Posted by Roobs on September 10, 2010
Just the other day at the website: Next American City, Yonah Freemark, an Urban Leaders Fellow, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote a column talking about one of my favorite subjects: The East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project. As readers will have figured out, I am very much in favor of this project and have written two posts about the issue: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT and Why Councilman Arreguin is Wrong on BRT
I take issue with Freemark’s columns, specifically his most recent entitled “Opposition to a Bus Rapid Transit System is More than Just NIMBYism“. The biggest and most frustrating part is that many of the arguments against BRT in the East Bay are either false or based off false assumptions that do nothing to further legitimate debate.
In his three part column (currently at two), Freemark quotes former Berkeley Willard Neighborhood Association president, Vince Casalaina and both seem to suggest their biggest concern is with greenhouse gases.
“If you’re going to put a quarter of a billion dollars into it,” he said, “It better do something about greenhouse gases.” Casalaina points out that the diesel bus line could actually reduce ridership on the mostly parallel BART rail line, which is electrically powered and therefore arguably cleaner.”
The part about this criticism I never truly understood is that, in the same breadth that many critics of BRT use to say that they care about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they also say the one thing they are most afraid of losing is “driving lanes”, the ability to drive your car and park when going to the stores they are trying to protect.
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Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Bus Rapid Transit, East Bay, Jesse Arreguin, Next American City, NIMBY, Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro, Telegraph, Yonah Freemark | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on July 19, 2010
Over the weekend I joined many Democrats in San Jose for both the CDP’s and CYD’s Executive Committee Meetings. While there, I met up with a representative of AC Transit at the hotel bar (because that is really where the business of the Democratic Party goes down).
After overhearing a conversation I was having about the recent BRT debacle in Berkeley, The AC Transit rep came over and we talked a bit more on the subject. Once we moved past our shared frustration with the politics of Berkeley, I asked him what the future of transit was looking like for Berkeley and North Oakland. His up-front honesty was refreshing but also troubling given his comment. He told me that AC Transit’s BRT route will terminate somewhere in Oakland. Period. Whether that be in Downtown Oakland or at MacArthur BART station is still up for grabs but nevertheless, Temescal and Berkeley will be left out of BRT and all of its glorious economic and street-scape benefits.
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Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Bus Rapid Transit, Jesse Arreguin, Oakland, Temescal | 1 Comment »
Posted by Roobs on June 18, 2010
This is a follow up to my previous post “Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT“
Councilman Arreguin collecting signatures against Berkeley's Downtown Development Plan. Yea, we fought on that one too.
Somewhere along the line, you would think that the constant barrage of facts and studies would prove some point. Whether you are for or against something, the general train of thought is that the “correct” argument is the argument that has the most support (data, literature, etc) behind it. Bus Rapid Transit is a positive thing for the neighborhoods and cities it serves. There are numerous examples of BRT all around the country and the world. BRT is nothing new and has been around for decades. So you would think when Berkeley was asked to consider studying the construction of a fully tricked out BRT system they would take to heart all these examples and past literature and data to make an informed decision. But Berkeley has its own rules and so does Berkeley City Counciman Jesse Arreguin.
Not since John Kerry’s infamous flip-flop during the 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush have we seen an example of moving back and forth on the same issue as we see with Councilman Arreguin on BRT in Berkeley. Except in this case, Councilman Arreguin first didnt vote for anything, then indicated he would vote for it before finally voting against it.
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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Bus Rapid Transit, East Bay, Jesse Arreguin, NIMBY, Oakland, Public Transit, San Leandro, Urban Planning | 9 Comments »
Posted by Roobs on May 22, 2010
San Francisco is now trying do what AC Transit has been trying for years… build a Bus Rapid Transit system along one of their busiest traffic corridors: Van Ness Avenue.
Zennie Abrams’ San Francisco Blog takes a brief look at both BRT on Van Ness and in Berkeley. His point is one that was by many others, including myself. BRT has yet to provide opponents with any tangible evidence that BRT will hurt businesses.
Again, I see no example where businesses would be harmed in any way. Indeed, considering Bus traffic congestion along Telegraph Avenue and Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, BRT’s the perfect solution to improve public transit performance.
Here is a video animation of what the Van Ness BRT will look like:
As far as Berkeley is concerned, Zennie is correct in saying that more education is needed and the Berkeley City Council vote of 4-2-2 is hardly conclusive and there is still a chance to educate the City Council on BRT. In the blog, Living in the O, Joel Ramos calls on supporters in North Oakland to push for better transit so that Berkeley’s decision will not harm those in North Oakland, who would be left out if AC Transit choses to build BRT and leave out Berkeley.
BRT supporters who live in North Oakland should see this as a “call to arms” for BRT in the Temescal, which may now be left out of the scope of the project if AC Transit decides not to build anything in Berkeley, and instead opt to turn BRT around at either Macarthur BART or at the Uptown Transit center.
To help in that fight, join a group of North Oakland BRT supporters by contacting Joel Ramos of TransForm at joel@TransFormCa.org or contact Councilmember Brunner yourself (email@example.com) and let her know of your continued support for BRT with bike lanes and dedicated lanes in the Temescal.
Those living in Berkeley should contact our own City Councilmembers and urge them to support BRT and improve conditions on Telegraph. If you need some talking points, read my previous post on BRT in Berkeley. BRT runs directly through Kriss Worthington’s district and you can contact him firstname.lastname@example.org. Another Councilmember to contact is Jesse Arreguin, who abstained in the Council’s vote. You can reach Jesse at email@example.com.
Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Muni, Public Transit, San Francisco, Urban Planning | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on May 10, 2010
Two Thursdays ago, the Berkeley City Council voted on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) plan for AC Transit’s East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The Council essentially had three options: 1) “Full Build”, as recommended by the city staff, which would mean dedicated lanes running up Telegraph Avenue and “island” bus stops, where passengers could board the bus in the middle of the road, much like you see in San Francisco on Market Street. 2) A “Reduced Impact Alternative” as prepared by Mayor Bates and other councilmembers, which was a watered down version of the Full Build option, but still included dedicated lanes and islands. 3) A so-called “Rapid Bus Plus” (RBP) option which, in essence, is a no-build option because it removed all dedicated lanes and made no lane reconfigurations on roads.
After impassioned, and sometimes theatrical testimony by the public, the Berkeley City Council succumbed to NIMBY pressure and rejected any elements of full-build and endorsed only option three, the so-called, “Rapid Bus Plus” plan.
Before I go into the issues of BRT, let me quickly address the importance of the LPA and why you should be upset that Berkeley has practically killed the BRT project for everyone else. In very simplified terms, the way a project like this goes is that AC Transit puts together an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how they want the project to run. In this case, they give their preferred route for a BRT system from San Leandro to Oakland to Berkeley. This is then sent to each city for review. Each city then decides what they believe is the best alternative for their city, the LPA.
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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington, Oakland, Public Transit, Urban Planning | 5 Comments »