Director Syed Report on Broadway Bus Service Cancellation

AC Transit has officially shut down major bus stops and stations serving Lines Tempo, 6, 12, 18, 33, 51A, 72, and 72M on Broadway in Oakland every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 9 p.m. Buses are detouring off Broadway with no stops for riders on parallel corridors. At first, AC Transit management’s justification for detouring all buses off Broadway in March 2024 was asserted to be for safety issues. This is not the case.

What’s happening on Broadway

I was on Broadway this past weekend Saturday and Sunday nights before and during the bus detours and stop closures. This is what I saw and heard:

On both nights, people were out and about in the heart of the city, going to and from shows, clubs, bars, restaurants, and BART. I was out from 9:15 p.m. Saturday until after 12:30 a.m. and on Sunday from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. I walked back and forth on Broadway in the area buses were detouring around. Sidewalk activity was overwhelmingly positive. People were posing for group photos, heading into clubs, grabbing dessert and food from street vendors, waiting for their rides. People driving cars traveled through the area. I observed no issues that would justify bus service being detoured off Broadway. Here’s what I saw people who ride the bus experiencing:

Sunday March 3, 2024

Saturday March 2, 2024

I spoke with an OPD officer, AC Transit Bus Operators, and Field Supervisors on Saturday and Sunday nights to learn more. The common issue they identified is idling vehicles and parking in the bus lanes outside the nightclubs. Field supervisors elaborated that K- Rail barriers blocking the bus lane on half of the block 24-7 is also an issue. These conditions are pictured below. The K-Rail barriers slow buses all day long and encourage idling and illegal parking in the area. I believe these existing conditions should be addressed with the City of Oakland and that they do not justify detouring all nighttime bus service off Broadway.

Here’s where I stand

Management canceling bus service without any public process is unacceptable. More buses run on Broadway than on any other street in Oakland. Absent a very temporary emergency situation, there needs to be a public process. This is a policy decision that elected officials should be engaged in after a public discussion. The public should have a chance to say, yes this is great, or no we don’t want this. Who needs to get home after work, who is living in downtown Oakland, who is going to performances and participating in the vibrant nightlife of the largest city in AC Transit’s service area? When government officials decide what service will be and impose it on communities, they create needless antagonism and distrust. AC Transit can improve bus service equity by listening to riders, workers, and the communities we serve and by making informed decisions supported by facts.

I’m glad management has seen the error of a seven night a week closure. The new plan still withdraws critical night service from Broadway on the busiest nights of the week. Moving bus stops to the darker, less populated Franklin or Webster Street corridors is not a solution. Many people cannot or will not walk that far. Bus service on Broadway connects to BART and to all parts of the AC Transit system, making it a critical regional corridor.

Broadway Safety Background

My experiences on Broadway and as a member of the City of Oakland AC Transit coordination committee have helped me better understand the day-to-day issues that require Oakland Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office collaboration and assistance Downtown to support safe, reliable transit service. But these issues are not unique to Downtown Oakland and are not threats to AC Transit riders and to transit workers. Without AC Transit buses running on Broadway, riders feel stranded and less safe.

In the past week, AC Transit management and leadership have perpetuated harmful narratives about Downtown Oakland crime to justify the March 2024 detours. The AC Transit General Manager’s official statement on February 26, 2024 to Oakland City Council member Carroll Fife stated that “the purpose of limiting the stops on Broadway was to move our service away from the rampant shootings, homicides, and sideshows during those active hours.”1 These assertions have not been backed up by data. I think this is problematic and not helpful to the City of Oakland and to people who ride the bus.

In the past, I’ve received regular updates on night safety challenges and had the opportunity to collaborate on potential solutions at quarterly meetings of the Oakland AC Transit Interagency Liaison Committee (ILC). Early last year the Oakland Police Department directed night shutdowns of Telegraph and Broadway in the Club District based on some crime statistics to alleviate some pressure.

In March 2023 AC Transit staff reported at the ILC meeting that the shutdowns were not sustainable. Staff identified parking enforcement and blocked bus zones as the big issue for AC Transit. I urged City and AC Transit staff to examine letting the buses through in the bus lanes during the nighttime shutdowns. When motor vehicles are not allowed in an area, people need reliable transit even more. It is typically a better environment for buses and people on car-free streets. Unfortunately, the City of Oakland did not let the buses through during the 2023 temporary nighttime road shutdowns on Broadway.

In June 2023 OPD reported that the road closures were negatively impacting businesses and bus routes. Based on this feedback OPD reopened the area to traffic gradually with a pilot. At the June ILC meeting OPD Captain Burch stated that “AC Transit can return service to this section of Broadway. There will still be challenges due to double parking and traffic congestion. This is a work in progress. …I’ve started to leverage ambassadors for the Business Improvement District and private security to triage these issues. We want this area to thrive and create a sense of safety. …We’ve created more partnerships and foot patrols to address the crime issues, which has changed the environment.”

OPD ended street closures in October of last year. I had no idea until late February 2024 that AC Transit has been detouring service off Broadway on weekends long after OPD stopped shutting down streets. If there was a significant safety issue jeopardizing bus service on Broadway, AC Transit Board members, the City Council, and the Mayor of Oakland should have been informed. Since OPD ended street closures, motorists have returned to Broadway while bus riders continue to be left behind by confusing, poorly communicated night detours on Friday, Saturday, and now on Sunday too.

Bus detours have also been a surprise to local elected officials. Council member Carroll Fife has been working closely with the downtown Oakland business community as well as the Oakland Police Department on efforts to improve safety along the Broadway corridor. Her office recently confirmed with the City Administration, OPD Chief Allison, A/AC Beere, who also confirmed with Area Captain Thomason, that there have been no further street closures along Broadway since October, nor have there been any recent communications from OPD to AC Transit.

Call to Action

I am calling for:

  1. Broadway night time bus detours and stop closures to be ended immediately
  2. a public AC Transit Board Meeting with presentation of the data and communications that formed the basis for management’s decision for Broadway night detours of Lines Tempo, 6, 12, 18, 33, 51A, 72, and 72M. The Oakland Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office should be invited to attend and report night time crime statistics and ticketing for the detour area including analysis of changes in the past year and documentation of where dispatch and calls for service of deputy sheriffs are occurring in Alameda County including frequency of incidents by location and bus lines.
  3. a public statement from AC Transit apologizing for the lack of a public process on this issue and committing to an equitable process that plans service changes with communities, not for them.
  4. Collaboration between the City of Oakland and AC Transit on the true transit operational needs of this Downtown segment such as removal of the K-Rail barriers from the bus lane and parking enforcement to support reliable transit service.

In Closing

These closures and detours impact people who are just trying to get where they need to go, who expect AC Transit lines and bus stops to serve riders in the heart of downtown Oakland. Please join my call for AC Transit to restore all transit service on Broadway immediately. You can contact me at to stay in touch about improving transit service on Broadway and beyond. You can also submit formal feedback to AC Transit on Broadway Bus Service Cancellations at: