On Sunday, AC Transit launched the new Tempo line along the International Avenue corridor. Tempo is the Bay Area’s second bus rapid transit line or BRT. It features bus-only lanes and new technology to bypass most traffic signals. That’s why it’s ‘rapid’.
AC Transit first suggested the BRT for Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro way back in 2001. Plans for it were challenged in every city, resulting in a new service with a smaller footprint. Now, almost twenty years later, it’s finally launching, in the middle of a pandemic when public transit is struggling to cope with drops in ridership.
Tempo runs all the way from Oakland’s Uptown to the San Leandro BART. More than 40 new curbside and center median stations dot the route.
Riders will notice a difference right away. The brand new buses are black, blue and purple. The front door is for emergencies only and riders with mobility issues will now board through the middle doors. Passengers with bikes will be able to store them on racks inside each bus.
Car drivers should watch out for these new bus-only lanes. If you drive in one right now, you’ll get a warning. But after the month-long grace period ends, you could get a ticket.
Tempo is free to ride until November 8 and will cost the same as a regular AC Transit bus after. Of course, all of AC Transit’s buses are free right now because of the pandemic.