Transit Network Redesign Has Big Potential and a Few Pitfalls to Avoid

image description: image has PRT’s new logo and NEXTransit logo overlaid on a map of routes and a photo of riders exiting a downtown bus

A redesign of the entire transit system will begin with Downtown, and it kicks off 8/23.

We need to ensure that PRT is committed to expanding service and reversing recent cuts, by making our voices heard at public meetings, on-line surveys, or at any of their 8 pop-up events this month.

When PRT released it’s NEXTransit long-range plan last September, one of its top priorities was to do a redesign of the entire transit system. The agency recently announced that it would get started on that priority by beginning in Downtown, to get ready for the Oakland-Downtown BRT. This will impact 44 different routes at 23 different stops

A network redesign can be an important opportunity to build a robust system that better serves the needs of riders and workers. It also can be harmful, if riders are not involved in the planning– in some other cities, redesigns have resulted in longer walks to stops in inaccessible corridors, reduced service, and even the privatization of fixed route transit through ride-hailing services. The stakes are high. We need you, PPT members, to drive the discussion about how transit can work better, and to ensure that our transit agency is planning both to improve service for the hundreds of thousands of its existing riders, and to enact a bold vision to bring new riders on board.

The process is still in the early stages, but we’re putting one demand right up front: the redesign of our system must expand service and reverse the cuts that have happened since the start of the pandemic. Please join the two meetings this week to learn more about the redesign process and uplift this call with us.

There are a number of ways that you can shape the course of this process.

First, you should fill out the online survey that PRT has published to their NexTransit website to identify what works well about downtown transit and was needs to be improved. You can fill out that survey here:

Next, you should keep your eye out for more public meetings. PRT held two public meetings at the end of August to kick off the redesign process, but more meetings will be coming up in the Spring as they move into the second part of the design process.

And finally – you should make sure to stop by one of PRT’s in-person pop-up events downtown to give feedback. THe full list of their Downtown outreach events is listed below.

PRT’s NEXTransit Downtown Community Outreach Schedule

PRT’s NEXTransit team is taking to the streets to collect feedback from transit riders downtown. Make sure to stop by one of their tabling events to share your input and to inform their process.

  • Tuesday, August 30th
    Liberty Ave / Wyndham, 1pm-2:30pm
    Sixth Ave / Smithfield St, 3pm-5pm
  • Thursday, September 1st
    Stanwix St / Fourth Ave, 8am-10am
    Market Square Farmers Market, 10am-2pm
  • Wednesday, September 7th
    Wood Street T / Liberty Ave/7th St, 11am – 2pm
    7th St / Penn Ave, 2:30pm-5:30pm
  • Tuesday, September 13th
    Target @ Smithfield / Fifth / Forbes, 11am-2pm
    1 Smithfield, St, 3pm-5pm
Image description: screenshot of a custom map created with PRT’s tool. Map shows busiest bus stops layered over busiest transit streets.

Check out PRT’s downtown redesign webpage with lots of good info on downtown transit & planning history.

The website that PRT put together for this downtown network redesign is comprehensive. It gives some good background on different planning efforts and the type of information that will be informing their decisions. If you love maps, then you’ll especially love the site, as they give the ability to layer some interesting data for a deep look into how our downtown transit functions.