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.