Monday, July 14, 2008

BRT Backlash

The progressive liberal city of Berkeley has decided they don't want BRT in "their" backyard. While legitimate concerns have been raised in regards to the DEIS, this article once again shows how the commercial sector always cries wolf:
Merchants and residents along the famed avenue say dedicated bus lanes would force traffic onto side streets and make parking even more scarce. They say the $400 million AC Transit plans to spend on bus rapid transit would be better spent on cleaner buses, express buses that don't use dedicated lanes, or a bus rapid transit route that is not so close to BART.

"If customers can't park, it's yet another incentive for them to buy online or at a big-box store," said Bruce Kaplan, former owner of Looking Glass Photo on Telegraph. "We're not against bus ridership, but we think they should look at alternatives. This whole thing is a bad piece of land use."

Having lived in Berkeley, BRT would be a welcome addition to local AC bus services and BART. Also, this BRT sets out to drop passengers off at the major transit hub in downtown Berkeley. Unfortunately, residents and shop owners are so against the project they plan to make it a ballot initiative for the voters this November:
Opponents of AC Transit's plan for dedicated bus lanes on busy Telegraph Avenue south of the UC campus have gathered enough signatures to qualify the issue for the Nov. 4 ballot. The initiative, if approved by voters, would require voter approval to create any high-occupancy-vehicle lanes in the city, except on Interstate 80.

While this is clearly an ambitious project, it is forward looking to put infrastructure in place now, instead of years later when the streets are so clogged and residents are demanding more frequent, faster, and better bus service. Not to say whether AC or the residents are right, but I think this is community planning on steroids.

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