AC Transit begins service on East Bay’s first BRT line

Aug. 10, 2020
The service, which is branded Tempo, features 60-foot hybrid buses and multi-door, level boarding at its 46 stations.

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) started service Aug. 9 on Tempo, the first bus rapid transit (BRT) line for the East Bay connecting Uptown Oakland to the San Leandro Transit Center.

Tempo replaces AC Transit’s Bus Line 1 along International Boulevard where it will run 24 hours a day. Riders can expect a Tempo bus every 10 minutes between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.; every 15 minutes between 7:00 p.m. and midnight; and every 60 minutes between midnight and 5:59 a.m.

“The AC Transit board of director’s greenlit Tempo seeking more than a new bus line,” said Board President Joe Wallace. “We sought a new way to deliver innovation, jobs to East Bay workers and a commitment to inclusion and diversity; all the while ensuring our riders, merchants, and city, state and federal partners had an active voice from design to final construction. And AC Transit’s staff made it happen. That’s why we are proud to launch Tempo.”

The $232-million project features a nearly 10-mile network of dedicated and painted bus-only lanes, 46 curbside and center median stations and 27 new 60-foot hybrid buses from New Flyer.

AC Transit says the new buses were made with lighter weight components to promote fuel savings and come equipped with hybrid technology to reduce particulate and nitric oxide emissions. Embedded technology allows the Tempo coach to kneel to variable heights and minimizes the slope difference between the platform and bus floor.

Each vehicle has five doors, a seating capacity for 58 riders and a standing capacity for 38. The front doors will be used in emergencies, the middle doors are equipped with bridge plates to ensure smooth boarding for riders with mobility devices and the back doors can be used by cyclists to access the interior bike racks.

The buses are also equipped with onboard forward-facing cameras to capture images of violations in the bus-only lanes.

“Tempo represents a tangible commitment to our neediest riders along International Boulevard and East 14th Street to replace Bus Line 1,” says General Manager Michael Hursh. “Line 1 was stalled by heavy traffic, which created bus bunching and undermined on-time performance, rendering Line 1 unreliable. The bus-only lanes now bypass traffic bottlenecks, eliminates bunching and by managing traffic signals through transit signal priority technology, Tempo will ultimately achieve its optimal frequencies of a bus every 10-minutes.”

The new Tempo BRT stations have overhead variable message signs, real-time audio push buttons to assist vision impaired riders, platform-mounted ticket vending machines and Clipper card readers, among other safety features.

Tempo will be fare free the first 90 days, but fares will apply starting in November when riders can pay prior to boarding a bus.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.