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.
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.