Berkeley City Council coming around on BRT

10 Jun

Last night, I did something that I never thought I’d do – asked AC Transit to delay a vote on bus rapid transit (BRT). Don’t worry, I haven’t caught the Berkeley NIMBY bug. Along with about a dozen other transit advocates, I implored AC Transit to delay the vote just two weeks because there’s been a very exciting development in Berkeley, which you probably remember voted against even studying dedicated lanes.

Eric explains at Transbay Blog:

Berkeley Councilmember Anderson, who was not present at the April 29 meeting, has indicated that he would support full BRT.  Councilmember Arreguín, who abstained on April 29, has also indicated that he would support full BRT.  If so, the 4-4 vote on April 29 would become a 6-3 vote endorsing BRT.  The agenda has not yet been set as of the time of this writing, but the current plan is for Berkeley to revisit BRT at its June 22 meeting.

The AC Transit Board of Directors intended to adopt an LPA for the whole project on June 9, incorporating the local preferences of the three cities.  However, the Board continued the item and delayed its decision on BRT until June 23, just one day after the Berkeley meeting.  This will give the Berkeley City Council an opportunity to reverse its prior decision.  The way forward is not crystal clear if that vote gets delayed, or if Berkeley insists on substantial changes, but the process should be straightforward if Berkeley promptly approves the build alternative on June 22.

And why should Oaklanders care if Berkeley’s included in BRT? One reason is that many people ride the bus from Oakland to Berkeley. If BRT turns around at the Berkeley border, all of those Oaklanders will have to transfer, which could negate much of the time savings from BRT.

Just as importantly, many of us North Oaklanders are extremely concerned that if Berkeley’s not included in BRT, AC Transit might turn BRT around in downtown Oakland. That would be a huge loss to North Oakland, and though it wouldn’t be fair to us, I can understand why AC Transit would consider this if Berkeley isn’t willing to support BRT.

So please put the evening of Tuesday, June 22nd on your calendar. Though the votes are there, it’s important for many of us to show up to support the councilmembers who may change their votes. I’m sure there will be plenty of people screaming at them about how BRT would ruin Berkeley, so it’s important that we balance this with reason. I’ll post further details about the meeting when I have them.

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8 Responses to “Berkeley City Council coming around on BRT”

  1. Alan Tobey June 10, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    When rational argument fails, there’s always shame and embarrassment — works in Berkeley at least.

    Our “progressive” council — tired of hearing the parade of Berkeley BRTea Party anti’s yell and scream at them for hours on end — simply voted in April to end their personal pain. But now they’ve realized that the likely consequence is to have nothing but 1 local service on Telegraph in Berkeley, while Oakland and San Leandro riders enjoy a full BRT system. Even our less intelligent council-members (no, I won’t name names) have apparently figured that out.

    There are rational near-consensus alternatives for Berkeley BRT north of Dwight that will minimize impacts on merchants and parking. Approving dedicated lanes south of Dwight will be the challenge. But only the FEIR will give us (we hope) the full analysis of project mitigations needed to make a rational case.

    Not that rational matters very much in the People’s Repubic.

  2. Eric Panzer June 10, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    The Berkeley City Council’s little change of heart might also have something do with the realization that some member’s electoral prospects are somewhat diminished when they vote against the interests and values of their constituents and against the public positions of their prominent endorsers, e.g., the Sierra Club.

  3. shmooth June 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    BRT buses, or bike lanes — let the battle begin!

  4. Alan Tobey June 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Not an either/or — the plans for Telegraph south of Dwight include BOTH BRT lanes and (for the first time) bike lanes.

    And yes, Jesse Arreguin’s request for an early Sierra Club endorsement for his re-election campaign was denied specifically because of his “shocking lack of support for BRT,” which SC has long championed.

    • Eric Panzer June 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

      I have to wonder how Jesse’s conversion will affect his support within the NIMBY contingent that ardently supported his campaign.

  5. Alan Tobey June 15, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Jesse has not “converted” to support for BRT yet. His proposed resolution for the Berkeley council is disingenuous and (as usual) self-serving: he supports a version of a build study, but only if we agree in advance what the study will conclude.

    The resolution also requires that the final BRT project include multiple “goodies” that are way outside the achievable project scope (favorites of perpetual loser Kriss Worthington) –such as “eco-passes” for employees and extension of BRT all the way down University Ave to the marina.

    In short, much more meddlesome than helpful — and he’s never more transparent than when he’s trying to be extra-clever.

    Not for nothing have some of us started calling him “Jesse Arreguinejad” after the uber-populist (and uber-pandering) Iranian president. He’s not yet smart enough to realize that almost all emotionally populist movements wind up destroying their leaders (or the places they represent, or both).

  6. Eric Panzer June 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Goodness, Alan, where do you dig up this info and how can I get myself a shovel?

  7. Steve June 18, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I am so glad I left Berkeley. This BRT installation would be a nightmare. I don’t disagree with the way Berkeley wants to run its city, but you guys seem to want to be stuck in the 50′s. You don’t want tall buildings. You don’t want big chain stores. You don’t want to build parking garages because it will only bring more cars to the area. God, I am so glad I left.

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