whole "mass transit" thing and sell the T to Kennywood.

Now why hasn't someone thought of rapid transit in Oakland before? Oh right, they had it all written up and submitted to the government until the Republicans got in to County Council during the 1990s and shoved us the charred remains of the plan (The Dreaded North Shore Connector.) Here's a great City Paper article about the history of the "Spine Line," the connection between Downtown and Oakland. You can also read the submitted proposal from 1993 (pdf) thanks to Chris Briem. The FAQ from the Port Authority has some interesting info also, of course they don't blame the Republicans like the CP article does.

The real question is why does every plan for transit have to include some wacky new technology that is expensive and probably expensive to service? Light rail works. It's in a lot of places. It's a friggen streetcar for crying out loud, and those have existed since the 1800s. But no, we always have to look into magnetic levitation single car driverless electric floating elevated monorail and everyone wonders why the bill comes back for $10 billion dollars.

So we'll keep hoping for better transit. Now if you don't mind, I have a 61C to catch, and the first 4 that pass me by are going to be filled, so I better get a move on.

Also of note:
a great series in the P-G from 1999 about the future of Oakland, including ideas from leaders about transit. Some of the ideas discuss turning a parking lot near Hillman Library into a park and having "a grand entrance into Oakland." Sounds a lot like Schenley Plaza.

CORRECTED 11/29: The link now goes to the correct Grata article about Onorato's plan. The previous link referred to the Spine Line being resurrected in the recent mayoral debates. You can read that article here.
Also, I would like to note that the city leadership resurrected the North Shore Connector, not the Republican County Council. Peak Direction regrets the error.

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