Skip to main content


AC Transit CEO Addresses Unfounded Claims about Grand Avenue

AC Transit CEO Addresses Unfounded Claims about Grand Avenue

July 19,2023

Michael Hursh clears the air and speaks directly to riders, cyclists, and the communities we serve.

For decades, AC Transit and the City of Oakland have forged a powerful partnership in our shared commitment to creating safe, accessible, and sustainable roadways and transit. We have worked tirelessly to navigate the ever-evolving urban landscape, implementing innovative solutions, and fostering sustainable and connected communities. So, it is undeniably disheartening to witness the spread of unfounded and inaccurate information casting doubt on AC Transit and the City of Oakland's unwavering dedication, particularly to the Grand Avenue Complete Streets Project.

Our world-class transit district has always prioritized safety, transparency, and equity in the planning and operating of the transit system. Given the current circumstances, we must seize this opportunity to rectify the record, starting with a brief historical overview.

In 2016, a countywide plan by the Alameda County Transportation Commission recognized the importance of Grand Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard as Bay Bridge access corridors, which would benefit from bus rapid transit (BRT) - using dedicated bus lanes.

The same year, AC Transit authored our Major Corridors Study, which identifies short and long-term investment strategy recommendations for the 12 highest-ridership corridors. Before adopting the study, the AC Transit Board of Directors made a slight modification and approved a rapid bus line along MacArthur instead of a BRT line. In short, the rapid network embeds transponders onboard that keep traffic lights green for the approaching bus for better on-time performance.

Highlighting the Major Corridors Study is important because in 2017, the following year, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission funded the installation of HOV lane extensions on Grand as an element of Bay Bridge Forward. By 2019, AC Transit was installing traffic signal modernization and bus stop improvements along Grand and West Grand Avenues.

By 2022, The City of Oakland achieved a significant milestone when it was awarded a Caltrans Sustainable Communities Planning Grant. With secured funding, the city made a recommendation for dedicated bus and protected bike lanes known as the Grand Avenue Mobility Plan, spanning from Lake Park Avenue to Mandela Parkway. AC Transit wholeheartedly supported the planning effort and its conceptual results.

Unfortunately, the Grand Avenue Mobility Plan design did not undergo the Oakland City Council's formal process. This oversight was unfortunate as it resulted in a lack of official consideration by the city's governing body and community input.

In 2022 another unfortunate misstep occurred, this time with 500 Lake Park mixed-use affordable housing development. This project aimed to develop a bike, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure on Grand Avenue funded through State Cap-and-Trade dollars. The 500 Project was a collaboration of the developer, AC Transit, and technical advisor Enterprise Communities.

Regrettably, the project encountered difficulties when the City of Oakland altered the project scope to accommodate the Grand Avenue paving schedule. As a result, the developer faced insurmountable obstacles in securing the necessary funding, leading to the cancellation of the housing project.

As of 2023, the Oakland Grand Avenue Paving Plan remains in progress, and challenges in implementing bus lanes due to cost and time constraints persist. While the plan was not officially approved by Council, OakDOT assured AC Transit that the paving project aimed to align with the goals of the Grand Avenue Mobility Plan and while paving and bike lane installation would proceed forward, both AC Transit and OakDot staff remain committed to developing community supported transit improvements for policy maker consideration.

What's more, our transit district has always maintained a supportive relationship with bicyclists. The City of Oakland made the unilateral decision to remove the two-way cycle track from the Plan's design. It is important to note that AC Transit did not request its removal and expressed a preference for its inclusion in the design.

AC Transit acknowledges that the two-way cycle track is more favorable for bicyclists and requires less consumption of the right-of-way, making it a desirable option. Despite this, the city made the ultimate choice to remove it from the project's plans.

AC Transit reiterates its commitment to transparency as the primary objective behind this statement. It is important to emphasize that our intent is not to foster an adversarial situation but rather to express our genuine desire to rebuild and strengthen the collaborative working relationship with the City of Oakland. Open and honest communication is key to fostering understanding, resolving issues, and moving forward in a productive and cooperative manner.


Michael Hursh
General Manager